March 7, 2011

GA Conference on Children's Literature

Mary Downing Hahn - Winner of the book award for Deep and Dark and Dangerous.  Was a delight.  Tall, willowy and sweet.  You'd never believe she could creep you out a bit.  A fun, brisk talk with slides of her beginnings as an artist and writer.  Once again, not a stellar student (that's always an interesting thing, many famous writers weren't).  Bad with direction and a "quiet little passive/aggressive" according to some teachers.  My favorite bit was her love of Penrod.  That is one fun book!

Next I went to see fellow GLMA blogger Dr. Phyllis Snipes and her talk on the use of wiki's to share literature links.  The wiki stuff wasn't new to me, but she had some great link I'll be checking out.  The best part was sitting and chatting with another fellow GLMA blogger, Andy Plemmons and his Dr. Seuss Converse high-top sneakers.  No, really.

Alma Flor Ada - This was painful.  Apparently she was scheduled to come but couldn't for some reason.  They tried to run it anyway as a Skype session but it was a bad connection and garbled.  She looked so earnest and I knew she had great stuff to share but there was no getting it.  I left early and ran into Mary Downing Hahn.  I told her my joke about sneaking up behind her and shouting "boo!"  She said, laughing, "I so glad you didn't!  I'm really quite jumpy!"

Luncheon - I got to sit with some other new school librarians and enjoy a nice conference luncheon.  If you've ever been to a conference like this, you know what to expect but apparently these guys hadn't so they we pleasantly surprised by the fanciness and the service.  All educators should get to be treated that way once in a while!  I got to speak with Judy Serritella, the coordinator of library media services for the state.  She's graciously reprinted a couple of my posts in the state newsletter, so it was nice to talk to her in person, even if I did probably look like a dork in this t-shirt.

Previews - Next up was a session introducing the nominees for next year for the book and picture book awards.  A whole lot of nice white ladies on the committees, though there was at least one guy on each.  I was on the picture book committee in 2003.  Maybe I should sign up again...

Oral History Project - Fellow GLMA blogger and elementary school librarian Andy Plemmons showed off a fascinating collaborative oral history project he worked on with the fifth grade teachers and students at his school.  He has the rare ability to pull together the most amazing projects and showcase them without sounding the least bit self-congratulatory.  In fact he was humble and quite forthright in the strengths and weaknesses and his recommendations for trying a similar project.  He'd learned along with the teachers and students when he came across some great suggestions from the Library of Congress in a free web-chat session they did with them.  Links below.

Gail Gibbons - A fun and wide-ranging talk with wonderful pictures from her photographer husband.  I was happy to hear she'd been to Mote Marine in Sarasota researching her Coral Reefs book.  It was informative and light for mot of the talk, but a simple question about recycling from a classroom teacher at the end led to an emotional plea for better human stewardship of the natural world and a standing ovation.

Next morning I was too late to make the first session, so stood in line to get my daughter an autographed copy of I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by a delightful Ms. Beaumont.  Then I browsed the vendors until running into fellow elementary educator and blogger, Eric Carpenter who was very psyched to be seeing M. T. Anderson.  Turns out he teaches at a school I once student taught at...sometime in the last century.

M. T. Anderson - My favorite presentation.  A great mix of the funny, the absurd, and the serious desire to share his love of discovery and, as he put it, "the romance of geography."  I definitely need to catch up on reading his books!  From his desire to travel and subsequent realization of the problems involved, to his inappropriate use of French Baroque opera, to his meeting with the governor of a strange and mysterious place called "Delaware."

Reading Fair presentation - a great breakout session in which we were treated to photos and videos of some schools that, along with those tri-fold Science Fait projects, have a session of Reading Fair projects as well.  Got my wheels turning...

Karen Beaumont - Winner of the GA Children Picture Book award for I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! Changed her planned presentation based on seeing Hahn and Gibbons tell so much about their backgrounds.  Told us about hers and it was compelling stuff.  Was fully aware of the genius of David Catrow and wished he could have been there as well.

Storyteller's Luncheon - Susan Liverpool is amazing.  She had us all in the palm of her hand.  We were all laughing, but Gail Gibbons was weeping with laughter and I saw people holding onto each other from cracking up.  She says her book has been sold to the movies and they'll have her songs in there as well.  If it's a tenth as funny as the two stories she told us it'll be something to see.

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
Penrod by Booth Tarkington
Barrow Elementary Oral History Project Links
What We Read and What We Think by Eric Carpenter
M. T. Anderson's "Delaware"
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont and David Catrow
Little Liverpool Diaries by Susan Liverpool