Saturday, September 25, 2010

Baltimore and National Book Festivals

My best friend, Melissa, and I spent Friday at the Baltimore Book Festival. It was HOT, but a lot of fun. There were some fun characters walking around, such as Curious George,


Clifford, and one of my favorite pairs, Frog and Toad. If I thought I was hot, I'm sure they were sweltering. We spent a few hours just wandering around, checking out all of the vendors and their merchandise. There were several booths with authors selling their own books and several booths selling used books. One of the first tents I stumbled upon with fun stuff was Squid Fire. I almost got a tote with the Cryptozoology pattern and didn't. I kinda wish I did. And, unfortunately, I don't see that tote on the site.

There were two other vendors worth noting, as their stuff was handmade and unique. The first was Rebound Designs. The woman who makes the purses and wallets scours used book stores for books that are falling apart, but have good covers. She uses hardback books to make purses and soft bound book covers to make wallets. She also uses images found inside the books to make necklaces. And she does custom orders.

The other vendor was The Black Spot Books. Here they use leather and paper to make tiny books that can be worn as a necklace. They also make small journals. Personally, I want to get one of their larger necklaces to wear to signings... and get authors to sign the pages. Definitely check these sites out. Very fun and unique.

Ted Naifeh

The Children's Bookstore Tent had two presentations. The first one was Ted Naifeh. Some of you may recognize his name, as he is the artist of Holly Black's graphic novels, The Good Neighbors, which I love. I found out that he has written some of his own work. I definitely recommend checking out his Courtney Crumrin series. They are middle grade, but also very enjoyable for adults. I picked up the first four and started reading immediately. He also has a graphic novel targeted a little younger titled Polly and the Pirates. He had brought along his portfolio full of original pieces for The Good Neighbors. If only I had more money... a few called to me to buy them.

Next up was the big panel, Zombies vs. Unicorns. Possibly the funniest author event ever!

Diana Peterfreund sporting a unicorn shirt!

Team Zombie was led by Justine Larbalestier, joined by (her husband) Scott Westerfeld and Carrie Ryan. Scott started off the arguments comparing the two greatest books on the topic: WORLD WAR Z by Max Brooks and a self-published unicorn book that I can't remember the title of. He was called out by an audience member who yelled "Peter S Beagle!" He read an excerpt from both. Of course, biased as he is, he read a fantastic section of WORLD WAR Z. The unicorn book... all about rainbows and sunshine and happiness. Scott added that unicorns are so into rainbows, they fart rainbows. Diana had to interject that Lisa Frank tied rainbows to unicorns in the 80's. (I still have Lisa Frank rainbow unicorn stickers from the 80's.) He also claimed that Wesley Scroggins was Team Unicorn and why would you want to be on his team. (Agree to that last point!) Scott also argued that unicorns were horses with a deformity and horses were skittish. And there was something about honey on the horn to attract a partner. He really wasn't nice to the unicorns.

Justine argued that zombie books were better because when you brought home a zombie book it would catch your parents attention. They may be worried. And that would be fun. Kathleen countered with it being more fun to bring home unicorn books that your parents didn't realize should be worrisome. Justine also said zombies were better because they weren't all white; they're multi-cultural. Carrie, considering her books are post-apocalyptic zombie books, brought up the excitement of preparing for a zombie apocalypse. What you'd need to survive and that it would be more fun than battling unicorns.

Carrie, Scott, and Justine

Team Unicorn was led by Holly Black joined by Diana Peterfreund and Kathleen Duey. Of course, Diana had a lot to add. She brought up the unicorns history and the art being prominent since medieval times. Unicorns, sweet and good or evil and deadly, were nice to look at in art. Zombies... not so much. What is appealing about rotting flesh?

Holly's argument was fantastic. I think it gained the most laughs. She brought up the point of if you looked in a mirror and saw a zombie, you would know your life was over. All you were interested in would be eating brains. But... if you looked into a mirror and saw a unicorn, you could likely walk through that magic mirror and explore a magical world where you are long lost royalty and can speak with woodland critters.

Kathleen, Diana, and Holly

It became even more fun as they opened the floor up for us to add to the debate. One girl claimed to be Team Zombicorn! Holly asked why it was always zombie unicorns. Why couldn't it be sparkly zombies... which led to some cracks about Edward Cullen. And that's always a good time. Some girls who were on Team Unicorn brought up the coolness of robot unicorns and ninja unicorns. Another little girl, probably 8 or 9 said she liked the idea that there were some killer unicorns and that they all aren't girlie and prissy.

