Sunday, June 29, 2008

ALA Convention: Disneyland

Greetings from the American Library Association Annual Convention!

Welcome to Disneyland...

where statues are taller than castles

where Mary Poppins is waiting to greet you

where you can stand in line for everything

Including season passes

where the benches have mouse ears

where only serious items are sold in the shops

where danger lurks around every corner

where the staff is always smiling

even when It's a Small World is closed

and where everyone carries a bag.

Things I learned at Disneyland:
Librarians make fantastic park companions.
They're incredibly organized and they show up early.

Academic librarians can run faster than you think.

Acquisitions librarians research everything.

A good way to get to know a library director is to sit next to one on Space Mountain.

Monday, June 23, 2008

More advice for the ALA convention

I'm going to my second American Library Association Annual Convention this week and I can't being to tell you how much I'm looking forward to it.

As soon as I got back from last year's convention, I wrote a post about the things I learned. Here are a few more tips (mainly geared to attendees interested in children's books). Feel free to add your own advice in the comments.

My first piece of advice comes from Maria at Library Praxis.
Go to the sessions you want to go to... not the ones you think you should go to.

What should you wear?
Last year I noticed that for the most part attendees were dressed pretty informally. I think you could get away with jeans and a nice shirt... although slacks look a bit more professional. If you have a job interview, bring along a change of clothes for the interview.

Make sure to wear comfortable shoes. You'll be doing a lot of walking.

Plan ahead.
Use ALA's Event Planner. Visit the ALA Annual wiki. Make a list (or a spreadsheet) of everything that looks interesting to you. Obviously, you can't go to everything, but it's nice to have all the options in front of you.

Be spontaneous.
I know, I just told you to plan everything out. But, also remember that you don't have to do every last thing on your schedule. Make sure to linger to talk to your favorite authors. Go to lunch with an old (or new) friend. Take a nap if you need one.

Advice for the exhibits
I'll admit, I copied some of this from my post about the Book Expo, but a lot of it applies to ALA too.

Go to the booths of the large publishers.
You'll find multiple copies of books laid out on the floor or on tables in big stacks. You can take these (for the most part). If there's a publisher that you're really interested in, you might want to check back at their booth later during the conference, because they'll put out different books on different days. Smaller publishers are less likely to have the funds to do this.

Ask for books you're interested in.
Publishers bring tons of books with them, but don't have the quantities to put every book out in a stack for everyone to take. If there's a book you're dying to read, find out who the publisher is, go to their booth and tell them what book you're looking for. If they don't have a copy with them, they may be able to send you one after the conference is over. Or not. But, it's always worth it to ask. And, even if you don't get to walk away with one, they'll probably have a copy on display that you can take a look at (which is particularly useful for picture books).

Don't take eveything you see.
There are tons of free handouts available at ALA. Take only what you're interested in (or what a friend or colleague who didn't get to go would be interested in). If there's a free book or an ARC (advance review copy) that you already have access to, or have absolutely no interest in or use for... leave it for someone else. The same rule applies for fliers, tote bags, pens, and all the other freebies you'll see. Don't worry; you'll still acquire tons of free stuff.

Talk to the vendors
Don't just look at them as a source of free books. ALA gives you a chance to share your opinions with the publishers and ask them about your favorite and forthcoming books. They may know an interesting detail about an author or the creation of a book that will help you "sell" a book when you get back home. And they'll be interested to hear your feedback about their books and products. And ask them any questions you have. They know a lot more about their books than what's in the catalogs.

Are you going to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet?
Here are a few things I noticed during this sublime event last year.

This was described to me as the "librarian prom" and I think that's a fitting description. It's definitely a black-tie event. Wear the nicest dress or suit that you feel comfortable shoving in a suitcase and dragging with you to the conference. I brought my conference name tag with me to the event, but just couldn't bring myself to put it on over my evening gown.

If you don't have a table number on your banquet ticket, I highly recommend going into the dinner as soon as the doors open. The majority of tables are reserved for publishers or groups... so you have to search for a bit to find a table that doesn't have a placard on it. I made the mistake last year of dawdling when the ballroom doors were opened. (I had a good excuse, I was talking to a famous author who was standing behind me in the drinks line). I ended up scrounging for a seat in the back. On the other hand, the people seated in the back of the hall got to go through the receiving line first at the end of the night, and I got to talk to every single author honored during the evening.

What if you really want to hear the Newbery and Caldecott speeches but can't afford the banquet? The speeches are open to conference attendees. Go to the ballroom after dinner is served (last year the event organizers listed an approximate time when dinner was expected to be over). There are chairs on the side of the ballroom where you can sit and listen to the speeches for free.

Are the Printz Awards different from the Newbery/Caldecott banquet?
Yes. The authors of all the honored books get to give a speech. This is not true with the Newberys and Caldecotts, where you only hear from the winners and not the honor recipients.

I'd wear nice slacks, a suit, or a dress to this event. Jeans are definitely not appropriate.

Can you recommend a good book (or a good plan) for seeing Disneyland in a short period of time?
Check out the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland. I've used it on incredibly crowded days and holiday weekends at Disneyland and it's worked perfectly every time. It has touring plans that help you get through the park in the most efficient way possible, and it's always saved me an enormous amount of time waiting in line. No matter how exacting their plans seem, follow them. They know what they're talking about. Even if you don't have a full day to devote to Disneyland or California Adventure, this book is still worth a quick read. It gives a rating and analysis of every ride and attraction, which helps you plan your limited time.

Older editions of the book are fine for a lay of the land and to find out how how Disney's rides are structured... but I recommend using the touring plans only from the most current edition because things change so rapidly at Disneyland. Incidentally, the admission prices in the 2008 edition are already out-of-date. Check the official Disneyland website for the current prices and operating hours.

