Today, I got to chaperone a group of fifth graders to the Festival of Books at USC. It’s kind of like a massive book fair with all kinds of vendors, authors, illustrators, and every kind of literature imaginable, from comics to children’s through adult books and novels, to newspapers, religious brochures, drawing books, you name it. A few students from my class went last year, but I didn’t attend, and I regretted it as soon as I discovered what it was. This year, although I didn’t teach the class that went, I jumped at the chance to chaperone.
Here are some of MY highlights (there are, I’m sure, billions of highlights that I wasn’t able to experience in my short time there, especially since I didn’t buy tickets for panels and I had my principal and several students tagging along):
1) I got to meet Stuart Gibbs and he autographed 3 books for me. I have to admit that I haven’t actually read any of his books (yet), but I’ve been stalking Spy School at Barnes & Noble for almost a year, and I fully intended to buy it as soon as I was ready and nothing else was pressing. Today was as good a day as any. Definitely expect to see a blog about these books in the future. Unfortunately, I was so flustered about the chance to meet a real author, I got Spy Camp, the sequel to Spy School, instead. So I still have to go buy Spy School, and it won’t be autographed like the other 3 books I bought today (Spy Camp, Poached, and Belly Up). Ugh. But at least I got to meet him, get his autograph, and joke about how I already have 2 children and don’t need to take his 2 home in my complimentary tote bag.
I think he’s the biggest author I’ve met so far, and as we know, authors are book nerds’ celebrities. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the movie (read the book). Seeing the actor (author) is still pretty cool.
2) I also got to meet Jenny Offill, an author I’ve never heard of, but I really loved the 2 books I bought: 11 Experiments That Failed and Sparky! She was gracious enough to autograph my books and double checked that she had the spelling of my daughters’ names correct. Sparky! is an adorable book about a girl narrator who really wanted a pet, and got her mom to agree to a sloth. The judgey girl down the street made fun of her sloth, so the narrator decided to prove judgey girl wrong. It is a sweet story. Plus, how many picture books have you read about sloths? They are awesome, and the best part of Sea World, if you ask me.
11 Experiments That Failed, also by Offill, is my classroom STEAM find. Another girl narrator is interested in answering her questions through experimentation, and she analyzes her results. It made me laugh out loud, and I definitely recommend getting this for your classroom if you teach science or STEAM.
3) Books galore. I love books. Did you know that? I got a few other books that I will not post about, because I want to save them for future posts once I’ve read them. I saw books I’d never heard of but now want, and books I’d heard of but never picked up. It was neat to see so many vendors with a shared passion, and so many people coming together for the sake of literacy. I was happy to bring my future students to this event to see them look at books and think about what went into the development of these stories. Really, I just like kids who like books.
I can’t wait until next year! Maybe I’ll sneak off and sit in the audience of a panel of my favorite authors!