It wasn't all work, however. I did take time to attend the program headlined by the writer I'd most like to interview in the world: Alexander McCall Smith. I've been a long-time -- and huge -- fan of his books, beginning with his first, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, and continuing to his other series: the Scotland Street books, the Sunday Philosophy Club (Isabel Dalhousie) books, the Corduroy Mansion books. Then there's his "one-off" books, like his newest, The Forever Girl, plus his children's books. The man is filled with stories: in little more than a decade, he's written or contributed to 100 books!
Other highlights included:
__ seeing John Mason, who is retiring after 28 years as the educational marketing director at Scholastic, head out on a high note with a hilarious Elvis impression. Mason took the folks gathered at the Scholastic author brunch on Sunday morning by storm, as he swiveled and sang in introducing the six top-notch authors who were previewing their new books.
__ hearing, at that same brunch, authors like Newbery Medalist Christopher Paul Curtis, Newbery Honor author Holly Black, and award-winning graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier talk about their new books. Curtis' newest, is The Madman of Piney Woods, a sequel to his Newbery Honor book, Elijah of Buxton. Black, who sported bright blue hair, has teamed up with best-selling fantasy author Cassandra Clare, to create a new series titled The Magisterium; the first book is The Iron Trial. And Telgemeier is set to release, in late August, a sequel to her mega-popular graphic novel memoir Smile. The new book is titled Sisters and details Telgemeier's challenging relationship with her younger sister, Amara.
__ watching author Mac Barnett and Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Jon Klassen -- both wearing baseball caps -- preview their newest book at a Candlewick Press gathering. Titled Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, this new picture book collaboration between Barnett and Klassen (who won won a 2013 Caldecott Honor for Extra Yarn, written by Barnett), is comically deadpan in both text and illustrations.
__ attending the annual Newbery-Caldecott banquet, honoring the authors and illustrators who have won the top children's literature awards. This year, author/illustrator Brian Floca won the Caldecott Medal for his astonishing Locomotive, and author Kate DiCamillo picked up a second Newbery Medal (her first was for The Tale of Desperaux) for her book, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. As always, one of the highlights for attendees is receiving a keepsake in the form of a program designed by the Caldecott Medalist.
This year, Floca played with the themes of Locomotive, producing a program booklet with an Old West flavor; open up the program and a pop-up locomotive appears. The program is both beautiful and playful, as is Floca's illustration for the cover of The Horn Book magazine; the Caldecott Medalist also is always asked to create the cover illustration for the July/August edition of The Horn Book.
The banquet speeches also were wonderful, as always. Floca began with a reference sure to please Dewey Decimal lovers: "I'd like to begin tonight with some numbers. Illustration and commercial art: 741.6. Public speaking and oratory: 808.51. I think you see what I'm getting at here. I don't want to question anyone's intentions, but when illustrators are asked to give banquet-hall speeches, someone is showing a real willingness to misshelve."