Are you a children's literature blogger?
I'm organizing a pizza dinner on Saturday night for bloggers and anyone interested in children's books. For details, see this post.

Anything else?
Above all, have a great time and enjoy the convention.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Kidlit Blogger Dinner at ALA

Are you going to the American Library Association convention this year? Do you blog about children's literature? Come join us for an informal pizza dinner Saturday night.

Here's the information:
Date: Saturday, June 28, 2008
Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
Location: Marri's Pizza, http://www.marrispi
Address: 1194 Katella Avenue, Anaheim, CA 92802
Phone: (714) 533-1631
It's about a block and a half from the convention center.

Also on Saturday afternoon, Betsy Bird of Fuse #8 is organizing an extremely cool kidlit blogger event. The times of the two events are staggered, so that you can hang out with Feiwel and Friends, and then join us for pizza.

Let me know if you're planning on coming, so I can make a (relatively) accurate reservation.

P.S. You don't technically have to be a kidlit blogger to come (I attended this get together last year and it inspired me to become a blogger). Basically, it's for anyone interested in children's literature.

Hope to see you in Anaheim!

Doonesbury is back

After a three month sabbatical, Doonesbury has returned today with new installments. I'm glad to see it back.... I was getting tired of reruns.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

For Better or For Worse: the end is coming

Lynn Johnston addressed a few recent reader comments about For Better or For Worse on her blog yesterday. What interested me most was this quote: "I have a limited time left here and every strip, now, is a statement that leads to the August 30th conclusion."

I think that's the first time I've seen a definite date for the end of the strip. Until now, I've just heard that it will end no later than September. Although, as I understand it, For Better or For Worse won't really end... it's just the current storyline in the present day with Liz, Anthony, Grandpa Jim, etc. that will conclude on August 30.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

An eager reader

A young customer asked me for the new Percy Jackson book today. I showed him The Battle of the Labyrinth, the fourth book in the series. It was just released a little over a month ago.

Nope. That wasn't what he was looking for. He'd already read the fourth book. What he wanted was the FIFTH book.

New Harry Potter prequel story online

The Harry Potter prequel written by J.K. Rowling that has been in the news recently is now available online. Before you get too excited.... I should warn you that it's not an excerpt from an upcoming book. It's a stand-alone short story that was auctioned off for charity.

To read the story, go to the Waterstone's website, click on "read our authors' stories" and then select "J.K. Rowling" at the top of the list. It's two sided, so after you finish the first half, be sure to click on the arrow on the right-hand side to read the second half. It's hand-written, so it takes a little while to read. After you read it, come back to Wizards Wireless and vote in the new poll in the sidebar.

J.K. Rowling posted a short account on her website about writing the story (she says she felt like a relapsing addict) and confirmed that she is NOT working on a Harry Potter prequel book.

I thought it was a great little vignette of Sirius and James on the motorbike. It takes place a few years before the first chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and it's delightful to see Sirius and James having so much fun. It whetted my appetite for more about the pre-Harry days, but it sounds fairly definite that there are no plans in the works for that. Alas.

The Order of the Phoenix has T-shirts? I thought they were a (relatively) secret society.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Hooray for Books!

Last December, I was very sad to report that A Likely Story went out of business. It was a wonderful independent children's bookstore in Alexandria, Virginia and I was quite sorry to see it go. I wrote in my post that I wish something could have been done... and it turns out that something has.

Trish Brown and Ellen Klein (former employees of A Likely Story) have just recently opened a new children's bookstore called Hooray for Books in the same location as A Likely Story. There are some subtle differences such as toys, games and plush (in addition to the wonderful selection of books).

It's so lovely to welcome them (back) to the D.C. independent bookstore community. Hooray for Books had a soft opening on Saturday, June 7 and the grand opening is on Saturday, June 21. Visit their shiny new website and blog to catch the excitement of the owners and staff. Best of luck and I can't wait to visit.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Mr. Still In Print

At least once a day I hear a customer say one of the following things:

"I loved this book when I was a kid."
"I haven't seen this book in years."
"I can't believe this book is still in print!"

It always makes me happy when someone finds a much-loved and unexpected book in our store. Books such as Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar never get a "I can't believe you have this book" comment. Most people know how popular those books are and expect them to still be in print. It's the surprises that get reactions.

Obviously, different people remember different books, but here are a few that consistently get commented on:
  • Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Sometimes, Katy and the Big Snow and Choo Choo invoke memories too.
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
  • The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright
  • The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge by Hildegarde Swift and Lynd Ward
  • Any book by Bill Peet
  • Any book by Leo Lionni
  • Any Choose Your Own Adventure book
And the number one series that gets exclaimed over the most? Without a doubt, it's Roger Hargreaves' Mr. Men/Little Miss series. Don't know what I'm talking about? Here's a refresher:

Did you just say to yourself: "I can't believe those books are still in print!" You did, didn't you?

Yes, thankfully, these wonderful miniature books (with only a couple of exceptions) are currently in print and available from Penguin. New books in the series continue to be published every year, despite the fact that Roger Hargreaves died twenty years ago. The new books are written by Roger's son, Adam Hargreaves.

It is unbelievable how many people remember these books from their childhood. And almost everyone says the same thing: "I always wanted to collect ALL the books." If you've ever seen a Mr. Men or a Little Miss book, you'll know that on the back of every book is an illustrated list of the other titles in the series. One of the coolest things I'm able to do as a bookseller is to order all the titles listed. And, best of all, I get to watch them go home every day with customers who have remembered them for years, or ones who have just discovered them.

Do you remember these books? See the new poll on the sidebar.

What books have you been thrilled to see again?