Monday, November 30, 2015

TTT: Winter Holiday Favorites

I'm not up to date enough to have ten 2016 books for this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic.  I am, however, fully into reading Christmas/winter books to my kids.  Here are my top ten, with some caveats/additions.

First of all, my all-time favorites are The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol.    But you've probably already heard of those.  Same with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Night Before Christmas.  

I had this fantastic Arthur Rackham book when I was a kid, with A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan, Midsummer Night's Dream, and more.  This is how I will always picture Scrooge and company.

Also, when I was a kid, every year I read this cloyingly sentimental Victorian tale called A Bird's Christmas Carol.  I loved Jessie Gillespie's illustrations, with the golden curls and pink cheeks of the dying Carol, who patronizes the large, tacky family next door. I still have my copy, but I don't read it to my kids.  They get freaky about death.  I also couldn't find the right edition on Goodreads, so here's a photo of my copy:
See what I mean about patronizing?

The holiday books I love to read with my kids deserve their own list.  We unwrap about 30 books each year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I usually am tempted into picking up more at the library and bookstore.  These are my personal favorites (in most cases, my kids would agree).    None of the books are overtly religious--I was raised Episcopalian and still love the language of St. Luke's King James Bible nativity, but I tend to prefer more family and warm fuzzies than direct Happy Birthday, Jesus stories.  

  1. A wordless book showing the preparation, big day, and wind down of a small town Christmas.  It's pretty white and middle class, but has tons of charm.  I like to think that his publisher insisted on putting his name in the title; otherwise it's mighty egotistical.

  2. It's hard to decide on which Jan Brett book to include. All of her Scandinavian inspired, detail infused work suits the season. My daughter helped me choose this one, the story of a naughty troll who runs away to live with a succession of wild animals before realizing the value of home and family.

  3. The first time I read this Hanukkah story aloud, my kids made me stop, because it made them too sad to hear about a family running out of food during a blizzard. The other night we made it through to the winter miracle of potatoes and apples, not to mention the ever popular motif of adopting stray animals.

  4. We just love Karma Wilson's bouncy rhymes and whimsical forest friends.

  5. My sister bought this for her daughter Emma, and we inherited it. Emma is a practical farm girl who bedazzles a prince. He then proceeds to give her..a partridge in a pear tree. The next day he sends two calling birds, and ANOTHER partridge/pear combo. You know the rest, but remember, girls named Emma are notoriously independent.

  6. I've loved this e.e. cummings poem since I was a kid. In fifth grade, I typed (yes, on a typewriter!) it out and put it in my Secret Santa recipeint's violin case, along with some homemade brownies. When I realized it had been adapted into picture book format, I had to get it.

  7. Read this for the first time today, and it's an instant classic. Frank McCourt tells a story of his mother's sixth Christmas, when she was so worried that the baby Jesus in the church's creche would be too cold that she snatched it out of its manger and brought it home. Funny and sweet.

  8. Another wordless wonder. The snowman a boy has built comes to life at midnight and whisks him off on a dreamy journey.

  9. Santa Claus the World’s Number One Toy Expert (sic)
  In bright reds and greens, with yellow, black, and white accents, this book explains how carefully Santa designs and chooses his gifts. My kids are clinging fiercely to their belief in Santa--now that they are 9 & 11, I was ready to be honest, but they were having none of it. Much of this, I'm sure, has to do with the distinct lack of holiday joy in their lives up until they joined our family three years ago. They agree completely that Santa just KNOWS what you want, sometimes even better than you do.  

I used to not care for Patricia Polacco's books. I don't know if her characters were too homely, or if I just chanced upon a few that hit me wrong, but whatever my problem was, I am OVER IT. I love her stories, her wisdom, and her art. This wonderfully titled book shared the story of how the narrator (who may or may not actually be Ms. Polacco as a child) and her Jewish family bring holiday cheer when their neighbors are all stricken with scarlet fever just before Christmas.

There are a few others out that I'd like to read: Olivia Helps with Christmas and It's Christmas, David! feature two of our favorite characters.  I want to read Christmas Cookies: Bite Sized Holiday Lessons by Amy Krause Rosenthal, because I loved her other Cookies book.  But most of all, I'm busy looking for Christmas Wombat, by the same author/illustrator team that brought us Diary of a Wombat.  So.  Much.  Cuteness.  

Any you agree with? Any you'd recommend? Any that make you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a candy cane? (I'm lookin' at you, Eloise!)

