Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Few Highlights from #NCTE18

Now that I am a little more recovered from my trip to Houston for another amazing NCTE annual conference, I wanted to pop in with just a few highlights, presented in more or less chronological order. (This post could go on for days... I am hyper aware of all the folks I am not mentioning here.. so so many, and I love you all! What a wonderful tribe to be a part of. On this Thanksgiving eve and every day, I am so very grateful.)

Nancy's newest book
1. Suppering with my Charlesbridge editor Karen Boss and author-poet-friend Nancy Bo Flood. Karen and I have a book together coming in 2020, and I loved hearing her world-traveler stories! Also, she gave a synopsis of one of *my* books that I totally should have recorded (because Karen is way better at describing it than I am!). And Nancy is always a joy. Always.

2. A graphic novel session in which I was hyperaware of the power of art/doodling/drawing. Sometimes kids are intimidated by words, but pictures let them in and opens them up... I continue to be a huge fan of graphic novels! I particularly loved learning with Nathan Hale.... and making a new friend with a passionate teaching student attending NCTE for the first time!

3. Not only was Janet Wong and Sylvia Vardell's poetry session filled with poetry friends, its focus was on the JOY of poetry. It got me thinking about the power of white space and poetry as a partnership. Perhaps most inspiring was listening to elementary school principal Tom Marshall share all the ways he makes poetry a part of the culture in is school. For instance, at the entrance of the school is a sign that says these words:

4. Hearing Guadalupe Garcia McCall read her poems and meeting Il Sung Na, who is illustrating my book WILD PEACE, coming from Roaring Brook 2021. I loved hearing Il Sung's process of writing and illustrating his newest THE DREAMER, which is a full-circle book (opening text and closing text are the same!) as well as an open-ended book, which I personally love. I was also comforted by the many revisions and the years that passed before he arrived at the final product.

Nonfiction panel! Laura P. Salas,
Ann Marie Corgill, Irene Latham,
Shawn Harris, Jen Vincent, Aly Beecher
5. Presenting with poets and teachers I admire... and sharing Ramona's pumpkin bread after the poetry session. Also learning SO MUCH during the nonfiction panel from the other panelists! Those "question" books, Ann Marie... thank you!

6. Breakfast of champions -- with champions Carol Hinz, Laura Purdie Salas, Maria Gianferrari! (I'm noticing quite a few of my highlights include food! Yum!)

Maria, Carol, Irene, Laura

7. Chris Emdin saying "you can be an introvert on your own time." (but not in the classroom) This is good advice for authors, too!

me and my table mates!
8. The Children's Book Awards Luncheon. This is always my favorite events of the conference! Why? Great table mates! Great speakers! Jason Chin reminding us that both art and science rely on imagination. Dan Santat sharing the origins of AFTER THE FALL, and reminding us to "just do what you love and you are going to be okay."

9. Texting Charles Waters when CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? was announced as a Charlotte Huck Honor Book. (!!!) Click here to see a video of the announcement (filmed by Chris Barton).

Check out Jen Vincent's
 octopus tattoo!
10. Octopuses everywhere! People were so sweet about all my octo-gear... scarf! t-shirts! jewelry!... and I'm so grateful for the AGNES-love. But, really, Jen Vincent gets the octopus prize...

11. The M.R. Robinson Thanksgiving Dinner. Wow. I expected a sales show, not something so tender and moving. It's one of those things you've got to experience. I'll be totally there next year.

See you next year! :)


  1. A little jealous of your NCTE experience! Thanks for sharing it!

  2. I know much of what you shared, but not all, especially about your upcoming books, Irene. Sounds very good for these next years! Congratulations again on the honor for "Can I Touch Your Hair?" Really a wonderful thing. And, love Jen's tattoo. She does get the prize! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. What a wonderful conference Irene, chock full of interesting panels, exciting news about poetry, books, your forthcoming books, awards and soul fulfilling meals! Congrats for the Charlotte Huck Honor Book Award– and thanks for sharing all from the conference with us, felt like we were almost there!

  4. NCTE is my time to hobnob with all my fellow wizards. Loved seeing you and so proud of your Charlotte Huck honor!

  5. Irene -- I'm glad we got to say hello, even though it was brief. Huge congrats on your Charlotte Huck honor. I see lots of friends in common in this gallery of photos: Jen Vincent and Maria Gianferrari, who I know from our Maryland SCBWI.

  6. Love being there with you all, via this wonderful tour.
    Brava! for all the laughs, learning & love.

  7. p.s. major high fives to you & Charles & your great illustrators for the C.H. honors!!!! That is a favorite, of mine.


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