#BEA11 Recap

This past week I made my annual pilgrimage to BEA, BookExpo America, at the Javitz Center.  I am lucky in that I live a short train ride from NYC, so each year I manage to take a personal day and spend a few hours at the conference.  It’s a crazy conference- huge, crowded, huge, and oh yeah, crowded!

I requested this ARC from Candlewick- perfect my senior class disaster unit!

Wednesday morning I made my way to the train station and was in the city by 9:30am.  I had made a plan with Teresa (@trkravtin) to meet at the Candlewick booth at 10am.  Teresa and I have been talking on Twitter for a while now and it was great to finally have a chance to meet.  I quickly walked the few blocks to the Javitz Center and picked up my badge without a problem.  It was 10am on the dot when I made my way onto the exhibit floor.  (Nice timing, huh?) Candlewick was easy to find so I began the day browsing their ARCs.  Sadly, I missed the galley giveaway for Patrick Ness’ A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd but I did pick up a few other ARCs.  And at that point, Teresa was there!

Teresa and I chatted for a little bit and she is just as wonderful in person as she is on Twitter. :)  But time is valuable at BEA, and we parted ways so I could start walking the floor.  I had planned to go to Ally Condie’s signing but when I saw that the line was wrapped around half the Javitz Center, I decided to skip it and just wander around.  I knew I had about 20 minutes until Mary Pearson’s signing and I really wanted to meet her, so I did a quick lap around the center.  I picked up an ARC or two, including Daughter of Smoke and Bone, signed by the wonderful and pink-haired Laini Taylor.  What a sweetheart!

After my inital lay-of-the-land walk, I made my way back to the Henry Hold booth and got on the line for Mary Pearson, who would be signing The Fox Inheritance (The Jenna Fox Chronicles).  I am a huge fan of Pearson’s writing and I had tweeted her that I would be stopping by her line.  Of course, I forgot to mention that I am unbearably shy in situations like that so I would not dare mention my name when I got to the front of the line.  When it was my turn, I passed my book to her and mumbled how much I love her work.  Thank goodness for name tags, because the awesome Mary Pearson read mine and recognized me right away!  She is a sweetheart and I can’t wait to read The Fox Inheritance.  We chatted briefly and promised to keep in touch.  Her line was long and I didn’t want to take up too much of her time, so it was time to go walk the floor some more.  As I left the booth, I also picked up a few adult ARCs for my students.

Walking away, I overheard someone say that Jimmy Fallon was signing copies of his new book a few rows away.  I didn’t need a copy of the book (and it turns out they had already run out of copies anyway), but I did walk by and take a quick picture of him. After that, it was time to head to Scholastic to scope out the scene.  I really lucked out and was able to pick up an ARC of Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers. Yes, my seniors requested this one. :) They were in 3rd grade when the first book came out and were laughing when I mentioned that the second book would be published this summer. Needless to say, when I got back to school they swiped it from me and quickly read it).

I spent the next hour or so walking around, talking to publicists and picking up some ARCs.  While standing at the Abram’s booth, I ran into Pam of MotherReader fame! She was wonderful and gracious and we ended up spending a good portion of the afternoon together.  It was great getting to know her outside the blog (I highly recommend meeting bloggers!  It’s really great!) and we chatted about books, teens, writing, and the 48 Hour Book Challenge.  She let me know that Lisa Yee would be signing at the American Girl booth and I was happy to wait in line to meet her and of course, Peep!  (Peep is famous.  Really.  Just ask him. :) )

MotherReader and Lisa Yee

Me, Lisa Yee, and Peep!

Together we waited on a few signing lines and even made our way over to the autograph tables, which are complete chaos.  I completely lucked out when Scott Westerfeld’s ticketed line slowed down and the girl corralling the line let me jump on the back, without a ticket.  It was my biggest coup of the day and I knew I had students who would be falling over themselves to read Goliath.  Scott Westerfeld was really nice and autographed the copy directly to my class.

Sadly, it was time for me to leave MotherReader at that point and begin to make my way back to Penn Station.  I did one more quick loop around the convention center and really lucked out.  Standing at the Random House booth, completely alone, was Christopher Paolini!  One of my seniors had begged me for an ARC of Inheritance, but they were not available.  However, Paolini was kind enough to sign a poster for him and we had a short conversation.  It was interrupted when I heard someone practically hyperventilating behind me.  There was a tween boy there who was gasping and kept repeating “You’re here.  Oh my god, you’re here.  I had no idea you would be here.  Was it in the program?!  Oh my god, you are my hero!”  I stepped aside as this young boy met his hero.  Paolini was deep in conversation with the boy only moments later and I had to smile.  Sure, I had seen some people at BEA act crazy, but that one moment is what BEA is truly about for me- meeting authors that I love and networking with all of these people I have only met online.

I had a wonderful time at BEA this year.  I’m not sure I could handle attending the entire conference, but one day is perfect.  I get to meet people I admire, I network with my publishing contacts, and I bring home ARCs for my students.

My BEA ARCs

On Thursday, I took all the ARCs to school (with the exception of a few I claimed first) and laid them out on the back table.  My classes all walked through and made a list of the books they want to read, and I pulled names out of a hat at lunch.  Most of the books have a waiting list, so students had to promise to review them on goodreads in return for getting the opportunity to read them.  My first student has already reviewed her ARC!  I expect more reviews to be posted this weekend.  This is why I love BEA- ARCs build passion.  Students are making lists, sharing books, and talking about them because they have the privilege to read them before anyone else.  It’s fantastic!

BEA Update!

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:

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! ;)

BEA!

I was on a 7:33am train this morning, heading to New York.  By 8:45am I was strolling down 34th St., headed towards the Javits Convention Center.  It was an exhausting but fulfilling day.  BEA was huge and overwhelming, but here are a few of the highlights:

  • At 9:40am I asked a Scholastic rep where they would be disseminating the Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) at 10am. She pointed off in the distance and said, “They’ve formed a line over there.” “Over there” turned out to be a huge line, wrapped around one whole side of the convention center! But it was well worth it when I was handed my copy of Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games). :)
  • At 10:20am I made my way over to the Traditional Autograph signing area. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the line for Sarah Dessen was just as long as the line I stood in for Catching Fire!  But again, so worth the wait.  Sarah Dessen was a complete sweetheart and I got my class an autographed copy of Along for the Ride
  • While waiting in line for Sarah Dessen, I struck up a conversation with the nice girl behind me, who worked for HarperCollins.  She actually knew and recognized my blog!  That was pretty darn awesome!!
  • Scored an ARC of Kristin Cashore’s Fire. Stumbled upon it in the Penguin booth and it was like Christmas morning!
  • Lots and lots of books!  The Bloomsbury Walker booth had tons of ARCs, which was great.  I loved meeting the reps from Egmont, which seems like a fantastic new publisher on the scene.  And did I mention books?!

Now, I am completely drained and exhausted.  I walked around with two tote bags and a backpack full of books all day.  Needless to say, I am sore and tired!  But what a great day!  I just wish I could have stayed longer and met more authors and bloggers!  I am sad I missed out on Maggie Stiefvater, Laini Taylor, Jane Yolen, Kristin Cashore, and so many more!!!!

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