A girl on Team Zombie said zombies were cool because you could enslave them to be your housekeeper, butler, etc... Diana asked about a union for these zombies. And she got a quick response of "what about a unicorn union?" and Holly quickly said "Unicorp!" Video games were brought up. What's cooler than Robot Unicorn Attack? Apparently, Plants vs. Zombies... which is fun. There was also singing. One girl argued that Thriller made zombies cool, but apparently Mariah Carey used a unicorn in a video. A great argument made by a tween girl... unicorns have the advantage. Zombies, you run from. Unicorns, you'll run to, to pet, to ask it to grant a wish, heal an illness when BAM! They impale you.

As you can see, the longer it went on, the funnier and more ridiculous it went. Although, I have to agree on Ted Naifeh's point. If you're a zombie, you've already lost. Apparently, Team Zombie won in NY, but in Baltimore Team Unicorn kicked butt.

The following day, we traveled by train (which is better than driving in Baltimore) to the DC mall. Which, in case you don't know, is a big grassy area. We got there pretty much just in time to hear Suzanne Collins talk. She began with a line that went something like "I'm excited to be at the Capital talking about the Capitol." She had some interesting stuff to say about her inspiration for The Hunger Games series, as well as her MG series Gregor. Both series are about war. She grew up with a dad in the army. He went away to the Vietnam war. She said she had thought it wasn't bad... until she saw footage on the tv. Then with the Iraq war, she thought her son hadn't quite realized all that was going on. And she said she realized she was wrong about that.

The inspiration to write about war came from that, as well as her infatuation with the Romans. Why did Katniss fight in a jungle? Because when Suzanne was little, she was told her dad was going to war in a jungle. The arena? The animal attacks? Roman influence. Remember the movie, Gladiator. The idea to have it be kids fight came from a lot of Greco-Roman myth where kids were the target. They were attacked or killed as punishment to the parents. And the televised events... because it was for entertainment, as it was in the gladiator matches.

What she said made a lot of sense, and considering I'm infatuated with Greco-Roman myth, I'm surprised I didn't realize it sooner. Her reason for wanting these stories told was because there are wars going on, and kids hear more than a lot of parents think. And considering the topic of war, it's something that needs to be fully discussed, not partially understood. Also, another good point she makes is that in some of these wars, there are kids fighting. Maybe not on the US side, but in other countries, definitely.

Katniss is put in many situations where she is dressed up to promote an image. She said this was inspired by her work on TV where she was behind the scenes. And the ridiculousness of it all, came from reality TV. She did a question and answer section where she very kindly said "No MOCKINGJAY spoilers!" My friend was very pleased. She answered a question about Panem, where she said she would not put that world on a map. However, Panem is the US and Canada. The Capitol is near the rockies and District 12 in Appalachia. The name Panem comes from the Latin term Panem Et Circenses, which means "bread and circuses", "a derogatory phrase which can describe either government policies to pacify the citizenry, or the shallow, decadent desires of that same citizenry. In both cases, it refers to low-cost, low-quality, high-availability food and entertainment" (from wikipedia).

I left during part of the question and answer section to get a good spot in line for the signing. Yeah... good spot. There were separate lines for her, about 50 people or more in each line. I got a spot at the beginning of line 10, where they promptly cut the line. If you hadn't heard, Suzanne hurt her wrist which meant no signing. Not happy she got hurt, but... because of the stamp situation, she was able to get a lot more people her signature. I was in line for about an hour and fifteen minutes before we moved. But once we moved, we got to the front in 5 minutes. She was very nice. No time to chat, but she thanked everyone for coming out and waiting in line.

View from Katherine Paterson's line

Katherine Paterson was my next priority. That line moved very slow. And it was very hot. I waited for over an hour, and, thankfully, she was sweet enough to extend her signing time, or I would've missed out. I was very excited to get my copy of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA signed.

Next, we headed over to the Botanical Gardens where our friend, author of FORGET-HER-NOTS, Amy Brecount White was talking about her book, the magic of flowers, and making tussie-mussies. In my tussie-mussie, she put rosemary for remembrance, pink roses for sweetness, sunflower for adoration, white chrysanthemum for truth, iris for messages, and oregano for joy.

I missed Isabel Allende and Margaret Peterson Haddix because I was in other lines. And while there were other books I wanted signed, we had to leave. So I missed Michael Buckley and Allegra Goodman. But it was hot, I was tired, and had blisters on my feet.

They were two long, hot days, but I was glad we got to go. It was a lot of fun.


Kelly aka yllektra(I Work For Books) said...

OMG this seems so amazing!!
No wonder you had a fantastic time!!
I'm so jealous!!! lol

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