I have been a terrible blogger lately, and I apologize. The end of the year is kicking my butt with grades, sending out applications, doing placement for next year, and all of the various odds-and-ends that take over for the last few weeks. I promise I will be back to normal soon!
However, this week I took a professional day and attended the first day of BEA. While it wasn’t a typical professional day (no workshops, etc), it was extremely valuable. I was able to make connections with publishers and authors while also getting a look at upcoming titles for next year. That helps me plan out my read alouds and booktalks in the coming months. Plus, I came home with loads of ARCs and swag for my classroom, which made my students extremely happy!
Wednesday morning started at my regular wake-up time. I ate a quick breakfast and started the annoyingly long drive to the train station. If I wanted a parking space (and thus avoiding having to drive into NYC) I had to make it to the station by 8:30am. Thankfully, I got there just in time. I waited a few minutes, hopped onto the next train, and was in Penn Station by 9:30am. Needless to say, it was hot and humid when I walked out onto the street! It’s a good thing the Javits Center is only four blocks from Penn Station. I was still sweating by the time I got there and picked up my badge.
The first thing I noticed, after cooling off, was that everything was on one floor this year. Last year, the children’s book pavilion was in its own room downstairs. This year, everything was on the main convention floor. It was more convenient, but also more crowded. I got out on the convention floor when The Duchess of York was still signing her picture book at the autograph tables (ugh) and you could not even move. It was just way too crowded. Plus, there were paparazzi getting in the way!
After walking the floor once to get the layout, I texted Abby(the)Librarian. We’ve known each other online for a few years and were on the Cybils middle grade panel this year, so I was excited to finally meet her. We met up a few minutes later and she introduced me to Jen o fNerdGirlBlogging. We walked the floor and started chatting with various publishers and publicists. It was great to have people to walk around with this year, although Abby was way better at handing out her blog business card than me. We spent a few hours together and got a lot of great books! I have to say, publishers were definitely a little stingier with ARCs this year, due to the economy. There were a lot more “ARCs only at specific times” which resulted in stampedes at various publisher’s booths. It was madness. I was actually afraid of getting trampled a few times. However, I still managed to get a a few of my most-wanted ARCs. (Weird note- Scholastic had no booth this year. Which was odd.)
Around 1pm we stopped for lunch, eating $8 crepes on the floor in the back of the convention center. I was so hungry that the crepes tasted like they were straight from France. While eating I texted Sarah Darer Littman, author of the amazing upcoming Life, After. When I reviewed the book I mentioned that I adored the book cover and would love to hang it up as art. Well, Sarah read the review and decided to make posters! We made a plan to meet up at BEA. Let me tell you- she is THE.NICEST.AUTHOR.EVER. She planted herself on the ground with us and chatted and gossiped. What a sweetheart! (And Life, After is absolutely awesome, so be sure to pick up a copy come July 1st). And come on- do you know any other authors who would admit to attempting a banana kick? In a dress? Just to explain who Pele is?
After lunch we started walking the floor again, making a plan to pick up ARCs and network with some of the publishers who had meeting rooms set up. It was so much fun and we managed to run into even more authors. At one point, I was asking a publicist at Little, Brown if they had any more ARCs of Wendy Mass’ new title, The Candymakers. The publicist said they didn’t and as I was walking away someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, “The book is wonderful. She’s signing it at 4pm. Actually, she’s right here,” pointing to Wendy Mass! I got to have a great conversation and even verified that she was the second cousin of one of my former students. (Plus, the sweet woman who told me how great the book was? Courtney Sheinmel, author of Cybil-nominated Positively. I didn’t realize it was Courtney until I walked away and managed to sneak a look at her nametag. By the time I realized it I was too embarassed to chase her down. I should have told her that one of my students has been reading and rereading Positively since March. It’s her favorite book ever. (When I told that student the next day, she freaked out that I met her idol. ).
That’s what I love about BEA. Randomly running into authors and getting to tell them how much I appreciate them and how much my students love their books. Before the day was over I finally got to meet Jane Kurtz, author of the Lanie books from American Girl. Jane is a fellow monarch lover and even took a picture of my Monarch Teacher Network totebag and posted it on her blog!
After I met Jane I was able to hop on the end of the line for the 14 Cows for America signing. I lucked out and didn’t even have to wait long! Carmen Agra Deedy was a sweetheart and I am so glad I was able to get a signed copy of the book. I can’t wait to use it in the classroom!
By that point, my shoulders were sore and I knew it was time to head home. I really wanted to stay for the Kidlit Drink Night and to meet up with even more people, but I didn’t think I could make it. Plus, I had to hike back to Penn Station in 90+ degree heat with lots of books. (I know, poor me. :-P). I decided to throw in the towel until next year. But let me tell you, I can’t wait to go back! I may even try for two day next year, and I plan to bring some more teachers with me! BEA is a fantastic opportunity to network with authors, publishers, librarians, and booksellers and it’s not an opportunity teachers get very often. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it!
I will post a picture of my book-gets later, but a few teasers now:
Best swag: My purple Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5 reusable water bottle.
ARCs I am Most Excited About:
- Matched by Ally Condie
- Delirium by Lauren Oliver
- The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante
- Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner
- Annexed by Sharon Dogar
ARC I am Most Disappointed With: Bright Young Things by Anna Godberson.- The “ARC” is actually just some sample chapters! What a tease! I read it on the train ride home and needless to say I can’t wait to read the book. It’s just like The Luxe so far, and now I have to wait until October to read the rest of it. No fair!