Monday, May 11, 2009

Awesome Authors!

Cleared for take-off! And we did - up to Minneapolis for the International Reading Association convention. Our flights were amazing and, once again, I watch in total awe as this hunk of metal flies above the earth and delivers us to a new part of our country!

...beginning our decent into Minneapolis.... the clouds were puffy balls of cotton floating along on a parade! Check out the housing of this engine... serious thrust, folks!! Awesome! OH! I almost forgot... we flew on a 737-700 series on this leg of our journey..... SAAAAA-WEEEEETTTTT!!

This was my first time visiting Minneapolis and it was such a wonderful city to visit! The people were very friendly and the city was clean, easy to navigate and welcoming to all of us! We spent our days at the convention attending author seminars, workshops and symposiums. We also walked for miles up and down aisles and aisles of exhibitors: publishers, vendors, and everything in-between that has to do with the wonderful world of reading!! The opening session featured guest author, Khaled Hosseini, who wrote two wonderful books: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. His speech was humble, soulful and educational. I was honored to have been able to hear him speak of his passions.

Later, I attended an author's session featuring five of the most talented authors of children's literature; one of whom was Annie Barrows. She is the author of a series titled 'Ivy and Bean' which is geared towards 2nd - 5th grade girl readers. But that wasn't what grabbed my attention. When she was introduced, the coordinator also told us that she was the author of the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I literally had to stop myself from jumping up (in front of about 200 other educators) and screaming "ANNIE!!! I LOVE YOUR BOOK!!! OUR BOOK CLUB JUST READ IT A FEW MONTHS AGO AND I LOVED IT FROM COVER TO COVER!!! I LOVE YOU!!!" Fortunately, I was able to contain myself, but it was close. She later was doing a book-signing in the exhibitor's hall for her publisher - look how close I was to her!! I ran over and bought her 'Guernsey' book from another vendor then ran back, got in line, was #3! (score!) and got her autograph in my book! I gushed about how much I loved her story and she was so sweet! She even gave me the recipe on how to really make a potato peel pie!! Love this woman!

But wait! There's more!! The author of all of those Magic Tree House books that my class and I have read (we're on number 21!)....MARY POPE OSBORNE!!! My kiddos and I are NUTS over the escapades of 'Jack and Annie' in this series! I bought two of her newer books and she signed them... and, of course, I gushed over how much we love her writing! It was almost a fluke that I even found the off-the-beaten-path room that she was signing was wonderful to see her!

So let's talk about my buddy, Sharon Creech. She wrote a book several years ago titled Love That Dog. I remember reading it in an afternoon one summer day at Starbuck's and the tears just streaming down as I finished it. I have always had a soft spot for the woman who wrote such a touching, poetic story. Well, last year in Atlanta, her
publisher was offering free copies of her new book-to-be Hate That Cat, of which I got a copy of. Let me just say, I LOVE that book, too! So here she was in Minneapolis, signing copies of her book. My friend, Miss K, and I got to visit with her as she signed our books - can you see how thrilled I am to be with another fantastic author?!!?? I just can't get enough of them! Sharon was so kind and friendly...just a gem! And score! Got her new book-to-be that's coming out later in the year!! : ))

One of my favorite children's book characters is Skippyjon Jones..... written AND illustrated by this wonder of a woman, Judy Schachner. She is a stitch! She did a presentation of her home, her cats, her studio and her life and she's just as charming and funny as she is talented! After her presentation was over, I skippeeeeetoed over to her publisher's booth and waited in line for over an hour to have her sign her books for me. She mentioned that she remembered seeing me back in the session smiling at her - and she said that made her feel comfortable! You can't help but smile around this charming lady! : ))

Now, for the moment that has me dazed! This gentleman is Todd Parr
- author extraordinaire who has written touching books; my favorite being It's Okay to be Different. I read this book each year to my new 1st graders, so I've been a fan of his for quite a while. He gave a wonderful speech earlier in a session and it's obvious that this man has overcome much in his life and has worked even harder to achieve his dreams and goals! Any whoo... afterwards, we ran over to the exhibit hall and got in line to have him sign his books. This time, his books were only $1...can you believe that?!??? That's almost unheard of! So I grabbed two and my friend grabbed a couple for him to sign for her grandson. As our turn approached and Mr. Parr was signing my books, it suddenly dawned on me - I can afford to buy each of my kiddos a book! (Side note my 2nd graders head up to third, I always buy each student a book to have as one of my gifts for them. I've been searching for the right book, but with 28 kiddos, it can get expensive, so I've been distressed about this situation after searching for something and not finding anything that I could afford.)

I asked if I could buy 30 books, and they couldn't have been more kind about it. Then Mr. Parr said 'I'll sign them for you, too!" I told him that that wasn't necessary - he had so many people in line and so many other books to sign! But he insisted, so we set it up that I bought the books, left them there and then I returned later after he had had a chance to sign them all. When I came back, he was just leaving and we were able to snap a quick pic together....even though I am worn out, haven't eaten all day and a bit bedraggled, I was THRILLED beyond to have such a wonderful gift for each of my kiddos and from such a wonderful author! SHHHHH.....THIS IS A SECRET, SO YOU HAVE TO PINKIE-PACT THAT YOU WON'T TELL THEM!! I've ordered reprints of this picture and will be pasting a copy of it inside each book for them, as well. I can hardly keep quiet about it.... help me out, will you?? : ))

I could go on and on about how much I got out of hearing these talented people talk of their passions, their teachers, their crafts and their lives. I want to be one of them when I grow up! We saw and did so much in Minneapolis - too much to recount. It was just an incredible experience in every way and I am grateful beyond to have been able to go. It was hard to leave.

But return home, I must. So down the runway we rumbled again - and sailed west at 38,000 feet above this planet. On our approach, a beautiful sight was out my window....the Four Peaks mountains were below me, the sun was beginning to sink to my west, and the full moon was beginning her ascent to my east. Bright. Round. Pure. Ethereal.
Do you see why I love to fly???


Cheela said...

I wish I could have been there, too!! I am so glad you had such a great time!!

kimberly said...

wow.....between the flights...being 38,000ft in the air and the authors and all the must have wondered if you were in heaven!!!!!!!!!!!!!

N-Search of Peace said...

2 places you were meant to be!
Glad you are home safe and sound with some awesome adventures to be told!
Love and adore you!

Susie of Arabia said...

What an exciting and amazing time you had! Love all the photos and your descriptions made me feel like I was right there beside you getting all excited about seeing all those great authors!

Kerri and Cameron said...

I am so jealous that you got to meet Skippyjon Jones' author!!! He's my FAVORITE KITTY EVER!! (I even buy the board books aimed at preschoolers, and have his "Mummy Trouble" poster on my wall.) EXCITING!!!! I wish I could have gone!!!

Chickenbells said...

What a wonderful adventure...and I'm so tickled that you got all your books signed for the kiddos! How sweet was that?!?!?

Meags said...

I need to get in the loop. OK Carol you got to share the recipe for the pie. Jo and I searched for days for it. I'm so glad you had this wonderful experience. Let's Nando and get caught up.