Reporting from The National Book Festival in Washington DC


Guess what I got to do this past Saturday?

Okay, you probably guessed it from the title of my blog article.

I got to go to the National Book Festival in Washington DC!

2014natlbookfestThe 14th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Before this, it was held on the Mall. I think I liked it better inside because it was air-conditioned (and there were real bathrooms) but it seemed a lot more crowded than when it was outside.

What was especially cool about my visit this year was I was official –

Β img314That’s right, the AWESOME owner of the The Upper Buck Free Press (click HERE to go to their Facebook page), supplied me with an official press pass (for those of you who don’t know, I write a monthly book review column for The Upper Bucks Free Press called This Kid Reviews Books πŸ™‚ ).

I wanted to tell you about some of the highlights of the trip and to encourage you to go next year, especially if you’ve never been to it! Since I am a kid and I am interested in Kid Lit, I am reporting on kid – friendly things at the festival. Don’t get the wrong idea, there were PLENTY of adult and young adults authors and events at the festival too, I just didn’t go to them.

The first thing I did when we got there was to hear Kate DiCamillo (National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature and uber-author extraordinaire) speak. I was so anxious to hear her. I am a huge fan of her books. Ms. DiCamillo came out and announced she didn’t really like speeches and wanted to just do a question and answer with the audience – very cool. So kids mostly (why adults were afraid to ask questions, I don’t know) lined up to ask her all sorts of things. She was super funny and gave a ton of great advice and information. I asked her what it was like being the “National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature” and she said it sounded kind of scary when I said it like that and that I sounded like I should be a news reporter. πŸ™‚

The best advice I think she gave was to aspiring authors. She said “read as much as you can.”Β  The best story she had was how Mercy Watson came to love toast with a lot of butter on it – you’ll have to ask her yourself when you go hear her speak. πŸ˜‰


Ms. DiCamillo signed books after her talk. She was supposed to be there for an hour, but she had somewhere close to 400 people in her line (me included) to get a book signed. Ms. DiCamillo stayed until the last book was signed! Nice lady. πŸ™‚

I have to give a shout-out to the Junior League of Washington DC. They are a volunteer organization and their volunteers kept all the book signing lines orderly and moving. And they were all super nice! There were TONS of people waiting to get books signed and the JLW made sure everyone got to where they needed to be. A super shout out to Deidra from the JLW who answered some questions for me!


After I got my book signed by Ms. DiCamillo – I hopped over to Jeffrey Brown and Peter Brown’s lines and got my copies of Jedi Academy #1 and My Teacher’s A Monster! (No, I am not.) signed

IMAG0558???????????????????????????????Both Mr. Browns’ were very nice and took time to say “Hi” to everyone even though they had a ton of books to sign. πŸ™‚

Then I took a look around to see the other things at the festival.

Scholastic had a cool pavilion area where they had a bunch of bean bag chairs set up for reading and had read aloud sessions. They had coloring and craft activities and had cool swag they were giving away including Goosebumps books and Grimmtastic Girls books. Dav Pilkey was at the festival and Scholastic had a giant Captain Underpants you could get your picture taken with. I tried to get one with him, but I couldn’t get close to C.U.


???????????????????????????????PBS Kids had a cool pavilion too. They had all sorts of activities for kids and characters from PBS shows/ I saw The Cat in the Hat at the PBS pavilion too.

???????????????????????????????There was a 50 States pavilion where all the states and US territories were represented. You got a little map that you took around and when you visited the states, you got a stamp on your map. If you visited them all, you got a squishy LEGO stress block (of course I had to get one). Each state had a book that represented the state and there was information about each state at each booth.

???????????????????????????????It was in the 50 State pavilion I had my first sighting of author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier. She wrote SMILE (loved it), a bunch of Baby Sitters Club books (Josie loves them) and her newest book is SISTERS (I just got a review copy of it – check out all her books at her website HERE). I love Ms. Telgemeier’s illustration style and, as many of you know, I am a huge graphic novel fan so I was geeking out when I saw Ms. Telgemeier just hanging out in the States pavilion. I tried to say “hi” because I wouldn’t be able to get to her signing (we had to leave before it) but missed my opportunity because she had to get shuffled off to go somewhere by whoever was in charge of those things. *sigh*

Moving along…

I signed the Declaration for the Right to Libraries presented by the American Library Association. πŸ™‚

???????????????????????????????And met up with the Washington Post’s newspaper dog reporter, Ned The Newshound.

???????????????????????????????Then I hopped into line to get my copy of Frank Einstein signed by illustrator (and one of my favorite people) Brian Biggs. Mr. Biggs illustrated Jon Scieszka’s book “Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor.” I met Mr. Biggs a couple of times before and he is always super nice (and a GREAT illustrator AND author).

