chicago adventures 2009

mom at eno

mom at eno

This year, I attended the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago. What an amazing experience! Being a fellow book nerd, my mom came with me, and we had a great time attending events and playing around the city!

Our first stop Thursday evening after checking into the hotel was a fun restaurant, Eno, which specializes in cheese, wine, and chocolate. Yum! Mom and I each ordered a selection of goat cheeses, which were served with two types of bread, a fruit spread, olives, and nuts. We were too full to even consider ordering chocolate. Sacrilege, I know!

Friday was set aside for playing. First on the list? The American Girls store! We picked up some fun Molly and Bitty Baby Twins gear for my nieces, Cali and Jordan. And I couldn’t resist buying a little dress and boots for the Kirsten doll that I’ve had for ages and ages. {Into the trunk they go!} After that it was a quick jaunt to H&M, a must on any big-city trip. We don’t have one in Salt Lake. At this point we had to hurry so we could make our train to Wrigley Field! Two adorable new shirts for me!

The Cubbies got creamed. I’m thrilled to have been at that game though! And so happy that it didn’t get rained out like we thought it would — it was iffy there for a moment. Hot dogs, beer, and the rush of screaming at the Cubbies pitcher when he loaded the bases not once but twice in one inning! The agony! Cards win 8 to 3.

game on

game on

Because of the game delay, we missed the YALSA mixer and fashion show, but that was okay — we were wiped out after the game!

Saturday was an early morning for me — first session on storytimes at 8 am. While my focus is teens, I need to keep up to speed on the latest research in early childhood development and literacy. We don’t have young adult specialists at the county, so . . . off I went to learn about storytime innovations. What a fascinating and fun class!

However, in hind sight, I would have ditched it to mob the Scholastic booth for an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games. More agony! I threw myself on the mercy of the Scholastic publishers and begged for a copy. But they’d printed such a select few of them that there is no possible way I can get one unless someone puts it up for auction on eBay. In which case, I’ll suck it up and wait ‘til September.

judy blume signs mom's book

judy blume signs mom's book

There is, however, a huge bright side. I met Arthur Levine — one of the premiere children’s book editors in the United States and editor of Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books imprint. Go look at the spine of your copy of any US version of Harry Potter. Yes! That Arthur Levine! He was ever so gracious while I begged him for a book.

In the exhibit hall, there were so many free ARCs of books coming out this fall. I, of course, focused on collecting upcoming teen books so that I can read and get my reviews posted on Good Reads before the books actually come out. I didn’t quite make it through all of my ARCs from Mid-Winter conference {sigh}. Bad Kim. They also had seriously discounted copies of books that are already out for sale. Nice! I had a chance to meet and talk with Judy Blume (Blubber; Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret; Forever; Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing). Wow — what an inspiration she is! Her books have been challenged, banned, and loved by kids and teens all over the world for at least three decades. Meeting this children’s publishing icon was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget. I also met Debbie Macomber, Cathie Linz, Eloisa James, and Laura Caldwell. Toss out any preconceived notions you might have about romance writers — these women are brilliant! Where else could you find a professor with a PhD in Shakespeare from Yale and a law professor from Loyola who aren’t afraid of some seriously bright pink book covers? {laughs} I’ve got Laura’s contact info, and I need to shoot her an e-mail once I’ve finished her latest book.

clowning around with libba bray

clowning around with libba bray

Other highlights of the trip? The Margaret Edwards award luncheon in which we watched Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak, Catalyst, Wintergirls) receive a lifetime achievement award. The YA Coffee Klatch and Morris Award for a first time YA author — this year’s winner was Elizabeth Bunce for A Curse as Dark as Gold. We were able to meet so many authors at this event! Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty) was so incredibly funny and energetic! We also met James Kennedy (who my mom swears looks like Hugh Grant), Christopher Meyers (Walter Dean Meyers’ son and a fabulous artist), and Andrew Smith (Ghost Medicine), just to name a few.

We also attended a wonderful gala and film preview at the Gene Siskel Film Center. Look for an outstanding American Masters documentary on Louisa May Alcott airing on your local PBS channel at the end of December. The flimmakers put an extraordinary amount of work into the research and the production. I learned a lot just from the sneak peek!

I went to some amazing sessions as well; notably, the Comics and Censorship panel with the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund team and comic book authors Neil Gaiman (also this year’s Newbery award winner for The Graveyard Book), Craig Thompson (Blankets), and Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise). What a wonderful, talented, and funny group of people! They’re so smart and passionate, not to mention so dedicated to promoting literacy and defending first amendment rights. I walked out of that room practically floating.

neil gaiman (right) and the comic book legal defense fund team

neil gaiman (right) and the comic book legal defense fund team

The trip finished with the Michael Printz award and reception, where we heard this year’s honor and prize winners speak. The Printz award is like the Newbery for teen literature. I need to read Jellicoe Road, this year’s winner. I’m happy that I’ve already read some of the honor winners (whew!).

It’s times like this that I’m so unbelievably grateful for my life and the experiences I’ve had. And being able to share all of this with my mom made it even better! I missed Chris terribly, but we kept in touch through instant messaging on our iPhones. Gotta love technology! And I had so much fun sharing the conference with all of you via Twitter!

Later today, I hope to participate in some design challenges — need to get my stamping on! {laughs and shakes head}

Kim

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