Monday, October 4, 2010

When worlds high-five: The Horn Book at Simmons

It's hard to say that worlds collided this weekend, since collision implies some initial distance, at least in connotation. But two institutions to which I feel connected, and which are connected to each other to an almost freakish degree, hung out this weekend and talked about kids' books.

The festivities began with the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, which are always a treat. We heard from some writers and illustrators who were new to this award-winning business and some for whom it's old hat. We heard speeches about things that meant a lot to the speakers, including one who was moved to tears by her subject matter, even after months or years of working with it. It's good to see people care.

The Colloquium's very appropriate theme was collaboration, and the first presentation was on the collaboration between editor and author--in this case, editor Wendy Lamb and author Rebecca Stead. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who found both sides of that story practically informative. Elizabeth Partridge demonstrated how she uses Google Lit Trips to let readers interact with Marching for Freedom. Martha Parravano and Julie Just's breakout session about judging the awards turned into the kind of great discussion of current trends in reading that happens when a lot of very invested people get together.

Good discussions continued into lunchtime; it's wonderful when lines disappear between "hanging out" and "talking shop," between professors and former and current students, between the rock stars of the writing world and their admirers, and everyone just chats.

A panel on Discussing Picturebooks was peopled with great characters. Peter Sis is a funny guy, and editor David Lloyd made a hilarious cameo. In Kelly Hager's breakout session, we discussed, among other things, how hard it is to categorize When You Reach Me; for one thing, it's tough to say what kind of novel something is when one of the major things it's about is a spoiler. Megan Whalen Turner's presentation revealed that some authors, at least, do lurk on their fans' online communities and take their feedback seriously.

That was a major theme throughout the weekend: writers taking their readers seriously, editors taking their writers seriously, speakers taking their listeners seriously.

And seriously, folks, do any of you have a use for some duplicate Horn Book posters? I hate to see my extras go to waste.

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