In my daily life, I am an archaeologist. When I tell this to people, invariably they will say, "Oh how cool! I always wanted to be an archaeologist when I was a kid!" or some such. And I smile and nod, pitying the naive enthusiasm of the speaker, and resisting the urge to say "most of it's boring." I have done things archaeological that were not boring, digging around the world, but at the moment I have a desk job. (If you want to learn more about my life as an archaeologist, you can check out the October issue of Dig Magazine).
Well. The tables were turned on me last night, when I found myself at the children's book dinner at the meeting of the New England Independent Booksellers Association. There I was, a mundane archaeologist, surrounded by really cool and famous people who write and publish and sell really cool children's books! Listening to famous authors and illustrators talk! (Natalie Babbitt, Helen Lester & Lynn Munsinger, and Jerry Spinelli). Taking home a bag of books as party favours! It was one of the best evenings I've had for ages, certainly much more interesting than your average archaeology conference.
This is how I ended up there. A while ago, Charlesbridge Publishing sent me some books to review (Wiggle and Waggle, and Ralph Masiello's Dragon Drawing book, both of which continue to be in demand at our house), and Ralph and I have emailed back and forth about his new book (which deserves its own post, so stay tuned). Knowing that I'm based in the Providence, RI area, and that Ralph was also going to be there, Charlesbridge invited me to be their guest for this dinner. Thank you, Charlesbridge!
I do, of course, realize that real life in the children's book world is probably not all fine wine and salmon and funny speeches and bags of beautiful books to take home. And my job isn't that boring. But still, it sure was a nice change, and I blush to admit that I did say to one book store own, "Oh, it must be so cool to have your own bookstore!" The moment I said it, I could sense her pitying my naive enthusiasm, but one just can't be a cynical realist all the time.