Last Monday at 3:30 in the morning, the phone rang in my friend Marla Frazee’s kitchen.
Usually you don’t want a phone call at 3:30 in the morning because:
1. You’re trying to sleep and
2. Phone calls at 3:30 in the morning tend to bear bad news.
But this particular Monday was my Dad’s Birthday aka Caldecott Day (more formally known as the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards). In which case phone calls at 3:30 in the morning are most welcome.
While Marla was congratulated on her 2nd-year-in-a-row Caldecott Honor for our book All the World, I lay sound asleep in a Murphy bed in Montana. It was a couple of hours later, in fact, that I sat up all bleary eyed and limped to my laptop (with slightly sore shins because I’d just skied for the first time in about 15 years).
I wanted to watch the live webcast of the awards but I was having trouble with the advanced math required to figure out what time it was in Boston. As I sat there counting, my email inbox downloaded a few messages, including one from my editor, Allyn Johnston, with the subject line, “Caldecott.” When I clicked it open, it said, “Honor!!!”
And then my phone started to ring.
My agent, first.
My Austin friends gathered at Vermont College, next.
My husband who’d been trying to get through, third.
Then came the emails.
And the facebook posts.
My nerves started getting a little jangley right about then, and they stayed that way through most of the day. I was with my sister, which helped. And there was the big hot pool at the condominium, which helped, too. The latté. The long talk with Marla. The herd of bighorn sheep we passed as we drove back into town.
But it was really my visit to my niece’s classroom that afternoon that made me feel firmly planted for the first time all day. Granted, they gave me a standing ovation (something that’s never happened at any of my other events) but after that it was a straight-up, regulation school visit (i.e., very cute and very funny).
There was the little girl who asked me if I knew her uncle (he lives in Texas) and the little boy who asked me if I’d sign his Spongebob Squarepants books. And, just to ensure that my ego was truly and goodly in check, the student who wondered, “When they deny your books, do you bring them home, add a little and change a little and then send them back, hoping they won’t notice they're the same books they denied?”
You mean, like, revision?
But at the very end of the visit, looking over the very last page of the book (which says “All the world is all of us”), a couple of kids observed that that’s kinda what Martin Luther King had been trying to say. Which was a pretty sweet point, especially on that Monday, which was my Dad’s Birthday aka Caldecott Day aka Martin Luther King Day, 2010.
And there I was – a far cry from Boston and the shiny silver stickers they’d be putting on our book – feeling like I was really in the right place. At the right time. It was one fine day.
(Congratulations flowers from my editor at Beach Lane Books and the folks at Simon & Schuster)
(Congratulations flowers from my mom and dad)
(Congratulations banner from our friends Nathaniel and Lucia)
Oh, and everything I said last week? About being humbled, blessed, swoony, weak-kneed and grateful?
That all still applies.
Thank you, all, for your amazing love and support. It’s really something.