ALA 2012: Top Ten Awesome People I Met/Pestered

I’ve been thinking about the best way to translate all my ALA notes and thoughts in blog form.  Originally I thought I would give reports on each day but they have all burred together.  So I’ve decided to do a series of posts this week that are less chronological and more categorical.  And contain numbered lists because those are always a gas.

I am going to kick it all off with a Top Ten list of awesome people I met over the three days.  Now, I obviously met more than ten awesome people, but these ones really made an impression on me in one way or another; some I only talked to for 30 seconds, others for hours.  Some I ended up chatting with after sessions or in the exhibits, others were simply trying to answer the call of nature when I forced myself upon them.  But they were all, to use a phrase I recently heard on reality television, dabomb.com (translation: the bee’s knees).

10. A.S. King

Ask the Passengers was on my list of ARCs to pick up and I happened upon A.S. King’s signing line at the very end of her hour. This meant that I didn’t have to wait in line for eight fortnights to talk to her.  She is the coolest person ever; so mellow and just cool. Not making fans feel like weird crazies is a rare gift that authors have and she excels at it.  Also, I learned that Vera’s last name is pronounced Deetz and not Dee-etz. Good to know.

9. Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray is one of my favorite audiobooks of all time.  I have listened to it over and over again, especially while running.   Whenever I feel like I can’t make it another kilometre, listening to Ruta’s book really puts everything into perspective: I’m not starving in a Siberian gulag so I can probably bust out another 3km.  I attended the fabulous USBBY panel on writing about war for young people and wanted to talk to Ruta afterwards but she was quickly bombarded with people. When I saw her in the bathroom at the Newbery Caldecott Banquet, I knew I had to make my move.  She has to be one of the most animated, lovely, genuine people on the planet.  She either is an incredible actor or sincerely didn’t mind hearing how much her book meant to me with a full bladder.

8. The Gals at the Little, Brown Booth

I’ve always had it in my head that Little, Brown is a very glamorous publisher.  I don’t know why – likely because all of their books knock my socks off.  But despite producing books that are consistently critical darlings, the gals at the LB booth were the friendliest, most enthusiastic people on the exhibit floor.  They talked excitedly about all the books while still gracefully managing the hoards of drooling librarians in clamoring hoards shouting “Is this free!?” while waving about hardcover books clearly marked with price tags.  There were a couple of LB gals, but we’ll count them as one entity for the sake of this list.

7. The LaJolla School Librarian I Met in the Scholastic Line

I don’t remember her name!  And we were instantly bosom buds after bonding over our love for Me…Jane. After picking up Drama ARCs we headed over to the Little, Brown booth way in advance for Patrick McDonnell and compared notes on books.  We also discussed the fine line between beloved books at ALA and that sad species of librarian who lugs around eight tote bags full of Proquest magnets and other things that really just aren’t worth carrying around in such large quantities.

6. Cara Pryor

Cara is actually a colleague from a neighbouring library system who I sort of knew before ALA, but only sort of.  But what I knew of her, I liked.  And when we randomly ran into eachother outside of the subpar Baja Fresh in the Hilton food court we immediately agreed to go to Disneyland together.  We had a great time and talked about everything under the sun.  And now we are real life friends! (I think.  Cara if you’re reading this and don’t want to be real life friends, I understand.  We’ll always have Splash Mountain).

5. Tracy Lerner

Tracy is the Senior Manager of Library Marketing at Random House Children’s Books and made all the arrangements for my trip.  She is also the sweetest person in the world and we are both obsessed with Friday Night Lights.  Although she has a soft spot in her heart for Matt Seracen and I have to say that I will never forgive that SOB for hitting it and quitting it with Julie Taylor so hard in Season 4.  But we both follow the Gospel of Tim Riggins.

4. Kathy Jarombek

Kathy is the Head of Youth Services at the Perrot Memorial Library in Old Greenwich, CT and I had the pleasure of sitting beside her at the Newbery Caldecott Banquet.  She was a very good friend and colleague of Kate McClelleand and Kathy Krasniewicz and it meant alot to me to hear about the librarians behind the Random House scholarship I was so lucky to win.  Kathy is also going to be on the 2014 Newbery Committee with Mr. Schu and I can’t wait to see what they choose! Oh, and she told me about the Morris seminar which I am most definitely going to apply for in 2014.  Given my audiobook obsession, I would love to be on the Odyssey committee one year.  And, one day, I would like to bring some Canadian love to the Geisel or Newbery committees.

3-1. The Trinity: Betsy Bird, Mr. Schu, Travis Jonker

I realize that using the trinity description here could rub some people the wrong way, so let’s use the Jay-Z triangle instead:

These are the three people I most wanted to meet at ALA.  I am huge fans of their writing and work and am always inspired by their passion and dedication.

As I detailed on my Day 1 post, I ran into Betsy about 3 seconds after getting to ALA.  So while I wasn’t prepared with cogent things to say, seeing her was like rubbing a magic monkey’s paw in that was a prophetic omen of the amazing time that was to come.

I also got to meet Travis and John after their standing room only session on apps. Then I saw them again at the Newbery Caldecott banquet. Both of them are so kind and open and gracious despite the fact that they are pretty big deals.  I’m talking about them like they are twins, but they just share a bunch of great qualities.  WAIT A SECOND – I think the children’s literature community needs to band together to fund a remake of Twins starring Travis and John.

I particularly like this picture of us as we appear most angelic:

I am also in possession of the most AWKWARD VIDEO OF ALL TIME wherein my boss was accidentally taking a video of us for many seconds as we pose for what we think is a still photo.

So there you have it.  Next up will be a list of ALA ARCs that I collected and am most excited about – and a Canadian title takes the number one spot!

4 thoughts on “ALA 2012: Top Ten Awesome People I Met/Pestered”

  1. I LOLed my way through this post – “magic monkey’s paw”? Hilarious. It was fun reading about the cool folks you ran into and I’m very honored to be on the list (and to get a chance to say hi).

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  2. I hereby wrest the term “magic monkey’s paw” from Travis and run away with it, cackling wildly!

    It was lovely getting to see you too, Shannon! And there were folks in the elevator who were very impressed that I was important enough for a fan encounter. Next time we will have a coffee or something so that we can properly talk. Thanks for including me!

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