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March 3rd, 2008 · 3 Comments

Troll Bridge

Last weekend (and by that I mean the weekend before last. It’s important to clarify, because there is always some confusion and the stuff I did during the most recent iteration of “last weekend” is the subject of another post) I spent some time at the Hubbs Children’s Literature Conference. That page makes it look kind of boring, and I had to be there for a class I’m taking, and I really thought it wouldn’t be very exciting. What it was was jam-packed with teachers and librarians and teacher-librarians, thrillingly filled with words and writing and WRITERS (!), and a bit more than my weary brain could handle. I skipped out after lunch, and in some ways that’s a little bit of a cop-out. But the thing is that I needed not to put anything else IN my brain so that I would be able to work effectively with what I’d already gotten. Which was this:

Jane Yolen was the keynote speaker*, along with her son and sometime coauthor, Adam Stemple. Adam Stemple, aside from having a great first name, is a Minneapolis musician who was on his way to play a gig at some local bar with his band, which I believe I have actually seen in person, right after the conference. They talked about their writing process and about collaboration (most specifically about collaborating with a family member, which made me think very much of my brother Steve and the book that is rattling around in his head). They talked about Pay the Piper, a modern version of the Pied Piper story, and about Troll Bridge, which draws on Norwegian folklore and the buttery heads of Minnesota dairy princesses. They signed the book that I bought for my nephew (which I read in its entirety that afternoon) and that, let me tell you, was a little bit trippy.

Who am I, of all people, to be meeting authors who are known the world over and telling them my nephew’s name and having them write a note to him that says “Rock on”? How did I get to be the person who goes to readings and book signings? Isn’t that for … well, I don’t know exactly who I think it might be for, but, well, other people?

It was a fairly major revelation to see that that isn’t actually the case. I am studying to be part of a profession that brings people and books together. There’s a lot of energy devoted to other resources as well, of course, but at bottom (at least for now) being a librarian is about books and reading and words and writing and literacy and fluency and I get to do those things. Ten days after figuring that out, it still makes me a little dizzy to think about it.

The second keynote was by Lisa Westberg Peters, a local poet whose most recent work is a collection of geological poems for children. I found her pretty inspiring, too, but I didn’t have the wherewithal to buy any more books that day. She did mention a news story about corals and the Great Barrier Reef, and before she was done speaking, Jane Yolen (in the audience by that time) had written a short little poem about corals getting, um, intimate.

I was fairly sure when I started library school that it would be the right decision for me. It was a leap of faith to some extent, but I was fairly sure. Having gotten past the foundational classes and into real work, I am more excited every day about this profession. It will give me opportunities for leadership and growth, for creativity, for learning something new Every Single Day. And I get to be around book people all the time. What greater joy could I ask for in a professional life?

* In this blog entry, Jane Yolen talks about writing the speech that I heard her give. That kind of flips me out. (Just found that blog, by the way — Shaken and Stirred — and I’m pretty sure I like it.)

Tags: daily · words · library · books

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Elizabeth // Mar 7, 2008 at 2:05 am

    It’s so lovely to “see” your excitement and joy here, just made me smile and smile :)

  • 2 tintinnabulation // Mar 9, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    […] 9th, 2008 · No Comments Last weekend (see where the confusion comes in? It was March 1) there was Bellfest! 2008. (Thereis a panoramic picture on that page. Though I don’t think I’m in it — I think it was from last year, when I wasn’t playing bells at all — there are people I know in the front row.) Tim correctly pointed out that Bellfest! consists mainly of “an assload of bells,” but there was a bit more to it than that. Have you done this kind of music event before? I don’t mean with handbells; not many people are quite so geeky in public. Just an all-day festival thing with an important director who is Not One’s Own Director and a lot of rehearsals for the whole day and then a concert at the end. It’s the same kind of thing as All-State Choir or All-State Orchestra, only there isn’t a minimum level of expertise to get in. Except, I guess, you do want to be able to play the bells, which is a whole lot harder than singing. But I digress. So there was this director, to begin with. This guy who is evidently kind of famous came to spend the day with us. He was energetic and fun, and very encouraging. He revealed early in the day that he’s a music teacher — high school most recently, but he’s worked with kindergarten. When his microphone gave out, he used his teacher voice. I love that. He told us all the correct way to pronounce Appalachia if you want to blend in (it’s not what they taught you in school, most likely), and he accused us of playing like Presbyterians: “God’s frozen chosen.” Then he told us how to get over it. This guy was GOOD, and it’s so much fun to have the experience of working with someone who has that kind of positive energy to throw around. I don’t just mean from a music standpoint, either; as a teacher, it’s inspiring and really important for me to be around people who are doing their work well and stretching to do more and more and more. […]

  • 3 tintinnabulation // Mar 9, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    […] Last weekend (see where the confusion comes in? It was March 1) there was Bellfest! 2008. (There is a panoramic picture on that page. Though I don’t think I’m in it — I think it was from last year, when I wasn’t playing bells at all — there are people I know in the front row.) Tim correctly pointed out that Bellfest! consists mainly of “an assload of bells,” but there was a bit more to it than that. […]

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