Thursday, November 27, 2008

NCTE In Words and Pictures

How often do you get to meet one of your personal heroes (or sheroes, as the case may be)?  The absolute highlight for me of NCTE 2008 was hearing Lynne Cox speak and meeting her in person.  Lynne Cox is an extraordinary open water swimmer.  She is as physically adapted to cold water swims as Lance Armstrong is to long distance biking.  She has swum from the U.S. to Russia through the Bering Straits, and she has swum with icebergs in Antarctica.  She is an amazing story teller with amazing stories to tell.  (I reviewed her book GRAYSON here.)

San Antonio was a lovely city for a conference.  I was struck how different evening rush hour in the center of the city was this year, compared to last year in NYC.  This is the Times Square of San Antonio.  

I had several memorable meals, but alas, neglected to take any food pictures. Use your imagination. At Rosario's I had a beautiful (and tasty) Prickly Pear margarita and (delicious) fish tacos (grilled talapia). The fish tacos were a risk, but I figured the best place to try them would be in Tex-Mex land. They were seasoned with lime and cilantro, so how could I go wrong? At the Random House author dinner at Little Rhein Steakhouse I had a fabulous steak. It looked just like the one in the ads on the convention center wall, if you were there. Yum. I sat at a table with Wendelin Van Draanen and got to hear about her new book CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KILLER, and her upcoming new series THE GECKO AND STICKY (watch for a review soon). Finally, at Liberty Bar I had SALMON ENCILANTRADO, grilled salmon marinated in cilantro sauce. It came with a side of cilantro pesto, which I am definitely going to try to make!

Along with the obligatory Tex-Mex and the obligatory steak, there was the obligatory visit to the Alamo. Alas, we got there too late to go inside and take the tour, but we remembered (ha ha) to go.

There were several sessions that I really really really wanted to attend, but meetings or paid breakfasts or other mandatory sessions got in the way. I didn't get to hear Greg Mortenson (of THREE CUPS OF TEA fame), but I did see his extensive autographing line. I didn't get to go to the session on literature circles. I didn't get to hear Kathleen Yancy speak. (There's more, but I don't remember them, and it's a good thing I left my conference book behind -- my checked suitcase weighed EXACTLY 50 lbs., what with all the books I crammed in it!) 

Probably my favorite session was the impromptu Tech On The Go session that I did in the Hilton Lobby (the only place I could find with free wireless access) for Katie and Karen. Both of them got set up with GoogleReader and we played around with podcasting and composing on GarageBand. Katie swooned when Debbie Miller stopped by to chat and look over our shoulders at GarageBand. 

No, wait! My favorite session was the NCTE Notable Books session. I've never been to this Sunday from 1:00-3:00 session because I always left right after the CLA breakfast. I won't miss this session ever again...and especially not for the next few years since I'm on the Notables committee! What's so fun about it? First, you get to hear about each of the Notables. Then the authors do "speed dating" talks at each of the round tables. Audience sits still, authors rotate to you. This year there were EIGHT (!!) authors: Ralph Fletcher, Ann Bausum, Peggy Gifford, Jacqueline Woodson, Emily Gravett, Gary Schmidt, Linda Sue Park, and Ruth Forman. Ann Bausum brought historical documents for us to look at while she talked to us about MUCKRAKERS. Peggy Gifford confirmed that the stepfather in her MOXY MAXWELL books is indeed her brother in-law J. Patrick Lewis. Linda Sue Park taught us about sijo.  Ruth Forman read us YOUNG CORNROWS CALLIN OUT THE MOON, which is now on my to-get list. But my turn came to swoon when I got to hold and look at Emily Gravett's sketchbook for LITTLE MOUSE'S BIG BOOK OF FEARS!!! Wow. Wow. She read to us from THE ODD EGG, her next book out in the U.S. in January. Okay if I say it one more time? Wow. Emily Gravett. Wow. (Okay, I'll stop.)


  1. How awesome is that? You are so lucky you got to go! I am very jealous of everyone's wonderful posts, if you can't tell. Philadelphia next year? I LOVE PHILLY! I just might have to make that happen.

  2. Your enthusiasm is palpable! How great is it that authors can generate the excitement of a rock star! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I'm glad you had such a great time! Love San Antonio!

  4. Wo hoo! Sounds like a blast. Thanks for the updates and pix.

  5. Anonymous10:01 PM

    Thanks for that awesome round-up!

  6. I agree that the Notables session was terrific (although I must admit to being a very prejudiced commenter having organized the author part of it). I too was thrilled to hear from the authors who each offered such an original and personal perspective on their books. Hopefully we can a great collection of authors for our session next year in Philly!

  7. Thanks for the tech on the go session. It was great.


Comment moderation is turned on.