Posted on the Squeetus Blog June 27, 2006 08:35 PM PST.
I'm back from New Orleans, which was an amazing trip in so many ways. Shall I do a travelog? Are you sure? It'll be a crazy long entry if I do. Okay I will, but you don't have to read it if you don't want.
Dean and I painfully separated ourselves from Max at his grandma's house. We were near tears, wanting to kiss him again and again. He was playing the piano and was like, "Leaving yet? Yeah, whatever. This piano is sure interesting." We had a layover that was supposed to be an hour and a half, but they tacked an extra four hours onto it. It was a little hard, but it was so much fun just to be with Dean. I really like him. Don't tell, though. I want to find out if he likes me, first.
We had nothing to do until night! So we slept in, walked through the French Quarter to have a jazz breakfast at the Court of the Two Sisters. Holy humidity. I'm from a dry envirnment and hadn't grown my gills yet, so the climate was a bit shocking. After we hung out in our hotel room. For parents of toddlers, all that leisure time was intoxicating. Friday night I had dinner with the Newbery committee. Isn't that amazing to be able to say that? It was so fun! I've always said that librarians make some of the best company around, and this group was like the Justice League of librarians. I fell in love with each of them. I actually did. Frankly, it was rather easy to do. And I had fresh fish covered in crab meat and broccoli with bernaise sauce (none of which I spelled right, I'd bet). GOOD food. Seafood is my favorite, so costal towns are my tummy's delight. I'm such a dork, I didn't realize until I was dressing that night that I hadn't brought any appropriate shoes for such an occassion so I had to wear a pair of my editor's shoes. I don't think that was in her job description, but she didn't complain.
Slept in again! Then we went to have breakfast at a very snazzy joint called Brennan's, had a baked apple floating in cream, strawberry crepes, poached eggs in artichoke hearts. Mmm. (photo: Dean eating aforementioned apple.) As we walked back to the hotel, we passed a band playing on the street corner. A tuba player led two trumpeters, two trombonists, two drummers, and an electric guitarists. They were awesome! And all looked to be about nineteen years old. What a town. For lunch we ate at Acme's and I had a fried oyster po' boy with tabasco mayo. Wow. Later my awesome editor took me out for my first pedicure! It was so lovely, so relaxing, and my toenails are a lovely deep red shade that matched my dress for the Sunday banquet. That night, we had dinner with more amazing librarians. What is it about librarians? They're smart and funny and insightful, and also basically nice, and hopeful, and like books. And I got into a lovely discussion with several about Joss Whedon's genius. We were at the Red Fish Grill; I had the fish. Why not? There was a fried oyster appetizer dripping with BBQ sauce and blue cheese dressing that I keep dreaming about.
In the morning, we went to the convention center to do a signing at the Bloomsbury booth, then Dean and I walked around and snatched up several free Advance Reading Copies with much glee. We landed a couple of graphic novels and the new Peter and the Starcatchers sequel with special happiness. Also go to meet Lane Smith, M.T. Anderson, and had some other literary superstars sightings. The ALA convention is huge. You can go anywhere and find some amazing author signing books, that are on sale at huge discounts. It's such a book nerd paradise. And I'm such a book nerd. We headed back to the hotel to rest up for the night.
At six, I shimmied into my red dress and high heeled, clear plastic Cinderella shoes, and my editor and I went to the "Winner's Reception." There I got to hang again with the cool Newbery committee and meet Lynne Rae Perkins, Alan Armstrong, Susan Campbell Bartoletti, and Jaqueline Woodson, and catch glimpses of the Caldecott winners. (photo: with several from the committee) Very quickly my Cinderella shoes proved to me why Cinderella lost one in the first place--because they give blisters and aren't near as comfortable as they were in the shoe shop. I don't think I wore them again for the remainder of the night. At seven we went into the banquet, which was HUGE. I'm not sure of the numbers, but I think it was over 1000 people and maybe up to 4000? I have no sense of numbers, so I can't really say. Bloomsbury had a couple of tables reserved. I sat with my husband, agent, editor, other lovely folks from Bloomsbury, two of the Newbery ladies (Doris and Sue), and two other lovely librarians. There was a lot of applauding that night. When they announced all the members of the committee, they asked everyone not to applaud until the end, but SOMEONE hooted for Doris and Sue anyway. I thought it completely inappropriate and I would NEVER do something so impolite, but if I ever did, in my defense, they didn't specify no hooting until the end.
After dinner, they did the awards. It caught be somewhat by surprise, I must say. I didn't think I'd be so excited. I mean, I'd known about the Newbery Honor now for six months, so it wasn't a surprise by any means. But it was so exciting! Barbara Barstow said the most lovely things about princess academy, that started my tear ducts working. Then she called me up to the stage to receive the plaque. The applause was overwhelming--and you're award it's not strangers but a room full of people who are all part of this amazing purpose to create stories and get them into kids' hands. I really had planned on walking up slowly and with much dignity, but a combination of elation and worry that the longer I took to get up there the longer people would have to clap for me made me suddenly run. The barefeet helped.
I hugged and hugged sweet Barbara, and then I turned for my picture (and I'm sure I looked oh-so-lovely as I was crying, of course, because my tear ducts will never give me a break). Then I think I hugged her again because I couldn't help it, and I found myself saying to a woman I'd known for two days, "I love you, Barbara!" And she said, "I love you, too!" And you know what? We both really meant it. Show me a better business in the world that books! (photos: Dean took these of the screen where they projected images from the stage, me and Barbara and the very nice plaque. For the first time, I feel confident that no one's going to take the Newbery Honor away! I have proof now and many witnesses.)
Lynne Rae's speech was so lovely and perfect. I missed the beginning of Chris Ratchka's because I had to waddle off to the bathroom (I'm such a dork), but the end was so great. Then we retired to another room for a receiving line. Jacqueline Woodson had also run onto stage for her award, and we talked and realized that we'd both been barefoot. Something to that, I think. I don't know how long were were in the receiving line (an hour? two?) but I met superspeed so many delightful people, and even though I was really tired by the end, it was still delightful and I wouldn't have missed it. Many people told me that I looked like a princess. That's never a bad thing to hear. And it was a little eerie how many people seemed to know who I was. A serious highlight was when Linda Sue Park came through the line, who is my candidate for president. I defy anyone not to fall in love with that woman. Then home to bed...
...and some tossing and turning, as the air conditioning in our hotel room broke during the night.
(photo: in Bloomsbury booth with Dean and Sue, from the committee) Another signing at the convention in the morning. It was fun to see Brooke and Julie, two of my hometown teen librarians, in the front of the line. A lovely lunch before setting off to the airport and a long travel home. We didn't get to bed until 2 am.
And then Max was awake at 7 am, so the sleep-in holiday was officially over. But he's so cute! And though I've been half asleep all day, we've had a delightful time snuggling and reading books. He's even smarter and cuter than when we left and doesn't seem to be holding a grudge.