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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Alabama Book Festival - Roundup

     I'm back - what a fun book festival that was! And despite poor weather forecasts, it couldn't have been more beautiful.
     The Alabama Book Festival is held in Montgomery, in Old Alabama Town every year. Old Town is a collection of Antebellum houses, buildings and cabins which have been restored to their original glory. There are some true gems in the collection, and they make for charming venues to be steeped in southern literature. Thanks to Jay Lamar and Nancy Griggs for inviting me and putting together such a fabulous affair. I drank sweet iced tea, wore a hat (okay, a sombrero), and felt my southern roots down to my toes.

     I arrived Friday to participate in a get together for all the authors and illustrator (me) in the historic Young House Restaurant, where the children's book people found each other immediately. I had the great pleasure of hanging out with R.A. Nelson ("Teach Me"), Jay Asher ("13 Reasons Why"), and Loretta Ellsworth ("In Search of Mockingbird") quite a bit. In fact, Loretta and her sister Monica were staying at my hotel, so we got to spend some great time together. (They got more pics which I'll post later if our eyes aren't closed in them . . . ) I also met Jennifer Echols ("Major Crush") and got to hang out with friend Deborah Wiles ("Each Little Bird That Sings") for all of five minutes! Honestly, I think this is what I enjoy most about these events - the chance to spend time with fellow creators.
     Or maybe it's the chance to truly connect with a child.
     After my gig at 11:00 (on what had to be the cutest stage ever in front of the old print shop), I gave a mini-drawing lesson on how to draw "Rosebud" - the vaca (cow) from "Paco and the Giant Chile Plant." I had about a dozen "students" who all did a great job. The little girl in the picture is Lauren - she got to keep the cow I drew, bought a book for me to sign, and gave me a big hug before she left. Things like that make you feel so, so good.
     The drive from Atlanta wasn't bad either - just over two hours, and it gave me the chance to enjoy "Dragon's Keep" by Janet Lee Carey on audio all the way down and back. I still have a bit left to listen to, so I need another trip. Wait, I have one! I'm off to the Cedar Valley Arts Festival next weekend - hope to see you there!

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