Sunday, June 25, 2006

Easy Easy Two

Friday night I caught up with great pal and former colleague Deborah Stevenson at dinner at the Monteleone--it was only after we had to send the steak back twice that she remembered Calvin Trillin's advice to never eat in a hotel restaurant. Still, good conversation and gossip about books and friends (shout-out to our mutual best pal Betsy Hearne, not in New Orleans but spending the summer in Ireland in a cozy farmhouse on the Sheep's Head peninsula, where it is not 93 degrees.)

I was at the booth for the opening morning of the exhibits and I must say traffic was kind of slow. But at least J.D. and I got a head start on the poster rolling, and I had a few minutes to try and make Lynne Rae Perkins nervous about eating her dinner on a raised dais facing hundreds, advising her to not worry and keep her legs crossed. Also got to meet Kate DiCamillo and congratulate her on her BGHB award. She is short but I wouldn't want to mess with her. Lunch at the Palace Cafe with Ellen Starkman, an old friend from our Chicago Public Library days, so caught up on more gossip there and enjoyed a fabulous peaches-and-cream ice cream. The Wilder Award committee then conducted its business with good humor and dispatch, allowing us to forgo the meeting we were supposed to have at the freakin' crack of dawn today (okay, 8:00 AM) and thus allowing me to correspond with you.

Dinner with the Harcourt people occasioned a wonderful discussion based on the above-referenced DiCamillo flamefest that occurred a couple of weeks ago here. We discussed the dynamics of award committees, with Pat Scales, for example, talking about the time she chaired the Newbery committee and made every member sit in a different seat each meeting, thus weakening the little cliques-by-proximity that can arise. And there were plenty of anecdotes: Harcourt ed-in-chief Allyn Johnston told about the time Smoky Night won the Caldecott and the publisher didn't find out until the press conference; we heard about a disgruntled medal committee member who went around after an award announcement apologizing to all the publishers; I learned how ALSC takes a fiscal hit when there aren't many honor books (um, there was one the year I served on the Newbery). Later, Pat and I and Betty Carter got ourselves over to a Simon and Schuster party to support my friend (and yours) Elizabeth and eat brownies (there was fondue for those of you who don't regard it as chocolate mucus). Lots of friends there and I was only snubbed by one author, live and learn. It was especially great to see author and agent Dilys Evans, who hosted a wonderful dinner for Richard and me one summer when we went out to Santa Fe for the opera. Romper, stomper, bomper, boo, I'm outta here. More tomorrow after the banquet.

6 comments:

Elizabeth said...

ALSC takes a fiscal hit when there are not many Newbery and Caldecott honor books? That's interesting. Why, I ask stupidly? At a luncheon today, one librarian opined that she didn't understand the years committees only gave out one or two honors when there were so many good books to be recognized. She also lumped in that the Times only chose Ten Best illustrated.
There I spoke up, and said that I knew that the three people on that committee (who change each year) often had books they championed that didn't make it. The restriction about ten titles was the Times', not their own. At which point someone spoke up and said "At the Times they're only allowed to consider art and not the text at all." At which point I referenced you, I hope accurately, Roger. I said you'd served on that committee three times and that on the contrary, you personally only considered a picture book successful when the text and art were well-married. If the art was great but the book didn't work, it wouldn't get recommended by you.

So. Does this support my point, many posts ago, that lots of people still remember choices for these awards they don't agree with? I guess not, but I still think I'm right!

Elizabeth said...

P.S. At the luncheon I just mentioned above, I sat next to tonight's Caldecott Honoree, Chris Raschka. He was so relaxed and unassuming that it was hard to believe the eyes of an entire field would be on in him just a few hours as he gave his Caldecott speech. I don't know what I expected... a sort of beatific glow and people walking around in front of him strewing rose pedals, I guess.

Of course, if I were the publisher of tonight's Newbery or Caldecott, there would be one major change in my own attire: I'd be wearing pantyhose. But I'm not and I'm not...it's just too darn hot.

JeanneB said...

I'm dying to hear how the speeches went. Do tell.....

Roger Sutton said...

Even without her pantyhose, Elizabeth looked great. The reason ALSC takes a hit when there are only one or two honor books is that, one, it means they seel fewer medal seals for the winning books--yep, every one of those affixed foil medal-stickers comes from ALA, for a price, and a fee or royalty (I don't know which) is also charged for reproduction on paperbacks. Fewer medalists and honors also means fewer tables sold at the NC banquet, fewer contributions to the scholarship fund, etc. But obviously these are concerns for which the award committees can pay no attention.

Roger Sutton said...

oops, that should have read "TO which," sorry.

James said...

Was the chocolate fondue any good? By the time things settled down enough for me to head for one of the tables, it was 1 am and the staff was clearing it away.

Sorry you got snubbed by someone - I for one would have loved to meet you, Roger.

And yes - Dilys is an very elegant and charming woman.