My 1st National LASCBWI Conference Experience

All right, I just have to “vomit this out”* but you readers are lucky. You won’t have to read my first draft, I will edit it before I publish.

To say this conference was eye opening is an understatement. To say this conference was amazing is an understatement. The National LA conference is a room filled with all the love, trust, experience, honesty, loyalty, support, and determination you can ever imagine from a group of creative people who live and breath making books for children. The passion levels were higher than any concert I have ever been too. The intensity was on par with witnessing history. I was moved to tears more than once, not just by heart wrenching stories but, also all by the love and support emanating from over 1300 people as they cheered on the masters of the trade. This was a conference worth traveling half way around the world to.

And there were people from all over the world. I met folks from Australia to Israel. There are lists of people I need to include here but I am only going to include some, check out SCBWI’s official site for full details of everyone present.

Jon Scieszka is crazy. Really, for people not in children’s publishing he is like Bill Murray except 100 times more radical. The thing he said that was funniest to me was “3 to 4 year-olds are like Alzheimer patients on acid”

Kadir Nelson a god among men with his ability to capture human emotion through masterful rendering and color palette. I found him ALL ALONE at the book signing. Having not had a session or speech yet, many hadn’t learned who he is. I should have tweeted then calling over anyone not paying attention. However, I was too busy taking full advantage of this and spent a fan girl amount of time with him. He was incredibly polite with every answer being “that’s fine” said in the most proper polite tone.

David Small, for me was the most moving of all keynote speakers. His memoir, Stitches, is deeply emotional. Recalling a childhood not made of love. His presentation covered that part of his life and the present. I believe the amount of love that exists in his life now makes up for what came before. At the end of his keynote we were all sailing on love. Lin Oliver wrapped it up perfectly saying “There is hope on the other side of pain.”

Ruth McNally Barshaw a marvelous doodler. The first children’s blog I started following many a year ago was hers. I love the way she captures her experiences in moleskin after moleskin. Her talent was recognized and she has the delightful series Ellie McDoodle. I am over the moon that after meeting her at this conference I am now a part of one of her sketchbooks.

My main co-conspirators of the conference, Kelly Light, Diandra Mae, Angela Matteson, and Kathy Blackmore.

Also often part of the action were, Anna Boll, Linda Silvestri, Jim Hill, Bonnie Adamson, and
Ruth McNally Barshaw.

I ran into fellow suburbanite of Boston, Carlyn Beccia! We did parlor tricks at the pj party, palm reading from her and dancing the worm from me (you will have to find us at the next conference).

I have one more big thing to say that is rather serious. Before we get there here are the conference sketches I am willing to show. I allowed myself to make bad sketches throughout this conference just to keep my juices flowing, so most are never to see the light of day again. However, it was a great exercise.


People that can speak their opinions without letting their emotions overrule their rational are so smart. They are the people that can truly bring about change and should be the leaders of our world. Because when you are talking about the betterment of our planet you need to keep your head. Donna Jo Napoli, Bruce Coville and Laurie Halse Anderson are masters of this gift. They are magnificently insightful and present clear and intelligent arguments as to why keeping books with tough subjects from children is a mistake and why librarians should be higher valued members of our society. They don’t use fear to make their points or put down the voices against them. They simply state their case. What greater case than children are our future and they are only as capable as the powers we present them with through their communities. We do them an injustice by not providing them with the most powerful tools to achieve the brightest of futures.**

*Bruce Coville on getting your first draft down repeated many times by Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler locking it into my memory.

**I have put what I felt their point was into my own words. So if there is any discrepancy between what I said and what they feel that is on me.

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