ALA Fireworks

Memories of the American Library Association (#ALA2013) conference may be cloaked in July 4th fireworks haze, but we really did have a exciting show with many sparkling events.

We opened the show Friday night with book signings from two powerhouse nonfiction authors–Sally M. Walker with her award-winning book Their Skeletons Speak, and Carla Killough McClafferty with her new title Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment. Librarians on the prowl for exemplary narrative nonfiction were thrilled to get these titles.

Carla and Sally busily autographing their nonfiction books

Saturday morning started bright and early, hosting a highly informative focus group with a fantastic group of public librarians who serve children and teens. Some of the librarians looked at the spread of our fiction and nonfiction books on the table and commented, “I didn’t know you published that!” upon finding some of their favorite titles. It’s a reminder that librarians don’t pay attention to publishers, just good books.

We also discovered that we have a sleeper hit in the graphic novel area: Our Lou! series drew praise several times throughout the show. One focus group member told us she couldn’t keep her copies on the shelf. “The cover looks just the way it should look. I love it–it hits a key spot for graphic novels–fifth-grade girls.” And on the show floor, many children’s librarians stopped by to make sure they had all of the titles in this four-book series.

Saturday’s book signing featured three of our marvelous picture books authors: John Coy for Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball, Laura Purdie Salas for A Leaf Can Be… and Chris Monroe for Cookie the Walker. Proudly, all three authors hail from our home state of Minnesota–you betcha!

Minnesota picture book talent–Chris, John, and Laura.
Photo courtesy of Laura Purdie Salas

On Sunday, we celebrated with the ever-gracious author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson as she received her Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award for No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller. The speeches at the CSK breakfast left no dry eye in the room!

Vaunda’s speech at the CSK breakfast
Vaunda’s book in young hands

Later that day, we hosted a book signing with Vaunda and two other commendable Carolrhoda Lab authors: Sarah Aronson for Believe and Ashley Hope Pérez for The Knife and the Butterfly. (Ashley brought a huge box of delicious HOMEMADE COOKIES to the booth, much to the delight of our authors and staff!)

The fun didn’t stop there. On Monday, our publisher and CEO Adam Lerner accepted a Batchelder Honor for A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return. And Carolrhoda Editorial Director Andrew Karre and VP of Marketing Terri Soutor hosted a Book Buzz session featuring our hot new books for Fall 2013–including these sizzling Carolrhoda Lab titles (Shadowlark, Sex & Violence, A Wounded Name) that were quickly snatched up by librarians purchasing display copies on the last day of the conference:

 All festivities aside, what is delightful about ALA is seeing friends old and new. My favorite moment this year was witnessing the first in-person encounter between mutual Twitter admirers author/reviewer/librarian Walter M. Mayes (@waltergiant) and our own Andrew Karre (@andrewkarre). As Walter spotted Andrew coming down the aisle, he rushed forward in greeting. Andrew’s expression moved quickly from terror at this large stranger coming at him to relief as he spotted Walter’s badge just before being enveloped in a giant hug. Priceless.

Walter M. Mayes @waltergiant and friend

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