Also, as long as I'm asking questions--is it weird of me to NOT have ten titles I'm looking forward to in 2016? I was all excited for Winter and The Rest of Us Just Live Here, but now they are out, and I'm good. Plenty of books still on my TBR list (plenty = 986) that I'm looking forward to without having to scout out books that don't even exist yet.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Wrap-Up

Time is slipping away, as it does.  Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction encourages us all to share our monthly round-ups, and it is something I enjoy participating in.  So without further ado:

My Reading

Once again, I'm surprised at how few books I read--eleven. 


I'm still working my way through Margaret Peterson Haddix's Found with period five and Kate DeCamillo's Tiger Rising with period six.  Both will be done before winter break, because Tiger is short, and period five is so in love with their book they want me to read all period.  After giving up on longer, slower paced works, period four is enjoying Jack Gantos's Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key.  I try very hard not to look meaningfully at our class's Joey, but he himself says often enough, "This kid sounds like me!"  Period three went with The Boy in the Striped Pajamas as their reboot, but I'm afraid they were basing their votes off of seeing the movie, and the naive narrator is confusing them.  At home, my daughter is adoring The Lightning Thief.  I read it a few years ago and found it completely unremarkable--so much so that this read-aloud is like a first read for me.  Witnessing my daughter's delight in the humor, concern about the characters, and unprompted attempts to make connections and predictions have won me over entirely.  

The only read-aloud I finished this month was Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, which was pretty much what you'd expect.  My son and I read it together, and it was a stretch for him, but in a good way.  All in all, I'm very happy with the read-alouds in my life this month.

Mildly Disappointing

I'd looked forward to   The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough since hearing her speak in October.  My short Goodreads review is here, but in sum, I loved the elements more than the whole.  The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie was one I started reading aloud, but the class couldn't focus well enough, so I finished it on my own.  The beginning was deliciously creepy, but then it just petered out.  Elizabeth George's latest mystery, A Banquet of Consequences, is another book I'd been eagerly anticipating, and I was so excited to see it on the "un-reservable" shelf at the library before I'd even made it up the holds list.  I read it on a long plane ride.  It was good, sure, but it wasn't great.  I had to pick up Diane Wynne Jone's Witch Week when I saw it was the impetus for Lori at Emerald City Book Review's own Witch Week celebration.  It was cute.  I liked it.  I won't remember it.  Harvey, a very short graphic novel (graphic short story?) by HervĂ© Bouchard was disconcerting.  I will quote my Goodreads review in its entirety:


I was actually pretty into the story, but I'm feeling super dumb, because I do not understand the ending.

I didn't feel that any of the above were a waste of time--they were all a solid three stars.  But I'm glad I read some books I am more excited about as well.  



I scored a library copy of Julie Murphy's Dumplin' via the holds list.  I'm realizing that one advantage of being in this community is that I hear about books far enough in advance that I'm the third person on the holds list, not the 281st.  Judging by what I see on Goodreads, Willowdean is a you-love-her-or-you-hate-her protagonist, and I loved her, in all her bitchy inconsistency.  More thoughts on my Goodreads page.

I wrote about Robin Benway's Emmy & Oliver already, so I'll just say it wound up being a lot better than I expected.  Sweet, funny, and with a little extra depth to it.

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, by Anne Fadiman, is the only nonfiction on the list this month.  Fadiman was known to me only as the author of the amazing The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, a chronicle of a Minnesotan Hmong child with epilepsy, and the way her culture influenced her treatment.  This essay collection covers various aspects of her lifelong love of language and literature.  Some essays were more appealing than others, as is always the case with collections, but overall, I ended up wishing she lived next door.

I mentioned last month that I am a new fan of A. S. King.  My latest encounter with her work, Glory O'Brien's History of the Future reinforced my mind.  King writes these very New England working class characters and adds in what I can only call magical realism.  It's such an odd juxtaposition, and she makes it work.  Glory and her neighbor drink liquified bat remains, because of course they do, and then have visions of the ancestors and descendents of anyone they make eye contact with.  But that's not the important thing; the important thing is Glory making sense of and peace with her mom's long-ago suicide.  The visions of the future are appalling and frightening, but as Glory develops agency in her life, you start to see how the horrors of the future will be countered by the courage and strength of the future as well.  Plus, funny.  A. S. King is really funny, even as she writes about all sorts of painful and sad things.

