Monday, February 4, 2013

Lali's ALA Midwinter 2013 Wrap-Up

After a whirlwind week in Seattle, it's great to be back home in California. Don't get me wrong, Seattle is a gorgeous city with lots of sights to see, delicious food to consume, and excellent shopping. But this time around, I spent most of my time in committee meetings, and didn't get out as much as I would've liked. I was busy, busy, busy! Okay, deep breath. Here goes!

Friday, January 25

I flew into Seattle that morning and was thrilled to run into Alyson from KidLitFrenzy at the airport shuttle pick-up. Alyson served on this year's Schneider Family Book Award committee. A recent addition to the ALA Youth Media Awards, the Schneider Family Book Award "honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences."

My shuttle dropped me off at the Sheraton where all of my Amelia Bloomer Project meetings were being held. Convenient, because it was only a few feet away from the convention center.The ABP met from 12:00-5:00, and made use of all that time, discussing and re-assessing the feminist quality of nominated books in great detail. Our co-chair Angela was experiencing some travel snafus, so we went ahead and carried on some of the discussions without her input (mainly for books she hadn't read).

At 5:00, a few of us ambled into exhibits to chat with publishers and pick up ARCS meriting attention for next year's ABP list. Fellow Bloomer, Katie, and I met up with my friend, Kellie, the marketing communications manager for Walden Pond Press. Several ARCS on my to-read list were already available via Netgalley and Edelweiss; in particular, Penguin and Harper Collins did a fantastic job of making their titles digitally accessible. Talia Sherer from Macmillan was handing out some deliciously creepy mysteries - as a bonus, I got a mini book-talk (which was great because I was a huge fan of her "Terror with Sherer" series on EarlyWord). 

My biggest SQUEE moment of Friday was at the Abrams booth where I got to meet one of my favorite artists: Nikki McClure. Absolutely charming in person, Nikki is a self-taught artist who's been creating intricate paper cuts since 1996. I've purchased her calendars over the years. Nikki also wrote and illustrated several children's books; I splurged on To Market, To Market and How to Be A Cat (March 2013).

With Nikki McClure - apologies for the blurriness of this picture!

After a delicious Thai dinner with my committee, I joined Joanna and Nichole at the Random House reception in Pike Place Market. Random House kindly provided complimentary signed copies of books from their catalog, as well as tasty desserts to nosh on. I managed to snag The Princess and the Peas and the Carrots by Harriet Ziefert. Sadly, I was not personally enamored with this book, but I'm certain the children at my library will appreciate it.

Following late dessert and drinks with Joanna, Nichole, and Tracy at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, it was back to the hotel for a good night's rest.

Dessert at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar

Saturday, January 26

I greeted the day by having a lovely breakfast with Sarah from YA Librarian Tales. I've followed Sarah for quite a while on Twitter (she's @whtabtpineapple) and was excited to finally meet her last summer at ALA Annual in Anaheim. Sarah just finished a term on YALSA's Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults and she just began serving on the 2014 Printz Committee. Besides being a fount of knowledge about all things YA Lit, Sarah is also a huge pop culture geek like me - we had lots of laughs over TV shows and celebrity gossip.

Following breakfast, I went to my ABP meeting, which progressed at a steady pace. There were several insightful comments about multiple feminist perspectives in the nominated books; as a committee, we do our best to have a diverse, well-rounded list, but each individual book must meet the ABP criteria. We won't put a book on a list simply to fill a space if the literary quality and feminist perspective isn't there. In addition to using our criteria, we also applied the Bechdel Test.

After a long, but extremely productive day, I put on a pretty red dress and headed out to dinner with the classy folks from Little Brown Young Readers (LBYR). Dinner was at the elegant Dahlia Lounge,

where I was seated with Di Tixier Herald, a dear librarian I've known and looked up to for years. I also got to chat with YA author, Cat Patrick, who wrote Forgotten (a riveting story dealing with memory loss...a lighter, more hopeful readalike for S.J. Watson's Before I Go To Sleep). Our table was especially fierce because School and Library Marketing Director Victoria Stapleton was seated with us. If you've never met her, Victoria has razor sharp wit and doesn't suffer fools kindly - she tells it like it is!

