|This year's KidLitCon organizers: Maureen Kearney, Tanita Davis, Jen Robinson, |
Charlotte Taylor, Melissa Fox, Reshama Deshmukh, and Sarah Stevenson
Sadly, I was a bit off my game during the conference. After almost a year of experiencing a mysterious chronic cough, my condition was recently diagnosed and is being treated as environmental asthma until further testing. And it was in full swing during this two day conference.
My persistent cough has rendered me the person for whom I usually reserve my most searing stink-eye. You know, the one whose cough is distracting during a talk. The one who slinks in late to a session (due to yet another wracking coughing fit) OR gets up and leaves in the middle (to hit the inhaler). Yeah, I'm suddenly that person. My apologies to all—especially Jen Robinson who had the unfortunately pleasure of sitting next to me during one of my most challenging episodes and refrained from smacking me. Thanks, Jen, I owe you.
But back to what really matters. Blogging Diversity, What's Next? was this year's KidLitCon theme, a conscious decision by organizers to help keep the focus on this critical issue. They filled their presentation line-up with authors and bloggers who were out there fighting for this cause even before We Need Diverse Books brought it forth as a mainstream issue. There were so many outstanding speakers that I won't be able to cover them all. Just know that each and every presenter brought vital information and enlightenment to the gathering. There's a reason they were chosen to speak and why they have hordes of followers.
|Meeting Guinevere Thomas!|
|Meeting Libertad Thomas!|
Author, Mitali Perkins, was a great choice for keynote speaker. She's just such a positive, engaging speaker and we all got ARC's of her latest book, Tiger Boy. Of course, I totally related to her saying that she wants to feel free to write for characters outside her own race/culture/gender—doesn't want to be relegated to writing only Bengali girl characters! Having a successful author of color say that was reassuring.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about of the scientific law of nature; how positive attracts and negative repels. It's natural and right to be angry about inequality and injustice in the world. But when that anger is turned into positive action and moves forward in a way that's inclusive and attracts others, it becomes something powerful. We Need Diverse Books is the perfect example.
Now a non-profit organization, WNDB has quickly become a force of nature the traditional publishing industry can no longer deny (and is wisely clamoring to sign up with). Four members of the We Need Diverse Books Team presented on Saturday. It was so great to see some of them in person and in action. Mike Jung has a brilliant sense of humor and he made me laugh a lot during their presentation. Laughter heals and I needed it.
|Authors and WNDB Team Members, Karen Sandler, S.E. Sinkhorn, Mike Jung. |
(Martha White's not pictured as she insisted on taking the photo.)
|Nathalie Mvondo & Libertad Thomas|
|Faythe Arrandondo and Hannah Gomez. If I had snarky hip librarians like these|
when I was a kid, I would have read WAY more!
When Faythe spoke to the realities of not having books her young library clients can relate to—it was powerful. How is she supposed to hand a kid who struggles daily with poverty yet another book with a protagonist who is likely white (either wealthy or middle-class) and heading off to an adventure at boarding school or vacation?! Faythe's mission to bring change in this regard gave me pause and I'll not soon forget her words or her passion.
|Housemade veg gnocchi at Grange.|
There were quite a few ARC's for the taking at KidLitCon and when I saw Jewell Parker Rhodes', Buyou Magic on the table, I snapped it up in a heartbeat and started reading it at dinner. Jewell herself was also in attendance and a presenter. Her writing is lovely and her characters enchanting. This author is not only a prolific writer of both adult and children's novels, she's also the Virginia G. Piper Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Arizona State University (just to mention one of her many affiliations). Yeah, she's that level of writer, as well as, a kind and gracious person.
|ARC of Jewell's latest book.|
I could go on and on about this awesome event, but by now I've likely lost most of my audience. Unless of course you were there and like me, are wanting to keep the experience and feeling alive until the next gathering of this amazing tribe.
Thank you to all who made KidLitCon 2014 happen and who graciously allowed me to participate and included me in your circle. Until we meet again...
And now it's time to post this and watch the World Series. You might be surprised who I'm rooting for (hint: I love an underdog). I'll make any corrections tomorrow but for now, I'm off the clock!