Lookit this neat sculpture by Mo Willems currently gracing the grounds of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Martha, Richard and I had a fine visit there on Sunday. MVP and I were ostensibly shilling A Family of Readers but we mostly took the opportunity to plug some of our favorite new books. Of course we brought too many for a forty-five minute program, meaning we ended by holding up two of our favorite YAs (The Scorpio Races and Life: An Exploded Diagram) saying to the audience “Here. You will like these as much as your kids will. Read them.” You can see some of our choices in the photo below.
After, we went over to Rich Michelson’s gallery in Northampton, a fabulous showcase for paintings and original illustrative art. (Is there a difference? Discuss.) The gallery is housed in a retired old bank, beautifully lit and stuffed with pictures. The occasion was the opening of the gallery’s annual show of children’s book illustration and the room was filled with picture book people including Jules Feiffer (who currently has a show on at the Carle), my old pal Jane Yolen, and Mo Willems, whose work is displayed in what used to be the vault. I was very happy to receive from the Reader to Reader Foundation the Norton Juster Award for dedication to children’s literature and literacy.
In my little acceptance speech I talked about how none of us–writers, librarians, teachers, reviewers–do what we do “for the children.” Or, rather, that when we do find ourselves thinking “I’m doing this for the children,” we tend to screw it up. I’m simply glad that there are children, allowing us to do the work we love.