My special vegetarian dinner at Dahlia. Potato fritters, beet salad, and mustard greens. Yum!

Sunday, January 27

Sunday was a whirlwind day! I started off the morning by attending the Macmillan Breakfast preview with a friend. I took several notes and tweeted most of the titles - any omissions were due to the fact that I couldn't type fast enough. A few titles I saw:

1. Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale by one of my favorite Indian writers, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (I've been fangirling her for like, 15 years, after reading her short story collection Arranged Marriage in college). Indian folklore and vibrant illustrations? Count me in!

2. Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors by Tanya Lee Stone. I made a bee-line for this title before the preview began. Total contender for the 2014 Amelia Bloomer Project, it's a picture book bio of Elizabeth Blackwell. I have an early copy, and I'm just itching to submit my nomination  when the time comes.

3. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks. Another 2014 ABP contender about three fearless FEMALE primatologists.

After the preview, I headed back to the Sheraton to meet up with my committee. We all walked together to the Scholastic Picture Book reception at the Hyatt Olive 8 - you can imagine my delight at seeing Tom Lichtenheld and Amy Krouse Rosenthal's newest collaboration: Exclamation Mark! Sharon Dennis Wyeth gave an emotional description of her picture book The Granddaughter's Necklace that left me weepy. Attendees were gifted with a bag containing these and several other delightful picture books.

After a quick lunch, it was a brief jaunt to exhibits, where Katie and I got to meet Shana Corey, author of one of my favorite ABP books, Here Come the Girl Scouts. Then it was back to the Sheraton for more meetings and gourmet cupcakes from Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co (to celebrate April's birthday).

Katie, Shana, and I at the Random House Booth.

That evening, I went back to Hyatt Olive 8 for brief meet-up with Kellie and the fabulous Walden Pond people - even though it was short, I had to stop in and see some of my very favorite people. Then I headed upstairs for the Houghton Mifflin Harcout dinner. The HMH folks had a very tight presentation, and two titles that I was particularly excited about were:

1. Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough. A picture book bio about Anne Carroll Moore who created the first children's reading room at New York Public Library and advocated for borrowing privileges for the youngest readers. Possibly a 2014 ABP nominee.

2. Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin 2) by R.L. LaFevers. I absolutely LOVED Grave Mercy (HFA #1), so you can't imagine how stoked I was to see book #2 available for grabs in the Exhibits Hall. Dark Triumph is all about Sybella, a fascinating character who got short shrift in the first book. Historical fantasy folks will devour this installment!

After the HMH dinner, I met up with Joanna and Nichole for a late night dinner at The Pink Door. We missed the acrobatics show, but the food was delicious!

Monday, January 28

As you know, the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced early Monday morning. I was ecstatic about Jon Klassen winning the 2013 Caldecott for This Is Not My Hat, as well as Katherine Applegate's Newbery win for The One and Only Ivan.

Also, our Joanna was on the Odyssey Award Committee which honors the best audiobooks for children and young adults. This year's award went to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (narrated by Kate Rudd).

I didn't have the opportunity to read many of the books honored (I'm in the process of doing so now, just for fun ;), but I want to respond to the drama that consistently follows these announcements every year. It's mainly people decrying the award choices, wondering why certain books were recognized while others were overlooked. With respect to the Printz award, many critics asked why books with "obvious" teen appeal were not considered. Within moments of the award announcements, the YALSA-bk listserv blew up with heedless opinions. Two of the most eloquent responses to the drama came from Kelly at Stacked and Marg at Tiny Tips for Library Fun.

After awards, it was back to the Sheraton where we wrapped up our ABP annotations, congratulated each other on a job well done, and bid each other farewell. 

I closed out my Seattle experience with drinks and tapas and some square dancing with a group of friends. Then it was homeward to California!


Melissa Buell said...

Great wrap-up post! I enjoyed reading about your adventures in Seattle. :)

Sarah said...

We need to get a picture together next time!

Lalitha said...

Thanks, Melissa - I didn't have as many adventures as I would've liked (that was Joanna!) but it was a valuable, productive trip.

Sarah - I can't believe we didn't take a picture! Now I have a sad. In Chicago, for sure.