Cyn and I are just back from Springfield, Illinois, and the annual conference of the Illinois Reading Council. We were both delighted to be there (I hadn't been back to Springfield since an eighth grade class trip), especially since we'd didn't make our originally scheduled visit to the conference in '08 because the airline canceled our flights.
We flew in Thursday afternoon, connecting through O'hare without a hitch, had a quiet dinner at the hotel and then were off to the Hear the Authors Read and late-night autograph session. Other authors and Cyn and I each read for five minutes and then autographed. Others who read were Mary Amato, Nick Bruel, Andrew Clements, Laurie B. Friedman, Will Hobbs, Eric A. Kimmel, Laurie Lawlor, Judith Byron Schachner, and David Wiesner.
Friday, we were up early for our sessions. We spoke to enthusiastic audiences about our writing processes and focused primarily on our books set in Illinois, including Eternal; Indian Shoes; Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo; and Tofu and T.rex.
We had run into April Halprin Wayland at our signing and so she came with us and we induced Esther Hershenhorn away from her research to have lunch at Lindsay's, in the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, next door to the convention center. We talked publishing (of course) and caught up on the news of old friends.
That evening, we had dinner at Saputo's with Cynthea Liu, Jen Cullerton Johnson, Michelle Duster, and Trina Sotira, who were there to do a panel called "Global Learners = Global Problem Solvers." Food was excellent, conversation was lively and engaging, and we all stayed out way too late.
The next morning, Cyn and I headed down to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. (In the picture, I'm holding Harry Mazer's MY BROTHER ABE: SALLY LINCOLN'S STORY, while Abe is holding onto AESOP'S FABLES).
The museum is terrific. In addition to a couple of multimedia shows, the two main exhibits feature walk-throughs of Lincoln's youth and life and his presidential years. Other exhibits included a selection of artifacts, including one of Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hats and a variety of letters and other documents. The rotating exhibit featured Lincoln's ag policies, including his role in establishing the land grant universities.
If you're in the neighborhood, I highly recommend the museum (heck, next time you're in Chicago or St. Louis, tack on an extra day or two and go see the Lincoln Tomb, the Lincoln Home, the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, and the old and new state capitols while you're at it. Also, Esther reports that the library is excellent for research.).
That afternoon, we made it to the airport early, but needn't have bothered. The plane to Chicago was delayed more than an hour (although we ran into Steven Layne, MaryAnn Rodman, and Gail Carson Levine at the airport) and then, our Austin flight was delayed four hours. We didn't get in until after midnight. I think the airline gods were paying us back for the great weather we'd had in Springfield (Thursday and Friday it was in the 60s)...
Altogether, it was a fantastic conference! Thanks to all the organizers and volunteers and attendees; and apologies again, for having to cancel in '08!