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Judy Freeman-Report from ALA New Orleans Continued

Afterwards, she said that she had been invited to sit at another publisher's table, but Angus Killick at Hyperion insisted she sit at the Hyperion table and she didn't know why. Angus knew, of course–he'd read the speech, as had the other Hyperion folks. (The speeches are prerecorded and they give everyone at the dinner a CD of them to keep.) And, of course, the minute he started talking about that bookstore, she realized that he was talking about her. How gracious of Raschka to acknowledge a librarian–and to credit her with jumpstarting his career.

The next thing he did was pretty wonderful, too. At the dinner, it's the illustrator who gets recognized, not the author. But Raschka called up Norton Juster (author of my favorite fiction book of all times, The Phantom Tollbooth), to play Oh, Susannah on the harmonica, just as he does in the book. And a rousing rendition it was. Then Juster said, "There's an error in the book's text we'd like to correct. It says, 'Poppy says he can play the song while drinking a glass of waster at the same time, but I've never seen him do that.' What it should say is, 'Poppy says he can play the song while THE ILLUSTRATOR drinks a glass of water at the same time." And he launched into another chorus on the harmonica while Raschka drank a glass of water. It was hilarious.

The final satisfying bit was flying back to NJ on the same plane as Walter Dean Myers and his talented author-illustrator son, Chris, who sat in front of me. Those two gracious and warm Jersey guys are SO tall. That little jet was way too small for them.

Now I'm back home with deadlines and e-mail and regular life, but I sure am glad I was able to carve out a little space to rub shoulders with so many of those leading librarians and authors, editors, illustrators, and then some.