ALAN 2013 Day One

From the moment my daughter and I stepped off the plane at Boston Logan Airport-we were blown away.

Literally.

Gale force winds were rocking the city.

But we didn’t let it bother us. After a quick stop at the Sheraton to drop off our gear, we were off to the New England Aquarium. What a fantastic experience. I’m fairly certain some of the magical underwater creatures I saw will find their way into my current work in progress.

The next morning we were on to the main event: ALAN 2013! Teri Lesesna came out to introduce Jack Gantos in flashing red glasses. Gantos, looking out over the stacks of books attendees had unloaded , quipped, “I love the smell of books in the morning!”

ALAN stack2

Gantos continued to entertain us for the next twenty minutes. He closed with this bit of wisdom,”Children need access to great books!” Gotta love him!

Next up was the Fantasy panel with Tamora Price, A.G. Howard, Holly Black & Nancy Werlin. Werlin shared  an interesting way to choose the genre of your next manuscript: picture a plot of land see what sort of house you’d build on it.  Pierce called fantasy, “The literature of passion and idealism.” Howard said: books kept her company as a kid. Wanting to know what happened to Alice in Wonderland motivated her to write her series. Black confessed: my mom brought me up believing in hosts! The entire panel agreed that fantasy is a way of understanding reality. Howard closed by saying: teens like to read about others crawling out of even deeper holes then they, personally, are in.

ALAN participants celebrated Mysteries with Megan Fraiser Blakemore, Michaela MacColl, Julie Berry & Andrea Cremer. They were followed by the humor panal: Gordon Korman, Bruce Hale, Gina D’Amico and Lindsey Leavitt. The moderator asked several questions of the panel-leading up to this doozy: Would you rather wear a parka in the Sahara or a bikini in the North Pole?  Hale’s response: Is it a thong?

We celebrated Dystopia with Neal Shusterman, Cristin Terrill, Jeff Hirsch and Kathleen Simmons. When asked to describe their latest novel in 6 words, Hirsch responded: Brutal Civil War,Adorable Little Puppy (The Darkest Path). Terrill: Time Traveling Teens Must Murder Friends (All Our Yesterdays). Shusterman confessed: I don’t say ANYTHING in 6 words or less. He then shared his favorite fan moment: some students had created profiles for his characters and were tweeting as them.  I also learned that Terrill & Hirsch bake.

There were eight author breakout sessions to choose from and I found my way to Examining the Culture of Sports: 40 Years of Ball in YAL chaired by Alan Brown. Authors Chris Crowe, Robert Lipsyte, Chris Crutcher and Joshua Cohen discussed the possibilities of utilizing and critiquing the culture of sports as a means of increasing student engagement and promoting student learning in the English classroom.

After lunch at Cheesecake Factory-yes, I had a piece- I lugged my box-o-books to FedEx. (They arrived Friday and both my girls carried away a large stack. The “leftovers” will keep me busy for weeks! First one I cracked open: All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin.) Crutcher then gave an emotional keynote titled,” Can we be f***ing real?” He stated: education happens when you get into the kids imagination. It’s all about creativity.  He got a standing ovation.

One of my favorite panels was Novels of Contemporary Problems with Lauren Myracle, Cal Armistead, Shirley Verneck and Sarah Dessen. Myracle, when she wasn’t making Dessen blush said: edgy books aren’t safe, but we aren’t here to be safe, we’re here to change lives.  And Vernick had some good advice for teachers: Help students so they aren’t intimidated by the polished writing in books-they need to understand that its been reworked with help from professionals.

We celebrated Coming of Age novels with Alan Sitomer, Joan Bauer, Kathryn Erskine and Meg Rosoff. Sitomer says: Break your character’s back-that’s when you find out what they are made of.

Then it was time to sing Happy Birthday to ALAN-which turned 40 this year. There was cake aplenty.

The Graphic novel panel- Gene Yang, Gareth Hinds, Swati Avasthi & Shelia Keenan- shared how much research went into their projects.

Jacqueline Woodson read aloud from Beneath a Meth Moon & Brown Girl Dreaming. One word: lovely.

Last but not least we celebrated That First Unexpected Relationship with  Bill Kongingsberg (a  newlywed) and Rainbow Rowell-who says she wrote her first YA because she still had a lot of knots to untangle from that time in her own life.

Stay tuned to hear all about Day 2!

 

 

 

 

 

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