Kidlit Drink Night: SCBWI Recap
The SCBWI mid-winter conference in New York City comes but once a year. It is a time for rejoicing and the eating of shrimp. And for l’il ole non-author/non-illustrator me, it is a chance to have a Kidlit Drink Night that is guaranteed to have some players in the field in attendance.
This year I got my shiny sparkly invitation to the SCBWI Cocktail Party in the mail. The party was held in the Hilton, which is about half a block from my workplace. This is very considerate of the SCBWI organizers. They should know, though, that at this time next year I may not be working quite as closely. If they could just move the conference to whatever is most convenient for me, say my living room, I’d be much obliged.
Now last year I RSVPed and somehow my name didn’t get on the list when I walked in the door. I was determined not to repeat that performance and got a confirmation and everything right off the bat, early. Merrily I walk in the door, say my name, and AGAIN my name is nowhere in sight. Clearly perplexing, baffling, and more. Fortunately the woman doing the names was as sweet as could be. I told her I was with New York Public Library and in I went. Next year, if invited, I will be stapling my invite to my forehead while wearing a t-shirt bearing my name, mug shot, and social security number. See if I won’t!
Inside I got an eyeful of little portfolios lying around a rather large room. It was remarkable. Here we had the portfolios of different SCBWI members for any Joe Schmoe like me to look through and critique. I loved it! They apparently did this on a Saturday last year and since I am only around on Fridays, I was finally able to glance through the up-and-comers. I saw established names like John Rocco, and some newbies. Amongst the people with info that I grabbed, thinking their work to be particularly nice, were:
Andrea Kastner – I like her alleyways
Mind you, I only saw about 33% of the room before realizing that there was free food not too far away. There were probably many other geniuses around and about but I was too busy following my nose.
Inside the room it was massive. Very large with a big buffet running down the center. It was good territory for tripping over familiar faces. I bounced about for a while, finding myself continually amazed that I had so much lovely time to kill. Around the edges of the room were tables stuffed with various personages, but I didn’t know any of them so I stayed on my black leather booted footsies. Here is a shot of the room, courtesy of Eric Luper:
And here is an actual note that I wrote to myself in this room and then stuffed in my purse for future note:
People I don’t have the guts to talk to
– Jonah Winter
– Nikki Grimes
– Richard Peck
The way I figure it, I can’t just walk up and talk to a person if I don’t have an "in". Jonah Winter would have been an AWESOME person to converse with, what with his crazy cool jacket and all. As it was, I just slunk about him as he spoke to Anne Schwartz. I sorta kinda know Sean Qualls who illustrated his book Dizzy but I didn’t feel confident that it was enough to start a conversation with. Richard Peck was everywhere, but what do you friggin’ say to Richard Peck? And as for Nikki Grimes, I think I was on an airplane with her and Raul Colon once. No guts then, no guts now. After the fact I learned that Robie H. Harris was in attendance. Had I but known I would have certainly spoken to her. Ah well.
At 8:40 p.m. I high-tailed it out of there to the bar Local where my post VIP SCBWI Cocktail Party was to be held. As with every big party I throw, I failed to inspect the place before I went. If you were to make a rundown of my Kidlit Drink Night Cocktail Party record it would go a little something like this:
– Kidlit Drink Night Harry Potter release party: Failed to check with bar and had to relocate across the street at the last minute. Friendly bouncer saved my butt.
– Kidlit Drink Night Book Expo: Did not reserve room. Everyone stood in the bar instead.
– Kidlit Drink Night SCBWI 2007: Got a good sized room in a VERY loud bar.
And that brings us to Kidlit Drink Night SCBWI 2008 in which instead of a room we had a slightly raised platform capable of comfortably seating 40 people if they all sat down and didn’t talk above whispers. In the end there were easily more than 40 present and if they were talking it certainly wasn’t in hush-hush tones.
I don’t remember people well, but here’s a brief recap of a few. I met Melanie Hope Greenberg and discovered all too late that she had illustrated Down in the Subway, which is a book I really enjoy. I also met Bill Cochran (who would fit the profile for any of you hoping to start a Hot Men of Children’s Literature blog), Tamara Minks-Regan, Barbara Johansen, Robin Brickman, Kristen Bannister, David Diaz (can someone confirm this?), Sara Lewis Holmes, Meghan McCarthy, G. Neri, Jesse Joshua Watson, Eric Luper, Ruth McNally Barshaw (who, in spite of my pleas and tears would NOT give me the ARC in her hand of her latest book, it being her only copy), Cheryl Klein, my crew of SCBWIers from Seattle, and Heather Scott, my husband, and so many other people. If I’ve not mentioned you it is because I have the worst memory on the planet. Leave me a comment here and I’ll make amends.
Oh. And people with shiny medals to their names. They came too. I am forever grateful to Linda Sue Park because, amongst other reasons, she makes me look cool. Look at this picture right here:
Do you know why I am sitting between a one-time Newbery Medalist and a THREE time Caldecott Medalist? It is not because I am cool. It is because Linda is cool and out of the goodness of her kind and glorious heart she has taken it upon herself to come to my parties. I do look as though I’m holding a gun to David’s back, but he’s clearly being a good sport about it.
Taking photographs requires that a person step out of the action around them. I don’t like doing that unless I’m uncomfortable with the situation I’m in. So I’m not one for photos, but here are a couple I managed to convince myself to take on the sly
So let us see what we have here. Here is the Drink Night before it got too crowded:
I’m standing on a chair to get these shots.
Others have written of this event as well. You can see my prom photo with Eric Luper here. He has his own very nice recap, including pictures from the first party of the night. You may also wish to check out KT Literary’s take. I was particularly fond of the Sara Lewis Holmes take, since she came to my library and then was too polite to sign her own book. Awwww. Darcy Pattison rounds up many of the SCBWI reports if you’d like to see more.
Though for the MOST complete recap of the entire SCBWI experience, no one comes even close to beating Leeza Hernandez. Nobody. Go check it out.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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