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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Authors Authors All Around and Quite a Lot to Drink

This is just going to be one of those posts where I talk all about the very nice authors/illustrators I met recently and to start I’m going to begin with a treat.  Illustrator Andy Mitchell out of a clear blue sky sent me these amazing sketches of the most recent SCBWI Conference and has kindly allowed me to put them here.  They’re pretty big, but I want you to get a good look at ’em, so here goes nothing…

You can find them also on his blog.  Cracks me up, this guy.  Go make him famous, somebody.  And did you see your shout-out, Three Silly Chicks?  Well done there.  I’m just sad I didn’t run into him this year.  He says he came to last year’s Kidlit Drink Night, but even if I met him it was probably too loud to hear him anyway.  Next year we’re holding the party in a library where NOBODY GETS TO TALK.  So sayeth I.

Now, normally we associate sketches from SCBWI with Ruth McNally Barshaw (here’s SCBWI ’07 and SCBWI ’06, for starters). When the conference came and went I sighed and went about my business, under the impression that I wouldn’t get to see her this year.  Then lo and behold she showed up in my library one day bearing awesome pencils!  Her 2007 title Ellie McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel was one of my favorites of the year, and in her hot little hands were pencils bearing Ellie’s image.  How cool were they?  Touch a pencil and suddenly its blue sheen was white.  They were like those old hypercolor t-shirts from days of yore, only there was less of a danger that your mom would pop a pencil in the wash and render them one color for the rest of their natural born lives.  She also handed me a copy of her new Ellie book (whoop!) and took a turn about the room.  I’ll be looking forward to her sketches when she posts them for this year.

Ms. Barshaw was not the only author to visit me in-house recently.  The other day I was sitting at my desk going through our picture books in an attempt to weed them down.  I’m working on the picture books we keep by the front door for those parents too busy/lazy to run up to the second floor.  And if I ever had any doubts about the smog content of my own lungs, these books would convince me of it.  By just sitting near the front door they have each acquired a thin veneer of black, disgusting, authentic New York City soot.  So I’m sorting through these books that look like they’ve been read primarily by chimney sweeps when a co-worker of mine tells me that we have a guest.  A guest in the form of none other than Lynne Jonell!  My instinct in these cases is to always force the author at hand to sign their own book from our permanent collection.  I had managed to get Ms. Barshaw to do it, and I’m pretty sure that Walter Dean Myers was in our room the other day, only he escaped before I got our copy of Scorpions in his hand.  In any case,  I was chagrined to find that Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat was NOT in our collection yet (it’s on order, consarn it) but fortunately the nice people at Henry Holt had left us copious Emmy posters the other day, so I had her sign one of those.  Ms. Jonell was not alone either.  Yes, Ratson Rat was present and accounted for, and she even managed to take a picture of me with him (available on his blog, no less).  I know what I like, and it’s dull, so here’s a much more interesting picture.  Ratty is with one of my favorite agents in town, Stephen Barbara:

And I swear to you, I have the cover for her next Emmy book.  I have it and my computer point blank refuses to let me post it.  My computer is a jerk.  I’ve tried everything I know to upload it, but the Mac will have none of it.  Sorry, folks.  It’s real purdy, though.  I swear it.

Speaking of authors who like to carry around furry inanimate objects with them, I got to meet the incomparable Lisa Yee for the very first time last week.  Ms. Yee was kind enough to suggest dinner, and so it was Lisa, Cheryl Klein, editor to the stars, and me.  We ate at a rather cool joint called The Zipper Factory Tavern.  I even have photographic proof of this encounter in case you don’t believe me. 

Note the bizarre alcove in which we ate.  It was the kind of place where they handed you your bill in an old book.  The book itself had been signed by someone in 1912, so that was pretty cool in and of itself.  The food must have been good too since me look like I’ve gained 20-some odd pounds.  No wonder, considering the menu.  Here Cheryl and I attempt to devour Lisa Yee’s Peep. 

It was delicious.  Much better than that shrimp risotto.  Ms. Yee has blogged about the experience too.  It should be noted that I have ripped off this photograph of Peepy’s Last Stand.  Thanks to Lisa for the image.

All these nice people.  The last, and by far not the least, person I want to celebrate here is a young woman by the name of Leeza Hernandez.  Leeza and I met for lunch a week or two ago and she just couldn’t have been sweeter.  I was first made aware of Ms. Hernandez due to her awe-inspiring work for the most recent SCBWI Conference.   You want a recap?  I’ll show you a recap!!  Ms. Hernandez hasn’t come out with a book yet, but she’s definitely got the gumption, the charisma, and the sheer unvarnished talent at hand.  I also tend to use her website to instruct others on what the best ones look like.

Well, we met for lunch at a little place near my home called The Heights.  The nice thing about The Heights is that they make the best burgers in New York.  No lie.  You call me up sometime and we’ll go there and you can tell me if I’m wrong or not.  Ms. Hernandez told me all sorts of interesting stuff about up-and-coming illustrators and when we left I took her over to The Bank Street Bookstore, which is also not very far from my home.  There are only two children’s bookstores in New York City and I happen to live near one.  How cool is that?  After promptly shocking an employee with my less than enthusiastic response to a Tulane display (it happens) I showed Leeza every single book I thought was cool.  The poor woman ended up weighed down with everything from The Arrival to the Helen Oxenbury version of Alice in Wonderland (or, as Monica Edinger likes to call it, The GAP Alice) and then do you know what she went and did?  She secretly bought me a copy of the new Lauren Child version of Pippi Longstocking!  The version I’ve hoped and prayed for for so long!  So sweet (not to say, unnecessary).  In any case, she’s just the nicest gal around and I hope she gets the attention due her soon.  You can read her take on lunch if you like, though I feel obligated to warn you about the number of photos of myself on the site.  I’m omnipresent, I am.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Andrea Beaty says:

    Thanks, Andy Mitchell, for the shout out about our blog! That was a fine feathered surprise! And thanks, Miss Fuse, for posting about it!

    We’ve gotta get our fluffy yellow selves back to NYC for one of these SCBWI conferences soon so we can schmooze with so many fun folks!

    Andrea Beaty

  2. Those Andy Mitchell drawings are a hoot! If he drew the insanely long line of kidlit women in all the ladies’ rooms, it would be the entire conference recapped!

  3. Sometimes my computer is a jerk, too, but I’m always afraid to say so lest it decide to prevent me from checking my email.

  4. That’s why I always say it on the laptop (which is also a jerk, but in a different way) when the big computer isn’t listening.

  5. I feel compelled to explain that in the photo of you, Cheryl and me, I was wearing THREE sweaters and two undergarments (one of which was a thermal t-shirt) to ward off the cold. Hence the roly-poly effect.

    It was wonderful finally meeting you in person–even if you did traumatize my Peep.