For a children’s book lover like me, attending a big KidLit event is akin to a giddy movie fan attending an after party for the Academy Awards. Granted—it’s been a long time since I’ve cared to watch an award show, but that’s not the point. In my opinion this far exceeds any of that brouhaha, and I can tell you—I’ll eat my bookmark if I didn’t see a red carpet on the sidewalk in front of the Bank Street Book Store for its Grand Re-Opening celebration on March 7th!
Never mind that this was in Manhattan, much like the Bronx Bombers’ “Murderers’ Row,” the line up of 31 guest authors and illustrators was filled with KidLit “home run” hitters. We’re talkin’ Newbery and Caldecott, people! No, I kid you not!
And playing with these Big Leaguers would be my friend, Robin Newman 😀 It was, in fact, she who announced the event on her blog and when I saw her name on the list, my jaw dropped so far I bruised my big toe. Here she was, a debut author, invited to read her book at Bank Street Book Store! What a thrill, and I didn’t want to miss it—any of it!
I was able to take some pics, most pretty good, others blurry or whatever, but hey—I take what I can get—or would that be I get what I take? 😉 Photography is not one of my skills, so bear with me 🙂
Below is a somewhat chronological dappling of my day, plus links to the authors and illustrators I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting or getting pics of, but were there 🙂 (These are the days I condone cloning oneself! lol) :
Through its side entrance, the door opened upon a small setup of chairs at the back of the store and the first person I saw was Peter Lerangis. To me, he looked like an author, which is exactly what I told him, and we fell naturally into conversation as if we’d known each other for years. I can’t think of a more perfect way to have started my Bank Street adventure. Unbeknownst to me, I’d arrived shortly before his scheduled reading. His having worked as an actor in theater served him well 🙂 :
Deborah Heiligman, the author of the acclaimed The Boy Who Loved Math, poses with Bank Street Book Store manager Andy Laties, an author himself. I really wanted to get a good shot of that tie! 😀 How can you not love that?
I had the unexpected pleasure of not only talking to the very helpful, generous, talented Vin Vogel, but assisting the one and only Jerry Pinkney in keeping his piles of signed/unsigned books in order on the table. (It was a bit of a madhouse by these two! lol) What a treat for me! They are both so nice (as were all the guests), and I was more than impressed by the artwork Vin was rendering along with his signature, each one unique to every copy of Maddi’s Fridge. I wish I’d taken a pic! Instead, I was later showing them off to Sandra Jordan and Robin Newman lol…
Here’s Jerry posing with his Caldecott-winning The Lion and The Mouse. Just look at that cheery smile 😀 :
Holding Ava & Pip, the book I purchased—one for me, one for my daughter-in-law—Carol Weston was so personable, I found out her daughter got married this past weekend (Congrats!) and a few things about her talented family. SUCH a nice chat:
I had first become aware of Betsy Bird 5 years ago, having attended a Children’s Literary Salon at the New York Public Library. I’d written an article about it for our then NJ SCBWI magazine Sprouts (the article will eventually appear on this blog). Having contacted her to ask permission to use info from the brochure, she happily said “Yes!” and asked if I could email her the article. Unintentionally, I never got around to it, so was happy I had the chance to hand her a printed version. She was even more pleased than I’d imagined! I’m glad I’m finally following her terrific blog more regularly now. The few chats we had were delightful, too:
…and gettin’ goofy with Deborah Heiligman and Regina, a Bank Street bookseller (off camera) who wore her name tag on her forehead the entire day (and also gave me a few great recipes!) 🙂 :
I knew I recognized this particular author, but couldn’t place who she was—well, not until I went up to talk to her and almost did a head smack when I read her name tag. Rebecca Stead, of course! ONLY the 2010 Newbery winner for When You Reach Me (love, love, love!).
