It’s been a wonderful spring for conferences and literary festivals. Below are a few pictures of events I was able to participate in.
First up, I was thrilled to attend KidLitCon which in previous years has been held all over the country, but this year was nearby in Providence, RI. What a wonderful group of librarians, teachers, authors, and illustrators.
Below, an awesome panel filled with creativity and talent. Left to right: Janet Costa Bates, Nancy Tupper Ling, Oge Mora (find her in the latest Caldecott winners!) and Isabel Roxas. This disscussion was moderated by Kirsten Cappy. Next, moderator Katy Kramp, Paula Chase, Barbara Dee, Ann Braden, Varian Johnson (also our inspiring keynote speaker), and Jo Knowles. These amazing authors discussed their award-winning middle-grade fiction, all of which included tough and complex topics. Librarians and booksellers discussed how they get the right books into the hands of kids. Shown here: moderator Karen Yingling, Melissa Fox (an independent bookseller who came all the way from Kansas) and Sam Musher an enthusiastic school librarian.
Whoever said kid lit conferences weren’t fun? They are a barrel of laughs! Members of my Writers’ Rumpus critique group enjoy lunch: Kirsti, Laura, and Catherine (with Josh Funk in the background).
I enjoyed participating in this roundtable about social media. The below panel featured Chris Tebbetts who illustrates James Patterson’s Middle School series (along with many other projects) and Christopher Denise, another illustrator of many gorgeous works including the Redwall series and Firefly Hollow. Nicely moderated by Anamaria Anderson.And here is Debbi Michiko Florence and Kara LaReau, as part of a larger panel, discussing their chapter book series and what it takes to write these important in-between books.
A couple of weeks later, I returned to Rhode Island for the first annual Providence Book Festival. Events featuring adult fiction, nonfiction, and poetry were scheduled at the same time, but I pretty much stayed in the kids’ room and even then wasn’t able to catch all the panels. Padma Venkatraman opened up the children’s events. Here she is in the middle of her lovely, moving presentation.I was on a panel, too! We discussed Fiction That Empowers Girls/Topics No Longer Taboo in Middle Grade books.
And here’s a picture taken later when we were looking a bit jollier. Left to right: me, Barbara Dee, Laura Shovan (sitting, moderator), Monica Tesler, Jen Calonita, and MarcyKate Connolly. Look up their awesome books!
This next one was a fun picture book panel with Anika Denise, Jannie Ho, and Emilie Boon. A big highlight for me was watching P. W. Alley draw. Here he puts the finishing touches on Paddington Bear for a young fan.Sorry for such blurry pictures, but this next one shows David Neilsen, Nancy Castaldo, and Susan Tan who took turns reading their work.
And here’s Dianna Sanchez, Kara LaReau, and Pat Cummings discussing their middle grade books. Loved this discussion between Julie Dao and Antoine Revoy about their creative process and what inspires them. I spy Roller Boy! Last but definitely not least, the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators annual spring conference was held once again in Springfield, MA. Great time with great people! As you can see, my critique group (check out Writers’ Rumpus) was well represented. We also met up with a lot of new friends and old friends. Inspiring speakers and workshops, as always.
Cathy Ogren and Adaela McLaughlin getting ready for the evening’s events!
Josh Roberts volunteered at the busy registration desk, but paused a minute to pose with Kim Chaffee.
I started off the conference at a dinner for Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple’s Picture Book Boot Camp attendees. A great group bursting with good news.
Friday night dinner with ten members from Writers’ Rumpus. In the middle, beyond the crowd, you’ll find a tiny Jane Yolen giving the opening comments of her inspiring words of welcome. And, hey, look what book got stuck on the screen!
Finishing up breakfast on Saturday morning just before our keynote speaker.
Lynda Mullaly Hunt presented a profound and moving keynote speech: “The things we are ashamed of make for very good writing.” And “What will be your legacy? Will you spend your one precious life devouring Netflix?…The story that drives you can change lives.”Saturday dinner, always delicious!
That’s a wrap, hope your spring is going well, too!
Call Me Amy chosen for 2014 Best Books of the Year!
