We Love Our Ambassador, Oh Yes We Do
The future will be difficult. I say that not because it is 2010 and we’ve a whole new decade to louse up in some way, but because of what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow, as perhaps you are aware, The Library of Congress will announce our new National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature. It could be anyone. It could be Linda Sue Park or Mo Willems or Linda Sue Park or Kate DiCamillo or Jackie Woodson or Linda Sue Park, or really anyone! I’ve made my prediction, but wild horses couldn’t drag it out of me. Nope. Lipserzipt.
In the meantime, I think it would be fitting to look over Scieszka career in the best possible way . . . via videos! Now I know I’ve been doing more than my usually video postings recently and that some of you can’t watch them at work or on your hamster-wheel-run adding machines, but really Mr. Scieszka plays best when you see him live. I’m only including the funny ones. Special Note: Not hard as they’re all funny anyway.
When Scieszka was first appointed to the position, there was no precedent. How does one approach The Ambassador? Do you bow or kiss his pinky ring upon meeting? Does rubbing his head really bring you luck? There was so much we did not know. Rumor on the streets have it (and my memory fogs out sometimes, but I believe that this is the case) that that wry gadabout David Shannon managed to convince people that there was really only one way to greet The Ambassador.
Example A – April 2008:
Example B – April 2008 in North Carolina:
And, my favorite, Example C – February 2009 in Nebraska… in a church:
Someday, when I grow up, I wanna be just like him.
In May of 2008 someone won the Booksense Book of the Year Award, and it wasn’t the Ambassador. I like to mute the sound on this and hum the theme to Jaws sometimes when I watch it.
Mere moments later, little was left of the once proud illustrator but a bloody, flailing, stump.
Added Note: How long until those two make a book together? Never, I suppose, since Willems only ever does his own stuff (and how many illustrators can you say THAT about, children?).
June of 2008 rolled around and you know what that means! Time for the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet. That year Maria van Lieshout and Jim Averbeck had a wild and crazy idea. Why not pull out a red bathmat and interview some of the folks at ALA? The results were pretty spectacular (and are easy to find here at On the Red Carpet at ALA). One of the best? You know who.
I believe that the technical term for it is actually "mad ass junk in your trunk". But only if you want to be precise.
Not that he wasn’t being hounded for advice all this time. As you can see, even author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka could hardly get Jon’s attention.
All hail Jon Scziezka!!! from Jarrett Krosoczka on Vimeo.
Big time thanks to Jarrett for reposting that old video. And for his special note to Jon.
2009 rolls around and we got a peek at a very long table and a cleverly cropped bathrobe.
2009 also proved to be the year that Jon would help to reinvent the brand new, rather gorgeous, and very fantastic Guys Read website. To my mind, if you’re going to be the Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, you need a good cause to promote. And from Day One Jon’s cause has been to get boys reading. This site is a kind of culmination of that.
He also seemed to have enough time to do the first story in the Exquisite Corpse Adventure series (Episode 9 is due on January 15th!).
When ALA returned in June of 2009 he was there, not to be interviewed on a red carpet, but to MC the BookCart Drill Teams with the Pigeon Man. They do it every year now (another gig I covet). I tried to find good video of them doing their thing, but came up empty. So here’s my own video of them. You can skip my blabbing and find them riffing around 1:06.
In September he joined up with Mac Barnett, Adam Rex (who drew a rather brilliant picture of Jon here), and the aforementioned David Shannon in the Guys With Books tour. Ostensibly they were promoting their books. In truth, it really just boiled down to making silly whale noises all day.
Untitled from Adam Rex on Vimeo.
Then in October of 2009 he . . . AUGH! BEARD!
What on earth?
Well, it seemed to pass. Maybe he took a part in a movie or was unduly influenced by Willems. In any case, in November the world proved once and for all that when all is said and done, we would really prefer to dance The Robot Zot.
Can you ROBOT ZOT? from Chrissy Noh on Vimeo.
Which in a roundabout way brings us to today. We will miss Fearless Leader but I’m certain that whoever it is that’s announced tomorrow, they’ll be brilliant in their own way. Maybe they won’t make silly videos for me to post (le sigh) but we’ll see.
A Year in Reading is posting connections to all the Jon Scieszka-worthy linking today (and has one of the oldest candid pics of the man up), so be sure to stop by them to say howdy.
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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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