Last night was the Newbery and Caldecott banquet at ALA. Thankfully, it was here in my hotel so it left some time for rest in the afternoon. The banquet is always one of my favorite parts of coming to annual conference. Almost 1000 folks were in attendance to see Lynn Rae Perkins receive the Newbery and Chris Raschka get the Caldecott. Both speeches were brilliant though quite different. I think the highlight of the banquet was Norton Juster playing the harmonica while Raschka drank a glass of water (you had to be there, I think). Juster is a treasure and it was lovely to see the author of the Caldecott winner get some well deserved recognition.
The other high point for me was meeting Viola Canales, author of THE TEQUILA WORM. What a charming, sweet, and eloquent woman. I adore this book and was lucky to have the chance to tell her in person.
Today we are off to the Quick Picks Committee meetings. The Printz Reception tonight will be the final event of my ALA experience in NOLA. All in all, it is amazing to see how quickly this city has brought itself back from the brink. Hospitality thrives here. I hope our conference will enable more of the rebuilding to get underway.