Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What I Learned About Books, Writing and Writers at UGA's Children's Book Festival

Wow, what a great festival! I loved meeting Georgia book-lovers, and the facilities at UGA were perfect! Here are some of the highlights:

1. Listening again to Natalie Lloyd talk about the magic of books. I heard Natalie speak last year at TLA, so I knew to expect bubbly inspiration -- and pics of her dog Biscuit -- and Natalie did not disappoint. I love what she shared about the impact of books on her own childhood, particularly THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE and THE BABYSITTER CLUB. You can definitely see these elements in Natalie's books! When she read the opening to A SNICKER OF MAGIC, I realized she did on page one what I've just been reading about in WIRED FOR STORY by Lisa Cron, which is to show the reader right away that something is amiss. This creates intrigue and the desire for the reader to read on! (Seriously, writers, you want this book. It's a life-changing book for me!)

2. Being reminded by international-spotlight author Kathryn White that it's important to create books that deal with tough issues, like in her book WHEN THEY FIGHT. It was inspired by her childhood experiences of her parents fighting, and in the book, it's BADGERS who are fighting -- which gives the reader some distance while still allowing them to relate... and to know they are not alone.

3. Talking about resilience and resistance with author Lois Ruby. Lois provided an amazing bibliography of historical titles that incorporate these two qualities. I LOVE these kind of books, and I was thrilled to hear about so many that I haven't yet read. So many good books to look forward to!

Duncan from the side, just like he draws
all his characters!
4. Getting a peak into Duncan Tonatuih's process. Duncan enjoys creating books about social justice issues, and he demonstrated how he uses photoshop to make his books. His style is distinctive in that he only ever shows one side of a character's face, and he draws stylized ears and feet and hands. He also uses a lot of texture that he scans from real life (hair, blue jeans, etc.) and "paints" digitally onto his sketch. Fascinating!

5. Listening to local-author spotlight Kelly Bingham and making a connection about how writing verse novels (and any poem) is like animation art: one quick moment to show emotion/story. I also was reminded of my days working at Disney (I worked at the travel agency for a semester in college... while Kelly was an animation artist/story director!) and also of Sesame Street when Kelly mentioned THERE'S A MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK being the inspiration for her book Z IS FOR MOOSE.

Book people are so very fascinating, aren't they? And that was just the speakers.... I loved meeting so many teachers and librarians! The best thing I came home with was hope for this novel I have rewritten 548 times... (sorry to say that is only a slight exaggeration). But, YAY!

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