There are perks to running the school book fair every year. No really, there are. Stop laughing. I mean it.
First, every child in the school will think you are a rock star because you are the book fair lady.
Second, you will occasionally be invited to meet and mingle (or enjoy a panel discussion) with some awesome children’s book authors.
So it was that last week a good friend and I attended an “Exclusive Event” featuring Brandon Mull, AmesJay AshnerDay, and Matthew Kirby. If you have a 5th or 6th grader in your house, you will totally know who these guys are. We arrived a few minutes early, checked out each of the authors’ latest books, and then ze friend got a phone call from her husband, the mighty hunter, who had just shot an elk. How manly is that?
While she was on the phone, I thought I’d sneak over to the refreshment table, where all kinds of delectable treats were displayed for our snacking enjoyment. There were crackers, various cheeses (yum!), some shrimp (blech!), a fruit bowl, brownies, and – wait for it – CREAM PUFFS!!!! I was hungry, and those of you who know me know that nothing gets between me and a good cream puff.
There I was, making a beeline for the cream puffs, when I noticed a man staring intently at me. He was quite good-looking, and nicely dressed, but nowhere near as enticing as a CREAM PUFF. He greeted me with a warm “Hello!” and started to walk toward me. I gave him an awkward smile and brushed rudely past. I did not have time to talk to a stranger when there were CREAM PUFFS nearby, no matter how friendly he appeared. Besides, I rationalized, I would never see him again.
A few minutes later, as I sat happily munching a cream puff, I saw the authors gather by the front table. To my dismay, Mr. I’m Handsome, But Not Nearly as Compelling as a Cream Puff was one of them. My bad. He turned out to be fairly entertaining, too, and had some profound thoughts on why dystopian literature has emerged as the latest trend among young readers.
After the authors finished the way-too-short panel discussion, it was time for the Signing of the Books. I had a decision to make. Did I have enough courage to face my snubbee and ask him to sign a book for me? I called Daniel. He had read one of Mr. Snubbee’s books previously. “Hey Daniel, was this book any good?” “No, it sucked.” Okay. Good. I had snubbed a sucky author. I would be able to face him. I purchased his more recent, hopefully non-sucky book and got in line.
And that’s when the following BRILLIANT conversation took place.
Me: (In my best I’m-going-to-butter-you-up-now-to-make-up-for-the-snubbing voice.) “Thank you so much for coming out to this tonight, I really enjoyed it.”
Mr. Snubbee: “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”
Evil voice inside my head: “Why yes, I would be rude person who just snubbed you.”
Me: “No, I don’t think so.”
Mr. Snubbee: “Are you sure? You look very familiar to me.”
EVIMH: “I snubbed you, I snubbed you…”
Me: “Hmm…I must just have a familiar face.”
(As an aside, this happens to me ALL THE TIME. It’s because everyone in Utah is blonde. About 50% of the time, though, they really DO know me from somewhere. And then I feel really bad because I have absolutely no recollection of who they are. It’s like the person recognition unit inside my brain is defective. It’s a good thing that my extraordinary intelligence makes up for it.)
Mr. Snubbee: “What is your name?”
EVIMH: “Um, Dude, it’s like totally written on the sticky note that I was instructed to put on the book. And my nametag.”
Me: “Just sign it to Mrs. James please.” (I was planning on using it for a classroom copy.)
Mr. Snubbee: “But what is your first name?”
Me: “Jennifer. But please just sign it to Mrs. James.”
Mr. Snubbee: “Jennifer James? So if married you, my name would be James James?”
EVIMH: “Only if we were living in a matriarchal society. While we’re at it, I think that polyandry is a wonderful idea.”
Mr. Snubbee: “No wait, I got that backward.”
Me: “Yep, my last name is a first name, I get that all the time.” Har de har har.
Yup. That was the fabulous conversation I had with the handsome author. Maybe I was right in snubbing him the first time. Oddly enough, he did look very familiar to me. Very familiar. Familiar enough that I googled him for over an hour after I got home. I got nothing. I have no idea where we might have met before, unless we were in a class together at BYU. Although I did learn that he uses Google Reader to find all of the blog posts where his name or books are mentioned. Thus my not using his real name. Take THAT Google Reader!
It was actually a very enjoyable evening. Here are more of my thoughts, in random order:
1 – I’ve really missed juvenile/YA literature. I branched off into grown-up books in the past few years, and while some of them have been AMAZING (Cry, the Beloved Country) some have been life changing (The Bookseller of Kabul, An Ordinary Man), and others made me want to crawl inside of the author’s head just to see how their brain was able to put words together in such a beautiful way (The Book Thief – seriously, Markus Zusak is a GENIUS), children’s literature will always be where my true passion lies.
2 – I actually talked about books with the other two authors. See, I’m only socially inept 33% of the time.
3 – Matthew Kirby is left handed, loves cream puffs (I watched him eat about a dozen of them), and claims to be too ADHD to write a book series. I am left handed, love cream puffs, and am too ADHD to read a book series unless it’s really, really good. Plus, he works at a public school. I think we may be cosmic twins. I am most excited to read his book.
4 – Brandon Mull is JUST like I would have imagined him. Class-clownish and witty, with sparkling eyes. You can tell that the world is very amusing to him. I am still not amused that he had a brilliant idea for a book series and then made the main character a completely unlikable BRAT. This guy was a book signing pro. He can look you in the eyes and carry on a complete conversation while signing your book. Without looking. Talk about SKILLZ. I purchased The Candy Shop War for him to sign. Please tell me the main character isn’t a brat.
5 – AmesJay AshnerDay. I STILL don’t know how we know each other. But I am pleased to report that I just finished reading The AzeMay UnnerRay and it most definitely did not suck. In fact, I think I’ll read the rest of the series. This week. He also has a fabulous blog, which I would totally link to, but there’s this pesky Google Reader thing…