The first thing I did when I entered the conference (after registering and standing in line for tickets to get to see some of the ticketed authors that is) was head right for the author breakfast that I had signed up for. Who was there you ask?
Walter Dean Myers - award winning author, board of director for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and National Ambassador for Young People's Literature - who made the opening remarks for the event:
(See what I mean about the camera? I actually had to use the picture I took of the monitor nearby since the actual picture of him didn't come out so well.)
The theme for the entire breakfast was a great one, concerning the importance of literature in a young person's life, and everyone's talk seemed to center around that theme nicely.
Next up was Chris Colfer, who many may know from his acting on the TV show Glee. Well, apparently he's also written a children's book, called The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell, and a pretty good one too now that I've read it (I will put my review up on Goodreads hopefully soon). He was the Master of Ceremonies of the event, and after listening to him I quickly realized two things: he's a natural in front of an audience (I guess no surprise because of all the experience he must have so far), and he's a really funny guy. Anyway, here he is:
It was fascinating to know where he got his ideas for his story and how they went from conception to the finished product. He showed early drawings and notes. He also went into a funny anecdote about being interviewed about the book and some of the crazy questions he was asked. I think many writers could relate, although some were very specific to him and his acting career, etc. All were funny as hell. As far as I'm concerned, unlike some other celebrities-turned-writers, he's one of us.
Next up was John Green. Now, I'll admit I've only heard the name thrown around in writing circles but have never read anything by him. But I've heard plenty of buzz about his book, The Fault in Our Stars, and he's another guy who's incredibly cool and funny, trading banter with Chris Colfer on stage, telling his take on the topic of reading and its importance in a child's life, and telling a surprisingly funny anecdote about a news report he saw during the war in Afghanistan.
So now I have a whole lot of catching up to do on this guy's career, the whole Nerdfighters thing, etc. I know, I live under a rock. I admit it.
After that was the amazingly talented and prolific writer, Lois Lowry. Although her talk was very serious, she opened with a fun anecdote about how she no longer has to take off her shoes in the airport because of her age. Then her talk turned to the latest installment in The Giver series, called Son, and I learned something about her that I didn't know. The four books in the series all tell a very personal journey of hers involving her son. It gave a whole new perspective on the books, and I can't wait to get into the new one (I just started it yesterday).
She also talked about the first time she was at BEA and the great company she was with at the time, such as Dr. Seuss and Robert McCloskey. They all received standing ovations at that time, and at the time she was a newcomer. The day of the breakfast, she got her standing O, which she greatly deserved.
Finally, the last speaker was Kadir Nelson. Again, like John Green, I didn't know much about him before I went to the breakfast. His talk was a bit different than the others', focusing on the artwork for his new book, I Have a Dream, where he created illustrations to go with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's famous speech. The details of the artwork were amazing, and it illustrated not only Dr. King's passion during his speech, but also the passion of Mr. Nelson himself with the work he was interpreting.
My only regret (and I'm leading up to another BEA tip here) was that the poster that was given out to promote this book during the breakfast got a bit ruined during my time at BEA. For anyone interested in attending BEA, it might be a wise idea to bring a tube for any posters you might pick up. That might help them survive the jostling your posters are sure to take throughout your day.
I'll end this post here, but will put up more shortly. I'll leave you with one last picture of John Green, Lois Lowry, and Kadir Nelson sitting on the panel, just in case you thought I was viewing this on a monitor remotely somewhere: