In the course of my career I’ve worked with many stars, starting in my early teens when I was working at a high end men’s shop that dressed a lot of them. My 1st introduction to the reality of celebrity was the male lead of the hottest TV show at the time. Stumbling in with a half drunk forty-pounder of Jack Daniels, dropping trou and belligerently yelling at inanimate objects, I quickly realised just like regular people, celebs aren’t always what they seem. Some are lovely, some break your heart and some are…well, best left on the screen.
And I’ll admit I am a Trekkie/Trekker, and I *may* have had a verbal altercation with Brent Spiner who played Data, at a convention in New York when TNG was wrapping its 6th season. Needless to say, it’s not often that I get nervous or tongue tied around celebrities.
But last week, I did.
I had the honour of being invited to the Scholastic Authors and Illustrators dinner. And as I looked around the room during the cocktail hour, I realised that these people are my rock stars. I mean, Barbara Reid! Great-Grandma McCaig had a copy of Two by Two proudly displayed in her home, and how many times did I distract a teething babe with “tell me a story, read me a book, bounce me a poem, let’s take a look!”
Helaine Becker! A Porcupine in a Pine Tree had us giggling through bedtime all last winter.
Jean Little! Whose books comforted me through my early-20’s angst.
And American wunderkind Brian Selznick, in his jazzy metallic boots!
I was overwhelmed with gratitude and admiration. These are the people who enrich my family’s life every single day.
When I sat down for dinner, I was at a table with Erin O’Connor and Patricia Storms. While some of the other tables, like Paul Yee’s, were a bit more staid, we were the cheeky ones laughing up a storm. Erin and Patricia both immediately put my nerves at ease and you can see why they’re so engaging to readers. I’ve been groaning and guffawing over Erin’s 101 Math Jokes ever since, and I can’t wait for the snow to come so we can try out the experiments from Cool Science, which Patricia joyfully illustrated.
Speaking with a few of the Scholastic brass, we opined that being a children’s author is in so many ways tougher than writing for adults. Not to belittle some incredible authors, there are givens with an adult book that those writing for the younger set could never get away with; a certain flexibility and leeway they just don’t have. They have to be clearer, more concise and in many ways, more creative.