August 6th, 2007


SCBWI Monday

I'm posting this from my gate at LAX, which means the conference is over -- at least for me. There are a fair number of lucky ducks who are still getting one last afternoon of edifying fun, but I'm back in the land of tray tables and flight attendandants who are there primarily for my safety.

Really, the dream went * poof * the instant I pulled away by taxi cab, which was more like a pumpkin than I'd have liked. A really, really hot pumpkin with a broken credit card machine.

But the last little bits of the conference were flawless, so let me re-direct.

Allyn Johnston and Marla Frazee gave a talk about their many years of working intimately together to create gem-like books. I mean, if gems could breathe.

It was a picture-perfect presentation -- quite literally -- with gorgeous slides of everything from early thumbnail sketches to various cover art samples to funny notes that've passed between the two. There were a lot of rather revealing antecdotes about the pressures of the marketplace, like this one:

"Books have to shout out what they are these days. Subtlety is not the name of the game," said Marla.

But, said Allyn, "Titles, colors and trim widths can change; if our intentions change, that's dangerous."

I mean really, half the stuff we learned this weekend about the marketplace would be disheartening if it weren't for all these incredibly gifted, careful and conscious caretakers working to stay focused on creating great books for children -- on top of, along with and in spite of the bottom line. 

Allyn tries to "remain as mindful as possible of the actual experience an adult and child will have reading a book," and that seems like a surefire way to get things right, don't you think?

It pretty much made me want to get writing so that I can work with her for a long, long time.
Which I think is how you're supposed to feel on your way home from a conference like this. 

Fired Up.

Report respectfully submitted...
Signing off.