Marcia Strykowski

Personalized Picture Books

Back when I was first dipping into the field and studying ways to improve my own attempts at writing for children, I was a big fan of attending author events (and I still am). If they are signing copies of their books, all the better. Seems a shame to keep my collection of signed books closed on the shelf all these years, so I thought you might enjoy seeing some of them. Here are a few of my special souvenirs from various conferences and author talks. 
I’ll start with the amazing Barbara Cooney who I was fortunate to hear at a book event in Boston. I love all her books, especially Miss RumphiusIsland Boy and Hattie and the Wild Waves, which was based on the life of her mother. I remember the man who introduced Barbara to the audience called her Hattie at the end when he was thanking her (obviously missing that she had said the story was about her mom, not herself). But of course she was too gracious to correct him. She also illustrated the Caldecott winning Ox-cart Man written by wordsmith Donald Hall. I heard Donald talk about his poetic process at the Andover Book Store and how very many times he’ll change a word or write a line over and over again.Next up is another one of my favorite books: Library Lion. I got this book signed by the remarkable Kevin Hawkes at a New England Library Conference in Connecticut. A few years later I attended a program at Lesley College where Michelle was one of the speakers and I’ve kicked myself ever since for not having her sign my same copy of Library Lion.I’ll bet this third book will be easy to recognize for just about all of my readers. I found Norman Bridwell happily signing away at a children’s fair. When I did an online search for this book, it was interesting to discover the drawing of Clifford has changed slightly in newer editions. If you have a copy, compare the two, especially around the eyes, to my book above. Even the house in the background later loses its chimney.

I dragged a few family members into Cambridge, MA one year near the holidays to meet up with Marc Brown who is famous for his many books and television shows about Arthur, an adorable aardvark. Don’t you love the way illustrators often put in a little extra effort to their signatures?

And here’s one of my favorite Tomie dePaola books: Strega Nona. I was volunteering at a long ago SCBWI conference in New Hampshire and Tomie was handing out a bunch of these special bookplates. Those of us on the committee were sure to pick up a few.

Next up is another Caldecott winning book from Barbara and Ed Emberley. My friends over at Writers’ Rumpus recently posted a wonderful two part interview about the talented Emberley family. Check it out here.And last but not least my most recent Jane Yolen signature on her fabulous Owl Moon which is yet another Caldecott winner as shown by its shiny gold seal. If you missed out on my blissful weekend in the land of Owl Moon, you can read all about it here.I don’t remember ever having to wait in lines for any of the above signatures, maybe a couple of short ones, but the one line I do remember was at the Barnes & Noble in Framingham, MA. It whirled up and down the store, out the door and around to the back of the building and through the parking lot. We all cheered when a dark car arrived and the awaited author was whisked in through the back door. By the time we reached the front of the line it was worth it to exchange a few words while J. K. Rowling signed our books.
As I sign off, I’m wondering which books I’ve left out. Teacher friends seem to get quite a collection when authors visit their classrooms and somewhat recently I was honored to receive some of these from my dad’s good friend Carol Minteer, a retired school teacher.

What about you? Do you have a signed book or maybe a special memory of meeting an author?

75 Comments

  1. What a special collection!

    Like

  2. Michele

    It’s always so special having an author sign a book. I have several in my collection, including the treasured one signed by you, Marcia! Thanks for sharing some of your collection with us.

    Like

    • You’re welcome Michele, very sweet of you to treasure my book. 🙂 Hope all is well up north. I was recently in Buffalo for a weekend and we popped up to the falls briefly, so pretty and now I can compare viewing them from both the Canadian and American side.

      Like

  3. Joyce Teal

    I love signed books! Remember growing up we had autograph books? I was thrilled to get Arthur Fielder’s at a music conference. When my daughter was 11, we moved to Chattanooga. She had just discovered LurLene McDaniel’s books and loved several of the books. Imagine her surprise when we met her at a book signing and found out she lives just a few miles away from us!! Lurlene was truly able to bring her books “alive” to my daughter. Glad you enjoy signed books too.

