During A.L.A., I had the opportunity to meet librarians at “Picture Perfect” a breakfast event sponsored by my publishers Scholastic. My editor Arthur A. Levine was there too! I got to meet other authors and illustrators which is always fun. And to top it off, several of Bagram Ibatoulline’s original illustrations for “The Granddaughter Necklace” were on display. It was my first time seeing the art for my book in its original form. I was bowled over by its beauty. As the guests at the event looked at the artwork displayed, I stood near by proudly, introducing myself to guests as the person who’d written the words that inspired those stunning pictures.
After the guests had looked at the art and had their delicious buffet breakfast, I had a chance to make a brief presentation as one of the five authors and illustrators featured at this event. I was the first author up to speak but I wasn’t all that nervous because I had worked very hard on my speech. Starting with notes in my writing journal and ending up with several pages written on the computer, I composed a presentation explaining how “The Granddaughter Necklace” had come to be. But when I rehearsed what I’d written out loud, it was far too long! I had only eight minutes to speak, during which time several of the book’s illustrations would also be projected. It took me many more hours to whittle my speech down until it was short enough. This didn’t involve simply deleting words but discovering for myself the points in my speech that were most essential to the origin and meaning of the book. I had to think a lot about that! After paring it down to just the right length, I rehearsed my speech over and over, so I wouldn’t miss anything important or be tempted to add a line or two or, worse yet, blank out or get tongue tied. The preparation was worth it. The audience at Picture Perfect was…well, perfect! Who could possibly understand more my motives and inspiration for writing than a group of librarians? People dedicated to the positive power of books. I had a great time making new friends after the speeches were over.
“….love can be planted in the heart of a child in the form of a story.”
That’s a line from my own speech, a thought that had never occurred to me in quite that way until I began to prepare for A.L.A. Midwinter. Having once been a child myself who was saved by reading in the Public Library and nurtured by family members who let me get to know and love them through their stories, this is a sentiment I believe and now embrace as a children’s author. It’s a sentiment I hope you agree with.