A Trip to the National Book Festival…

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After years of wanting to go, I finally traveled to Washington, D.C. for the National Book Festival.  It was wonderful. As we approached the Washington Convention Center and I saw this poster on the side of the building, I started getting that fluttery feeling in my stomach that I always get in new bookstores or book-related events.  It’s a combination of excitement and anxiety. The excitement is easy to explain, but the anxiety is trickier. I get nervous that I won’t be able to see everything and hear every speaker!


Going inside and looking at the schedule didn’t alleviate my concerns:



After an internal pep talk about appreciating the moment and enjoying what my husband and I had time to do, we selected one of the author talks – probably the least likely program you would expect.  We decided to listen to Bridget Lancaster from America’s Test Kitchen. It’s a TV show that we really like to watch, and the prospect of seeing Bridget in person was too great to pass up!


It was a really good presentation. I love the idea of going “behind the scenes” (even if it’s a promotional view) and it was especially nice to hear a totally different kind of author talk. As much as I enjoy hearing children’s book authors talking about their work, I’ve been lucky to hear from many of them. But I seldom have the opportunity to hear about the perfect pan roasted chicken!

If you’re a fan of America’s Test Kitchen, here are some interesting facts:

  • The Test Kitchen team shoots 26 episodes during a three-week period
  • Those cooks who look so busy behind the on-air hosts, can’t use blenders because of the noise. Sometimes, they are making Rice Krispie treats!
  • They have 25 ovens in their kitchen – and 40 test cooks!
  • When new cooks are auditioned, they are asked to make sugar cookies so their attention to detail can be evaluated

Bridget reminded the audience that we “time stamp” our lives with food. Kind of a cool way to put it – and so true.

Between programs, we visited the Library of Congress exhibits and the on-site bookstore. So much to see!  One of the best tables displayed one children’s book to represent each of the 50 states. Of course, I looked for Ohio and was so happy to see “our” selection:




Jacqueline Woodson did not live in Ohio for very long, but she was born in Columbus so she is a Buckeye!


Next, I went to hear the reigning Caldecott winner, Dan Santat, author and illustrator of The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend. Santat was as warm and humorous as you would expect the illustrator of Beekle and The Three Ninja Pigs to be. Beekle is Santat’s most well-known character, but he has illustrated over 60 books – 13 of those in the past year!


Santat talked about how he started drawing when he was seven-years-old, and judging from some of his childhood drawings, he was a natural:


He also shared some of the creative ways that Beekle fans have paid tribute to the imaginary friend who is waiting to be “imagined by a real child.” Beekle, by the way, is Santat’s young son’s word for bicycle!



Not surprisingly, Beekle is going to be the star of his own movie!

The best part of the National Book Festival was seeing so many people who are enthusiastic about books and reading!  It’s hard to believe that no one reads books anymore while standing in a line like this one:


Finally – a little creativity from Inly….

One of our teachers made this for her classroom.  She highlighted the word “read” in the dictionary and made this inspiring display:


Happy New School Year!

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