Tuesday, October 27, 2015

On not winning the (mock) Newbery

I'm  hanging out in my hotel room with a glass of white wine and Henry, my loaner companion fish. The SoHo Grand, charming and quirky hotel that it is, does not want me to be lonely during my stay, and has therefore installed Henry in my room.

He's not nearly as cuddly as my husband, but he makes some intriguing darts across his fishbowl.

Today's book tour featured a librarian who told me Echo won (I can't make the italics stop. I've given up trying) their Mock Newbery and a fifth-grader who told me he couldn't finish Echo, he did like my book, but he still hadn't read Circus Mirandus. It also featured blueberry pie a la mode with KBB1, which is to say my former boss and decades-long friend, whom I've never actually met before today, Karen Block Breen.

It was so good to be with her. I always felt that I would like her in person even more than I did when all I really knew about her was that she wrote snarky emails, and trusted my negative book reviews. I was somewhat surprised today to learn that reviewing for Kirkus is actually a difficult gig to get, since Karen accepted me at first go. We laughed today remembering my first email to her, which basically said, hey, my friend (actually my agent) says that I have so many opinions I might as well get paid for some of them.

Karen is a fierce and smart advocate of books. I adore her. She spent a bit of time today warning me that now that TWTSML is on all the Mock Newbery lists, I should not allow my heart to be broken if I don't win a damn thing. Sometimes the Committee goes with the book nobody despises. Sometimes librarians worldwide are left scratching their heads.

I already knew this--there are some winners that exceedingly puzzle me--but I appreciated the love with which it was said.

Today a child asked me if Ada couldn't have just as easily had a cleft palate as a club foot--wouldn't that have fulfilled the plot requirements just as well? A girl on full-time crutches told me TWTSHL was her new favorite book in the world. Three young girls, two White and one Black, came up to me after my presentation to ask, urgently, did Sally Hemmings love Thomas Jefferson? I could see that they'd grasped an essential aspect of the story--that it was less horrifying, more palatable, if Sally loved him.

It was a very good day. And if Echo wins the Real Newbery as well as a Mock Newbery, I can say as I did today, that Pam Munoz Ryan has always been a writer I very much admire, and, as I told KBB, no matter the outcome, being in the game is a whale of a lot of fun.

Then I came home to my goldfish and got some wine from the minibar. If Random Penguin thinks I'm extravagant they can stop it out of my pay. At least I'm not charging them for tomorrow's tickets to Hamilton.