Thursday, March 13, 2008

VSRA 41st Annual Conference Richmond VA, March 13-15, 2008. Come on down, ya'all! For those of you in the Richmond area, I've got a short Kiddie Lit journey for you to take. Hike on over to the Virginia State Reading Association's 41st Annual Conference, held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center and Marriott Hotel, in downtown Richmond. It is too late to register on-line--just show up and register at the door. It's running through Saturday morning, although the Booth Area is not open Saturday. As usual, the display area is chock full of useful books, school materials and all sorts of fun stuff. . . my favorites being the illustrators and authors scattered throughout the area signing their books. All right, all right. I admit it up front. I'm there for the children's book writers/illustrators & editor/publishers. Today, after listening to author, Mary Quattlebaum, speak on "Creating Books for Virginia Readers: the Power of Place," I was able to get her to sign her newest book, a retelling of an old Williamsburg, VA folktale, entitled Sparks Fly High, in the booth area. You can find out a bit more about Ms. Quattlebaum at and read a Q&A about her book, Sparks Fly High at Thursday afternoon, again in the Booth Area, I enjoyed a preview of that evening's speaker, master storyteller Patricia McKissack (Newbery Honor author of The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural as well as Porch Lies) as she traded tales with visitors at the Narnia Bookstore Booth. Then I, naturally, had to get her to sign a copy of Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters and Other Wily Characters for my own collection. Who can resist a book with a title like Porch Lies? For video interviews with Patricia, visit So, what's on my personal agenda for tomorrow (Friday)? Well, I don't have it all firmed up yet, but I know I'm having breakfast with Betsy Lewin (and a crowd of others), and will get her to sign my collection of her illustrated books (like Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type, complete book list at thereafter. For a preview of that event, you can listen to several short interviews with Betsy Lewin at Then I'm going to listen to Featured Speaker, Mary Lyons, author of Letters from a Slave Girl and Letters from a Slave Boy. You can see a complete list of Mary Lyon's books and hear an audio interview at After that I've got a choice between Henry Cole speaking on the process of creating a picture book, or Kevin O'Malley talking about the difficulties of writing for boys (click on links to see Cole's art gallery and O'Malley's web-site). And I can't miss Saturday a.m., with Carole Weatherford, recipient of a Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Award and New York Times bestselling author (for Moses), speaking about her favorite subject, Jazz. Maybe she'll even sign my copy of Moses: When Harriett Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, a book worthy of its awards.

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