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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Newbery/Caldecott Banquet 2010: The Pageantry. The Splendor. The Tats.

Each and every year I decide to celebrate the Newbery/Caldecott winners with a bit of old-fashioned body art. In the past this has involved bands of the covers of the winners on either arm.  This is fine and all, but this year I wanted to step it up a notch. So it was that I decided to go an entirely different route for 2010. In short, a kind of guessing game on either arm.

The left side of my body was to be dedicated entirely to the Caldecott.  The right side: Newbery.  To do this I got out the old tattoo printer paper once again.  They’d changed the formula a bit since the last time I’d used it, but the results were the same.  Instant tattoos in whatever shapes and sizes I wanted.  And what I wanted was to find every single lion and mouse character in children’s literature, so as to place them on my arms.  My husband documented the application.

Now the characters I thought to put on (and you’ll see a bit of them here and there) included:

– Mrs. Frisby
– Frederick
– The Mouse and His Child
– Stuart Little (nod to Anne Carroll Moore there)
– Ralph S. Mouse
I tried finding a good sized Miss Bianca (as drawn by Garth Williams) but short of scanning in a book cover I couldn’t find an appropriate file size of her online.

– The Happy Lion
– The Scrawny Tawny Lion (Leonard Marcus would have been pleased)
– Aslan
– The NYPL lion logo
– The NYPL lions as drawn by James Daugherty in the book Andy and the Lion
I later realized that the Denslow version of The Cowardly Lion would have fit.  Ah well.

For the right side of my body I wrapped a continual line of the words BookBagPocketShoe around and around my arm.  This proved to be a litmus test to see how many folks had actually read this year’s Newbery winner.  If they understood the significance, then they were familiar with Ms. Stead’s work.  If not, they hadn’t read it.

I haven’t an image of what I looked like when all this was said and done, but if I find one (or someone sends one to me) I’ll put it here.

Then it was off to the show!  I was a little late to the cocktail party, so it was pleasing to see Jim Averbeck preceded me with yet another Red Carpet Interview series.  We did this together about two years ago along with Maria van Lieshout.  This year Maria had a baby to attend to so Jim was on his own.  I was sent to find authors and drag them into the spotlight, which I did gladly.  I’ll certainly show the end results here once Jim has finished edited the footage together.  I can tell already that it’ll be delightful.

As for the banquet itself, I was pleased to be the guest of Michelle Bayuk and Albert Whitman and Company.  Michelle was so kind that she not only got me a ticket but one for my husband as well.  He had to sit at an adjoining table, so that worked out nicely.

Now Newbery/Caldecott Banquet flyers are consistently gorgeous.  The most beautiful used to be the one constructed the year when Brian Selznick won a Caldecott for The Invention of Hugo Cabret.  I say “used to be” because Jerry Pinkney certainly gave Brian a run for his money this year.  Check out this program:

Three dimensions and everything.

In the back of the room, as with every Newbery/Caldecott Banquet, there are chairs set up so that if you want to attend but you don’t want to spend untold gobs of money for dinner tickets, all you have to do is just take a seat in the back.  And look!  It’s YA authors James Kennedy and M.T. Anderson!

Trust me, that’s them.  And they were fed eventually.

My table was not too far from the front and had nice neighbors like Jon Scieszka nearby.

I was a little sad not to run into Laura Rodgers.  You might remember I linked to Laura back in the day on my blog due to the fact that she is merely ten years of age and yet has read ALL the Newbery winners!  No small feat.  I have not read them all myself.  She even has her own blog.  In any case Laura got this amazing shout-out during the dinner that was fantastic.  I’d seen her on the conference floor but had hoped to catch her at the banquet itself.  No such luck.  Next time, Laura!

When the speeches started it was great.  First up was Jerry Pinkney, shown over a vast distance from my table here:

Then Rebecca was introduced.  Her speech was fantastic and made me all the more grateful that I will never have to give such a talk myself.  The pressure of it all would kill me.

By the way, there was an open table in front of me the whole time this was all going on (shown below).  So if you ever want to attend such a banquet and get a table of your own, it’s totally an option.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that.  In the end, the tattoos actually got far less attention than the wrapped up leg.  Next year I’ll have to chop off an arm or something, just to up the ante a little.

Back to New York!

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. Sweet tats, Betsy. Love the “bookbagpocketshoe.” Did you get to show off your arm to Rebecca Stead? I can’t imagine she’d be anything less than psyched. A Newbery medal is one thing, but temporary tattoos in homage to WYRM? That’s pretty rockin. 🙂 Thanks for sharing all the pics. Hope you’re resting up and feeling better!

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Oh, you betcha I showed Rebecca. She liked ’em, though I forgot to show her the “Tesser Well” on the back of my palm. Ah well.

  2. “Her speech was fantastic and made me all the more grateful that I will never have to give such a talk myself.”

    Aww. How do you know?

  3. I was disappointed not to see you at the ALA — but with fifteen or twenty billion other people there, it kinda was an ill-fated hope anyway, I guess. People kept saying, “She’s right over there!” at the New/Cal dinner and I was all, “Where?!” Oh, well. Next time I’ll see the tattoos in person!

  4. I got a picture of you, Betsy! And one of each arm. I’ll see how it turned out. It’s posted on Facebook now — I’ll send you a link when I get home. (Can’t access Facebook from work.)


  1. […] opportunities were off the charts — old friends, editors I’d been wanting to meet, freshly behobbled and temporarily tattooed Betsy Bird, John Green (whom I quickly gushed at over Will Grayson, Will Grayson as we were commanded to take […]