Finally, yesterday Gary D. Schmidt made me cry at the ice skating rink.  I grabbed Orbiting Jupiter because it was short (and therefore light), and sat in the warmer area reading while the kids and cousins skated.  I hit the ending, and started crying.  Not noisily, thank God, but more than just tearing up.  Jeez, Gary, warn a girl next time.

My Writing

I wrote twelve posts again, half of which were related to my trip to Minneapolis for the National Council of Teachers of English conference.  (What a snooty name!)  The most popular of those was the one about meeting authors and getting books signed.  Three more were Top Ten Tuesdays (Books I'm Thankful For, Best Quotes, and thoughts on Movie Adaptations of Books).  The final few were the review of Emmy & Oliver, last month's wrap-up post, and a post about buying books I don't like for my classroom library.  My wrap-up post had the most views this month.  The Best Quotes list had the most comments, but the longer comments and livelier discussion were on the classroom library post.  

At the NCTE conference I heard about a writing exercise I'd like to try.  First, write a short personal narrative.  Then rewrite it as a fable or fairy tale--cast you and yours as archetypes.  I also heard Nancie Atwell quoted (she just won a million dollar prize for being the world's best teacher) as saying that all writers struggle when tackling a new form, genre, approach, etc.  This got me thinking--I love fiction, but haven't written any since about sixth grade, figuring that I am just not an ideas person.  But maybe I should try, because how else would I ever develop that skill?  

Internet Goodies


Um, did I mention I went to this conference?  And it was really awesome?  I feel like my sister, who after a trip to Ireland, engaged in a lot of self-mockery by starting all sentences with, "So, when I was in Ireland--did you know I went to Ireland?..."  

When I got back, it was to a week off work.  Yay!  I got a few walks in, spent time with my kids, started watching Jessica Jones with my husband, and continued the on-going fight with our plumbing.  (Score so far: Fixtures 3, Humans 1.)  Thanksgiving was low-key, the four of us joined my mother-in-law and her brother at her house.  All in all, it was a good month.  Two weeks of anticipation; two weeks of great times.  

We've started our annual holiday book advent tradition.  The first year the kids were with us--2012--my sisters donated all their families' holiday books, and we wrapped up enough to open one each night in December, leading up to Christmas.  I've since added enough books that we can start on Thanksgiving, and I can NOT wrap the less enchanting books in the collection.  (Mickey Mouse's Christmas being the first to go.)  Their English was still not that great the first year, so some of the books that didn't do much for them then are their favorites now.  There are a lot of challenges to parenting, and I have to say that two of the most Hallmark-Pinterest-Rosey Glasses aspects of it are Christmas and reading aloud, so this combines two events that make me feel like I'm not totally screwing this up.  

I'll leave you with a few pictures of our pre-Turkey walk at the nature park.

Friday, November 27, 2015

NCTE Take-aways and Quotes

I put together a lot of teaching thoughts from this conference, but that won't be of much interest to the wider world.  I did, however, find time today to sit down and process what I learned about attending conferences in general, and also to collect the most awesome things I heard authors say.

What I learned about and from the conference experience:

  1. I need a laptop or full sized spiral.  I was trying to take notes on my iPad mini and on a notepad, neither of which was very easy or comfortable for me.  I was trying to save on weight, and it wasn’t worth it.
  2. It really helped to be in a city with easy, affordable transport to/from the airport and to/from the Convention Center.  I did the whole event by light trail and foot.
  3. The range of choices for sessions to inspire, sessions to instruct, and chances to meet authors was overwhelming.  What worked for me was to have two-three choices for any given time slot and to be flexible from there.  I wound up front and center for a SRO presentation by Kittle, Gallagher, and Santman because I went in early and spent the time reading and reflecting.  I prioritized meeting with two authors, one for me and one for my students, and pretty much let the chips fall where they may otherwise.  
  4. I felt like this event fueled me as a teacher, as a reader, and as a writer.  I can’t imagine many other conferences hitting all three like that.  
  5. It also upped my Twitter game.  I was told ahead of time that the work-around for not being everywhere at once was to keep up on tweets.  I still think that the pithy quotes taken out of context are no substitute for the actual presentation, but it was more helpful than I’d feared.  
  6. My family survived without me.  It was tense, but they made it.  It’s definitely not something I can do very often, but it was a relief to know that it is possible, and that I had my husband’s support.
  7. I had dinner with my local friend (and her dogs) both nights, which was awesome.  In future opportunities, I would like to try to push myself to socialize with other attendees, but for my first, overwhelming conference, this worked out well for my personality, to have downtime with someone I’m really comfortable with.
  8. It really does make me want to read a book more if the author impresses me on a panel and/or is personable when signing books.  

