(CONTINUED FROM PART ONE)
Most of the speeches given for the awards were shockingly short and sweet. I wish in a way that I had gotten the guts to go up to recipient Margaret K. McElderry to say hello. If you are unfamiliar with Ms. McElderry’s many accomplishments, allow me to quote the program I was given that evening: “Following her apprenticeship under Anne Carroll Moore at the New York Public Library’s Office of Children’s Services . . . .”
Actually I’ll just stop right there. Anne Carroll Moore started NYPL’s children’s services department in 1901. So . . . wow. Ms. McElderry was the first editor to get a simultaneous Newbery and a Caldecott Medal Award to her books in 1952, and published people like Mary Norton, Susan Cooper, and Margaret Mahy (amongst many others). She was unsurprisingly brief, as was Twila Liggett, the creator of Reading Rainbow. I would have also have loved to speak to Ms. Liggett since the last time I saw her she kicked serious ass at a discussion pertaining to The Future of Children’s Television.
Longtime friends of Ezra Jack Keats, Martin & Lillie Pope, spoke at length and were great. Then the evening closed with Ashley Bryan. I had never heard Mr. Bryan speak before so I had no way of knowing that he commands a room when he talks. He was able to get the entire hall to repeat phrases of Langston Hughes after him with true emotion and verve. I know that the Caldecott committee cannot take “speaking presence” into consideration when they hand out their awards, but I think I’ll need to make a plea with them on behalf of Let it Shine. If that book wins the 2008 Caldecott Award then Mr. Bryan’s acceptance speech will be remembered for years and years. A person can dream, can’t they? At the very least, he’ll be speaking at this year’s Anne Carroll Moore Lecture.
For me, the highlight of the evening turned out to have nothing to do with the event itself. Crammed into an elevator on the way out I found myself surrounded by various young ladies and a man straight out of New York past. With his pipe carefully stowed in his breastpocket he asked what the event was on the 7th floor. They explained that it was for Eric Carle, the author of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He did not seem to catch the reference. “Weren’t you attending the event too?,” asked one young lady. The man scoffed. “No, I always avoid the seventh floor. I just belong to the club.” And with that he exited the elevator leaving me oddly delighted. It was as if he’d come from a New York where men slept at the club to avoid their wives and drank coffee with their hamburgers. A world I will never be a part of, but love to get little glimpses of, if only from a anthropological viewpoint.
These pictures are via the PW Children’s Bookshelf. “Here, McElderry (l.) chats with Random House’s Janet Schulman . . . “
” . . . and Laura Godwin of Henry Holt greets Eric Carle.”
Alvina has her own very good summary of the event at Blue Rose Girls. And she has pictures of The University Club from the inside too.