American Library Association Conference 2011, New Orleans, LA – June 23-28, 2011

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6-24-11 Jane, a new librarian friend, Dianne de Las Casas & Marita Gentry


It has been a fabulous, non-stop week in New Orleans! The American Library Association (ALA) was in town for their annual conference. I was so excited to play hostess because I live in New Orleans!

On Thursday, I picked up my good friend, Katie Davis (children’s book author/illustrator and host of Brain Burps About Books podcast) and John Schumacher (a librarian/book reviewer of Mr. Schu Reads fame) and took them out to eat at Al Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro. Then we had an impromptu Kidlit drink night at W.I.N.O. (Wine Institute of New Orleans) and tons of children’s book authors showed up: Michelle Knudsen (Library Lion), Phil Bildner (The Hallelujah Flight), Kevin Lewis (Editor at Disney/Hyperion), Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Burned, etc.), Eric Wight (Frankie Pickle series) and Alex from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. The late night ran into the wee morning… good times with good friends!

6-23-11 Dianne de Las Casas and Ellen Hopkins

FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2011
On Friday, it was the opening of the exhibit hall known as “The Stacks.” The ribbon-cutting was at 5:15pm. I signed books from 5:30-6:30pm at Pelican Publishing and ran into my long-time friend, author and storyteller Rose Ann St. Romaine, who is a fellow Pelican author.

6-24-11 Children's Book Authors Dianne de Las Casas and Rose Ann St. Romain

On Friday night, I went to dinner with my author liaison from ABC-Clio Libraries Unlimited, Debby LaBaoon. Debby and I ate at Pascal Manale’s, famous for their barbecue shrimp. I just LOVE Debby! Afterwards, it was off to the ALA Dance Party at Oz in the French Quarter. I went with children’s book author, Erica Perl, who is fun and fabulous! We hung out with Ellen Hopkins, Kevin Lewis, Phil Bildner, and a large group of dancing librarians.

6-26-11 Dianne de Las Casas with Debby LaBoon

On Saturday, it was the first full day of the stacks and it was buzzing! I signed books in the morning with illustrator Marita Gentry, who has illustrated several of my books including The Cajun Cornbread Boy and There’s a Dragon in the Library. There was a line waiting even before I sat down and we sold out of There’s a Dragon in the Library! After that, Marita and I signed books at ABC-Clio Libraries Unlimited. We promoted our new professional book, A is for Alligator: Draw and Tell Tales from A-Z. Kid Chef Eliana was with me and she had a great time exploring the stacks and visiting the new “What’s Cooking?” section of the ALA exhibit hall, which hosted cooking demos and cookbook signings.

6-25-11 Dianne de Las Casas and Marita Gentry sign at ABC-Clio Libraries Unlimited

On Saturday evening, it was time for the ALSC Stories for a Saturday Evening Concert. I was the headlining storyteller and shared the stage with Patty Carleton and Elizabeth Ellis (whom I have adored for years). Marita Gentry accompanied me, drawing as I told the stories. We began with “W is for Whale” from our new book, A is for Alligator: Draw and Tell Tales from A-Z.

6-25-11 Marita Gentry draws W is for Whale as Dianne tells the story from their new book, A is for Alligator

Then we performed There’s a Dragon in the Library, which is a great story that showcases Marita’s drawing and coloring skills!

6-25-11 Marita Gentry draws Dewey the Dragon as Dianne tells the story from their new book, There's a Dragon in the Library

We closed with Madame Poulet and Monsieur Roach, an old New Orleans folktale that has lots of boisterous audience participation with members of the audience coming on stage to play the parts of the roaches. So much fun!!

6-25-11 Marita Gentry draws Monsieur Roach as Dianne tells the story, with helpers, from their book, Madame Poulet and Monsieur Roach

Then it was time for our final bow. Thank you to Mary Morgan Smith, who organized the Stories for a Saturday Evening concert, sponsored by ALSC (American Library Services to Children).

6-25-11 Taking a final bow with Marita Gentry, Elizabeth Ellis and Patty Carleton with host Mary Morgan Smith

SUNDAY, JUNE 26, 2011
On Sunday, I signed more books with Pelican Publishing and ABC-Clio Libraries Unlimited.

6-27-11 The ABC-Clio booth

But the big event of the night was the Newbery Caldecott Wilder banquet!

6-26-11 The Newbery Caldecott Wilder Awards Banquet

I sat at a table with my dear friend, Beth Jackson, who sat next to her friend, Ellen Ruffin, Curator of the deGrummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. I wish I knew the name of the woman sitting next to Ellen! Sorry.

