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.