    Like

    • Fun story, Joyce, thanks for sharing. And wow, Arthur Fielder’s signature is certainly special, too!

      Like

  4. bostonreading

    Hi Marcia,

    How are you? Were your ears burning yesterday? I recommended your Amy books to a parent of an eighth grader!

    Also, thought you’d be interested in a “little” moving story about Miss Rumphius since it goes with your great blog today! I was in Trident Bookstore on Newbury St. last week, and

    a middle aged woman was “clinging” to the aforementioned book as she was checking out. Curiosity got the best of me and I asked her why she chose that book. She said she was

    going to a “party” and guests were invited to bring their all time favorite book. As you can guess, Miss Rumphius was her number one choice. She spoke about the love of this story with

    such emotion. So again, I think some of the BEST childhood memories are connected to our books!

    Hope all is going well. Conference soon and I have made a zillion changes for the better on the manuscript I sent it. I hope this editor will give me a chance to send her the so much better, improved story.

    Keep you posted!

    Carpe Diem!

    Paula

    >

    Like

    • Lovely story, I cling to Miss Rumphius, too, such a very special book. Thanks so much for sharing this, Paula, and best of luck with your manuscript!

      Like

  5. Bobbi Miller

    What an impressive and inspirational collection! This is one of my favorite activities too. Very nice!

    Like

  6. My signed book collection is very special to me, so I really enjoyed seeing yours. I don’t think I have any books signed by the same authors that you shared here. Oh, wait- Marc Brown did sign one of my books! You are right- illustrators do a fun signature. I adore Miss Rumphius and think it is so special that you have a signed copy! You have books by lots of authors I love.

    But- did I read the last paragraph correctly??? Did you have JK Rowling sign one of your books?!? I think that is amazing and I can’t even imagine having something like that in my collection. Meeting her would be a dream- though I would probably be tongue-tied. It would definitely be worth the wait in line! 🙂

    Like

    • Sounds like you have a great collection, too, Stephanie. Yes, JK signed one of our Harry Potter books. My son and I stood in line for a couple of hours and we also had a friend’s copy with us which she signed, as well. She must have had an exhausting tour if lines like that were everywhere she was scheduled to be. 🙂

      Like

  7. Some of those signatures are amazing. Thanks for sharing them.

    Like

  8. You have an amazing collection here, Marcia!

    My most memorable signing was with Jerry Spinelli at the SCBWI Winter Conference. I brought a couple copies of our books from home and then bought a bunch more there (for my kids’ teachers, etc). He kindly and patiently chatted with me while signing each one.

    Like

  9. Wow, this is such a great collection. Thanks Marcia for sharing some of your collection with us! xoxo

    Like

  10. Yes, I do love the way illustrators often include a little ‘added extra’ and I especially love the drawing in the book by Barbara and Ed Emberley. The salutation from Jane Yolen is lovely too. All of your books are scrumptious! Thank you for sharing them Marcia it makes me want to go and start taking books down from the shelf just to peep inside and look for signatures. I know some of them are signed but these days I don’t always remember which ones. 🙂

    Like

    • Oh, I’ll bet you have some wonderful signed treasures in the special books you’ve collected over the years, Barbara. Hope all is going well with you and yours!

      Like

  11. Wonderful to have all those signed copies! What fun. 🙂

    Like

    • It is a fun bunch and as I try to tidy over the years, I was worried they’d get lost in the shuffle, so I figured I’d pull them off the shelf and celebrate my memories of receiving them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Lovely collection! I’ve done the same over my years in the library world. I always had books signed for my daughter, Kathy. One of my favorites is from Madeleine L’Engle in A Wrinkle in Time. She said, “for Kathy–Tesser well–Madeleine L’Engle”.

