Bookends in New Orleans

p1010107-smCindy: What is it about dieting that makes you see tempting food everywhere? New Orleans is probably one of the worst places to go while trying to avoid sweets and carbs but when even the books start making you salivate things are bad! Lynn and I are wrestling with post-ALA-Conference stupor this morning but wanted to share some highlights…you will notice a food theme. My Friday night started with a HarperCollins dinner with Divergent author Veronica Roth at The Commander’s Palace in the Garden District where we were served delicious food and a complimentary “Tower of Trouble” rum drinks by the proprietors. They were as dangerous as being a member of the  “Dauntless” faction in Roth’s compelling dystopian novel.

pieSarah Weeks’ new novel is called Pie and includes 12 pie recipes that are making me salivate. Scholastic served pie at their literary brunch so we could munch along while Sarah and many other of their fine authors read to us from their new books. It’s been a few years since I’ve made it to this fun event and I always leave satiated with words and food. Yum.

Sunday morning started with the treat of Candlewick’s fairy banquet with Katherine Paterson and illustrator John Rocco who have collaborated (along with Katherine’s husband John) on a truly tempting looking book called The Flint Heart that will be coming to you in full color in September. We’ll be talking about it for sure later this summer, closer to publication. I felt flint-heartlike I was on an even stricter diet on the plane ride home while I watched Lynn “eat up” this book while I dutifully read a book for a review deadline. I peeked at the illustrations when I could and had to be satisfied with that.

There were many other highlights, watching the hard work of the ALSC Notable Books for Children Committee and the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults group, and listening to the award speeches, but I will let Lynn have a turn. I need to get out for a walk to wake up! But maybe another cup of coffee first…

116603111Lynn: Cindy is so right!  We came home richly nourished in spirit AND body although I confess to being much less iron-willed than Cindy when it came to my stomach. A highlight for me was a dinner with Jack Gantos where the exquisitely prepared fish and the fabulous conversation won’t EVER be forgotten.  I read Jack’s new book, Dead End in Norvelt (Farrar Sep. 2011) on the plane to ALA and laughed so much I got the hiccups.  I kept reading sections of it to Cindy who was trying dutifully to read her review book.

The award celebrations were a feast for the soul and mind with moving and stirring speeches by so many brilliant authors and illustrators.  Erin Stead made me cry so much I eliminated every trace of make-up and Paolo Baccigalupi’s stirring remarks had me cheering.  Science fiction was my “gateway drug” into reading too!  Want a great speech?  Ask an author!  Nourishment for the brain and spirit triumphed over the body at these events.  There certainly were some puzzles there.  Potato chips and dip – really?  And what was that dessert supposed to be anyway?  Was that red rock a tomato?  Well, the contrasts help us appreciate the best of life, right?

And speaking of the best – seeing so many old friends, meeting so many new ones, listening and learning from really brilliant colleagues, watching dedicated committees  – this glorious pleasure will keep me going in heart and mind till Midwinter.  As for the body – well, I think I can spot right where that deep-fried shrimp po-boy from the Corporation took up residence!

Thanks to all the generous people who sent me home with tons of enticing books – and that’s my next big challenge – what shall I read first?

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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