Saturday, November 3, 2007

Texas Book Festival, Day 1

This.... is chocolate! It was in my room when I arrived on Thursday night -- I broke off a corner, I must confess, and wish I could figure out how to get the rest home! Jim would love it. Dark chocolate. Thank you, Austin, and Texas Book Festival folks. I am here.

I am a Reading Rock Star, who knew? Here we are, Kate McMullan and I, outside Pillow Elementary School, where we both spent time with students who had been so carefully prepared for our visit by volunteers at the Texas Book Festival and by librarians and teachers extraordinaire.
I seem to be trying to perfect my Statue of Liberty pose here. I'm with fourth graders, and with this slide I'm talking about Cynthia Rylant's work and how it comes right out of her life -- I'm encouraging students to write their own personal narratives. My fiction is first my personal narrative.
We spent a great morning here, and then scooted to a lunch at Volunteer Sharon's lovely home, where we had a chance to meet with other Reading Rock Stars -- children's book authors unite! It's fun to be in-country, and it's great to do meaningful work.

I'm in Austin, at the Texas Book Festival. Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of spending time with students enrolled at UT Austin and UT San Antonio. I had the delight of working with fellow writers Linda Sue Park and Kimberly Willis Holt, and I had the dizzying sweetness of reconnecting with colleagues and friends Barbara Immroth, Nancy Roser, and Miriam Martinez, all professors extraordinaire, all human beings par excellence.

Linda Sue holds forth:

I pontificate:

Cracking up at something. Can you tell we're having a good time? It's exhilarating to work with colleagues, it really is, to spend time discussing writing, reading, sharing of books and stories. It's wonderful to be in-country with teachers and librarians, and those who partner with us, really -- I love feeling like a partner in the classroom.

Nancy (left) and Miriam and I are presenting (along with stellar teacher Claudia Sharp and the fabulous Sarah Ellis) a session at NCTE on Saturday, Nov. 18, called Learning to Read Like a Writer. More on this next week. Thank you so much, Nancy and Miriam, for organizing us and for putting together this great program at UT. Go Longhorns!

Thanks to the volunteers, too -- 900 strong! -- who keep the Texas Book Festival spinning smartly, and especially thanks to Ashley and Kelsie for the rides, for taking photos, and for taking such good care of me, big thanks to Amy Roberts, Susan and Ralph Rubino (Go, Dodgers! Go, Joe Torre!), Naomi Escamilla, and Harper Scott -- thanks to all.

Time to head to the green room in the Texas State Capitol. I'm on a panel at 10:30 with Kimberly Willis Holt, Michael Hoeye, and Adm Rex: "Creating a Sense of Place." I want to hear what they have to say. I want to learn... always learning.

Then I catch a plane home, sleep in my own bed with my new husband, and head for Iowa City in the morning -- whoa doggies. Or, as Ruby Lavender would say, "Good Garden of Peas!"