Friday, January 8, 2010

NCBLA Sidebar Tattle: New National Book Ambassador Katherine Paterson is Launched!

Boffo Event at the 
LOC Book Palace Intros New Fairy Grandmother of Kidlit World!

Your exclusive behind-the-scenes report!

Above photo: Katherine Paterson, the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature—and NCBLA Vice-President—with her granddaughter Jordan Paterson at the Library of Congress.

On Monday night while the children’s book world, abuzz with anticipation, waited for news from Washington as to who the next National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature would be, family and friends toasted author Katherine Paterson at an intimate dinner party on Capitol Hill.

Presiding over the table at Bistro Bis, Betsy Groban, SVP and publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and Dinah Stevenson, VP and Publisher of Clarion Books, warmly welcomed guests including Katherine’s husband John, their four children, spouses, and an attractive gaggle—or giggle—of grandchildren, as well as John Cole, the director of the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress. Ms. Paterson, in an elegant black pantsuit, a turquoise silk scarf framing her lovely face, with—as stated in The New York Times— “her silver hair cut in a feathered bob,” graciously accepted the many compliments and congratulations of the evening. (When Jon Scieszka was announced as the first Children’s Book Ambassador did The New York Times comment on his coiffure?!—inquiring minds want to know!)

Wednesday morning, bright and early, your faithful reporter made her way to the Center for the Book Offices in the Madison building at the Library of Congress where she found John Cole, Anne Boni, Guy Lamolinara, and Staceya Sistare finishing up last minute details for the day’s event—editing talking points and gathering together copies of Katherine Paterson’s book Bread and Roses,Too to give as gifts to young students attending the event. (Fans of the LOC/NCBLA Exquisite Corpse Adventure may want to know that John and Guy are part of the production team that brings you a new Exquisite Corpse Adventure episode every two weeks!!)

NCBLA board assistant and program director Geri Eddins with Center for the Book Director John Cole.

Guy Lamolinara, Center for the Book staff, and Exquisite Corpse Adventure web designer and webmaster, prepping for Katherine Paterson's Ambassadorial debut!

We left the office carting books down elevators and through underground tunnels to the Library of Congress’ magnificent Jefferson Building, where the main event would take place. Katherine and John Paterson had already arrived and were chatting with the very first Children’s Book Ambassador, the Stinky Cheese Man himself, Jon Scieszka and his beautiful wife Gerri. Fashion notes: Katherine wore a smart black suit with her signature color magenta blouse and silver earrings, her matching "silver hair in its feathered bob" looking quite fabulous. Jon Scieszka’s brilliant head shone brightly under the Jefferson Building chandeliers, as did Gerri’s curly red locks — and don’t miss Gerri's ultra cool retro designer suit in this photo:

Yo! Women's Wear Daily check out this fashion foursome!!!

Mr. Scieszka remarked that there should be some kind of visual acknowledgment or recognition of the Ambassador's' tenure, and suggested to Katherine that their images be added to this mural in the Jefferson building, with he and Katherine's figure portraits floating alongside these Grecian ladies.

Katherine's response is unknown, as is the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Billington's. 

This is dedication to a cause! A broken arm did not stop Childrens' Book Council executive director Robin Adelson from trekking all the way to D.C for the event, in spite of the pain! The Children's Book Council, under Robin's creative leadership, co-sponsors the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Fashion note: Is it a coincidence that Robin's cast and sling are robin's egg blue? Those in the know say no!

And here are Robin's elves from the CBC hardworking staff unpacking souvenir cookies for the kid guests!

Dr. James Billington, Librarian of Congress, arriving to thank Jon Scieszka for two remarkable years of
service to his nation, and to name Katherine Paterson as the new Children's Book Ambassador.

Among the invited guests were third through fifth grade students from Capitol Hill Day School, Brent Elementary School, and St. Peter's Interparish School. Their parents and teachers should be incredibly proud. These students were interested and interesting, asking the new Ambassador Katherine Paterson insightful questions. One of this reporter's favorite questions came from a third grade boy politely inquiring,"How do you feel when you write?"

The kids watching as Katherine Paterson comes to the podium after receiving her Ambassador Medal.

"Read for your life. 
Read for your life as a member of a
family, as a part of a community, as a citizen of this country and a 
citizen of the world."
Katherine Paterson

Among the invited guests were
Katherine Paterson's beautiful daughters, Mary Katherine and Elizabeth Po Li.
And Katherine's beautiful daughters-in-law, Samantha and Arianna. All busy moms with their own fascinating careers.
Surrounding Katherine and her husband John are many of her proud family members, including sons John and David who have recently created their own production company Arcady Bay Entertainment.

Other guests at the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature celebration Tuesday at the Library of Congress included:
Librarian Rita Auerbauch, resplendant in a rich plum-colored two-piece suit with her own silver locks cut in edgy "Judi Dench" style! Rita was a member of the selection committee that chose Katherine Paterson. Other members of the committee were: Betty Carter, Young Adult Library Services Adminstrations board member; Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of The Horn Book Magazine; Dianne Roback, children's book editor of Publisher's Weekly; Angela Sherrill, Chicago's 57th Street Books children's book coordinator; and the retiring grand poohba himself, wonderful and amazing Jon Scieszka!! Rita is also giving great service to our nation's children this year, chairing the Caldecott Award committee. Bravo Rita!!

Literacy advocate and Reading is Fundemental Chairman Emerita, Lynda Johnson Robb, delayed a trip to Hawaii in order to attend the event. Lynda is dressed in lavender in the picture at right.
Rachael Walker, PBS Reading Rockets consultant and Anita Merina, National Coordinator of the National Education Association's Read Across America Campaign-- fashionistas arrayed in complimentary color schemes of red and green!
In the photo at right is librarian and educational consultant Maria Salvadore (pictured at left), who was on the committee that selected the first national Children's Book Ambassador, Jon Scieszka. Maria is volunteering her time this year to serve on the Newbery selection committee and also serves on the Advisory Council of the NCBLA. Pictured with her is Mary Brigid Barrett, president and executive director of the NCBLA. Maria and Mary Brigid spent hours, weeks, months, planning and coordinating their outfits. Maria's natural blond locks are lightly feathered. Mary Brigid occasionally chops off her hair here and there with some old kitchen shears.
After this marvelous, moving event the Library of Congress held a reception in honor of the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for all the adults in attendance. The incredible kids who attended escaped to a much more kid-friendly environment, having a great time with librarian Jane Gilchrest in the new Young Reader's Center in the Jefferson Building, which is open to the public.

While the guests munched on delicious repast,
the new Ambassador was interviewed
by The Washington Post.
No one told the new Ambassador that Ambassadors
never get a chance to eat!
This reporter bids you a fond farewell, leaving you with this beautiful photo of Katherine Paterson, the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, taken by her daughter-in-law photographer Samantha Loomis.
Congratulations Katherine!