“We all want to be heard.  Even that kid in the back with his hoodie up wants to be heard.” (Charlton-Trujillo)
“If you take a kid aside and tell them what they wrote is inappropriate for school, you teach a kid to write for school, not for real.” (de la Pena)
“If you really want to connect with kids. you have to give them something authentic.” (Medina)
“They don’t want to wait to get better, they want it to get better NOW.”  (C-T)
“Your past will always inform the future; it doesn’t define it.  You define your future.” (Hopkins)
“A lot of things that make you nerdy make you really, really cool as an adult.”  (pic book author whose name I missed ARGH sorry!)
“Books are like amusement parks.  Sometimes you gotta let the kids choose the ride.”  (Alexander)
“Being a reader isn’t something you DO, it’s something you ARE.”  (Merrill)
“Reading is intellectual breathing, soul breathing.”  (Merrill)
“The choir has to learn the song the best, sing it loud, and be in tune” --Kittle, on preaching to the choir
“If a kid is disengaged, people start thinking they can’t do it,” --A. S. King, who was a D- student only because she was on the basketball team so teachers didn’t flunk her.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fifty Books Weigh 42 Pounds: NCTE Conference Post #3

I had heard that the conference was a good place to get books.  I heard something about free books and discounts.  I figured I could put books in my wheeled carry on for the ride home and check it through as luggage, then carry an extra bag with the displaced clothes as my carry on.

Then the first day there, I got 34 books.

I schlepped them back to my hotel through nearly a mile of Minneapolis Skyway in these three bags.  It was a workout, let me tell you.  Once back, I sorted them.
Books that were five bucks. Yes,
including the hardback Rowells.
Books that were free.  FREE!  They were
giving away books! 

And I already posted a picture of the books I got autographed that day.

So the plan was to play it cool on day 2.  I knew I wanted to get some Ness.  I would still accept free books, because duh.  But I certainly couldn't bring home many more books.

And really, I did okay.  I only got another fifteen books.  (The final book in my 50 count is the library book I read on my way there.)  And one was a Christmas gift, so it doesn't really count.  My total haul looked like this:
Gorgeous, am I right?

And also prompting me to post on Facebook, "I wound up with too many books and am trying to figure out how to get them home. This is probably the best problem I've ever had, but it's still a problem."

No way in hell could I fit that into a carry-on wheelie and a laptop carrier.  I texted my sister who works at a UPS store about the price difference between paying for luggage vs. shipping it all home, and worked out that luggage would be noticably cheaper.  The UPS store that I could walk to was closed Sunday anyway.  The hero of this story is my friend Carla, who lives in Minneapolis.  She drove downtown with her four-year-old to give me a duffle bag her family had bought to get home from a trip themselves.  I was thus able to get everything home, although dragging it all through the streets of Minneapolis was certainly a challenge.  It didn't help that my introvert-ness prevented me from simply asking at the front desk, "Now, which way do I head to the light rail station?" so I walked seven blocks in order to cover a two block distance.  My arms hurt so bad after a few blocks that I started to get worried about weight limits, but luckily, I'm just weak.  One bag was 23 lbs and the other was 19.

Now I just have to get them into my classroom next week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TTT: Thanksgiving Edition

We got a freebie this week from our friends at The Broke and The Bookish, the initiators of Top Ten Tuesday.  They asked only that we come up with something related to Thanksgiving.

I'm going to go with ten books I'm thankful for.

1. The Wizard of Earthsea--my introduction to Ursula Le Guin, a lifelong favorite author.

2. A Pattern Language--dense, expensive, with tiny type and terrible black and white photos, and rocking a late sixties vibe, this book about architectural concepts  is unbelievably insightful and fascinating.  I bought it when we were planning on building a house.  We never did, but I still flip through the pages from time to time.

3. Blueberries for Sal--I remember my mom and my sisters reading this to me, and it was one of the first books my kids and I bonded over.  "Plink, plank, plonk."

4.  The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to your Adoptive Family--warm, practical, and illuminating.

5. How To Cook Everything.  A wedding gift from my former boss, who owns a B&B, it's starting to get grubby and loose paged after nearly fifteen years--just like my mom's best cookbooks were.  It doesn't have EVERYTHING, but I learned how to make risotto, lentils with bacon, and chocolate truffles from this cookbook.