???????????????????????????????Then I got my copy of “Dead End in Norvelt” signed by one of my new favorite people – Jack Gantos. Mr. Gantos was busy taking “selfies” with some young fans when I got up to him. As a HUGE book fan, it is so cool when you get to meet someone who’s books you really love and they turn out to be AWESOME people. Mr. Gantos is one of them. πŸ™‚ I am looking forward to reading his new book THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA (Book 5 in the series – Macmillan).

???????????????????????????????Then there was that awkward moment I realized my hair looked just like my shirt…

???????????????????????????????Hey! There goes Raina Telgemeier again! Over by the food court!


???????????????????????????????At this point I decided not to try to catch up to her because A) I didn’t want to be a pest and B) if it really wasn’t her, well, that’d just be awkward.

So on to one of the HIGHLIGHTS of my visit – Molly Idle!

I went to hear Ms. Idle give a talk. I LOVE Ms. Idle’s books (and I just got Flora and the Penguin (Chronicle Books) to review so I was hoping she’d be talking about it). Ms. Idle have an AWESOME talk. She went through her new book Flora and the Penguin with us and talked about creating it. She showed us all how to draw penguins and flamingos.

BwT6Q8uCQAA8CYO.jpg largeAND she let us in on her next project – Flora and the Peacocks (Chronicle Books)! Can’t WAIT! When Ms. Idle said we could ask questions, I asked her if she listened to music or had music in her head when she does the Flora books. She said yes, and that the books were based on waltzes – even the flaps in the books are meant to keep waltz time. How cool! No wonder everything flows so well! PLUS Ms. Idle let me keep the penguin picture she drew for the talk! πŸ˜‰

So, after the talk, my mom and I were standing outside the room where the talk was, looking at the schedule, when who comes around the corner? Molly Idle! I said “hi” and she asked what we were up to. My mom told her we were about to go stand in line to get books signed by her. πŸ™‚ Ms. Idle offered to walk over with us! She was super nice and we got to talk about all kinds of stuff.

???????????????????????????????After getting all my books and penguin picture signed by Ms. Idle, I hopped over to Anne Ursu’s book signing line. I loved The Real Boy and Breadcrumbs (Walden Pond Press) and was very excited to meet Ms. Ursu! She was very nice and even though her line was super long, she took time to say “hi” to everyone. She seemed genuinely happy to meet everyone. I love to meet authors I admire!

BwT15bZCQAAhE58.jpg large

Β My last stop was to meet the AWESOME team of author Patrick Henry Bass and illustrator Jerry Craft! Mr. Bass’ and Mr. Craft’s new bookΒ  that just came out August 26th is called “The Zero Degree Zombie Zone.” After reading the description of it on Scholastic’s website (click HERE), I knew I had to get it and get it signed (it is total geekdom to get a book signed by both author AND illustrator). While standing in line I noticed Charisse Meloto from Scholastic (back story – when I started blogging when I was nine years old, Ms. Meloto was the very first person from any publisher to talk to me and give me encouragement for what I am doing – I haven’t seen her since I met her almost 3 years ago). I was worried Ms. Meloto wouldn’t remember me, but she did. πŸ™‚

???????????????????????????????When we got up to Mr. Bass and Mr. Craft, Ms. Meloto told them my mom and I drove 5 hours to be at the event and that I review books. Mr. Bass said, with a smile, “Did he trash us?” πŸ˜‰ No Mr. Bass, your book is right up my alley! Both Mr. Craft and Mr. Bass were very nice and I am hoping that THE ZERO DEGREE ZOMBIE ZONE is just the first of many!

???????????????????????????????So thatΒ  was the end of my day. We had a 5 hour drive back home so I couldn’t stay for the graphic novel session πŸ™ BUT – I had a great time!

Oh and I got to crash Kate DiCamillo’s podium before she got there. πŸ˜‰



Categories: Other Stuff Related to Books and Reading

Tags: , , , , ,

78 replies

  1. Congrats Eric … well done on the official press badge! Sounds like you had quite an adventure! Cheers Bryan

    Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2014 20:29:29 +0000 To:

  2. What a delightful report on your day’s adventure. I felt the excitement through your words. Thanks for sharing.

  3. What an awesome opportunity and great pics! Looks like you had a blast. πŸ˜€

  4. Looks like, sounds like a great event. Very cool!

  5. That looks so awesome! How wonderful to meet Kate DiCamillo, Peter Brown and spy Raina Telegemeir. So jealous!!!

  6. Wow! I am so jealous.I sounds like you had a terrific time and met some awesome people I love Kate DiCamillo and would have given my day off to see her. Too bad I live so far away.You made the most of your time too.How kind of your mom to drive you all that way for this special event. Hat’s off to her.

  7. A great report on the festival, Eric! It made me want to be there. Have a great school year.

  8. Wow wow wow! Awesome blow by blow of the day’s events! Love all the photos and your enthusiasm. I’m a big Mercy Watson fan (and a fan of buttered toast). Lucky you, meeting Kate and all the other cool authors.

