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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Librarians Rock. Readers, too.

Yesterday I got to spend the day at the New Jersey Library Association's annual meeting. It was so much fun! Have I mentioned lately that I love librarians? I gave a speech at the lunch, after sitting on the dais to eat (it was eating show, lovely for all involved, I'm sure) next to a terrific librarian name Melissa (who once won a prize as "shyest girl" but here she was, giving funny and smooth speeches -- hope for all the shy people among us!) On my other side were the two editors of the Wimpy Kid books -- the first book in the series had won a kids' choice award but Jeff Kinney, the author, was holed up in his home finishing the fifth book. So he sent his smart, funny editors to read a letter of thanks (and keep me company while show-eating, of course). Also there, on the other side of the podium, were more fabulous librarians, Brian Selznick's sister and mom who came to accept his award, and Jay Asher, who had flown in from California to accept his award and share some hilarious/heartbreaking emails from readers.

I was really happy to meet Jay and get a signed copy of his book Thirteen Reasons Why, which I have been wanting to read so much! Then today I just read some big news -- Jay's book will pop back up on this week's NYT Bestseller List! Probably because of the copy I bought! I feel so proud! Look what I made happen.

Anyway, I was the keynote speaker, so after lunch (during which, my mom will be so pleased to hear, I did not spill on myself even once!) I stood up and talked for a while. I will tell more about what I said at some point if you want, but for now I will just say that the great state of New Jersey is planning to cut funding for libraries by 74%. You read that right. Not 7.4% but 74%. I know the economy is in shambles and belts will be worn tighter all around. But this seems crazy to me. So I talked about reading, and libraries, and librarians -- how vital they are, and why. It was a really fun day. I got to meet so many passionate, funny, generous people, and also show off my eating skills at the same time! Woot!

This picture was just emailed to me a little while ago by a proud mom (thanks!), watching her son fall headfirst into a book. The book is JUSTIN CASE: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters - and the look in his eyes might just be the best review I've ever gotten.

In other news, did you know today is Poem In Your Pocket Day?

Here are two, in honor of it.

The first is from Piet Hein, the great Danish poet, and it's the one I kept in my pocket, on my wall, and ultimately in my head throughout the writing of JUSTIN:

To be brave
Is to behave
Bravely when your heart is faint
So you can be really brave
Only when you really ain't

And this one is from JUSTIN CASE. It is the haiku written by Justin's little sister, Elizabeth, who is in kindergarten:

Dog poop is stinky
But it is good for the soil
Just watch where you step!

Do you have a poem in your pocket? Or a photo of a reader? Send them to me!

Rachel Vail

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