Saturday, February 27, 2010

I am about to run out of February. Time is flying by in a blur while I watch helplessly. For instance, I have no time to figure out how to make this post look like normal people's blog posts, with text that wraps around the pictures. But here goes.

This month's tour was incredible. I met the most amazing kids. And the most amazing librarians. And the most amazing booksellers. And the most amazing teachers, parents, writers . . . . I'm not exaggerating. These people were thoughtful, kind, and unbelieveably generous. (And had they not been so incredible, I surely would have collapsed, because book tours are weirdly tiring.) A few photos and highlights:

Breathtaking book display at University Bookstore in Seattle. This is where I got to meet Nancy Pearl, who interviewed me for her Booklust show. Other Seattle highlights: talking with kids at Bush School and Denny Middle School; an amazing lunch with local independent booksellers from Third Place Books, Secret Garden Bookstore, Elliot Bay Books, Queen Anne Ave Books, Liberty Bay Books, and University Bookstore; a memorable night at B&N; and lunch with some of the editors at Amazon (say what you will about corporate policy, this is a truly wonderful group of individual humans).

Here's a bouquet of flowers given to me by students at Willard Middle School in Berkeley (And look at the t-shirts they made for the visit! Can you believe it??). Did I mention that they GREW these flowers themselves? (I love California.) Other SF-area highlights: A visit with the joyful, soulful, and whip-smart girls at Girls' Middle School, where I was hosted by the awesome Walter Mayes, a.k.a. Walter the Giant Storyteller, and a truly great, warm and fun-filled visit with Books, Inc., where I FINALLY got to meet the intensely terrific Jennifer Laughran, a.k.a. Literaticat. (Lots of aliases on the West Coast . . .)



When I visited 57th Street Books in Chicago, there was a Tootsie Pop and a category laid out on every chair. . . also, cookies! This was a wonderful snowy night with bookseller extraordinaire Angela Sherrill, members of the local SCBWI chapter, and an assortment of kids and readers. It was here I met the extraordinary and stupendous James Kennedy, whose writing makes me laugh and laugh (scroll down in his blog for a story about a pretty darn insightful question he asked me -- plus a picture of us!). After the event, I got to have dinner with local bookfolks, one of whom was author Blue Balliett, with whom I instantly fell in love. (At the restaurant, all the servers wore t-shirts that said "Obama Eats Here" on the back). Other Chicago-area highlights included visits to the University of Chicago Lab School, Glenview's Glen Grove School, and the Latin School of Chicago, as well as a terrific evening at Anderson's Bookshop, where the staff and crowd were equally amazing. I was reminded once again that independent-bookstore communities are absolutely vital. I mean it. (That said, I also have to wave at Elaine H. at the B&N in Skokie, where I had my last Chicago event. Elaine is the GM at the store, and she talked to me about growing up in Chicago. Her lead children's bookseller is also pretty special. I remember his passion for books, but not his name.)


Cincinnati!! My visit to Joseph-Beth Booksellers was a memorable evening because it started with a blackout. As in - no lights. Did this stop us? No! We went right ahead with the event, and people actually showed up, driving up to the dark store through snowy streets with no functional traffic lights. I read with one of the booksellers holding a flashlight for me. It felt like an adventure, with lots of talking and laughing in the dark, and when the lights came on an hour or so later, I was almost disappointed. But when they DID come on, I could see these amazing "Try not to land in the broccoli" stickers the staff had made up for my visit, along with all kinds of other special things, such as my broccoli bouquet (above, you see the store mascot, Bob, in attack mode . . .). Other really nice Cincinnati things: meeting booksellers from the Blue Marble and Blue Manatee bookstores, and my visits with the excellent, smart, insightful kids at Nagel Middle School and Summit Country Day School.

Last stop: Boston. This was the only schedule-snafu in the whole trip -- it snowed a lot during my last night in Cincinnati, and my flight to Boston the next morning was delayed. I missed an interview with a literary Bostonian named Smoki Bacon, about whom I'd heard great things. Plus, Smoki and I were going to have lunch together, and I was going to have a chicken-salad sandwich (I'd been asked to place my order two weeks in advance, so this sandwich was really on my mind). I hope to meet Smoki and have that sandwich another time (but not, you know, the same sandwich). Happily, I made it to Boston in time to get to Sprague Elementary School in Wellesley, a beautiful school full of lovely kids, and then to the Wellesley Free Library, for an event sponsored by Wellesley Booksmith and organized by the phenomenal Alison Morris. Alison arranged for me to spend my last morning of the tour at the Tenacre Country Day School, where outstanding librarian Esther Frazee led me to a gorgeous seat by the library fireplace (!). After our discussion (lot of intense talk about writing), the kids presented me with gifts, including a bag lunch for the train ride home. The paper-wrapped sandwich was marked "Jimmy's," and the kids explained that it was just cheese, lettuce and tomato, because Jimmy hadn't let them have any meat (these are book references - sorry!). It was the loveliest possible send-off.

I caught the last Acela out of Boston (the rest were canceled because of a storm), unwrapped my sandwich (which, to my delight, turned out to be a delicious mozzarella-prosciutto-and-basil-on-baguette), and sped through a dreamlike, snowy Connecticut, back to my slushy, beloved New York.


10 comments:

Karen Reiber said...

Ms. Stead we really enjoyed your visit to Nagel Middle School (Cincinnati) our students are still talking about your visit---they love the book! No better adverstising I can have than by word of mouth by students!

