Decatur Book Festival 2013 - wrap-up

The Decatur Book Festival is not only the largest independent book festival in the country, its also my favorite festival of the year! So many of my peeps come to town to speak onstage, and we end up hanging out and having a blast, not to mention listening to some great speakers and panels!
     This year kicked off on Thursday with The Book As Art at the Art Institute of Atlanta hosted by the Decatur Arts Alliance. I couldn't help but think Betsy Bird would be able to do something creative with this pockets jacket for one of her ALA creations.
      Friday, Kirby Larson, her hubbie and mine, and I attended the 'Kidnote' speech with Tomie DePaola. Kids opened the performance with a Chinese rain dance - head masks and all. Then three bright 4th graders interviewed Tomie. It was ADORABLE and he was as gracious and funny as you might imagine.
      Friday night I went to dinner at No.246 (where they filmed a lot of the new movie, "Children of Divorce") with Kirby Larson, Vicky Alvear Shecter, and Laurel Snyder (with our hubbies). We gals sat at one end of the table and gabbed our heads off about the biz and such. Then we headed over to Little Shop of Stories for a small kidlit gathering where we met up with Peter Brown, Dan Santat, Aaron Reynolds, and others. SO much FUN!
           Saturday, we started the morning by listening to a panel of Newbery Award and Honor winners talk about that formative experience. From the left are moderator, Laurel Snyder; Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky); Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts); Susan Cooper (The Dark Is Rising); and Christopher Paul Curtis (Bud, Not Buddy). Afterwards, I had my photo taken with Ms. Cooper - what a generous and graceful lady!

      Then we headed to the children's stage to see Dan Santat and Aaron Reynolds talk about their latest PB CARNIVORES.
      Lunch was a feast at Chai Panni - I discovered even more wonderful dishes on their already amazing menu. (Indian Street Food - to die for!)
      With our bellies full, I drove the hubbie home so I could go pick up Michelle Knudsen (Mikki) from the airport.     
     As we always do when we get together, we gabbed our fool heads off and had a great time wandering the festival and seeing a few more speakers: Jerry Pinkney and Peter Brown talked about winning the Caldecott; Kirby Larson and Gennifer Choldenko talked a little about the Common Core. Frozen yogurt was had, shopping was done. It was hot, but relaxed and awesome to hang with my bud.
      So then we split up to get ready for the evening! The VIP party started at 7:00 on the plaza in downtown Decatur. This is my FAVORITE part of the festival - where you really get to see and talk to everybody. . . and partake of the lovely refreshments. They also had these crazy, insane moving sculpture creatures for an upcoming performance, "The Navigator," at The Goat Farm Arts Center that everybody just adored:

     Here's Kirby sporting her lovely DBF tattoo, Mikki and me.

And a little later, Mikki and Vicky Alvear Shecter and me.

And a little later still, a gang of children's book creators: Mikki, Laurel Snyder, Dad Santat, Adam Rex, Tom Angleberger peeking in the background, and yours truly.

I also got to see Jessica Handler and R. Gregory Christie showed up later too - great guy!
     SUNDAY was just more awesomeness...
     We meandered over to the festival just in time to see Tom Angleberger host a parade of kids celebrating his books, including a GIGANTIC ORIGAMI JABBA THE PUPPET.

     Honestly, Tom gave one of the best presentations I've ever seen—especially for the young mid-grade reading group. He even had the entire audience create their own Origami Yoda finger puppets. (Mikki got a great photo of this and is letting me share...)

     Tom was visiting with his entire family and his wife, illustrator Cece Bell (I interviewed them both HERE) gave a presentation later which I also enjoyed thoroughly (she plays the sax!).
     Lunch was at Leon's Full Service, which sadly went a little longer than planned (they got slammed), so I missed Adam Rex and Michael Alvear's talks. Pooey. But y'know - DBF is so awesome and you just can't do it all. It's impossible.
     But I did get to see a panel of YA bloggers including David Levithan (who, ironically, does not blog). I also got to see Mikki read BIG MEAN MIKE, and I got to see our SCBWI Southern Breeze Regional Adviser of 11 years, Jo Kittinger, receive the well earned Carol Reiser Award (given to books "that most effectively inspires community service and volunteerism in children"). Here are a bunch of Breezers celebrating with her: Leighanne Schneider ; Robyn Hood Black; Jo; and me.

Leighanne and Robyn both had booths this year, selling their amazingly charming artwork. (Go click on their names to see.)
     Yes, the rain decided to show up half way through Sunday, but that mostly cooled things off. And by then, we were nearly brain dead anyhow. Margaritas at The Square Pub and a small dinner was all we had left in us. I hugged Kirby good-bye until next time, saw Mikki off to a safe journey back to New York City, and went home to collapse into heaps of comatose slugs through Labor Day . . . as we should after such an incredible celebration.
     Thanks to Daren Wang, Diane Capriola, Philip Rafshoon (DBF program directors), the folks at Little Shop of Stories, the Decatur Arts Alliance, and all the amazing volunteers for making this year's Decatur Book Festival the BEST ONE EVAH!!!!

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