Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My unintentional April tour report

Whew! The past month has been a whir wind. I painted, presented, spoke, traveled and signed books — and did it all on only an ounce of sleep. I've had a ball, but I'm tired, I'm out of shape, and my throat is so sore. In normal everyday life, I don't talk much, so I think I've strained my vocal chords.

Since the first of April, I've traveled to Houston, Corpus Christi, Dallas, and Charlotte, N.C. In total, I've given approximately 30 presentations. All of the events were special to me, each in a different way. But I am especially giddy having participated in the first African American Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators conference in Charlotte.

The conference was inspiring, healing, uplifting, life-changing. There was something magic about attending a conference made up of children's writers and illustrators who share a common experience: The African American experience.

Pictured above is my aunt, Eleanora E. Tate, author of Celeste's Harlem Renaissance, and me. Here are a few more pictures from the past few weeks:

The African American Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference was small — less than 60 attendees — but folks were so excited, and at times, emotional. Take note of the two male attendees. They were given special recognition prizes. . . lol!

Eileen Robinson, of F1rstPages, and Sara Ketchersid, senior editor with Caldlewick Press, discuss what makes Where The Wild Things Are the perfect picture book.

Lovely and elegant, Kelly Starling Lyons, author of One Million Men and Me, conducts a breakout session.

Scholarly and commanding, Christine Taylor-Butler, author of No Boys Allowed! holds class. Her hands-on discussion was about editing your manuscript.

My session was mainly geared toward the illustrators. I talked about my path to publication, and how I've slowly evolved into the illustrator I am today. The point I was trying to drive home is that you have to persist in this business, and that it doesn't always happen overnight, like it may seem to happen for others.

Other presenters, who I don't have photos of, include Karen Stong, who also served as moderator for the conference, and whose class act kept things flowing smoothly.

Books, books, books, by and about African Americans. Our numbers may be small proportionally in this business, but compared to twenty years ago, the numbers have grown. One conference attendee made the point that when she was a kid, there weren't many books with characters that look like her. But today, that's simply not true, and that we shouldn't be so quick to complain.

The day before the conference, I presented to the entire student body of Windsor Park Elementary. I was just as excited to be there as the kids were to have me there. I'd never presented in N.C. The kids wrote letters and made these gifts for me.

The remaining pictures are from the Dallas Children's Book and Literary Festival and the Corpus Christi Children's Book Festival:


David Davis said...

Welcome home! Take a couple days to relax and then get your nose back to the grindstone. Best, David Davis

Nicole Tadgell said...

Congratulations on your whirlwind month! I wish I could have attended the AACBWI conference but I had already committed to the NESCBWI one. Next time I hope I'll be there!


Karen S. said...

It was such a pleasure meeting you at the conference. You were one of the many reasons that the first AACBWI Conference was a success. Your words and art inspired so many people that day.

Sabra said...

Hi Don,

It was indeed a pleasure meeting you. I do hope we meet again. Thanks so much for being a part of our first conference - you're truly an inspiration.


Mighty Kwan said...

Don, I definitely plan on being in attendance at the next AACBWI! Looks like it was a great time! Hopefully I'll have my portfolio together by then and I can benefit from your wisdom and experience!