Fun at the National Book Festival


Can I just say for a moment that I am really enjoying having "older" kids?

I was not sure what to expect when the boys and I headed out to the National Book Festival today. They seemed excited about seeing Terry Pratchett in person (our new absolutely most favorite author…we are on the third book in the Tiffany Aching series, Wintersmith, and can't get enough of Discworld and the Nac MacFeegles). But still, spending a day in the crowds on the National Mall listening to authors talk about their books? I wasn't too sure how it would go over.

So I decided that we would go see Terry Pratchett (luckily he was scheduled for noon) and then play the rest of the day by ear, figuring that I wanted the kids to have fun and if all else failed I could watch the talks via the web.


We headed out and took the metro downtown, getting there in plenty of time (a small miracle for me). Walked around a bit, checked out where they were selling books but decided that we did not want to wait in that long of a line. Went over to the Science Fiction and Fantasy tent and got seats in the very back. I have to say that Terry Pratchett definitely lived up to my expectations. I wasn't sure how much the boys enjoyed it because he talked a lot about his adult novels (he has kids books and adult books set in the same Discworld with overlapping characters…very fun!) But he was so funny that Jason especially really enjoyed it.


We then walked down to check out the kids activities, but did not find much interesting there (a lot of stuff for younger kids). Went back to the book signing, but realized that the line was way too long to even attempt. At that point, there were still a few authors that I wanted to check out, but we still had over an hour and half wait until the next one we wanted to see and I really was not sure that they would last that long. We decided to get lunch and see how we felt. The kids tackled played with each other out on the grassy area while I waited in the incredibly long lunch line.


By the time that we finished, we had only 15 minutes until Holly Black (co-authored The Spiderwick Chronicles) so we decided to head over there. Another great talk and she read from her new book Ironside. Also found out that there is a new Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles series…the first is called The Nixie's Song. They are planning on 3 books I think.

We had another hour to kill before so the boys decided that they wanted to check out the book sales tent again. This time the line was reasonable, so we picked up The Nixie's Song and Ironside (although I think that we will wait a bit for Ironside…I checked on Amazon and I think that some of the subject matter is a bit mature for him…it is actually recommended for 14 and up. That is one nice thing about books, they don't go bad!). For Kyle we picked up Martina The Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Deedy and Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones by Judy Schachner.


Headed back to the Children's Tent (did I mention that we did a fair amout of walking?) to see Carmen Deedy but had a little bit of time to kill, so I read Martina which we all thoroughly enjoyed. But I have to say that I did not do the story justice…which became very obvious when we heard Carmen tell it in person! My friend Parrish had mentioned that we should not miss her talk and she was right. Carmen is a fabulous storyteller! Jason commented on how she changed the story from the book and we talked a bit about the difference between storytelling and writing for a book.


Then it was time for MT Anderson. This was a bit drier for the boys, as he spent a fair amount of time talking about his book Octavian Nothing which is set in Revolutionary War times (which I, of course found fascinating). He did answer some questions about Whales on Stilts (the boys really enjoyed this). He talked a lot about what inspires his books…for Whales on Stilts he said that there had been a couple of whales that were washed up on a beach near him. This got him to thinking about what if whales, instead of being the harmless, gentle creatures we think they are, were instead just biding their time and waiting to invade complete with laser eyes. And how else would they do it, but on stilts? Neat.

After that, it was a crowded ride home on the metro. We finally got home around 6pm. Whew.

The only disappointment was that the lines for the book signings were way to long (and out in the hot sun) and that due to some sort of brain freeze, we totally missed Jack Pretlusky (we have some of his poetry books).


The neat thing is that we had an absolutely wonderful day. Despite all the walking and the waiting. I gave them plenty of chances to decide to go home, but they wanted to stay. I do think that Jason got more out of it as he really seemed to enjoy the talks. Kyle had fun, but tended to get a bit bored more often. And I only had to bribe offer ice cream once.

Amazingly, I just checked and they already have the webcasts up! That is pretty darned amazing. You can find the video on each author's page. Neat! Definitely check it out. They are great. And I just noticed that they also have podcasts of interviews with different authors. How cool is that…

Now I am beat! I hope to get some pictures up soon. Did not have the energy to download them tonight.