Here she is with Peter Lerangis, author (best-selling and award-winning, too!) of the “Seven Wonders” series, gettin’ all silly. It was apparent they are friends; SUCH a pleasure to talk to them both—so pleasant and down-to-earth. (You people ARE getting that I was gushing all day, right?) And if you have time, check out the Panel Interview on which Rebecca and Peter (with Gianconda Belli) spoke. Fantastic!:
Last year, at our NJ SCBWI June Conference, as our “close of conference” Keynote Speaker, we had the honor of having Rachel Vail, author of a plethora of titles, including the “Justin Case” series (illustrated by one of my faves: Matthew Cordell). She was fantastic! I hadn’t gotten to talk to her then, so being able to this time around was an added treat. She recognized my face, thinking she should know my name, but we’d never spoken and we ended up sharing our frustration at being good with faces, but names often escape us—a relatively common affliction! What’s the worst is when someone gets insulted because of it! I know I never do. I actually expect people to forget mine! lol
Tim Federle, author of the award-winning Better Nate Than Ever, was very energetic and entertaining which is not surprising, him having been a Broadway dancer! He also decided to swap identities, donning Betsy Bird’s name tag 😉 :
Getting to speak with Mumbet’s Declaration of Independence illustrator Alix Delinois and his wife was unexpected and so enjoyable. In our conversation, I found out how he came into illustrating children’s books and he couldn’t emphasize enough the power of networking 😀 :
Fractured Fables Puppet Shows, performed here by Rebecca Migdal and Andy Laties, are a regular feature at Bank Street Book Store, typically on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:00 pm:
Oh, what to say about Chris Grabenstein, author of the NY Times bestselling Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. It’s easy to say he’s a down-to-earth, happy, fun-loving, generous and good-natured kinda guy, and—much like his character, Kyle Keeley, was (is) a bit of a clown himself! You can get a taste of his temperament through two fun interviews, one with Betsy Bird on her Fuse#8 blog, and the other on The Write Chat with Felicia and Erik:
I didn’t get to meet Patricia Lakin, prolific author of books like the Max & Mo Easy Readers (illustrated by Brian Floca!) and Steve Jobs: Thinking Differently, but did witness this satisfying scene with quite the captive audience 🙂 :
I’m thinking “adorable” isn’t a descriptive enough word for multi-talented, many-hatted Jill Davis. She’s not just an author, you know; she’s also a writing teacher and an editor for Katherine Tegen Books at Harper. I got to enjoy enthusiastic, engaging readings of two of her picture books: The First Rule of Little Brothers and Orangutans Are Ticklish. To find out a bit more, check out Robin Newman’s interview. Loved reading it 🙂 :
Right after Jill, it was Robin Newman‘s turn—the reading that started it all for me, and what a joyful experience it was. SO glad I got to share in such a special day 😀 She really brought her words to life, and I was so impressed she read the whole of The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake (illustrated by Deborah Zemke) without even taking a sip of water! (Don’t you love the hat?)
I was really proud of what a great job Robin did, and was blown away by her creative promotional materials! She gave everyone Detective badges (still haven’t filled mine out) and we got fingerprinted, too! Zoe gets the credit for the fabulous “carrot cake” artwork:
Ah, the exquisiteness of it all, Robin getting to see her book on a Bank Street shelf:
My last Bank Street treat for the day was getting to watch Jerry Craft, a very nice and extremely gifted illustrator, demonstrate how he goes about his work. Such control over that marker! I’d asked him if he used a chisel point, which he then showed me. Next he drew a character from one of many books he’s illustrated: The Zero Degree Zombie Zone by Patrik Henry Bass. He handed out signed postcards and bookmarks, then closed the day out with signing books. I still regret not getting one, but my parking meter was going to expire in about 3 minutes and I was leaving for the day so wouldn’t be coming back in : / Maybe next time—hoping there is one!
I had taken a pic of Susan Kuklin (Beyond Magenta) and Monica Edinger (Africa is My Home), but it disappeared from my phone : / They were both so friendly. Really EVERYone was! 😀 I’m sorry I didn’t get to enjoy these other guests who graced the store through the day:
Isabel Gillies (Starry Night), Todd Tarpley (My Grandma’s a Ninja), Cynthia Weill (Opuestos), Doreen Rappaport (Martin’s Big Word), Eliot Schrefer (Threatened), Jill Santopolo (Sparkle Spa), Meg Akabas (52 Weeks of Parenting Wisdom), and Yvonne Dennis (A Kid’s Guide to Native American History).
This was my first, and certainly not my last, visit to Bank Street Book Store. The staff and the space itself are warm, friendly and inviting; a place which “provides enriching programs for children and families, inspiring children’s love for literature and learning.” Should you wish to learn more and support this programming, you can “become a friend.” And if you’re not local and want to support a wonderful Indie book store, you can also order books from them and have them shipped! Here is a pic of a few of the booksellers who handled the happy crowd, along with some shots of the terrific blackboard art that borders the shelves:
And my happy hoard for the day (oh, I wanted ALL the authors’ books, but my wallet said “No!” grumble, grumble), some of them gifts:
And now that you’ve hopefully enjoyed these, there are plenty more in Robin’s post AND Bank Street posted a bunch on their Twitter page, too 😀 SUCH great stuff! I’m still basking in the afterglow of it all…
Maybe it’s just me ’cause KidLit is in my bones, but attending pretty much any KidLit event is the closest thing to Disney World for experiencing the fantasy realm! (And for anyone who knows me, that’s saying a LOT! lol) I don’t know…what do you think?