The best thing about the ALA annual conference is the books. I really tried not to pick up everything I saw since I was flying. But, the temptation proved to be too much and I shipped a huge box of books home. Many of these are destined for the teen department as giveaways and others are for friends. A few will stay in my collection with their treasured autographs!
The publishers at ALA are so nice. I had the best conversations about upcoming titles and they really cared about what my patrons were reading. One publisher at Bloomsbury handed me a stack of Tween fantasy reads when she found out I was a fan of Shannon Hale. Another invited me to the Disney Fall preview where I got to meet Mo Willems! Dudes I about passed out from excitement. He read us his upcoming Elephant and Piggy book and there may have been tears. The man is amazing. He even does the voices!
Next, I got the opportunity to go to the Printz Awards. This is the award for the best YA title. This year it went to Marcus Sedgwick for his book “Midwinterblood.” Read more about the awards and honor books here. I loved the format of the ceremony. Each author talked briefly about their books and then answered questions from teens and librarians all over the country. It really gave good insight into the mind of an author. If you have not tried Sedgwick’s book I would recommend it. It is a twisty and dark tale of love, curses, modern and ancient stories, and quite different. It is told in 7 parts and each is more interesting than the last.
The next day I went to the author Coffee Klatch hosted by YALSA. The room was set up in a speed dating format. You were at a table of 6 other attendees and the authors would rotate through for a brief 4 min talk. The authors I got to meet at our table were: Marcus Sedgwick, Katherine Howe, Ally Condie, Marie Lu, Mary Pearson, and a few others. It was really cool to hear about their upcoming books and ask them questions. These are the 3 titles from Penguin that I am really excited about for Fall:
Atlantia by Ally Condie- A stand alone fantasy set underwater.
Conversion by Katherine Howe- A contemporary fiction title inspired by the Salem Witch Trials
The Young Elites by Marie Lu- High Fantasy villain origin story set in Italy
While roaming the exhibit hall I got to meet a few more of my favorite authors:
Meeting Scott Westerfeld was by far the highlight of my trip. I told him that he was my husbands favorite author and we ended up chatting for quite a while. I met him again after the Printz awards and had the best conversation about his writing, getting teens interested in books, my role as a librarian, how he promotes his books, and upcoming stories. I quickly found out that authors are pretty awesome people and are willing to chat with librarians about anything. It was a really fun experience and one I will not forget. Check out his book “Afterworlds” which will be released September 23rd.
The final highlight of the trip was attending the Caldecott and Newbery awards which is pretty much the Grammy’s for authors. I was invited by the publishers at Baker and Taylor. The food was divine, the conversation with other librarians… perfect, seeing authors all over the ballroom.. starstruck, and hearing two amazing speeches .. priceless! If you have not heard Kate DiCamillo speak be prepared for tissues and sobbing. She is a master storyteller and speaker. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Take the time to read her speech at the following link. It will warm your heart and make you realize what a wonderful writer she is.
I could go on and on about the authors and books that I am excited about but I would likely bore you to tears. If you ever have the chance to go to ALA I highly recommend it. It is quite the experience and I learned so much from everyone I met. I made some great connections to publishers and got an insight into the world of books that I will remember always. I am looking forward to attending again someday.