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ALAMW18: Not-a-Martha (or a Roger)

Booth 1938 sisters.

Although I’ve worked at The Horn Book for nearly twelve years (!! feels like yesterday), this was my first year attending Midwinter as an official ALA member. ALSC hosted a new members’ dinner on Friday night, where I bonded with Elizabeth Serrano, from the “home office” in Chicago, over perplexing cocktail names (“Not my chair, not my problem”) and our Bronx family connections. I also met Horn Book contributors Ashley Waring and Susan Polos and enjoyed putting faces to names.

On Saturday I went booth-to-booth with the Horn Book’s ad sales manager Al Berman; not a hardship since Al is a hoot. This is usually Roger’s gig, but he was not able to attend Midwinter, and he was missed (sorry, Al, I couldn’t stick to our line: “Oh, Roger, no one even asked about you!”). It was great to get a sneak peek at what’s inside all of those boxes back in the office.

Outside (there’s an outside?!) it was snowing, and luckily I encountered Thom Barthelmess so we could slide our way to the Groundwood fortieth anniversary reception. Fred Horler, Groundwood’s marketing manager, gave a moving remembrance of Groundwood publisher Sheila Barry who passed away in November. I caught up with JLG’s Deborah Ford (of The Horn Book Herald; our upcoming ALA edition features 5Qs with the Crown team — sign up!) and Kirkus‘s Vicky Smith. Then came dinner with the three Marthae: Parravano (my closest, literally, coworker and CSK Jury member), Jocelyn, and Walke, which resulted in an entertained restaurant server and this photo op.

Martha. Martha. Marthe. Not Martha. Photo: Marthae.

Junot Díaz.

And then there was Junot Díaz. Díaz’s new picture book is Islandborn (simultaneously published in Spanish as Lola), but he barely mentioned it. Instead, he used the time to extol the virtues of libraries (“My ass would cut school so I could spend time at the library. Who does that?”) and exhort the industry to “decolonize the library” by looking at what is and is not on the shelves and who is and who is not employed. Libraries’ segregationist history is a fascinating topic for a Horn Book article, don’t you think? Someone please write it for us! I was sitting next to my SLJ sister Shelley Diaz — here’s her interview with Junot following his speech; you can also see clips here.

The PopTop Stage had much to offer, including a tenth-anniversary celebration of TOON Books with Françoise Mouly, Ivan Brunetti, and Nadja Spiegelman; a remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. with Andrea Davis Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and James Swanson; and a panel on empathy and portrayal of disability with Friend of The Horn Book Julie Roach; Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes (both survivors of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and coauthors of the new picture book Rescue and Jessica); and Jessica’s service dog Rescue himself.

Lisa Von Drasek, Brian Pinkney, Andrea Davis Pinkney, James Swanson.

Lunch was with two Susans: Polos (from the Pura Belpré Committee, great choices!) and Kusel (chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee administered by the Association of Jewish Libraries whose awards, along with those given by the American Indian Library Association and the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, will be announced as part of 2019’s Youth Media Awards, hooray to all!). Here was when I started to hear the buzz about SLJ’s Comments section, and that buzz became a roar — yes, hear us roar — as the day went on (more context via Anne Ursu).

From the airport Monday morning I obsessively checked the Horn Book Twitter feed as Katie Bircher heroically live-tweeted from the video and then compiled the Horn Book’s reviews of the winners. And we’re not done. Calling Caldecott has some things to say, and our free Horn Book Herald e-newsletter (with Crown team 5Qs!) mails next Friday — sign up! As always, we’ll publish the Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, and Wilder awards speeches in the July/August Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Awards. Please subscribe, and we’ll see you in New Orleans in June!

Slide 1
The Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
Slide 2
SLJ and The Horn Book, booth sisters.
Slide 3
Junot Díaz.
Slide 4
"I'm sorry," said Junot Díaz, in advance, to his sign-language interpreter.
Slide 5
Lisa Von Drasek, Brian Pinkney, Andrea Davis Pinkney, James Swanson.
Slide 6
Martha. Martha. Marthe. Not Martha.
Slide 7
Not Martha.
Slide 8
The Sydney Taylor Book Award gold sticker, with Susan Kusel and Mel Schuit. Photo: Al Berman.
Slide 9
The ultra-kooky Curtis Hotel.
Slide 10
The Curtis Hotel's "fun and games" floor.
Slide 11
Colorado's mountains.
Slide 12
Outside the convention center.
Slide 13
The Denver Public Library.
Slide 14
"Where will your reading take you?"

 

From the February 2018 issue of The Horn Book Herald: ALA Youth Media Awards Edition.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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Comments

  1. Ha, that is Lisa von Drasek in the photo, not me. (I wasn’t at Midwinter, sadly.)

  2. Elissa Gershowitz Elissa Gershowitz says:

    Oh, yes! Sorry to Monica Edinger and Lisa Von Drasek for the misidentification.

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