Richard Peck and me.

I’ve been busy. In the past two weeks, I was off to New York and Texas and back again. Today I found the time write something about my time in Austin (fabulous city). The Texas Library Association is one of the largest in the US and their annual conference is a tsunami of children’s books. It was an honour to attend.

While there, I met all kinds of superstar writers, the ones you rarely meet in Toronto—or, for that matter, in the lobby of a posh hotel overlooking the Colorado River. The very prolific David Levithan was there; this year’s Newberry winner, Rebecca Stead, who was lovely; Richard PeckMargo Rabb, Ally Condie, Tim Wynne-Jones, and many others. (Technically, yes, you do see Tim Wynne-Jones in Toronto, but he was the exception that proves et cetera, et cetera.)

With Ally Condie and Gayle Forman in the back of a very bumpy cab ride.

Gayle Forman and I did a meet-and-greet thingie with a bunch of teenagers who were given free-range of the conference hall on “teen day.” (Massive thanks to Gayle, by the way. Great fun working with you and hope we get a chance to do it again!)

On the final day of the conference, I sat on a “Poetry Round-Up” panel, along with some of the best children’s poets around: Calef Brown, Julia Durango, Margarita Engle, Helen Frost, Kristine O’Connell George, Marilyn Singer, and Lisa Wheeler. Here we are:

A bunch of poets and a chicken fried steak.

Thanks to the TLA, the city of Austin, Sylvia Vardell, who organized the Poetry Round-Up, and the amazing people at Penguin USA—Scottie, RasShahn and Christina—for the organization that went into so many events.

The city’s unofficial slogan is “Keep Austin Weird”. Incidentally.