My ALA 2019

My ALA began on Friday afternoon with a lunch hosted by Holiday House for their O'Dell Award winner Lesa Cline-Ransome, for Finding Langston. She's a Malden girl! So we two townies had a blast with back-in-the-day. Lesa's husband James and I discussed sartorial choices for that evening's Event, the CSK Gala. Thank you Terry and Mary and Holiday House for a lovely time.

Lesa Cline-Ransome


So the Gala. As Horn Book readers will know, we have been spending more than a year for our part in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Awards, culminating in our May/June special issue devoted to the award. (Attendees, it's in your gift bag.) Everyone who spoke — Carla Hayden, Jackie Woodson, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Kwame Alexander, Deb Taylor, Claudette McLinn — spoke eloquently about the significance of the CSK Awards and their longevity. There was singing (Jewel Booker, and Kwame had a side man) and dancing (Dobbin Pinkney choreographing and leading a wonderful ensemble of young dancers). Kadir Nelson's portrait of Mrs. King, created for our May/June cover, was displayed to stunning effect on the stage.

Kadir Nelson


I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy Carla giving a shoutout to our library school friendship, and I also enjoyed meeting many people I knew only through the printed page or email. Or phone: how wonderful it was to see Bernette Ford for the first time in decades and to meet her husband George, who lived up to exactly the great (and loquacious!) guy I had only met when I interviewed the Fords earlier this year. In all, a perfect evening. Martha and Elissa and Al, thanks for being my dates.

Al Berman


Saturday and Sunday I was, as usual, all Al's. Our annual tour of the exhibits always lets Al talk to advertising clients and potential clients, and me to find out what's coming out/going on, the latter invariably getting the upper hand. Al had a theme this year— we were going to talk to authors I had or would be interviewing for our sponsored advertorials, along with as many of the most recent Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winners he could round up. Quite the gay whirl.

Angie Thomas


I owe a huge apology to Fred Horler at Groundwood, as first Patsy Aldana whisked me away from his booth to look at her new venture, Aldana Libros, and then my dear old friend Bruce Brooks came by. I hadn't seen him since forever. Bruce won the BGHB for his first novel, The Moves Make the Man, but it's his second one, Midnight Hour Encores, I still love the best. Bruce is married to Chronicle's Ginee Seo, who at one time worked with my friend Elizabeth Law, who.... One great thing about having attended almost forty ALA Annual conferences is renewing the friendships and stories that take hold over the years.

Bruce Brooks


My social calendar included an efficient CSK breakfast as a guest of Random House; HarperCollins's Art Party (where I conspired with Sergio Ruzzier's girlfriend to try and crack him up during his presentation); and dinner with Macmillan and a clutch of YA authors including my friend and honorary townie (Newton, pfft) Mitali Perkins, with whom I had a heady conversation about God. I was there instead of the Banquet, but Elissa told me all three speeches killed. You can read them here. You can also read them in the print edition of the July/August Horn Book Magazine, for which Sophie Blackall created a glorious cover. And she gave us the painting — thank you Sophie!


Painting by Sophie Blackall


Thank you, everybody.
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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