6-26-11 Cutie pie, Ellen Ruffin and Beth Jackson at the Caldecott Newbery Wilder banquet

To my left was Sara Rutenberg, Chief Operating Officer of SCBWI. Wow. What luck I had! She was a great table-mate and we laughed lots.

6-26-11 Sara Rutenberg, COO of SCBWI at the Newbery Caldecott Wilder banquet

My friends Jim Averbeck and Diane Chen came by to see me. They hadn’t met each other and I thought they looked so good together in this picture! GLAMOROUS!! Jim Averbeck is the host of Interviews on the Kidlit Red Carpet, in which he does red carpet interviews with kidlit authors. Even I got interviewed! He was accompanied by the lovely ladies, Kristen Venuti and Katie Davis.

6-26-11 Children's Book Author Jim Averbeck with ALA Executive Board member Diane Chen

On the red carpet, I ran into children’s book author Anastasia Suen and we discovered something we had in common: we love bows and peeptoes! LOL

6-26-11 Dianne de Las Casas' shoes & Anastasia Suen's shoes. We love bows & peeptoes!

First, they announced the winners of the Caldecott Honors: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Bryan Collier and Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. The Caldecott went to A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Erin’s speech was so sweet and poignant. She made me cry. It made me love the book even more!

6-26-11 A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead wins the Caldecott

Then it was time for the Newbery Medal. The Newbery Honors went to Margi Preus for The Heart of a Samurai, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, Rita Williams-Garcia for One Crazy Summer, and Jennifer L. Holm for Turtle in Paradise. Jenni is a good friend of mine and I was so excited to see her win!

6-26-11 My friend, author Jenni Holmes, wins the Newbery Honor for Turtle in Paradise! Yay Jenni!

The Newbery Medal went to Clare Vanderpool for Moon Over Manifest.

6-26-11 Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool wins the prestigious Newbery Award

Tomie dePaola is also a good friend so I was elated to see him honored with the Wilder lifetime achievement medal. Well-deserved! Afterward, I talked to Bob Hechtel, Tomie’s assistant, and he showed me the gorgeous medal.

6-26-11 Tomie dePaola's assistant, Bob, with the Wilder medal

This is the Wilder medal up close. So pretty!

6-26-11 The Wilder medal up close!

After the banquet, a group of us went out to celebrate Jenni Holm’s special night. Crazy things happen when kidlit authors are partying! LOL Dan Santat signed John Schumacher’s shirt. Then all the kidlit authors got to sign it, including me! I got the collar. LOL

6-26-11 Dan Santat draws on Mr. Schu's shirt - how cool!

We were in the “Living Room” of the W. Tomie dePaola was there and posed for this cute picture with me. Doesn’t he look so jolly?!! Adorable.

6-26-11 Tomie dePaola and Dianne de Las Casas

As the consummate New Orleans hostess, everyone wanted a place (at 3 in the morning, mind you), where we could get some good grub and drinks. So I suggested St. Charles Tavern. We all piled into a mini-van cab and headed there: Jenni Holm, Ellen Hopkins, Katie Davis, Dan Santat, John Schumacher, Travis Jonker, and Eric Wight. It was so late, it was early. We saw the sun come up!! I didn’t get home until 6:30am!! Ssshhh! But look at how fresh we looked on Monday!

6-27-11 Dianne de Las Casas with Children's Book Authors-Illustrators Eric Wight & Dan Santat

MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2011
On Monday morning, I performed at the Pop Top stage for the National Storytelling Network. I performed The Cajun Cornbread Boy and a short string story called “The Mosquito.” I also got to see some long-time Louisiana storyteller friends, Sylvia Davis and Rosa Metoyer! Love you, girls!

6-27-11 Storytellers Sylvia Davis, Dianne de Las Casas, and Rosa Metoyer

It was off to sign books with Pelican Publishing Company one last time and it was busy. Then I was able to finally walk the stacks with my precious daughter, Eliana.

6-26-11 Kid Chef Eliana with Halle Durand and Tony Fucile, author & illustrator of Mitchell's License

That evening, I went to the International Librarians Reception. I ran into Diane Chen again and she invited me to a private reception in the ALA Presidential Suite. I met Roberta Stevens, the 2011 ALA President. What a sweetie!

6-27-11 Diane Chen - ALA Executive Board, Roberta Stevens - 2011 ALA President, and Dianne de Las Casas

After the President’s reception, I met with my friend, Ryan Sias, who is a fantastic children’s book author and graphic novelist. His work has great style.

6-27-11 Dianne de Las Casas with Children's Book Author-Illustrator Ryan Sias

ALA 2011 in New Orleans was a phenomenal conference for me! Loved every minute of it and it was so much fun playing hostess and ambassador to the stars. 🙂 I look forward to Anaheim next year!

Until next time…

Warmly, Dianne