SCBWI Summer Conference Highlights

• Tuesday, August 9, 2011

This past weekend saw me at the yearly SCBWI summer conference at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. It was as I expected: incapable of disappointing. The line-up of speakers and workshops were incredible. Some speakers were familiar and already dear to me while others became fast new favorites. It was hard not to cry from one moment to laughing at another while listening to the stories told by these speakers.


The one name that was already familiar to me was Gary Paulsen. I don't remember how old I was when I first read his book Hatchet but I remember how much I enjoyed the read. His keynote speech about his life was like many other authors'--entirely gut-wrenching, but ultimately triumphant. I was especially moved by how a librarian impacted the trajectory of his life by offering him a library card with his name on top. An act so simple yet so powerful. Oh, Mr. Paulsen also talked about competing in the Iditarod. No biggie!

A speaker not familiar to me before is the illustrator David Small. Shame on me because he is well-known in the children's book field, not to mention amazing! He started his keynote by showing the audience trailers of his graphic novel memoir Stitches. I don't know how anyone can possibly be unmoved by his story-telling. His honesty and vulnerability as a person was consistently at the surface making every word he said feel so courageous. He continued his talk by narrating an illustrated slideshow of what it is like to go on a book tour starting with the chain bookstores to beloved indie ones like Hicklebee's. It was hilarious! The talk ended so fittingly and joyously to Mr. Small dancing to the tune of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You).


I also met an author/illustrator of a book I fell in love with a year ago at the library. It is called Sally and the Purple Socks. It is an adorable picture book of a duck named Sally and a pair of beloved purple socks. It is the exuberance of Sally for her socks that makes this book so endearing. Unfortunately, I didn't know that Lisze Bechtold would be there so I didn't bring my copy to get autographed!

Other facts about the conference: it was the conference's 40th anniversary, it was sold-out to 1300 attendees, and Judy Blume was a surprise guest! All in all, it was another terrific conference. I learned a lot about the business of children's books, met a lot of writers and illustrators, and most of all--was inspired.

Great recaps of the conference: Naomi Canale , Katie Davis, Lisa Yee, the illustrators intensives, the Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

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