Last week I traveled to Shenandoah University in Virginia to attend two days of their week-long Children’s Literature Conference. Every day three authors or illustrators make whole group presentations, sign books, and then meet with attendees in small groups. You may remember my post from a few weeks ago about authors being my rock stars, so yes, this was right up my alley.
I’m almost afraid to admit this, but up until last week I wasn’t a huge Mac Barnett fan. I read Sam and Dave Dig a Hole more than once, trying to figure it out. And after I heard several colleagues rave about it, I read it again. But I have to admit, I just didn’t get it. Then there is his new book Night Noise. Not sure I truly got that one, either, on the first read. That is, until I heard Mac Barnett speak at the conference, heard him read his work, and listened to him talk about the important collaboration between author and illustrator, how books hold surprises, and how he strives to create stories for young readers that leave them thinking Huh?, inviting a re-read. Mac was engaging, captivating, creative…and I think I finally get him.
I love to listen to authors talk about their process and hear the back story of how their books are created. I think it is important for our young readers to hear this, also. How wonderful it is to bring authors to schools or engage with them via Skype. And how sad it is that much of this important work is being cut from schools because of time or money.
Without a doubt, authors are my rock stars.