Tuesday, October 17, 2006

sensory overload / surreality

A very quick overview of what was the most surreal, amazing weekend…

Friday evening, I stopped by the Horn Book/Boston Globe Book Awards ceremony before heading down to Providence. There, I got to connect with James and Lesa Ransome and also had the chance to meet (very briefly) Kate Dicamillo. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jack Gantos. Now, this was a long time in the making, as we’ve almost met a bunch of times. But we did, sort of, meet years ago. And I had the chance to recount this story to him:

When I was in third grade, Jack visited my school. He talked about Rotten Ralph and after his talk, we returned to our classrooms and drew our own Ralphs. Jack visited my classroom, walked by my desk and said, “Nice cat!” I still remember that, to this day! And whenever I visit a school, it’s in the back of my mind. It’s not every day that you get to recount a story like that to the person that it is about, but I have always been of the mindset to give credit where credit is due and to let people know what kind of impact they had on your life.

Saturday was the big day - The Rhode Island Festival of Children’s Book Authors! I had been waiting for this for months. Jon Scieszka would be there, among many others. And what I was most looking forward to was being part of an event with Chris Van Allsburg. I had met Chris a few times in the past, but once as a nervous RISD student approaching him after a lecture and once as a fan standing in line for an hour to get a book signed… But never as a fellow published author. You see, when I was a senior in high school, my art teacher brought in The Garden of Abdul Gasazi for me to look at. After seeing this book, my eyes were opened to the possibilities that picture books had. And there I was…signing books…right next to him! It was unreal. I’m still pinching myself! He is an incredible person and I feel very fortunate to have had the experience.

And after a full weekend of sensory overload meeting and hanging out with so many incredible authors and illustrators, on Monday I got the news that someone would be visiting Boston that night on their book tour….Lemony Snicket! And well, he didn’t show, but Daniel Handler was there. He presented to a very full house. You know a book reading/signing is a big deal when you turn up to a high school auditorium and the police are directing traffic! The “show” was amazing- a reading, audience interaction, audience participation, music, humor, improv…. I was too tired to wait in the autographing line, though. So now I am here, painting away on my new book. I am both charged with inspiration and stunned by over stimulation….

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