Decatur Book Festival '09 - Wrap Up

The whirlwind for the Decatur Book Festival begins on Friday morning for me every year. Friday is the day visiting authors/illustrators visit schools, or the students are trekked in to see the authors. This year I had the pleasure of escorting my friend, author/illustrator Katie Davis, to the Decatur Recreation Center where she spoke to about 400 preschoolers - that's all.

WOWSA! She was wonderful of course and the kids loved learning about WHO HOPS and KINDERGARTEN ROCKS, which was given out to every new kindergarten student in the state of Georgia last year!
     Katie and I went to lunch afterwards at The Brick Store Pub (with author Laurel Snyder) and then to quickly pop around the square so she could get her bearings... that was the plan anyhow, we got held up... First - Squash Blossoms got in their Fall merchandise... (here's Stan holding my new bag ...) and then as we walked back by the Brick... well, see, there's this magic table out front. You sit there for a while and everybody you ever wanted to run into in Decatur will walk by. The inverse is also true - you will almost always see somebody you want to say 'hi' to sitting at the magic table. This time it was Dave Shallengberger of Little Shop of Stories; and John Hulme and Michael Wexler, authors of The Seems. So, we joined 'em for a beer. True to its magic, we were soon joined by Judy Schachner (Skippyjon Jones) and her husband, Bob; Diane Capriola (Little Shop), and several more people who just dropped by to say 'hi.' MAGIC I tell ya...
     Friday evening we celebrated the opening of Storybook Look: Illustrations by Southern Artists, at the Art Institute of Atlanta, Decatur campus. (I'm thrilled they used my art from Paco and the Giant Chile Plant to feature the show!) Several of the illustrators were there - Me, Rick Spears, Ami Blackford, Laura Knorr, and Mark Braught. The show was beautiful and speeches were made by those in charge at the AIA (thank you Kim Resnik and Elizabeth Wilson!) and Southern Arts Federation (thank you Teresa Hollins, Jenna Knight and Gerri Combs for everything). I also said some words about my friend, Liz Conrad - she would have been so thrilled. It was a fun but emotional launch to a beautiful show. (It will be at the AIA for one month before moving on to its next locale.)
     Here's what the show looks like from the sidewalk. Liz's work on the left, Rick's and mine on the right.

     Here are Rick Spears, Teresa Hollingsworth (SAF), Me, Gerri Combs (SAF), and Ami Blackford.

     Here are Mark and Laura.

     And Vicky and Aliya (with Teresa in the background).

     Me with my art from Glitter Girl - ahhhhh!!!!

     And who should show up? None other than award-winning illustrator E.B. Lewis, illustrator of The Secret World of Walter Anderson written by Hester Bass (look for my interview on Friday!). Several of us went to Twain's afterwards and I got to enjoy learning more about this talented man.

     Great pic of Laura and Donna.

     Saturday I helped set up our SCBWI Southern Breeze tent for the festival. The weather was so nice and cool!
     Here is Connie Fleming, me and Susan Spain (author of "The 12 Days of Christmas" which I am currently illustrating).

     We got a double tent this year - right next to the children's stage and across from Little Shop of Stories again. Perfect! I was on for the first shift - 9-11am. And wowsa, when the crowds showed up it was impressive! Susan turned on the bubble machine as the parade landed and you would have thought we were showering them with chocolate - they were SO HAPPY!!!!

     And man, our booth was full ALL DAY. We sold almost half our stock just in a few hours - unbelievable! And the authors/illustrators who were present signed books like crazy!
     It was nearly impossible to get out of there to go grab lunch. But finally, Donna Bowman, Robyn Hood Black, Katie Davis and I headed to Leon's Full Service. Apparently, they have a magic table outside too (same owners, hmmmm....) as we were soon joined by Judy and Bob again, and Loren Long, and their sales rep for Penguin. And if you can believe this, we left them to run back and see Kate DiCamillo on stage! She was hilarious!

     I saw Jon Schieszka speak at the teen stage - which could be double the size it was - isn't that GREAT news!? Teen readers - yay!
     Then another good friend came in town for the festivities, Kerry Madden. Remember she and her daughter were with me when I learned the news that I had sold SOAP? What a great day!
     After hanging with Kerry and Katie a bit, I went to see my bud, Jessica Handler, on a panel with Kaylie Jones talking about memoirs. (They were GREAT together - it was a wonderful session!)
     Saturday NIGHT was the author party at FEAST (hubbie's and my favorite restaurant on the planet). And woosie what an affair it was! Hangin' with E.B. Lewis; Hester Bass; Eric Litwin of Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes; heads of the Margaret Mitchell House and Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta; Jon Schieszka; Jarrett Krosoczka and his family (baby Zoe is SO cute!); Natalie Dupree; Jessica and Katie and Judy again... you get the idea. We was ridin' high and havin' a fine 'ol time! And we weren't done yet...

     I had no idea what to expect. I was the opening act on the children's stage - warming up the crowd for Judy Schachner and the participants in the Skippyjon Jones parade. My entire family and many friends came (thank you guys!) so there would be bodies in case nobody else showed...


     WOW. The tent was PACKED. Completely. Yah, yah, I know it was for Judy - but I'll borrow her crowd any day!

     It was my FIRST public reading of SOAP, SOAP, SOAP ~ JABON, JABON, JABON! I had a BLAST! It was HOT, really, really HOT, and my mic kept slipping - but everybody seemed to have a good time and I received wonderful feedback. And I must say - SOAP works GREAT as a read-aloud, and with a crowd. YAY!!!!

     Hubbie and I met the fam for pizza at Zucca - and blessed air conditioning!!! Then we rushed back to join the crowd enjoying Robyn talk about WOLVES and Donna talk about BIG CATS.

Here's Donna signing her book next to her Sabretooth Lion skull!

     And I started fading...just a little longer...
     We stayed for Katie Davis (THE CURSE OF ADDY McMAHON), Donny Seagraves (watch for an upcoming interview with Donny about her new book GONE FROM THESE WOODS), and Laurel (ANY WHICH WALL) talk about mid-grade novels.

And that was it for this tired pup. I used up every bit of adrenalin I had. Now I'm home with a... a... *achooooo* ...bug. Pooey. And trying to summarize the incredible weekend in coherent sentences...
     People I missed... Dinner with Kathleen Duey and Vicky Alvear Shecter (me bud!). Terra McVoy (PURE) on stage with Lauren Myracle. David Lubar. (Dang! How'd I miss him!?)
     People I saw EVERYWHERE, all day, every day, working their BUMS OFF: Diane Capriola and the staff of Little Shop of Stories; Donna, Connie, Susan, etc. of Southern Breeze; Darren Wang and Tom Bell of the Decatur Book Festival; and many of the 500 Volunteers it took to pull off the event. Wowsa did it come together in a magical way. Seeing people, children, so excited about books and reading will glue a permanent smile to your face. Thank you, thank you to everybody for making the Decatur Book Festival the 4th largest in the nation - but the #1 festival EVER to my mind! HUGS!!!!
     P.S. - I know y'all took more pics I'd love to share! Please email them to me at elizabeth at dulemba dot com and I'll post them here - thanks!

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