Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 18, 2011

Speaking at the North Shore International Reading Association

 Wednesday night I spoke to members of the Phyllis Allen Smith North Shore Council of the International Reading Association. Poet, retired librarian, and full time book lover Elaine Magliaro invited me, and her lovely introduction to my presentation lulled me into thinking that this woman’s life scouring stacks in libraries and writing about those who should be better known sounded cool: Oh, right, she’s talking about me. Elaine’s passion for poetry clearly shows online, but it was fun to glimpse her off-line personality. She’s funny and a Woman with Opinions on poetry and publishing and politics.  I just wish we’d had more time to chat.

Getting ready to give a slide presentation in front of people I don’t know made me nervous, though it turned out that these teachers and librarians couldn’t have been nicer, I checked my slides and computer-projector connections several times. I packed an extension cord, extra notes and perhaps twenty pens. I went over the talk again and again. I got my nails done. You know, whatever happens, I can know I have red toenails. But if there’s anything that can make you feel good on the morning before you face strangers, it’s getting a facebook message from Grace Lin  saying she might show up.

Both Grace and Elaine are part of the Blue Rose Girls whose blog is composed of friends who bond around children’s literature: writing it or about it, painting it, organizing it, editing it, loving it. I met Grace about thirteen years ago when we both had first books coming out from smallish, newish, perfectly wonderful (no “ish” there) publishers: Grace’s THE UGLY VEGETABLES from Charlesbridge and my AANI AND THE TREE HUGGERS from Lee and Low. It’s been thrilling to see Grace’s  drive and gorgeous work and many successes over the years, including her beautifully illustrated novel WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, which won a Newbery Honor, and this year the charming LING AND TING: NOT EXACTLY THE SAME, which won a Geisel Honor. And Grace is kind as kind can be. I’m holding a book in the photo above because Grace put it in my hands, whispering, “Product placement.” Here are two of hers:


I think my talk went well: I was happy that crackers and cheese were placed on tables and the bar was open beforehand, so thoughts wouldn’t stray too much to the scrod while I was talking about my grandmothers or poetry. I’m glad my husband Peter helped out, came along, and took pictures. Nice people bought books, and I got my first look at the second edition of BORROWED NAMES, with quotes from four starred reviews printed on the back. One teacher with a small stack of books for me to sign told me how excited her second graders always were when she went to such events, wondering what she’d bring back. And it’s exciting for me, too, to think of them opening new books I hope will take them to small new worlds.



  1. Ah so wonderful! I am glad you had this very good time with truly delightful people – teachers, librarians and another amazing author!

  2. Oooooh! Fabulous! And love that pic of you and Grace! 🙂 xoxox

  3. Thanks, Joyce!

  4. Thanks, Debbi. I’ve been enjoying your traveling pictures!

  5. Wonderful photos! Lovely to think of those eager second-graders unpacking your books and turning the pages. And a Woman with Opinions sounds like fine company.

  6. Jeannine,
    We LOVED your talk! I, too, wished that we had had a chance to sit and chat…about children’s literature…about poetry…about writing.
    Grace IS kind and a very special friend to me. I have met so many wonderful people like you and Grace who inhabit the world of children’s literature.

  7. This post made me so happy today. Isn’t that woman who scours stacks in libraries and writes about women who should be better known just wonderful? Do you know she also bakes yummy muffins?

  8. You look great! Just lovely!
    I am a big fan of Grace’s books. Maybe I will meet her one day.

  9. What a lovely post, Jeannine. Thanks for sharing all your pre-talk jitters with us. Makes me feel better about my own. It’s quite nerve wracking speaking to a troupe of teachers and librarians. By the way, Peter took some nice pics of you gals!

  10. Thanks, Amy. Here I was anxious about the evening, but then everything went too fast!

  11. Thank you so much for everything!

  12. Thank you Queen of Sweetness.

  13. You and Grace do such wonders with bright colors, you have to meet, Laura!

  14. Thank you. Such audiences are always well behaved, but they do such amazing work, you really want to present them with something you hope will inspire or at least amuse.

  15. What a wonderful presentation! I just love Borrowed Names.

  16. Hooray for book lovers, supportive friends, and star-covered second editions!

  17. Thanks, Tami!

  18. Some days we get to be in just the right place. I hope your recent trip included such delights, Loree.

  19. I’ll bet your talk was fabulous – and lucky you, getting to hang out with Elaine and Grace!

  20. Thanks, Kelly. It was most fun to meet Elaine “in person!”

  21. What a lovely day filled with such sweet friends, old and new. And new readers in the bargain, too. You can’t beat that.

  22. One of my favorite things is getting to meet in person those I’ve known on line. But, yes, the “old fashioned” meeting other people, especially when you have a connection through a love of reading, is also sweet. Thanks for commenting — one day I hope we’ll meet in person, too!

  23. I’d love to meet you “in person” one day, too. You never know when paths will cross. Maybe one day ours will.

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