March 29, 2012

43rd GA Book Award Conference

The Georgia Children's Book Awards and Conference took place last beautiful spring weekend in Athens, GA.  It's my favorite conference because it's more about the books and the kids and the reading, writing and art that goes into the amazing and ever-expanding world of children's literature.

Meghan McCarthy accepted the Picture Book Award for her completely unique and wonderful Aliens Are Coming: The True Account of the 1938 War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast.  She was the last full-conference speaker and it was a wide-ranging, hilarious and touching talk about the influences of her parents, her difficulties with school, her interests and obsessions and some ideas she has for upcoming books. But I won't give those away here. She also shared why she mostly works at night giving us some video glimpses of some of the nutty things that go on outside her Brooklyn apartment window during the day.  There might be a children's book in that!

Carole Boston Weatherford came late to the first luncheon and sat at our table!  It was an honor to chat with her about her work, the amazing illustrators she's worked with, and her college teaching career.  The on-site bookstore didn't have all of her books available, so she tailored her talk to the ones that were there.  She ended with a moving tribute to Tayvon Martin.

Mike Wimmer shared his beautiful photo-realistic art.  The guy is amazing.  He used to play football and be a body builder, and just exudes this manly confidence.  He's funny and he sang "Summertime" quite well while sharing the art from this book with us.  If he wasn't so nice I'd have to hate him a little.

Barbara O'Connor was hilarious. She riffed on Mike's talk by pretending to have been a body builder as well.  She also shared slides of her earliest creations and comments from teachers letting her know her faults.  I love that many of these authors and artists had some trouble in school.  It make me see my students in a different way.  We got to hear about her newest upcoming book: On the Road to Mr. Mineo's.

Jody Feldman had to speak first thing on Saturday morning and was nervous about that.  Apparently she is a morning person, often starting her days before the sun comes up, but does not think of herself as a very coherent morning person until a few cups of coffee.  She did fine.  She wanted us to know that her novel The Seventh Level is for the same age range as The Gollywhopper Games (for which she was accepting the GA Book Award).  They had the much cooler paperback available but she had the impression that some people were assuming it was more of a YA book because of a VOYA blurb on the back of the book and because it's about a "secret society."  She assures us that it's not that secret of a society since it's sanctioned by the character's school and all.  She also revealed some exciting new by telling us that she's apparently been lying to everyone when she told them there would not be sequels to The Gollywhopper Games.  She has some ideas and now says there will not only be one, but two more Gollywhopper books!

So go poke around their websites and share their books with the kiddos.  State award winning books are the best since they're picked by, you know, the actual people they're created for!