ALA is over.
I came home from Chicago days ago, and finally, all the blog posts and the latest issue of AL Direct have clued me into the fact that I’d not posted images from my over-night trip for the ALSC pre-conference celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott award. A Wild Ride made my list of must-do conference activities as soon as it was announced, and it’s a little hard to believe that so much time has passed since I first marked the day registration would open on my calendar. And since my return from the big city, too.
A certain amount of distraction might be expected, given all that goes on when ALA’s annual meeting happens in the association’s home town. This year, add to all that, the Stanley Cup parade for the Blackhawks, held the very morning of the ALSC event. I made my way to the Art Institute against a steady stream of red-clad fans … to see that the AIC’s lions were ready for the festivities, too.
Late in the afternoon, people were still stopping to snap photos with the hockey-helmeted lions. I loved this bit, with one poser and one reader:
Following this bright and festive day, the fog settled in.
ALSC’s pre-conference was a full day of author, illustrator, and editor talks. If you’ve seen media coverage of ALA, you’ve probably seen reference to the idea that this is where writers are treated like rock stars. The 2013 ALSC pre-conference was Rock Star Central, though I failed to snap any author photos, whether of Brian Selznick sitting on the stairs, listening to others’ talks; Paul O. Zelinsky in his incredible tie; or Jerry Pinkney looking lion-like. Just didn’t, though my brain kept framing the images every time I looked around a room.
For the first time, I heard Leonard Marcus talk about Randolph Caldecott, and his new book on the man whose name we use to recognize excellence in children’s literature made for an engaging afternoon lecture. As for Selznick, who started the day with a keynote that paid tribute to Maurice Sendak ….It sounds like a cliché, yet it’s true: he made us laugh and shed a few tears with his fond recollections of Sendak. He showed us things we’d not noticed before and things we didn’t know we knew, for all the truth of what he said was apparent as soon as the words were uttered. He left us — how else to say it? — wonder struck.
All the speakers emphasized, to my ears anyway, the importance of reading and re-reading. They talked about the processes of creating children’s literature and the processes of reading it, the features that make for rewarding and engaging books. Their explanations of their work, their commitments to getting the work right for their readers, made rooms full of two hundred or more attendees feel like warm, intimate spaces. Like sharing a book among friends.