  9. Wow! What a weekend you had!!! Excellent report!

  10. You got to meet one of my very favorite all-time authors — Jack Gantos. I reviewed his series (ADHD) starting with Joey Pigza Swallowed a Key. Best first chapter I ever read. I am green with envy. I also liked “Dead End in Norvelt.” I learned a lot from his writing style.

    I am so delighted you met so many of your favorite authors and ha a chance to chat with them. Love that Mollie Idle’s books are based on waltzes. What a great weekend for you.

  11. I’m not really very nice at all.

  12. Wow, what a super awesome amazing post, Erik! I love the press badge. You’ve been blogging since you were nine? Now, I’m really impressed!! Good on you making a five hour drive each way too.

  13. Awesome post and an awesome time! Well worth ten hours of driving. πŸ˜‰

  14. I see why you’re such a polished blogger (and may I say photo-journalist as well); you’ve been at this a while. I must say, Erik, you sure get around! You’ve an old pro. Great job!

  15. Auto-correct, ugh! I wrote “you’re an old pro”. πŸ™‚

  16. How fun! Thanks for sharing about the book festival! Maybe you’ll be presenting from the podium in the future!

  17. Eric, so proud of you! How exciting to meet all these cool and famous authors!! Thanks for sharing with YOUR fans!! β™‘Grammy Pags

  18. Oh that was such a grand adventure. So glad you shared it with us so we could experience those moments with you πŸ™‚

  19. Reblogged this on Author S. Smith and commented:
    From “This Kid” Erik…very cool.

  20. Looks like you had a blast! What a great event πŸ™‚

  21. Wow! What an amazing day! Sounds like you had a fantastic time! I’m totally jealous πŸ™‚

  22. I would have loved to have been there. WoW! What a great adventure!

  23. Super day! Call me jealous! That is real devotion driving 10 hours for a book fair. Great enthusiasm. Loved your post. Still jealous. πŸ™‚

  24. Wow, what an excellent poet, Erik. Sounds like you had a great time and collecte

  25. TAKE TWO (Drat … iPad problems)
    Wow, what an excellent post, Erik. Sounds like you had a great time and collected plenty of memories. Thumbs up to your Mom too for taking you on such a long drive πŸ‘

  26. That is a fantastic post, Erik! What fun, and you are such an inspiration for kids. You can motivate them to read, to speak up, to do big things! My daughters enjoyed your adventure. Good for you!

  27. Wow. Just… wow. Thanks for sharing the details, we feel like we got to go with you. :0)

  28. This looks so much fun, and how cool to go in an official capacity. Just a little jealous!

  29. Erik, what a fabulous day! I’m exhausted just reading about everything you packed in. Sounds like an event I’d love to go to!

  30. What a fantastic day you had! Seeing all those authors and illustrators — wait, not just SEEING them, but talking with them, getting books signed, photos taken, even a penguin from Molly Idle? Beyond awesome. Thanks for sharing it all with us!

    (Now to see if this will post. My comments on everyone’s blog tend to run off into cyberspace these days…)

  31. Oh my goodness! How much fun is that!? Thanks for sharing your experiences meeting these FAB authors. Totally worth the drive, isnt’ it? πŸ™‚

  32. Best. Post. Ever!!! Your life just keeps getting better and better, SuperKid!

  33. Wow, that is awesome! By all the fun pics it looks like you had a fabulous time. Great blog post! Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  34. Wow Erik, your post read like a who’s who in modern literature…My jaw kept dropping like “he met her…” then it would drop again “What…him too?” It made me really want to attend a conference like this… Thanks for sharing, I’m happy to meet you thru kid lit blog hop!
    Barefoot Librarian

  35. Wow, not only does the event sound amazing, but you make the job title of “childen’s book author and/or illustrator” seem as cool as being a rock star or celebrity πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing this fantastic post on the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  36. What an incredible experience! My oldest daughter wants to be a writer some day, and I can’t wait to share your blog with her to see what she could do someday (she is 7 right now).

  37. Erik, I’m finally trying to catch up on 2 weeks of blogs and am only picking certain ones I simply canNOT resist! This post is fantastic! I’m SO glad you got to enjoy something like this. I wish I had the stamina for long drives, but the thought makes my insides pretty squishy o_O You met SO many fantastic people!!!! I’d love to meet them all, too! Though I did get to talk to Kate DiCamillo for a few minutes when she was at our conference. Love her! Love this! I have a feeling you’ll be going again πŸ˜‰ Thanks for sharing!

  38. There is just so much to love about this post, Erik dearest! How awesome that you got to have a Press Pass and loved the detailed report you shared here. The excitement shines through in your writing. Loved all the photos – and you get to travel to DC too! Will visit the city again in November to do a conference presentation for NCTE – will you be getting a free press pass for that one too so that we can finally meet up??! Haha. Oh yeah, we are working on inviting Raina Telgemeier here in Singapore for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content. Isn’t that exciting?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: