Why I Haven’t Had Time to Think Much About the ALA Awards Announcements

Alison Morris - January 27, 2009

9:15 a.m. on Monday, January 26 I arrive at the store and race through the Monday morning "restock report," in which I consider every children’s book that sold over the weekend and decide how many of each (if any) we need to reorder and from whom (the publisher if we don’t need it right away, a distributor if we do). 

9:45 a.m. I finish that report in just enough time to watch the ALA Awards press conference/webcast, during which I look up each title as it’s announced to see 1) if we have it in stock, 2) if I need to order more copies than what we have, and 3) if it’s available at our distributors at that exact moment. Send congratulatory e-mail to Melina Marchetta as soon as I learn she’s won the Printz Award. Receive immediate reply and realized the entire children’s book world is listening to/watching these same announcements. Even in Australia!! (Wacky.)

10:30 a.m. The press conference ends. I tell the lovely Lisa Fabiano at our store to send orders off to our distributors ASAP then place a quick call to Melissa Sweet and leave her a rushed message of Caldecott Honor congratulations.

10:45 a.m. Race out the door to get in my car and head over to the Dana Hall School where we are hosting Jonathan Stroud for a school visit.

10:50 a.m. First stop at Dana Hall = their beautiful school library, where I’d left about 15 boxes of books last Thursday + a handcart that we could use to move said boxes. With the help of librarian Liz Gray I move those 15 boxes to another building.

a.m. Met by Jonathan Stroud and publicist Jennifer Levine (of Disney Publishing) while arranging the tables on which we’d be selling Jonathan’s books to Middle School and Upper School students during their lunch hour.

We sell books and Jonathan signs books.

12:30 p.m. I box up half the remaining books, put them on the handcart, and move them (plus Jonathan and Jennifer) over to the Middle School building where Jonathan gives a lively presentation, during which he discusses with students (and draws for them) the differences between a very "traditional" hero and the heroes in his new book Heroes of the Valley (Hyperion, January 2009).

1:15 p.m. We sell more books and Jonathan signs more books. (Thanks to librarian Sam Musher for her help at this point!)

1:30 p.m. Back to the library with books on the handcart to collect two boxes I left there. Back to my car to move it over to the cafeteria building and collect boxes we left there (thanks for boxing those up, Liz!) then over to the library to load my car with those other boxes and the handcart. 

2:00 p.m. Back to the store to unload all the remaining boxes + the handcart and put more books on the sales floor in anticipation of Jonathan’s event there in the evening. Answer questions regarding various and sundry phone calls that came in during my few hours away from the store. Reply to a couple of e-mails.

3:00 p.m. Go out and grab a bite of lunch. Place tired, frazzled phone call to M.T. Anderson and leave rambling message congratulating him on being awarded a Newbery Honor. Stop at CVS.

4:00 p.m.  Get back to store and respond to more e-mails and phone calls. Set up chairs in Used Book Cellar in anticipation of evening event. Have brief meeting with booksellers Pat Pereira and Jane Kohuth. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my coworkers?? Love them!) Call M.T. Anderson again and leave message saying "I know you didn’t actually receive a Newbery Honor and that you were awarded a Printz Honor but I’m rushing around like a crazy woman today and I was a bit frazzled and…"

5:00 p.m.  Receive call from very entertained M.T. Anderson saying I’m the only one who gave him the Newbery Honor today. Laugh. A lot. Swap opinions with him on various award winners until Jonathan Stroud strides into the buying office.

5:20 p.m. Hand the phone to Jonathan Stroud and, in so doing, introduce him to M.T. Anderson (who is, like the rest of us in-the-know people, a Jonathan Stroud fan) and experience a VERY surreal I-know-both-of-these-amazing-people-how-do-they-not-know-one-another moment. Hang up the phone and get back into "events hosting mode."

5:45 p.m. There is already quite a crowd gathering for our event (hooray! and thank goodness!) so bookseller Margaret Aldrich and I move more chairs into the Used Book Cellar and haul more books up to the sales floor. 

