ALA Part 2: It always comes down to the feet

Once again, I attempted to find the perfect conference shoes; once again, I learned the sad lesson that when you are lugging a bunch of ARCs and walking long distances, no shoes remain comfortable. It’s kind of ridiculous how much it ends up coloring your experience of your trip. It’s “Oh my gosh, that’s Mo Willems!” and “I wonder if putting another bandaid on will help,” and “Oh my gosh, it’s my hero Dr. Brazelton!”

Seeing Dr. T. Berry Brazelton in person was definitely a conference highlight, as he has been one of my heroes since my sons were little, along with Raffi and Mister Rogers. His Touchpoints series of books and videos are a tremendous contribution to the health and well-being of families in this country. It was a thrill to see him, and he offered these sage words of advice to librarians: “Never look a baby in the eye”. I like his approach because it is rooted in 50 plus years of working with children and using keen intelligence and observation to come to his conclusions. He really helped me change my outlook on how much small words of encouragement to a parent can mean even in our short library encounters.

Conference moments you should not miss if you get a chance to go next year include:

~The Annual Book Cart Drill Team Competition. It is always hilarious, with color commentary provided by Mo Willems and Jon Scieszka.

~The Newbery Caldecott Banquet. Come for the speeches even if you can’t afford the dinner. This year’s speeches by Brian Selznick and Laura Amy Schlitz have been thoroughly covered elsewhere, but if you missed them I highly recommend getting your hands on the current issue of Horn Book, so you can read their speeches and see Selznick’s amazing new drawings.

~The ALSC Awards. Much less well-known than the Newbery Banquet, this is still a festive, fun event where winners of the Sibert (non-fiction), Batchelder (translated book), Carnegie (video) and Geisel (easy reader) awards receive their honors. At this year’s Awards ceremony, Peter Sis gave a moving and funny speech in accepting his Sibert Award for The Wall, and Mo Willems delivered his speech accepting the Geisel Award for There Is a Bird on Your Head with a bird on his head, in the style of an easy reader.

Next year, Chicago!

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