LASCBWI Conference Wrap-up: Quotes Aplenty!


Saturday, August 6th:

Morning Keynote Trifecta- This was my absolute favorite part of the conference. It was heart-wrenching, and honest and hopeful. It was about leaving the emotional truth on the page and getting the author out of the way. Just wonderful.


Donna Jo Napoli-

“Any civilization is built on empathy and the safest way to build empathy is through a book.”

“If you need to write it, chances are, there are children out there…many children, who need to read it.”


David Small-

“Life is a shit storm and the only umbrella we have is art.”


Judy Blume-

“The stuff that’s going to matter is going to come from deep, deep inside.”

“A quest involves questioning.”



Richard Jesse Watson-

“There’s a child inside of each of us. Or an inner Godzilla for some children.”


Norton Juster-

“It’s our mistake that we’ve practically banished boredom.”

“One kid dreaming in an hour probably has more ideas than we do in a lifetime.”


Sunday, August 7th:


Gary Paulsen-

“Read like the wolf eats.”

“Get ourselves off the page and off the stage.”

“Every book [we write] begins in the library in the hopes that it will end there.”

“Unless you find yourself on the page [as a reader], very early in life, you will go looking in all the wrong places.”


Laurie Halse Anderson-

“Art disturbs the universe.”

“Commit art.”

“You’re gonna’ die.”

Book Review Wednesday: The LA Dodger


My family is baseball family. Both sons love playing first base and pitching. My son’s room has a green monster complete with scoreboard and red socks painted on the wall. We spend many happy summer evenings at Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine watching the SeaDogs minor league team. So I was thrilled to receive a review copy of David A. Kelly’s recent Ball Park Mysteries series book The L.A. Dodger.


In the series, Kate and Mike travel to various major league ballparks and find themselves in mysterious situations. Kate is logical and observant. Mike is more impulsive and daring. Together they solve problems that the adults around them can’t. Peppered throughout the book and in the back matter is information about what makes each ballpark and home team historically unique.


I happened to be on a plane to L.A. while reading the book and loved the sightseeing tidbits. Kate and Mike visit Grauman’s Chinese Theater, Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Park Observatory and La Brea Tar Pits. Mr. Kelly does a nice job weaving in the information without interrupting the narrative flow of the book. Each excursion plays into the mystery.


Random House gives the book a 2.8 grade level but there are plenty of first through third grade kids who would love this book. Kids at this age are eager to read series, which give them a chance for literacy success. I recommend it especially for baseball lovers or infokids– those kiddos who memorize baseball stats, historical information or the names of dinosaurs.

Conference Report in a Nutshell Day One

LASCBWI Conference in a nutshell day one: (idea borrowed from my awesome roomie Colleen Ryckert Cook) Registration desk at 6:45 am. 1,342 people. Bruce Colville-Take risks. Get out of your own way. Julie Strauss-Gabel- thoughtful and incredibly smart. Strong wonderful graphics of Denise Fleming. Libba Bray- in your manuscript: "tell me what is intolerable for you to bear alone." For more, definitely check out the official conference blogging team who are doing an amazing job!

Book Review Wednesday: Women of the Golden State


Did you know that at the same time women were meeting for women’s rights in Seneca Falls, New York, Charlotte “Charlie” Parker drove a stage coach around Goldrush California dressed as a man? California here I come and what better book to be reading than Women of the Golden State. This children’s book is a collection of nonfiction articles by wonderful writers including Linda Crotta Brennen, Joyce Ray, and others.


The book begins with a 1776-2006 overarching timeline that places each woman in history. The individual articles are short, well organized and readable. Each author has done a wonderful job finding the child friendly entry point to profile these women. Extra interesting tidbits are available in well-designed sidebars and back matter for each article includes an individual timeline, a glossary, and books and websites that encourage further study.


Many of the women in the book made California their home later in life. Some suffered on long journeys to the west. Bridget “Biddy” Mason was a slave who won her freedom in an 1856 California court case. She walked 2,000 miles behind her master’s wagons and livestock.


Others such as Jessie Anne Frémont, Charlotta S. Bass, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Janice Mirikitani found the pen mightier than the sword in efforts to support their own family, fight discrimination, convey the immigrant experience and remember the poor treatment of Japanese-Americans during the second World War.


Modern women profiled in the book include organizer, Dolores Huerta; environmentalist, Dian Fossey; politican, Nancy Pelosi; athlete, Billie Jean King; muralist, Judith Baca; astronaut, Sally Ride; and Olympic rower, Anita L. DeFrantz.


The book is full of historic firsts, activists, and philanthropists. By exposing children to the leadership and accomplishments of the women profiled in the book, the authors also depict a history of social justice. I highly recommended it for home schooling families or any family hoping to enrich their child’s access to alternative historic resources. It makes a great back-to-school gift for the teacher with no book budget. Women of the Golden State is part of the larger America’s Notable Women Series  all perfect for the school and library market.



One day and a wake-up until LA!


On Wednesday morning I board a plane for Los Angeles for the 40th Anniversary SCBWI Summer conference! Let the countdown begin. I’ve printed out my schedule, wrote down my Regional Advisor duties, jotted down meetings with friends, looked at pictures of the pool and printed out the running directions from the hotel. (Have to keep up with the triathlon training, right? I hope so.)


While I’ve attended the New York City national conference, this is my first time at the West Coast event. As many of you know, I’m not a shrinking violet and I’m no stranger to the grip and grin. However, there are a thousand people registered for this event not including all the staff and faculty! I’m sure there will be moments that I’ll be overwhelmed.


Nevertheless, there are some things about conferences that just don’t change– the schedule (you got your workshops and your keynote addresses), the food (you can bank on some chicken dish), and most important when you go to an SCBWI event you will be surrounded by people who are kind, by people who are committed to making great literature and connecting children with books.


If you’re going to the conference there will be a published list of meet-ups with Regional Advisors in the States and Internationally. I’ll be meeting with New England members in the Belair Room on Friday evening between 8 and 8:30. If you see me working the registration table on Friday morning, please introduce yourself.


Also, don’t forget the Guidebook App for the conference. You can find it in the Apple or Android Apps store.

Stay tuned for an RA perspective of the conference.