I am just back from several (hot) days in Washington DC, where the American Library Associaton Convention was in full swing; it is always a wonderful opportunity to see many old friends in the children's book world: writers, publishers, librarians. And of course you talk too much and eat too much and I suppose some people even DRINK too much (gasp!) but I am not one of them.
A real treat for me was being with, for the first time, Marilyn Nelson, author of A WREATH FOR EMMETT TILL, a book that I consider a real tour de force. And I had a few minutes with old-pal Jerry Spinelli who with his wife, Eileen, is in the throes of house renovation; a glass of wine with Jack Prelutsky who tells me he is becoming a serious bird photographer; a too-brief moment with my friend Pat Mora; tea with close friend Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, to whom I am giving unsolicited decorating advice because she and Rex are about to move and there are few things I enjoy more than choosing paint colors and arranging furniture; and a re-connection with Judy Blume, whom I've not seen for several years. I did not go to the Newbery/Caldecott dinner because it was the time I could spend a quiet evening with a recently widowed close friend who lives in Washington.
I went on from the convention to the Holocaust Museum, where I spoke Monday about "Number the Stars" to a group of 100+ teachers from around the country who are there for a workshop on Holocaust education.
My house here in Cambridge is covered with scaffolding and I do not envy the painters who are out there scraping and suffering in the heat. Tomorrow I head back to Maine to hole up again until mid-July when I will go overnight to Amherst, Massahusetts, to the Eric Carle Museum to be with my dear friend Allen Say as he opens a rerospective exhibition of his work. Allen and I go back a long, long way...to the day in 1948 when both of us, 11 years old at the time, stared at each other across a schoolyard in Tokyo.
Here is the cover of Allen's Caldecott-winning book, "Grandfather's Journey." It was both ironic and wonderful that "The GIver" won the Newbery Medal the same year and that Allen and I were able to be up there together at the podium.