I'm sitting outside the exhibit hall at ALA in Chicago. It's hard to believe that yesterday I worked a full shift at my job as a registered nurse--just as yesterday evening, when I got on the train to Chicago, I had a hard time thinking about books.
I started the day by heading straight to Scholastic for an ARC of Catching Fire, as did many others. I hadn't heard much about whether there actually would BE ARCs, but I already turned one down that someone offered me a few weeks ago, saying "give it to someone else, I'll pick one up at ALA". Yes, they were there! I feel like the last blogger ever to have one, but I'm satisfied.
Since then, I have:
--made Richard Peck laugh (and I'm pretty sure it was at me, not with me; I told him about how I visited Madame Tussaud's to see where Blossom and Alexander posed in the Titanic exhibit, and he said "You believe everything you read, don't you?")
--accosted Elizabeth Bunce, Yuyi Morales, and Garret Freymann-Wehr as they were just walking along, trying to look at stuff themselves
--talked with Roger Sutton about, of all things, The Long Winter
--almost cried talking to Candace Fleming about The Lincolns
--really started to cry when thinking about what I would say to Margo Lanagan about Tender Morsels; luckily for her, she's not appearing until Monday, after I leave, because yeah, there would have been tears
--tried to convince a rep to sell me her display copy of Lincoln: A Photobiography so I could get it autographed by Russell Freedman (they'd sold out--she wouldn't; I bought the Marian Anderson book instead, and I'm sure it's great, but pooh)
--gotten totally tongue-tied when trying to speak to Kadir Nelson, whose gaze is more compelling than should be allowable under the law.
I also collected other ARCs (and bought books too--no one told me many of the publishers would be selling brand-new current books cheap!), and shortly after the Kadir Nelson incident, decided to mail almost everything home. I held onto Catching Fire for the train ride, and I mailed the copies I had autographed for my mother and brother of We Are the Ship and A Year Down Yonder. (The first for my mother and the second for my brother, which is interesting.) I thought I looked at every ARC I took very carefully to make sure it was REALLY something I wanted--but when I was unpacking my backpack, I discovered that most of them I didn't ever remember picking up. I was pleased to get the new Alvin Ho book, and the rep handed me another one that she said I would like too, about a boy in Hawaii. It was a special thrill to see my brother-in-law Matthew's book, Hungry Monkey, at the Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt booth.
Then I headed out to take a break, but had no more than turned on this computer before my sister Laurie called. She wanted to go to a session; did I want to take her place in the Simon and Schuster line so I could have a brownie and meet M.T. Anderson, among others? Um, yes. Simon and Schuster was passing out plain old BOOKS. Piles of Chains and Wintergirls were seized quickly, but I picked up several others that looked good. My backpack is starting to feel heavy again.
Oh, and I've seen many friends old and new--I waved at Nina Lindsay, had lunch with child-lit people including Cheryl Klein, Monica Edinger, Anastasia Suen and Lyn Miller-Lachmann, talked briefly with two Betsy-Tacy friends (there will be a large, jolly Betsy-Tacy lunch tomorrow), and said a quick "happy birthday" to Abby the Librarian. I was bummed to miss Liz Burns due to a schedule misprint, and I'm still hoping to run into her and Betsy Bird. Anyone else around?