As other writers often do, I find myself this week presenting at a conference, namely the Texas Library Association. Today, Wednesday (I know its technically Thursday, but I've yet to go to bed, and only then can I talk about tomorrow as today, or is it today as tomorrow? Whatever! It's late, so cut me some slack, please.)--so today, Wednesday, I got to meet a writer whose books I've been teaching a while, a writer I've always wanted to talk with face-to-face, Diane G. Bertrand (author of Trino's Choice (my personal favorite of hers), Trino's Time (a fine sequel), and so many other titles for the younger set, the slightly older crowd, and the more mature. These are definitely two titles every teacher (fifth through twelfth grades) should make part of his/her classroom library who's concerned about encouraging the reluctant reader (especially the boys; more especially boys with hard core choices in life to have to make) to take responsibility for one's own literacy life. The books are high interest, they're fast, they're solid. (I'd include librarians in this group of having to own at least one copy of each, but I'd be speaking to the choir; most, if not all already have them in their collections, know them well, and know who of their readers want/need to read them.)Anyway, when I figure out how to throw in audio onto this blog, I'll see about getting up on here a few of the words she had to say about these books, about writing, and other topics. She was kind enough to sign copies for me; I'm such a hog I got her to sign even the Spanish translations of these books.
I also hung out over some of the best tortilla soup with a great pal at Pico de Gallo, author/illustrator Xavier Garza, whose Creepy Creatures and Other Cucuys has made him a favorite of librarians and teachers. Today marked the third time I've recorded Xavi telling his story "La Lechuza Lady," and I swear, he never tells it the same way twice, much less thrice. Which, in my book, is a good thing. Both the story and the telling are still alive and breathing then. He also signed a copy of his latest picture book for me, Juan and the Chupacabras, a bilingual text. But my all time favorite of his is his first picture book, Lucha Libre: the Man in the Silver Mask: a blingual cuento (published by Cinco Puntos Press out of El Paso, and recently released in paper, so I see it going through the roof now that it's more kid-affordable; Lee and Bobby Byrd have done a great job of getting this book, that is, incidentally also illustrated by Xavi, out there and moving like it is).
The last person on the panel was Lila Guzman, author of a series of historical books about Spain's involvment in the American Revolution, each that centers on the life of a boy named Lorenzo.
But I haven't said anything about the audience: a room full of librarians, how can a guy go wrong? All I have to do is talk about books to them, and we're on the same level; although I almost spoke heresy to them. I suggested we get rid of any technology from our libraries that doesn't have anything to do with pushing/stressing books. Librarians are too cool.
I also met with a few of the Random House folks: A.H., A.W., and T.B. I scored an ARC of Spinelli's sequel to Stargirl. Can't wait to read it.