I've got a sore throat and sniffles, but I refuse to get sick because I am not missing the National Book Festival this year. If I have to wear the swine flu mask - so hip this season - or if my family has to bring me in on a stretcher, I am going this Saturday.
Due to circumstances beyond my scheduling control, I have had to miss the last two years and it was torture each time to know that celebrated authors were hanging out in my backyard while I was not. This time the weekend is clear, the weather looks good, the author list is golden, and I have to be there.
So what's got me so excited, other than the fact that its free, fantastic, and festivalicious?
1. The Children's Tent
During the day I can attend readings of children's authors Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, Kate DiCamillo, Shannon Hale, Craig Hatkoff, Lois Lowry, Megan McDonald, Sharon Robinson and Kadir Nelson, Charles Santore, Jon Scieszka and David Shannon, and Mo Willems. Let me repeat that last one. MO WILLEMS! I'm sure many of these other folks are wonderful speakers, and I am in awe of many of them as writers and/or illustrators. But if you haven't seen Mo Willems speak, then you have missed something pretty special. I'm a huge fan of his books and kinda him personally - though I've been trying to stay on the right side of the stalker line for a few years now. I can't help it if I keep running into him - accidentally, I swear! - at Book Expo America or the previous National Book Festival. (Probably my favorite author story ever.)
2. The Teens and Children's Tent
Here's where I'll find Teens & Children authors Judy Blume, Pat Carman, Paula Deen, Carmen Agra Deedy, Liz Kessler, Jeff Kinney, Rick Riordan, James L. Swanson and Jacqueline Woodson. These readings run at the same time as the ones in the children's tent so I'm going to have to make some tough choices. At this point I'm pretty sure that I'm going right from the Mo Willems' reading (could I ask for a photo op first? Not sure.) and going for the Rick Riordan, Jeff Kinney, and Judy Blume line-up. Yeah, you read it right - JEFF KINNEY! Kidding, all three of them are superstars in children's literature and I'm stunned that I'll be in their presence. I do have a fondness for Jeff because I've actually met him before and have my own Jeff Kinney Story. (Okay, I have two favorite author stories.)
3. The PBS Raising Readers Pavilion
Hello? Cause that's who I'm blogging for! Apparently PBS is featuring Elmo, so it looks like I'll be meeting him before my Booklights colleague Susan. They'll also have celebrity readings all day long, to which I was not invited. Okay, I'm not a celebrity but they should only hear my rendition of How Chipmunk Got His Stripes. They will also feature Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Between the Lions, plus book-based PBS KIDS favorites Clifford the Big Red Dog, WordGirl, Curious George, and Maya & Miguel
Oh, The National Book Festival also has amazing authors of adult books too. You know, ones like John Grisham, Jodi Picoult, Julia Alvarez, John Irving, Nicholas Sparks, Azar Nafisi, Michael Connelly, Gwen Ifill, Sue Monk Kidd, David Baldacci, Mary Jane Clark, and James Patterson. And I mentioned that this was all free, right? If you are in the area - and by that I mean a two hour radius - you should not miss it. Actually, forget that two hour radius guideline. If you live farther, stay with a friend. Bring some homemade chicken noodle soup and you can stay with me.