Keeping the Blogisphere a Beautiful Place
Spirit Animal Blogging Award
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Call Me Amy Book Trailer
Great Reviews for CALL ME AMY
“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.” –KIRKUS
“Strykowski lovingly captures seaside Maine and the travails of adolescence in her quiet, sweet-natured debut novel.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Strykowski ably depicts Amy’s insecurity and self-doubt, Craig’s bravura and pain, and Miss Cogshell’s wisdom with a deft, convincing touch. In essence, Amy comes of age as she fights to find her voice in the outside world and shed some of her debilitating insecurity. Readers will cheer her on, and her splendid team, too.” –BOOKLIST
"The protagonist grows throughout the story, from a shy loner to having two friends and speaking her mind in front of her adversaries at school as well as to the whole town. …Amy is a reliable narrator and easily relatable.” –SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
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“To do a good deed, we can find friendship in the most curious of locations. “Call Me Amy” is a novel from Marcia Strykowski following the struggles of Amy Henderson, who finds an injured seal and seeks to nurse it, with the help of a scorned aging woman and an unusual youth. Set in the early 70s and exploring the essence of loneliness, “Call Me Amy” is a powerful read that should prove so very hard to put down, highly recommended.”—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“This is a wonderful YA tale for the simple fact that it shows one and all that the power and courage to stand up and be heard in this life comes from within. And that no matter who you are, you have that toughness inside your soul. Craig has a lovely heart that hides behind that sarcasm he aims at the world, and he will remind every small town girl about that quiet boy she fell in love with long ago. ‘Old Coot’ brings the fun and humor along with her, and Pup is the sweetest creature in the world. Having all the ingredients of first love, faith, loss and strength makes ‘Amy’ unforgettable.” —FEATHERED QUILL
“For Amy, 1973 has been a lonely year, her only friend moved away and she feels awkward around her classmates. Until one day Amy discovers that Craig, another classmate, has rescued an injured seal pup. Amy agrees to help him and together they hide the pup at Miss Cogshell’s house, the odd old lady most kids call “Old Coot.” Amy learns that people aren’t always what they seem to be, and she forms a friendship with Craig and Miss Cogshell. A great story about friendship and doing what you think is right.” —KIDSBOOKSHELF
“For those ages 8 to 12, Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski will resonate with familiar themes of growing up. The year is 1973 and for Amy Henderson, it has been a lonely one with too many awkward moments to count. When she finds an injured seal pup, she rescues him to rehabilitate him. In the process she forms an unlikely alliance with Craig, a boy around her age, and an older woman in town. With their help she discovers that people aren’t always what they seem despite what others may think of them. This is a story filled with many elements that will appeal to younger readers and I highly recommend it.”—BOOKVIEWS.COM
"A wounded seal pup propels 13-year-old Amy Henderson into an unlikely alliance with an unusual older woman and a mysterious boy in a small Maine fishing village. Readers will cheer for Amy as she protects Pup, gains confidence, faces challenges, and comes up with an idea that could change not only the future of her village, but also, her own life. With a skillful hand, Strykowski introduces us to a small town with memorable characters and the girl who could bring them all together." ---Anne Broyles, award-winning author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
"In a small town in Maine in the 1970's, Amy is standing on the brink of becoming a young adult. The events that will force her to discover who she is, what she is made of and how she wants others to perceive her are sweetly told through awkward teenage moments, the triumphs and sadnesses of that age and ultimately, Amy's discovery of her own beliefs, strength and courage." ---Kathleen Benner Duble, acclaimed author of THE SACRIFICE
“Call Me Amy is exactly the type of book I love. The characters are relatable and likeable; they are individuals that the reader enjoys getting to know while watching them change and develop. The setting of the small Maine coastal town is idyllic, and the reader is quickly and completely immersed in this community. Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, it feels timeless. Young readers will readily associate with Amy’s struggles and triumphs with her relationships with family and friends, and mature readers will be gently nudged back to this period in their life. These universal qualities make this novel a perfect choice for many types of readers. As a Youth Services Librarian, I would enthusiastically recommend Call Me Amy to our young patrons as well as to a more adult audience. Because it can be enjoyed on so many levels, this novel would be an ideal source of discussion for an adult/child book group.” ---Patty Falconer, Youth Services Librarian
"I just finished CALL ME AMY and I think it is wonderful with beautiful descriptions. I love the characters and their story. It is like having seen a good play or movie and later, while you are doing other things, it comes back to you and you think about the characters again." ---Peggy Arnold, retired teacher and avid reader.
For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.