Today, I attended the Warwick Children’s Book Festival in Warwick, NY with some friends and my two kids. And even though the festival is called the Children’s Book Festival, I might leave my kids home next time. It’s hard to fawn over authors and illustrators when your kids are whining about going outside to the school playground. (I’m sure the highlight for my toddler was getting a foam play cookie from author, Ame Dyckman, who picture book Boy + Bot was a big hit at bedtime tonight.)
Benefiting the Albert Wisner Public Library, the book festival feels like a logistic feat. There are fifty children’s book authors and illustrators who sit at tables in the school gym with stacks of pristine hardcovers and paperbacks and Sharpie markers. Some of the authors had fun swag like foam turtle stickers and temporary tattoos (my 3-year-old’s favorite thing ever. My husband cringes whenever he asks if they can be permanent.) My ‘B’ boys had 3 picture books signed for them which we read tonight — all fabulous reads — all with bright and MOMA-worthy illustrations. This included Artie Bennett’s The Butt Book. (Side note: I overhead him give an interview about his book, Poopendous. That man is the boss of poop puns. Just sayin.’)
The highlights for me were meeting Susan Beth Pfeffer (again!) and having her sign The Shade of the Moon, the final book in the Life As We Knew It series. She is a lovely woman and a YA legend. I also met Kimberly Sabatini, author of Touching the Surface, who was super encouraging. A mother of three boys, she didn’t start writing until she was in her late 30s. Sometimes, at 34, I feel too old to begin a writing career. But it’s authors like Kim who make me realize that I can have a publishing career if I want it badly enough. (And I do!) Lastly, I met K.L. Going who took a few minutes to empathize with me about raising a preschooler and writing. She said she isn’t as prolific as she used to be because she has a four-year-old at home. She also gave a really interesting presentation about writing and publishing YA — unfortunately, my toddler wanted to stand on the chairs and babble really loudly and we had to go.
As a writer just getting her feet wet and a mom barely managing to stay awake past 9pm, it’s encouraging beyond measure to hear other YA authors talk to me about balancing motherhood and writing. Because most days I feel like I can’t balance laundry and dishes, let alone raising kids and writing. So I truly appreciate these fine authors for taking the time to talk to me about their work and lives. I’m feeling super encouraged. And perhaps, one day, I can attend the Warwick Children’s Book Festival as an invited author. But again…I am totally leaving my kids at home.