Yesterday I was lucky enough to visit the National Book Festival. Although getting into DC from the suburbs of Northern Virginia is not the easiest or most comfortable of journeys, it was worth it to get to take part in this annual celebration of reading. With a three-year-old in tow, I of course started the visit with lunch, but after that was taken care of I was able to attend some author presentations. The children and teens tent was my first stop where I had the pleasure of listening to Lois Lowry discuss her new book, Son. I enjoyed reading Lowry’s books as a kid, sharing them with students as a teacher, and recommending them to readers as a librarian, so this was a real treat for me. Her newest book wraps up (she hopes!) the series that began so many years ago with The Giver. During the question and answer session at the end, someone came up to the microphone not to ask a question, but simply to thank Lowry for writing books that tackle tough topics and that have never talked down to young readers. I felt as if she was speaking for me!
I also was able to catch the end of Mary Pope Osborne’s talk (I mostly heard the question and answer session) and I was impressed by her kindness toward young questioners and her endless enthusiasm. No wonder she has been able to write so many Magic Treehouse books! Right after Osborne was finished, I tried (and failed) to grab a seat for the next presenter…Jerry Spinelli. I have loved Spinelli’s Maniac Magee for years now and often used it as a novel study when teaching fifth grade, so this was an exciting moment for me. This author’s presentation was everything I imagined it would be. He was funny and relatable, honest and forthright, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him. Even my husband, who didn’t know Jerry Spinelli from a hole in the wall, thought he was a good speaker.
The National Book Festival is an annual event and I encourage any of you who are in the Washington DC area at this time next year to attend if possible. It will be worth the time spent on the Metro!