National Book Festival 2009

This year was my first trip to the National Book Festival. I suspect it will not be my last and may in fact become a yearly tradition. I had intentions of listening to authors speak and getting books signed in between. However, I did not take into consideration all the people. Thousands upon thousands of book lovers wandering the National Mall, slurping up book goodness. There were six genre tents, Fiction & Fantasy, Children's, Teens, Poetry, Mystery & Thriller, and History & Biography. In each of the tents were some of the best and renowned of writers in those genres. There was John Grisham, Sue Monk Kidd, Judy Blume, John Irving, Nicholas Sparks, Lee Child, Jodi Picoult, Kate DiCamillo, Lois Lowry, Walter Mosely, and possibly a hundred more.

Many gave talks and almost all gave book signings. I'm afraid that I cannot tell you much about the book talks as I spent my entire day standing in line, waiting for author signatures. It is something I have always loved to have, that little personalized signature at the front of my book. It means something to me. I brought 20 books with me to be signed, which was an impossibility, but how was I supposed to know. I received signatures from Megan McDonald, Mo Willems, Kadir Nelson, David Shannon, Jon Sciezska, Jaqueline Woodson, Sharon Creech, and Steven Kellogg, Sadly, the lines were just too long for Lois Lowry, Jeff Kinney, Tony DiTerlizi, Judy Blume, Kate DiCamillo, Liz Kessler, Shannon Hale, and Rick Riordan. Or I just didn't have time to stand in line because I was standing in another.

What I really needed was a relay team of line standers. I took along my friend and mother, but due to a baby in tow and wet cold rain, they spent the day at the museums while I stood in lines. I have a cold to prove my dedication. Next year I will probably on take two or three books with me and then spend the rest of the day going to some of the talks. Yes, I would love to have signatures for all my books, but this is the field I am going into, and I imagine this is not the first time I will run into these authors. After all, Jane Yolen will be our commencement speaker in January and Kate DiCamillo almost always makes an appearance around graduation.

I did meet some interesting people while standing in line. A kindergarten teacher who was adopted from Korea and enjoys knitting. A deaf grad student who couldn't afford to buy Kadir Nelson's new book, but came anyway because his books meant so much to her. Two precocious little girls, one of which calls herself Queen Greta the Beautiful and had Megan McDonald dedicate the book thusly. A first grade teacher who brought one of her students who learned to speak English using Mo Willems' books. A Georgetown student who would get extra credit (5 whole points) added to her grade if she managed to get at least 3 author signatures. A Book Festival veteran who agreed that the reason she came was to get author signatures, and like me had a suitcase full of books. "Just get as many as you possibly can," was her advice.

It was a fun trip. I will upload pictures as soon as I get them off the camera. Due to the inclement weather I am feeling rather sickly now though. A terrible cough that has settled in my chest is proving to be my undoing. But it was worth it. I'm already looking forward to the National Book Festival 2010. Anyone want to come stand in line with me?

Ellen Levin & Kadir Nelson
Sharon Creech

Mo Willems
Kadir Nelson
Steven Kellogg
Sharon Creech
The View
My View for most of the day. Lines.


greg said...

Thanks for being you.