Before the authors’ keynotes, we spent half an hour enjoying cocktails and noticing all of the amazing authors walking by like Rep. John Lewis, Lisa See, Meg Medina, Rita Williams-Garcia and more. But of all the authors we noticed, the one I was most excited to see was Raina Telgemeier, who is my 9-year-old daughter’s favorite graphic novelist. We weren’t sure if she was going to be OK with us approaching her like a gaggle of fangirls, but after a glass of wine (white, thank you very much, because the LOC has marble floors!), we went ahead and introduced ourselves. And she was so ridiculously nice and let us each take photos with her.
During the Authors’ Program, we heard four authors speak, and the four of us were particularly impressed with Gene Luen Yang, who gave an impassioned plea for authors to write diverse characters even though it can be scary and intimidating to do. He also encouraged writers and readers of color to be generous with other writers and to make themselves available as early readers. Listen to his speech (Kim recorded it) or read the transcript on the Washington Post. My husband already put “Boxers and Saints” on hold for us at the library!
But probably the biggest highlight of the night was seeing how excited my daughter was during Raina Telgemeier’s talk that night at the Graphic Novel Super Session. My daughter has read and adored all of Telgemeier’s books (to the point we had to buy replacements, because her copies were so dogeared), so having her autograph “Sisters” was a dream come true. My daughter was interested in reading graphic novels before she was interested in big chapter books, so I consider Telgemeier’s one of the most pivotal authors in my daughter’s life. I imagine this is what it would’ve been like had I met Beverly Cleary or Judy Blume or Katherine Paterson as a girl.