6:05 p.m. Jonathan begins his presentation to a crowd of approximately 40 very enthusiastic fans age 10-60? (A guess.) Nice to see so many adults falling under the spell of good so-called "young adult" fiction.

7:10 p.m. Jonathan ends his presentation and goes upstairs to sign books. I chat with LOTS of lovely, very appreciative people who gush to me about Jonathan and his books.

8:00 p.m. Event attendees leave. Margaret and I then gush to Jonathan about him and about his books. I gush to Jennifer Levine about how grateful we are to have had Jonathan visiting us for this really delightful day. Margaret and I pose with Jonathan for this photo, below.

8:15 p.m. We say good-bye to Jonathan and Jennifer, then move more books around and take down chairs in the Used Book Cellar.

8:45 p.m. I go back to my desk and read a few more e-mails. Discuss events with the lovely Lee Van Kirk.

9:15 p.m. I leave the bookstore, 12 hours after I started my work day.

9:50pm I arrive home.

10 p.m. I eat dinner (bless my fiancé for putting dinner on the table at such odd hours).

10:30 p.m. I rave to you about working in an industry with people as talented and kind and intelligent and good-hearted as the wonderful Jonathan Stroud. I tell you that a father drove all the way up from Sandwich, Mass. (about an hou
and a half south of us) with his son for Jonathan’s event at our store because his kid woke him up at 5 a.m. to say he’d just learned that his "favorite author in the world" was going to be doing a reading in Wellesley that night and this dad couldn’t deny his son this one-in-a-lifetime opportunity. His comment: "I mean, if he’d said the guy was his favorite LINEBACKER it would have been a different story, but when he’s asking to see his favorite AUTHOR? Who could say no to that?" Then I tell you that another attendee at the event (a parent I’ve worked with in the past) told me tonight that she happened to stumble across my blog last week for the first time and she found so much she enjoyed reading here — especially "the post about that guy whose house you went to? The one in Maine with all the toys? That was INCREDIBLE!! What an amazing man!!" That would be Ashley Bryan, I tell her, as I put a copy of Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song in her hands and say, "He was just awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award today."

11:40 p.m. I upload photos of Jonathan Stroud and arrange them here so that you can all admire his smiling face and note that, frazzled or not, I too was still smiling at the end of this long but terrific day.

Midnight I’m still here but will be finished with this post any minute now…

12:07 a.m. Good night!

11 thoughts on “Why I Haven’t Had Time to Think Much About the ALA Awards Announcements

  1. Boni Ashburn

    Love the story about the dad, Alison! And thanks for sharing the craziness and wonderfulness of your day- we authors appreciate every minute of what you do for us and for the book industry as a whole. We really, really do 🙂

  2. CB

    As a former bookseller & event manager I can so relate (even hosted the same publicist for a different Hyperion author!). I can so relate-tiring but what a worthwhile profession we find ourselves in, yes? Thanks for sharing-especially introducing Stroud to Anderson-I’m with you on the prefct surreal-ness (is that word?) of that moment! Let’s hear it for booksellers!

  3. Alan Silberberg

    Thank you SO much for sharing your hectic/crazy/wonderful day. I think Jonathan is lucky to be in such great hands! And your dedication to making sure kids (and adults) get to meet authors on such a common ground is fantastic.

  4. Anne DeCourcey

    Wow! Wow! So glad you’re there and have the stamina for marathons like this–marathons that happen more frequently than you boast. What a cool note about the father from Sandwich MA. Everything you do (and it’s a lot) is appreciated! I’m in awe. Anne

  5. Jasmine

    Thanks for telling us about your day – I especially love the Stroud-Anderson episode! I love both author’s books. It sounds like a brilliant experience which you only appreciate a little while later, being too tired just now.


    Love you. Love your blog. So excited too about the wonderful Floyd Cooper winning the Coretta Scott King award for illustrating The Blacker the Berry — a real beauty this year.


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