And for the last 4 days, festive was the mood at the annual University of Southern Mississippi Children's Book Festival. THAT is my kind of festival. For days I had the chance to sit and listen to stellar authors: Jackie Woodson, Rita Williams-Garcia, George O'Connor, Lois Lowry, Michael Cart, Melissa Sweet, and Joyce Sidman. Add into the mix the winners of the Keats Medal and Honor Medal, and you got yourself a heckuva festival.
But it is more than having the chance to listen to the authors. I had the chance to visit with colleagues (including some from Texas!) and local librarians and teachers. And Karin and I had the chance to do some presentations as well. And to visit with participants about issues. And talk to the incredible women who run this conference. And even work on some other projects at night after one set of festivities was over.
It took a huge chunk of time and money to attend this conference, but I do not know any better use of my money than this. Professional development, new connections, a chance to share what I know--this is the lifeblood that keeps me going after 40 years of teaching. There is barely a week before another festival begins: TLA. And then hot on the heels of TLA comes NTTBF. I suspect that the end of April will find me fairly exhausted. But my intellectual energy will be supercharged as I begin to sift through all the new learning from these festivals.
These festive occasions remind me that I am not alone, that there are many others who share my passion. They remind me that authors are wonderful human beings and are accessible. They remind me that I am never too old (or too tired) to learn. So, today I am celebrating the festivities of the past week and the weeks ahead. I hope your festivities collide with mine soon.