Here is the link to the glog we created for your visit--check it out: http://technoqueen.edu.glogster.com/newbery-author/

You signed a copy of your book for my 22 year old son---he finished reading it today (in a couple of hours). He really enjoyed it (he is a huge reader) and he told me to tell you that he feels like Miranda---now he has a signed first edition of a great Newbery book--When You Reach Me. We had a conversation about an adult time travel book---Bearing an HourGlass by Piers Anthony--this is his suggestion to us! LOL

Thanks again for the great visit to Nagel Middle School! Karen Reiber

James Kennedy said...

Thanks so much, Rebecca, for speaking to us at 57th Street Books in Chicago! To be called "extraordinary and stupendous" by the likes of you is a real honor -- thanks so much! And back at you times two.

Here's a direct link to the blog post which you referred. Just so people don't click on the link you provided and are upset they can't find the promised picture of you!

Looking forward to the next time you visit Chicago . . .

Kris said...

Glad to see that you survived your book tour. It is so rewarding to see the students so enthusiastic about your story. Just wanted to thank you for the mailbox bookplate which arrived in today's mail. It is already attached to my copy (and it has inspired me to attempt carving my own stamps). I continue to rave about When You Reach Me every chance I get... even on TWITTER (michst74)!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Rebecca, I can feel the loss of that chicken salad sandwich! That would linger with me too.

But it looks as if you had some great experiences!

Regarding the pictures - I found this so tricky for the longest time. I don't usually wrap text around mine but,I've experimented enough to know how.


Do you compose in html or compose view? You can do it easily in either one. Looks like you know how to choose the layout when uploading the picture. Let's say you choose left layout of photo.

If you're in COMPOSE view, after it's uploaded, you simply place your cursor to the right beside the photo and start typing.

If you're in HTML view, it is essentially the same. Place your cursor right after the photo's html description and start typing.

It's simple once you get the hang of it BUT it is a bit of a learning curve and I remember getting so frustrated when I first learned to upload photos.

Blogging is really time-consuming and the pictures take the most time but I wouldn't want to blog without them. Good luck! Let me know if I can clairfy anything.

Alison Morris said...

Me? Phenomenal? I believe you have us confused, Rebecca, seeing as how YOU'RE the one who wrote When You Reach Me!

Thank you SO much for coming north and paying us a lengthy visit! EVERYONE who attended your events with us (at Sprague, the library, and Tenacre) has gushed to us about how wonderful you are. We couldn't agree more!

Hope our paths cross again soon. xo.

nanmarino said...

Sounds like so much fun, Rebecca. Everyone welcomed you in such a creative and warm way. Loved reading about all those signs, tee shirts and cookies. And you met Nancy Pearl!? (the only librarian in the world to have her own action figure)

Rebecca Stead said...

Karen, it was so terrific to be at Nagel MS -- thank you! And tell your excellent son that I'm putting the Piers Anthony book on my booklist.

James, I am terrible at linking to things. Thanks for the help. So glad we met (also, I started ODD FISH and am LOVING it.)

Kris, glad the bookplate arrived safe and sound. Thank you for your tweeting - I have been a tweeting failure lately.

Joyce, you are amazing!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And Alison, what an amazing post you wrote today about my visit to Wellesley. You are a gold-star blogger. (Have I told you how my son devoured Gareth's books?? We can't wait for THE ODYSSEY!!)

Nan, Nancy Pearl is so terrific - a true pro and just lovely all around.

James Kennedy said...

Yowza! Thanks so much for the props, Rebecca! To get such a compliment from a writer like you means the world to me. Come back to Chicago soon!

Anonymous said...

This is going to be a medium long comment, so here I go. Rebecca, one more time I am going to say you are a magical writer. You and one other author (I'm saying names) inspire me so much. I really want to be an author so much when I grow up. I want to do the same things you do. What you're doing now, what you did a month ago, what you're going to do in one year and a week. In other words 372 days. (Past, present and future.) One disadvantage of being a writer is that books have limited pages. If I were to write a whole book, it would be 700 pages long, or more. I can never stay with the amount of lines given to me. But that's good thing, right? I hope you are reading this Rebecca. There's really no reason why I hope that. I guess it's just I look up to you. Or maybe I just want some reassurance that someone's reading this comment. I'm about to say something kind of random. In you're next blog post can you give me some tips for writing? But let's get back to the subject. Speaking of subjects, in writing, I usually have so many subjects to write about I stray off topic a million times and by the end one subject I've forgotten what I was going to write after that. Like I just did right now.

Anonymous said...

This is going to be a medium long comment, so here I go. Rebecca, one more time I am going to say you are a magical writer. You and one other author (I'm not saying names) inspire me so much. I really want to be an author so much when I grow up. I want to do the same things you do. What you're doing now, what you did a month ago, what you're going to do in one year and a week. In other words 372 days. (Past, present and future.) One disadvantage of being a writer is that books have limited pages. If I were to write a whole book, it would be 700 pages long, or more. I can never stay with the amount of lines given to me. But that's good thing, right? I hope you are reading this Rebecca. There's really no reason why I hope that. I guess it's just I look up to you. Or maybe I just want some reassurance that someone's reading this comment. I'm about to say something kind of random. In you're next blog post can you give me some tips for writing? But let's get back to the subject. Speaking of subjects, in writing, I usually have so many subjects to write about I stray off topic a million times and by the end one subject I've forgotten what I was going to write after that. Like I just did right now.