A Day in the Life of a Bookworm
The Bookworm family made the trek to the LA Times Festival of Books last weekend. This was our first time there, though we've been saying for years that we should go. It was an amazing experience and we got to meet many writers and illustrators that we admire.
However, this is how I would do things differently next year: I'd leave a lot more time to wander around and discover.
This is what our schedule looked like:
11:23 Arrive to USC (No traffic!)--drive around the entire perimeter to get to the parking lot closest to Children’s area.
1130 Disembark and follow crowd of people to where I think is an eatery but is actually a library. Bathroom.
1145-1215 Food Trucks! And Lemonade because it's HOT. Global warming/climate change is real.
1230-1 Scout area around Children’s stage while Mr. Bookworm and Little Lion grab a spot. Find out that there will be a Nicola Yoon signing at the same time as Dan Santat/Gennifer Choldenko’s talk. Buy ALL the books at Once Upon a Bookstore tent so that we can run into signing lines faster
1-130 We are blown away by Gennifer Choldenko and Dan Santat’s book reading of Dad and the Dinosaur. Choldenko is interactive with the audience (she actually is below the stage and IN the audience) and I wish she had thrown feathers our way too. Santat is engaging throughout while he supports on stage and I can’t decided which way to look. Meanwhile, I think I see only a few people in line for Nicola Yoon at the other tent. I sneak out at the way end of the reading to get in line. Only to realize the line wraps around the next building. And they aren’t taking any more people. Sigh.
130-155 Wait in line and finally meet Choldenko and Santat. They are wonderful and inspiring. We fangirl and I embarrass my bookworm girls. Of course. Meanwhile, Mr. Bookworm is cool as a cucumber. As usual.
2-220 Attend only a portion of the Middle Grade Fiction: Storytelling in Series talk with Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, Pseudonymous Bosch, James R. Hannibal, and hosted by Amy Spalding. We have a lovely picnic in the shade of the tent while sitting on the grass (no seats left). I wish we had time to listen to the complete talk because it was relaxing and engaging. But our reason for attending Sunday instead of Saturday was to meet Laurie Berkner.
220-230: Run ahead back to Children’s Stage to snag our seats for Laurie Berkner. Wait! If you know who Laurie Berkner is, you’re wondering why she is at the Festival of Books. That’s right—Berkner is a children’s musician, one who we’ve listened to ever since we discovered her on Jack’s Big Music Show when Mini Me was a baby. She has turned her fun song, We Are the Dinosaurs, into a picture book. Berkner’s music has played such a huge part in my girls childhood that we HAD to meet her.
230-3: Laurie Berkner surpasses ALL of our expectations. She starts out her reading by singing some of her popular songs, including Bumblebee (Buzz, Buzz). I squealed and held Mini Me’s hand—though she was acting cooler than I was, I know she was happy too. This "Bumblebee" song was her absolute favorite when she was a toddler. In fact, at her second birthday party held at Gymboree, we had a Father-Daughter dance with this song. I still remember the look on her two-year old face as she realized we were playing her song.
(Side note: my memories of this party are full of joy but when I look back there is a tinge of sadness—this is the point in Mini Me’s childhood before I became pregnant with Macy…so to me, this is before her childhood is tinged with our sadness, anxiety and fear. And though we have made it so far, I still wonder what our life would have been like otherwise.)
Still, Laurie Berkner gave a free mini concert and we got to attend. Dream come true! And we love her new book and the great dinosaur illustrations.
3-330: Midway through Berkner’s reading/mini-concert, Mr. Bookworm lines up for her signing so we can get there early enough. So we get to meet Laurie Berkner and then Mr Bookworm takes the girls to the signing for Dean Hale and Shannon Hale since their talk ended at 3. I run over to the queue for the YA talk, Pieces of Me. There is already a long ‘wait list’ line but luckily I have a pre-reserved ticket. (Hint for next year: these tickets are only $1 to reserve but you must reserve them the week before the festival.)
330-430: Attend amazing and inspiring talk with some YA greats: Nicola Yoon, Jennifer Niven, Angie Thomas, Nina LaCour, and hosted by Brandy Colbert. I haven’t read all of their books, but I loved hearing about their process and characters and journey. And I will definitely be checking out their books soon.
Meanwhile: Mr Bookworm and the Bookworm girls attend LeUyen Pham’s talk and signing. Pham illustrated the Princess in Black series written by the Shannon Hale and Dean Hale and she has a new picture book, The Bear Who Wasn't There. Mr. Bookworm said Pham was hilarious and I’m sad I missed out. Too many authors and illustrators, too little time!
430-545: Wait in incredibly long line for my copies of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star to be signed by Nicola Yoon. While I debated buying novels from the other authors, I was worried that the Bookworm girls were getting tired. Meanwhile Mr. Bookworm plied them with ice cream (Man, it was SUCH a hot day!) and then they ran around the fountain while waiting for me. I wanted Mini Me to meet Yoon with me as she’s read Everything, Everything too, but she needed to run around as the weather finally started to cool down.
And I fangirlbecause I feel like I must. If you follow my Instagram, you’ve seen the photos already, but Yoon was oh-so-gracious as I fangirl and explain why I feel we were kindred spirits as I read Everything, Everything. See my review for more info. I still haven’t reviewed The Sun Is Also a Star, even though I’m re-reading it. I’ve started and stopped so many times but I guess I’m having trouble putting into words just why I enjoyed the novel so much. And I’m trying hard not to be swayed by other people’s opinions. Hopefully that review will be coming soon.
545-6: We walk back to our car as all the booths are dismantled. The festival ended at 5, and I wish I had more time to wander through all the lovely booths. Next year, I told Mr. Bookworm that I won’t be so fanatic about meeting everyone so that we can just relax and enjoy more. Though I know my Bookworm Girls were excited to meet all these amazing, talented authors and illustrators, just as I was.
Lots of fangirling occurred and as we drove home (sans traffic!), I realized what it must be like to go to Comic Con. The funny thing is that as I child/teen, I would have played it cool. As a (ahem) not-quite-middle-age adult, I don’t care so much about how people are judging me. I’m going to be me.
So, hats off to the people at the L.A. Times and USC for organizing and also to all the authors, illustrators, booksellers, and fellow bookworms for making the Festival of Books a success.