Friday, April 19, 2013

The ducklings have made way for me

There's a lot going on right now, and there's been a lot going on this week. I can't make much sense of it all, beyond the renewed realization that I'm part of a great community, both within Boston and within the larger world. The degree to which people who have their own concerns are checking up on each other is pretty amazing.

But this is a children's lit blog, and Boston is a children's lit town. If there's one thing I can make sense of on this stir-crazy afternoon, it's my own experience with Boston in a children's lit context.

When I first learned that there was such a thing as a graduate program in Writing for Children and decided for a variety of reasons that the full-time program at Simmons was the best option, I had one significant reservation: I would have to live in a big city. That thought had me pretty intimidated... until I'd lived here about three days. This place turned out to be pretty small. The public transit surpassed that of any other places I'd lived, and nearly anything was walkable in the right shoes.

And in between classes that examined children's books from every angle, there were places to go! There were author talks! Children's lit panels! Workshops! Summer Institutes! I started a list of cool authors and other children's lit professionals I had the chance to meet or hear speak, and before I hit the end of my two years in the Simmons program, I'd abandoned the list as too unwieldy to maintain. I did internships here with two children's publishers and a review magazine. I've shared my own writing with small groups and large ones. I became a children's bookseller here, a vantage point from which I've seen and embraced both figurative and physical changes in the landscape of the children's section (middle-grade's gotten huge!). Here, I've come to forget that it's weird when most of my reading pile is intended for readers years younger than I.

Marathon Monday has always felt a little surreal as routine acts like crossing Beacon Street become challenges. It's also become a day when I realize how comfortable I've become with the Boston area. I know where the runners are running, and I know how to find alternate routes. (I took the E-Line home and walked to avoid the crowds early Monday afternoon. Six years ago, that option would've meant nothing to me.) This year, things have stayed surreal.

I've always said that Bostonians are obsessed with Boston; Make Way for Ducklings flies off our shelves. This week, that's been even truer, and this week, I feel like we're all Bostonians.

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