Our 2007 Trip to ALA

The publishers were thrilled. The authors were thrilled. The kids were thrilled. The chaperones were exhausted.

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ALA convention attendees in Washington, D.C., in June 2007 were treated to the sight of 19 teens and ‘tweens in matching T-shirts from the Eva Perry Library’s Mock Newbery and Mock Printz book clubs. Regional manager Christina Piscitello drove the county van and led a procession of vehicles to the nation’s capital. The Saturday arrival at Embassy Suites marked the beginning of four action-packed days of cruising the vendor hall, attending the Newbery banquet and Printz reception, visiting museums, paddle-boating on the Potomac, sampling restaurants, swimming at midnight, and schmoozing with favorite authors.

Chaperones Martha Choate and Cheryl Teal of the Mock Newbery Club and Valerie Nicholson of the Mock Printz Club encouraged the teen readers to gather as many Advance Reader Copies as possible for the clubs, and did they ever! Publishers and authors were enthusiastic about meeting and talking with the target audience for their books, and generously loaded up their backpacks with galleys. By noon each day, all of the club members were dragging several additional bags as well, in particular the much-coveted Harry Potter bag being distributed by Scholastic Books.

Chaperone Henry Brabble took the boys to the National Gallery and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum when they tired of “shopping.” While the Newbery Club went to the banquet, Valerie took the Printz Club members to Marrakesh Restaurant, where they were surprised to see Printz Award winner Gene Yuen Yang and his wife. Yang stopped at the table and chatted with the girls, whom he recognized from that day’s book signing. On Monday, some of the girls sang “Happy Birthday” to Printz Honor recipient Markus Zusak at his book-signing booth, and later he surprised everyone by sitting down to eat lunch with the whole group on the floor outside the food court.

When evening came, the club members made us proud at the Newbery banquet and Printz reception. Fancy dresses and neckties were the order of the day, and none of the teens held back from chatting with the award winners. They had all read every single book, and everyone could tell. With cameras flashing, they greeted Susan Patron, John Green, M.T. Anderson, Gene Yang, Markus Zusak, and other favorites. Just as Zusak was about to throw away his speech notes, one of the Printz Club members said, “Wait! Can I have that?” He graciously signed it for her, and the notes are now on display in Eva Perry’s foyer.

By Tuesday morning, we had enough ARCs to fill up the car that one generous mom drove up in alone so that we could have cargo room, but we also used up every nook and cranny left over in the other three vehicles! The ride home was a quiet one, with many teens reading and others tired out. Now we have the memories… and lots and lots of pictures.

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