Thank you Chicago, ALA, and The American Writers Museum!


Chicago was anything but the windy city this weekend. It was warm and welcoming as it greeted thousands of librarians, publishers, editors, writers, illustrators, and literary aficionados for ALA’s 2017 Annual Conference and Exhibition.

It’s hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store when attending ALA. And like a well-prepared kid ready to take home a treasure trove of loot, I came prepared with my empty bags. In my years of attending ALA, I have also learned that the extremely patient Fed Ex worker, who is silently laughing at my creatively wrapped packages, has become my new best friend. (At this time, I would like to shout out a very big thank you to my Grandpa Harry for teaching me how to defy the laws of physics with masking tape.)

Here are a few photographic highlights from #alaac17:


Creston Books


Detectives Wilcox & Griswold, me, and Marissa Moss


Nancy Churnin


Marcia Goldman and Princess Lola


Laurie Wallmark and Sue Conolly


Marissa Moss and Kathryn Otoshi


Carol Weston


Monica Edinger and Donalyn Miller


Tracey Baptiste


Me and Emma Otheguy


The AWESOME Mr. Schu!


Laurie Wallmark, Mr. Schu, and me



Panel discussion, “Women Aren’t Funny (And Other Essential Untruths for Middle Grade Readers) with Sharyn November, Erica Perl, Betsy Bird, Cece Bell, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Andrea Beaty

During this literary palooza of a weekend, I also had the privilege of being invited to do a reading at the The American Writers Museum. With the mission of “celebrating American writers and exploring their influence on our history, our identity, our culture, and our daily lives[,]”[1] The American Writers Museum opened its doors on May 15, 2017.


While walking around and gazing at the words and portraits of many of my writing superheroes, it was impossible not to reflect upon the impact each of these authors have had on all of us—how they’ve stirred our imagination; comforted us in times of grief; given us a serious case of the giggles; and put us to bed night after night.




As a writer, I also couldn’t help but think about the number of rewrites each of these authors had to do. How many authors were on the brink of giving up when they finally got their lucky break? What’s the tally on the number of rejections vs. successes?


Untitled Mural by Paul O. Zelinsky

Next time you’re in Chicago be sure to stop by this inspiring magical place. I promise. You won’t be disappointed.

[1] Source:


ALA San Francisco Annual Conference & Exhibition #alaac15


What an incredible week to be in San Francisco! ALA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition was a jubilant celebration of authors, illustrators, publishers, librarians, and of course, books! Where else in the world are there this many people excited about books? Nowhere. And in a nutshell, it was AWESOME!  ala4

At this year’s conference, I had the opportunity to do a cooking demo, making Mollie Katzen’s super yummy carrot cake recipe from The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. I have to say when I first heard of this I wasn’t sure if it was a joke because (just between you and me) I don’t bake. In fact, over the years, I’ve had a very good relationship with my friends Betty Crocker, Nestlé® Toll House®, and the Pillsbury® Doughboy® and I go way back. The thought of baking,[1] even pretend baking, in front of an audience was terrifying. Fortunately for me, Mollie Katzen’s recipe is so easy that even a bumbling baking novice like myself could do it. And I had a blast! With the headpiece microphone, I felt like a cross between Julia Child and Madonna. So Food Network, if you’re looking for an author who writes about food, but who can’t actually make the food, I’m your gal. Call me. We’ll talk! 🙂 (I also happen to know two charismatic Missing Food Investigators who would love to host a kids cooking show.)




ala3Detective Wilcox and Captain Griswold enjoying the spotlight on the What’s Cooking @ALA Stage 

Here are more photographic highlights:


Mug Shot: Me, and librarian extraordinaire, Beth Decker



Members of the Creston crew: Muon Van, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Julie Downing, April Chu, me


Darlene Beck-Jacobson and Georgia Lyon


Simon Stahl and me


Dan Santat


me and Lane Smith


Marcia Goldman, Lola, and Marissa Moss 


me and Debbie Ridpath Ohi


Jon Scieszka and me


Muon Van and April Chu


me and Cece Bell 


Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Jacqueline Woodson, and me 

It was a wonderful conference. And to all the superhero librarians who inspire fledgling readers and turn reluctant readers into avid readers from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!!! 

Wilcox, Griswold and I have already packed our bags for the next ALA conference. We can’t wait!

p.s. Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Marcia Goldman, Lola, and I also enjoyed a great visit to a wonderful bookstore, Book Passage.




**Please remember to support your independent bookstores. Thank you!

[1] While practicing the recipe, I learned one thing: grating carrots on a hand grater is a serious workout. You can avoid expensive gym fees by simply buying a bag of carrots and a hand grater.