    Like

    • That’s awesome, Judi. So many people I know have claimed A Wrinkle in Time as their most favorite childhood book. I see it listed as a top choice again and again. Kathy must cherish that special autograph. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  13. Nice memories and beautiful books to have, Marcia!

    Like

  14. Wow! I have most of the books you listed but none of them are signed. The only ones I’ve ever had signed was when visiting authors came to the school I once taught at. Even though I had never heard of any of them (with the exception of Jon Erickson of “Hank the Cowdog” books) but bought their books anyway and had them sign them.
    My sister worked at a book store here in town years ago while she was trying to get a teaching position as an English teacher. It turned out that working at the bookstore gave her a rich literary experience. A lot of children’s authors came through and she has a nice collection of signed books.
    Have a wonderful rest of the week!

    Like

    • I’ll have to look up Hank the Cowdog, sounds like a fun series. Sounds like your sister had a wonderful experience at the bookstore, lucky for her it took a while to find a teaching position. Thanks, Sharon, you too!

      Like

  15. Lovely Marcia, what a collection of special memories and signatures.

    Like

  16. Anonymous

    Dear Marcia – really enjoyed this post. Went over and watched video on Mr. Ebberly. It was so interesting to see his work and tell about how he works. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope you are having a great day.

    Like

    • Thank you, I’m glad you found it interesting! If you type your name into the reply form, your comment won’t show up as Anonymous (I’d love to know who you are!).

      Like

  17. So enjoyed seeing these inscriptions, Marcia! I’ve gone to my fair share of author events and love my collection of signed books. With brick and mortar bookstores fewer and far between, it’s sad that these opportunities don’t present themselves as often. I have fond memories of getting books signed by Madeleine L’Engle, Chris Van Allsburg, Katherine Paterson, and Phyllis Naylor.

    Like

    • Gosh, your collection sounds wonderful, Jama. I recently read that printed children’s books are doing well, not being overtaken by eBooks, after all. Hopefully this will keep the last of the bookstores going strong. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

      Like

  18. What a great collection and you met J.K. Rowling!! I met Margaret Atwood, twice and have two signed books of hers. I also met Jane Goodall who signed a book for me which is very special.

    Like

    • Nice! Both authors would be fun to meet. Jane must have such amazing stories to tell.

      Like

  19. Wow, what a wonderful collection of autographed books! I have just a few autographed books, mostly by regional authors who write about local history. .

    Like

    • I always find it interesting to read history about local areas, sounds like you have a good collection!

      Like

  20. Oh, Marcia! I read this over and over again, as every book is one I read in my classroom, and every author is a favorite. Barbara Cooney lived in the next town over from me before she moved to Maine. I have a signed Miss Rumphius, but I never met her. I have a signed Strega Nona by Tomie de Paola (his children’s book on his autobiography is terrific), a Stan and Jan Berenstain Bears book, and an Eric Carle book. Most recently I heard Patricia MacLachlan speak. I brought her my very old copy of Sarah, Plain and Tall to sign and The Poet’s Dog (I told her I thought it should have won the Newbery). She was remarkable, and said her favorite picture book is The Iridescence of Birds, about Henri Matisse as a child. Jane Yolen’s words to you, “For Marcia who is opening many doors” is as good as it gets. Thank you for this remarkable post, Marcia.

    Like

    • Hi Jennie, what a great collection you have. A signed Berenstain’s is wonderful, such fun books. I think the Berenstains lived in PA, but I never had the opportunity to meet them. Nice that you got to chat with Patricia MacLachlan, too. And I love Tomie’s autobiographical books, as well and of course Eric Carle. Sounds like we do have the same taste in favorite books. 🙂 Knowing your kids, they must be all ears and eyes if/when you point out (or talk about) the signatures in your books. So happy you enjoyed the post, Jennie, and thanks for letting me know!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are welcome, Marcia. We both like the same books and authors, for sure. I always make a point of pointing out the signature on a signed book when I read it to the children. I think they are as excited as I am!

        Like

        • Very cool, your students are so fortunate to have such rich lessons early on in life. Seems you make all the arts come alive for them!

          Liked by 1 person

  21. Ashley

    You have the best posts!! I don’t have any signed books but now I wish I had some. Such a fun colletion!!

    Like

    • Hi Ashley. Maybe an author you like will sign books near where you live and you can start your own collection. 🙂 Libraries often have good author programs. Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  22. Bette Norton

    You have a very impressive signed picture book collection! I have some books that are signed which I treasure very much. Two of them being your Call Me Amy and Amy’s Cholce!
    There is nothing like holding a picture book in hand with beautiful illustrations. I am happy to hear that e-books have not taken over in publishing these treasured books. Wonderful post! 🙂

    Like

    • Thank you, Bette. 🙂 Long live picture books! I really do think they’ll continue for many many years, in the same way we still love paintings even though we have photography and we still enjoy candles even though we have electricity. There’s nothing like holding a gorgeous work of art and feeling the page between your fingers as you turn it to see what’s next.

      Like

  23. mirkabreen

    You have a gorgeous collection of Author autographs, Marcia. (Miss Rumphius is a favorite because it breaks a lot of “how to” rules of kid-lit.)
    I also enjoyed the many comments here^ of others who met and connected with writers. I’ve met a lot of writers in author events, but none as famous at these.

    Like

    • I’ve always enjoyed how Miss Rumphius breaks the rules, as well. Many of the most loved classics seem to be too long, too quiet, and starring the wrong main characters, BUT only by today’s strict requirements. Thanks for adding to the conversation, Mirka!

      Like

  24. Hello Marcia, thank you for coming to visit today. Have a lovely Easter. Hugs Barbara
    PS I do have one or two very nice signed books but then so do you. x

    Like

  25. Cecilia

    What a lovely idea! Happy Easter!

    Like

  26. Ok Marcia, you probably already know I’m going to say I love love this post! I have most of these books (unsigned) on the shelves in our family room. Old favorites! We bought copies of The Library Lion for our grand-kids in the bookstore of the big NY Public Library when we vacationed there a couple summers ago. So fun to see your drawings from Ed Emberly and Marc Brown! I have only one signed children’s book. We had dinner with friends who were old friends with the illustrator, Steve Bjorkman. When I heard he’s be at dinner I brought along my copy of Thanksgiving Is… and he signed it and drew an Indian and pilgrim. I was thrilled! So I’m very impressed by your collection!! (I have to admit, I’m a little envious of your job and all the books that pass through your hands!) thanks for sharing them with us. Fun post Marcia!! Happy reading there… hugs!

    Like

    • Hi Rhonda, I love that you bought Library Lion while AT the NY Public Library, how appropriate! Sounds like a fun dining experience with your friends, as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the post, so glad you enjoyed it! xo

      Like

      • Always always love your book posts Marcia! the best!

        Like

  27. Dudhwa

    What an extraordinary collection!…What a great and motivational accumulation! This is one of my most loved exercises as well. Exceptionally decent!..

    Like

  28. Very cool – especially the ones with illustrations. Keep on collecting!

    Like

  29. Hi, I remember a lot of these books that I either read to my students or had them in the class library. I left a lot to the teacher who took over my class when I started my district administrator job. I’ll be back to read more. Thank you for you follow. Just wanted to say ‘hi.’

    Like

  30. I have several signed books and I treasure them!

    Like

    • Signatures seem to bring an extra personal touch to our favorite books. 🙂

      Like

  31. Ruth

    Truly Inspiring!!! Loved it…..!

    Like

  32. What a cherished collection!

    Like

  33. Oooooh! How wonderful it all is, the art, the signatures, meeting the authors–such a thrill!

    Like

Please leave a comment--I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: