Third catch-update BEA- Day 2

So yeah, by the end of the dinner where I met (brace yourself, more sqweeing ahead) KATHERINE PATERSON, I was whooped. There were a couple of other parties to go to, but I had to speak early Friday morning, so I was a good girl and went to bed.

Woke up at an obscenely early hour on Friday and dressed with fear and trepidation. This was the day I had been dreading since December. I put on my magic bracelets and grabbed my speech.

See, I had been invited by the kind people at the Children’s Booksellers and Publishers Committee to be one of the speakers at the opening Children’s Breakfast. This was a huge honor and a big challenge. Would you want to speak to 850 tired, hungry, undercaffinated booksellers at the crack of dawn? Well, yes, if you’re an author, of course you would. But what if they put you in the line-up with Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, and Marc Brown?


It helped that I was able to meet “the boys” before the event started. They were all very, very kind, and they signed all of the books that I had lugged with me. We trooped backstage and made our way to the breakfast (shades of that scene from Spinal Tap where the band gets lost behind the stage in Cleveland). The next few hours passed in a blur. I remember being on stage. I remember making the decision to skip page 3 of my speech (sure hope that worked out.)

But the best part was being able to share with booksellers the feedback that I get from my readers (some of it filters in here on the LJ). I told them that you guys love great books. I told them that books make a positive difference in your lives…. that is the interesting books; the ones you like and you actually read. Yes, I said that teaching the classics in high school is turning kids off to books. I imagine I will be yelled at for that, but so what? It’s the truth.

Here is a much better summary of the whole morning.

And then it was over. I had a meeting with my agent, and not nearly enough time to walk the convention floor before I had to catch a cab to the airport and then the plane home. And who did I wind up sitting next to on the plane? That’s right, the Ambassador to El Salvador. Turns out he knew my mother-in-law in Pulaski. Small world, eh?

Today I am writing with the music cranked loud. I also have to get to the email I just unearthed in my Junk mailbox. Spammers are evil.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic “Arthur” and me!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Dave Barry, one of the funniest guys around.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Brand new booksellers! Former children’s librarians Kimberly Diehm and Jennifer Graves have just opened The NeverEnding Story Children’s Bookshoppe in Las Vegas. If you are in the area, drop in and say hello.

12 Replies to “Third catch-update BEA- Day 2”

  1. Oo, Katherine Patterson. I heard they’re making a Bridge to Terabithia movie? How happy that would make me…

    Thinking of the Spinal Tap scene in a literary/author version made me laugh out loud at work 🙂 The boys in graphic design are starting to wonder about why I randomly cackle over here…

  2. I actually agree with the teaching the classics thing. I’ve also had a growing suspicion that teaching the classics doesn’t help kids learn to write how we want them to write in current society, either. What was good writing 150 years ago is NOT good writing now. Wonder what i’ll do when i get a classroom of my own…

  3. Im glad I became a reader before being forced into school books because seriously *shivers* I think Black Boy was the worst. If they yell at you then you tell them that you’ve got Ferndale High School at your back.

    Congrats on your big speech btw!

  4. poorly “teaching the classics in high school is turning kids off to books.” In my opinion. The right teacher makes all the difference, but sadly, there don’t seem to be many Right Teachers anymore.

  5. Yes, there are some stinkers out there, but the problem is much larger,

    English teachers today are under seige today because of unfunded federal mandates and confused administrations.

    I love the approach used my the really smart ones who link contemporary books with the classics, thereby giving the kids a good foundation of Best Books, while keeping them interested in reading. From Hinton to Hamlet is a classic teacher’s guide that can help teachers stay sane, and students become fully literate.

    I wish you could meet some of the brilliant, committed teachers I’ve met in the last five years. It would give you hope.


    Yes it’s me the one who wrote u way back…May 17th to be exact. I know now who u remind me of…a female teenager seeing the world right in front of her.I haven’t started writting yet,But suddnely I have been blacked out. Worrying about culminating assinments,EXAMS,Life,possible boyfriends..sure me? why me? But I can answer that.. I am a girl in a highschool that is bulit on status. I don’t want to know my status because i don’t care…thats where it hits. If u care to much about what people say about you then get pulled into this new world.Where peers make the rules.I don’t want to be in that world.Sometimes i just want to shout! Scream at the top of my lungs ! ” WHY ME?”.I have a good life, a fabulous family,But i always seem to want more.Yes i know this is weird i am supposed to comment on you.And it’s already been said.”amazing writter”PERIOD. In a way i feel inspired by just reading one of your books.ANd now its my turn… to speak to the world with few words..No a whole book!In away I get my ideas from the people who inspire me..and everything that rings “Highschool”.But how could i write that??

    This time i leave you a name
    Shannon grade nine student…wanting my words heard.

  7. Erm…i know this is a long comment…but writing it kept me out of trouble…anyhow, i think i have finally figured out how to phrase my anecdote about why i agree with you about high school lit:

    Junior year of high school, my teacher tried to teach us Moby Dick. My teacher was an adventure novel-enthusiast who was idiosyncratic, energetic, and lots of fun. He was the kind of guy who hung hula-hoops from the ceiling of his classroom and would dress up in an Elvis mask, complete with sunglasses half the size of his face. He was the kind of guy who would jump through the classroom while doing theatrical readings of e.e. cummings. He was, in a word, fantastic.

    With Moby Dick, my teacher decided that he was a captain, like Ahab, and we were all Acedemic Marines embarking on an intrepid sea-journey to slay a monstrous whale…or at least to finish reading the novel. At the time, it all sounded very impressive.

    We had stocked ourselves for the intellectual journey by reading Kon-Tiki and Mutiny on the Bounty and were as prepared as could reasonably be expected. Then we started reading the book. The characters roll through Moby Dick in waves and all seem to talk indistinguishably in the same 19th century drone; we had to wrestle against the harsh current of the book’s imposing vocabulary; and at times we had to wade through a placidity where the pacing felt almost glacial. After two months and five hundred-odd pages, when we finally did come upon the whale, we, or at least i, had had enough. The lookout in the book cried out, “There she blows–she blows!” and when I read that line, i wasn’t sure whether “she” referred to Moby Dick the whale or Moby Dick the novel.

    The language was just so thick that i hated the book. No matter how great my teacher was (and he was great), Moby Dick just couldn’t come to life for me. And just as the book ends with Captain Ahab and his crew being defeated by the whale, the whale of a novel had defeated us and our real-life Ahab – my teacher.

    As a seventeen year-old, old books just didn’t work for me. I had similar experiences with “King Lear” and “The Merchant of Venice,” and I was the only person in my class who enjoyed A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. And i am glad that someone is trying to do something about these old books.

    I hope your crusade for more modern books in high school classes is successful. I support it 100%. Take care!


    I hear you , Shannon. Keep reading, keep writing, and hang in there! It will get better, I promise.

  9. All I can say is

    THANK YOU LAURIE for telling it how it is. The Jungle turned me off so bad on reading. I read it last summer and I have barely touched a book sense. I think I need some therapy from that horrendous book. All of the “classics” are boring and of no interest whatsoever! All of the good ones are banned or “have no symbols or literary examples,” my teacher says. And if you are reprimanded for your statement, Ms. Snyder’s tenth grade Honors English has your back!

  10. Writing Music

    What kind of music do you like to listen to when you write?

    Jazz and classical helps me think of new stuff when I’m in a block. I love The Killers, so they put me in a good moods, which sometimes helps me write better. I bought A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out today, and I thinkn I’ll be using it a lot. And then there’s of course burnt CDs with random everything on them.

    I was just wondering.

  11. classics

    I was just reading some of the comments here about how classics can be such a turn-off, especially in high school, and of course i had to put my own two cents in. I think classics aren’t all that bad; they just have a bad rep. You can’t discriminate against the whole just because there was that one old book that completely went over your head. Hard as it is to believe, there actually are a few “old” books out there that are just as good as contemporary ones, even if the language and expressions are different. The human emotions and situations that are portrayed are amazingly alike. So…judge kindly.
    Yeah, I’m done now. Heh.

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