A blog about books. Oh, and some other stuff too.

It’s All About the Books … Or Why I Love What I Do

Disclaimer: This is pretty much a fan-girl post. I make no apologies for that. However, if you are squeamish with posts that may or may not go on and on about wonderful authors, this may not be the read for you. If you, like me, adore authors and great books, then by all means read on!

To borrow a phrase, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a book lover, in possession of a great set of bookcases… will eventually make her way to an exciting book event or two. So was the case on Thursday and Saturday this past week when I had all kinds of great fortune smile down on me at the Ontario Library Association Super Conference (getting back to my roots, y’all), a special last-minute invitation courtesy of @indigogreenroom and a pretty incredible (read: hot and sweaty) afternoon at Totsapalooza with a squillion small children, the incomparable Sarah Ramsey (aka @theprintednerd) Vikki VanSickle (@vikkivansickle), Kevin Sylvester (@kevinarts), Mike Rose and the too-many-to-name fine folk at Small Print Toronto …. oh, and Oliver Jeffers? Did I mention that part??

Yep, Oliver freakin’ Jeffers. Author of some of the most wonderfully whimsical and heart-wrenchingly fabulous picture books that I own.

The amazing Liz in between Red Maple non-fiction nominee Bill Swan and RM fiction nominee Wesley King.

The amazing Liz in between Red Maple non-fiction nominee Bill Swan and RM fiction nominee Wesley King.

Okay, I see that I need to back up a little. Y’see, every year the fine folks at the Ontario Library Association (OLA) create a pretty amazing conference for Librarians of all ilk. They run fabulously informative sessions (ahem – my friend, the knowledgeable Rachel Seigel had an awesome session on Teen Romance Without the Raunch – just saying. Follow her on Twitter @rachelnseigel and learn more!), and host an exhibitor expo where publishers and many other people involved in the running of libraries meet to show off their latest products and to promote books. The publishers have twigged onto the fact that librarians are kinda interested in books, and that it’s a wonderful idea to have authors there to sign books and to talk about things. This year was no exception.

Full confession time: I’m on a reading committee for one of the OLA Forest of Reading awards, and have been for a number of years. As a result, I was invited to attend the Forest of Reading Breakfast, where I noshed on yummy breakfast foods while chatting away with the likes of Canadian literary icons Eric Walters, Kenneth Oppel, Kevin Sylvester and Kelley Armstrong, and amazing authors and rising stars Megan Crewe,

The always fabulous and talented Kelley Armstrong with the equally fabulous Heather, my co-chair.

The always fabulous and talented Kelley Armstrong with the equally fabulous Heather, my co-chair.

Wesley King and many more. I love this event. It’s early, everyone is just waking up and, as a result, there’s no pretension to anything. Everyone is thanked for their contribution, all the nominated authors are celebrated and it’s pretty much the best way to start your day. Not only do you spend it with people who love books, but you also spend it with people who write the books you love. This year was no exception, I learned a tonne of great things about their upcoming work …

  • Kelley’s next book in the Darkness Rising series, The Rising, will have a launch at Chapter’s Brampton on the first Sunday in April (she’s also doing an event with me later in the month – dates TBC, so stay tuned);
  • Eric Walters announced that there WILL be a sequel to the incredible Seven Series (cue happy dances from millions of readers);
  • Kevin Sylvester’s latest book, Showtime is out now! It’s a show business version of the ever-popular Game Day from last year – check it out.
  • Kenneth Oppel broke my heart a little when he said he didn’t think there would be a third book in the Victor Frankenstein series. But Victor – you make such bad life choices! And are so much fun to read about when you do!! However, he is writing something new and different!
You meet the craziest people at OLA … The Gruffalo!

You meet the craziest people at OLA … The Gruffalo!