6. Reading in the Wild.  It's no secret that I'm completely inspired by Donalyn Miller's work.  What is almost as important is that she inspired my entire department, so I don't feel quite so lone-wolfish about trying to find the right book for the right kid instead of focusing on whole class novels and Serious Literature.

7. Hiking the Columbia River Gorge.  A 30th birthday gift from my parents, at a time I was settling back into living in Oregon.  One of the only books I write in, noting each hike's date, discoveries, and companions, it's become a chronicle of some of my best times.

8. Elephant and Piggie series.  The first book my kids introduced me to, instead of the other way around, or simultaneous discovery.  Mr. B. read it in my daughter's kindergarten class, and she insisted we look for Mo Willems the next time we went to the library.  I thought she had the name wrong, but she was exactly right, and we've enjoyed many a good laugh with Elephant and Piggie since then--and gotten lots of painless reading practice in as well.

9. The River Why.  A case of right book, right reader, right time.  I found this at Annie Bloom's Books when I was in high school, and I read it repeatedly throughout my teens and twenties.  The humor, the philosphy, the Oregon setting, and the deeply flawed and deeply loving family all spoke to me.  I can even admit that the author's The Brother's K is an even better book, but The River Why will always hold a piece of my heart.

10.  Little House in the Big Woods.  The first chapter book I read to myself, this launched not only a lifetime of reading, but a childhood of reading Laura Ingalls Wilder, of playing pioneer, of dressing up like a pioneer, of reading other books with similar settings...I attempted to read them to my daughter and she was BORED STIFF.  I got to read a few chapters to a friend's daughter when we were camping, and there was blackface involved, and I freaked out.  Still, it meant a lot to my reading life.

I was also appalled when I re-read C. S. Lewis's The Horse and His Boy, which is horrendously offensive to Middle Easterners.  My friends explained to me that when they're reading classics to their daughter and hit the racist bits, they point them out and talk about why they don't believe that or act like that, and why the author thought it was okay at the time.  Part of me is all, "Oh it's white privilege to remember these books fondly and make excuses for the racism," and part of me is all, "It doesn't do any good to pretend racism does not exist; it's better to be honest with kids about our history with it."  What are your thoughts?  Given the racial baggage of U.S. Thanksgiving, this is kind of a timely question.

I'm also noticing my list skews towards children's books and at-home reference material, even though those aren't the genres I'd immediately list as my favorites.  Interesting.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NCTE Conference Post 2: Authors and Signings

There were an astounding number of great authors at this thing.  Some I was totally fan-girling about, some I'd never heard of, and some became far more appealing to me after hearing them speak on various topics.  

This group was amazing.  Left to right we have Pat Zietlow Miller, Matt de la Pena (hidden), A. S. King, Ellen Hopkins, Meg Medina, and E. E. Charlton-Trujillo.  That's some wow right there.  They were talking about reaching at-risk teens.  Charlton-Trujillo put all her stuff in storage and hit the road on a book tour to places most book tours wouldn't go to--breaking away from the big bookstores and going into small towns and detention centers and anywhere else she could think of where kids who might need books that reflect their reality would be more likely to be.  There is a documentary about this project (which I had to miss) that the other authors appeared in.  We saw snippets, and man, they are all such smart and compassionate people.  

Also, Charlton-Trujillo apparantly takes selfies all the time.  She took one with the author panel and another with the crowd, so I felt comfortable asking her for a picture too.  She is super funny and gregarious--I can see how kids would quickly trust her.  She was talking about how kids who are jerks are usually that way because of what's gone on with their lives.  "There's a story behind the story," she told us.  "Unless, you know, the kid is just evil."  Cracked me up.  Also, she pointed out that all kids want to be heard.  "Even the kid in the back with his hoodie up wants to be heard."   

 A. S. King also impressed the hell out of me.  I mean, her books have already done that, but she was great in person too.  In one of the film clips, she said something about how all schools have big "Bully-Free Zone" posters up when you come in.  "Bullshit!" she exclaimed.  Because of course there is bullying in schools, and putting up a poster saying there's not is a really pathetic way to counter it.  That one line doesn't make her sound spectacularly articulate, but she is.  And like Charlton-Trujillo it's easy to see that her characters have strong and believable teen voices because the authors have strong voices and a hip way with words themselves.  I told her afterwards that I had just started Glory O'Brien's History of the Future and was enjoying it, and she said that it made her feel more grounded to hear that, that at an event like this conference it was easy to forget who she was.

Sadly, I did not make it to either of their book signings.  I made it to many others, though!  Some were random--"Here, this author has written this book, take this free ARC and get it autographed!"  Others were somewhat more intentional, in that I at least knew whose line I was standing in.

Here are the books I got autographed the first day:

Not bad, right?



I was really pleased to meet Leila Sales.  Like A. S. King, she's a recent discovery for me, and after being impressed by the first two books I read, I moved her to my "must-read" list.  I told her as much, which she seemed to like, and when she found out I'd read her earlier work, Mostly Good Girls, she was a little surprised, and even happier.  She wanted to know where I'd found it (library).  It must be nice for authors when people read their non-buzzy books too.  I had her sign her new book for my class but This Song Will Save Your Life for me, because I loved it so.

Some authors seemed a little shy, which makes sense to me.  I'd almost expect even more of them to be shy, but there are plenty of introverts like me, who really do like people and talking, just...not all the time, and not with very many strangers and acquaintances.  Only one seemed unfriendly though, talking to her agent or publicist or whoever it was while she signed, not even making eye contact with us.  I won't name names because what the hell, she's just a person.

Sharon Draper was LOVELY.  Like taking time to talk to each person and make a little personal connection with them.  Like trying to draw our attention to her tablemate's books, which nobody was lining up for.  When I asked her to sign Out of my Mind (again for me, as my class already has two copies), she pointed out that the book is dedicated to her daughter Wendy, so now my name would be there twice.  So cute.

I have to say, my favorites were Matt de la Pena and Patrick Hess.  I bought copies of The Living and The Hunted for Matt to sign (I saw him on two panels as well, so I'm feeling the first name thing), and again, he was being SO KIND to each person in line.  I told him that Mexican Whiteboy pretty much sells itself to my students, and he told me that he finds that We Were Here is the one that kids really connect to.  So the next day I got a copy of that and brought it to him to sign.  He took note of my "first time" ribbon on my badge and talked with me about the conference, and told me that I should go to the ALAN conference sometime; that it's his favorite of the year.

He had some wise things to say at the panel discussions as well.  He told about being a group home supervisor, and how he could usually make a connection with kids, but every once in a while, there'd be a kid who was just an asshole, entirely unlikeable.  Then he'd read that kid's file, and go, "Oh--I can't believe they're even still alive."  I seriously JUST HAD that experience last week at school.  He's so right.  Unlike Crutcher, he is of the age I'd expect someone with such a great feel for how teens talk.  He comes across as somewhat diffident and gentle, but his writing is fearless, and he was clearly willing to take on hard topics.  So cool.

I knew I had to find Margaret Haddix for my students, and I knew I had to find Patrick Ness for myself.  He was signing at 9 am Saturday, so I got into line early to wait for the exhibit hall to open, and I was the first person to the booth he was signing at.  He and his person (I really don't know who that is that hangs out with the authors, but I assume it's a publicist or agent) were being friendly about my obvious enthusiasm, as nobody else had even made it there yet.  Books were all five dollars, so I scooped up the new editions of the Chaos Walking series plus two copies of Monster Calls.  I danced over to where he was sitting and...they didn't take credit cards.

They were both so worried about my obvious dismay that I probably could have gotten a free book out of them, if I were into scamming people for free books.  Instead, I headed off to the ATM, two flights up at with a $3.75 surcharge, the bastards.  There was a line by the time I got back, but I was recognized and welcomed in.  The line was nothing compared to what it should have been for one of the greatest living authors, dammit, so it was okay to talk with him a bit, tell him how much I loved Chaos Walking, how one of my students last year shared my enthusiasm and when I got More Than This, grabbed it off my desk and sat on my stool and read it steadily all class while I taught around her.  He saw I am from Oregon and told me he's from Puyallup, WA.  (Until a few weeks ago, I'd assumed he's British.)  He signed every single one of my books--the series is for me, and he wrote something different on each.

New camera issues.  I don't know where to look for photos.  Also, I thought it was distorting the pictures for some reason, then I realized that no, my face is just that wide now.  Sigh.  I AM EQUALLY WORTH OF SELF-RESPECT AND LOVE AT ANY SIZE.  Must keep reminding myself of that.

It was such a joy to meet these people, even briefly.  There are more I haven't even mentioned--Meg Medina was great, Jesse Andrews is freakin' hilarious, Jack Gantos looks nothing like what I would have imagined--and I got more books signed the next day that I don't have pictures of.

I will try to go in later and add links to the titles I've listed, but I want to get stuff posted while it's still fresh.