Later, I visited all my lovely friends at the publisher booths *waves* and met some equally wonderful authors there. While it’s always a treat to receive advance copies of wonderful books from the publishers, the best part lies in the opportunity to spend a moment or two with the authors, and to ask questions about their work. It’s that author connection that makes OLA stand out. My TBR list is even larger now, with Kelley Armstrong’s middle grade novel Loki’s Wolves, Andrew Pyper’s spooky Demonologist, Louise Penny’s latest A Beautiful Mystery, Cathy Marie Buchanan’s acclaimed Painted Girls and an intriguing new work by Peter Lerangis called The Colossus Rises amongst others on my pile. Also – did you know there’s a really fun middle grade read called The Metro Dogs of Moscow that is absolutely charming? You could choose which dog you were most like from the book  at the Penguin booth, based on certainly criteria (I’m most like Pie). I’m not entirely sure what that says about me, except that I’m obviously adorable.Be sure to pick up some great reads from Meg Tilly, Andrew Pyper, Louise Penny, Vikki Vansickle, Cathy Marie Buchanan and others!

In the midst of all this wonderfulness came an unexpected message. I follow Captain Awesome, aka @indigogreenroom and he happened to mention that Oliver Jeffers was stopping by Indigo that day. I immediately responded to tell him what a fortunate fellow he was, and he invited me to come by (insert inadvertent shout of happiness here). In the middle of the day I hopped a cab and zoomed up to the super-secret Indigo offices where I joined about forty very excited Indigo folk for an amazing event.

Oliver was very personable, and told us the story of “The Incredible Book-Eating Boy” as he illustrated it on large chart paper, making jokes about his time in art school and some of his commission work in the process.

Oliver Jeffers High Res drawing

Images are property of Oliver Jeffers, photos property of Lost in a Great Book

Afterwards, he took questions (Best random question asked by a child? “What does Batman do?” His response: “Fights crime.”), and he talked about his process to create picture books (note: pictures and words come together, and he is constantly jotting down ideas – see the

Oliver Jeffers signs books for the staff at Indigo … and for ME.

Oliver Jeffers signs books for the staff at Indigo … and for ME.

video for more). He also very graciously signed items and books for everyone and did not stop until everyone had a chance to meet him. It was an incredible experience, and one that I’m very grateful to have been given the opportunity to be a part of that day. (Thanks, @indigogreenroom!).

That’s a lot to pack in a blog post, yes? But wait, there’s more…..

Saturday saw the dawning of Small Print Toronto’s Fifth Annual Totsapalooza at the Revival Club in Toronto. This usual nighttime hotspot was overrun with cupcakes and tiny folk (it was a sold-out event of 500), all grooving to the amazing sounds of Don Kerr and enjoying jokes and books from the one and only Kevin Sylvester and … Oliver Jeffers (I think he was following me. True story). I was there with my friend Sarah and the awesome volunteers of Small Print Toronto (I’m so volunteering next year).  Despite the heat and the chaos, we all agreed that it was a rocking’ event we wouldn’t have missed for the world. There’s something incredibly special about watching a large group of kids (with their parents) enjoying books, cupcakes, music and crafts, as well as meeting their favourite authors face to face. Special mention to the GENIUS who came up with the wonderful idea to recreate the flying penguins from Oliver’s books, allowing little children to colour their own penguins before setting them free on balloons to the ceilings of the club. Brilliant and inventive. Also thank you to Harper Collins Canada and Simon & Schuster Canada for arranging for their respective authors to be there to sign their books for the fans, large and small.

The beautiful cupcakes, the charming children (with penguins!) and Oliver Jeffers signing my friend Sarah's books :-)

The beautiful cupcakes, the charming children (with penguins!) and Oliver Jeffers signing my friend Sarah’s books 🙂

In short, it’s been a pretty amazing couple of days, and I’ve needed a bit of down time to recover. Once I have fully recovered, I’ll start posting reviews of some of the incredible new reads on my bedside tables.

So, how was YOUR week? Were you at OLA? Totsapalooza? What’s your favourite upcoming read?

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Categorised in: Blogger Event, Events, Personal Musing

2 Responses »

  1. Very, very jealous about the Oliver Jeffers bit… *author crush*

    Like

  2. Its hard to find knowledgeable people on this topic, but you sound like you know what youre talking about! Thanks

    Like

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