The ALAN workshop

Guys, I’ve found it. Nirvana for book-lovers. It’s called the ALAN Workshop, it was held this year in St. Louis, and I was invited to speak about Prince of Pot on a panel with the shockingly clever and wise Jennifer E. Smith, J.C. Geiger, and Shanetia Clark.

I’m quite sure I was incoherent, but who can blame me? LOOK at the size of this room:

There are 500 teachers at the workshop, all of whom receive a giant box of curated books, which they sort and re-sort in mysterious ways as the day progresses. Plus they seem to know everyone and everything related to YA literature.

But it’s impossible to be nervous (well, almost impossible), because everyone there is (a) incredibly nice and (b) incredibly happy. I met a teacher from Florida outside the convention centre who said, “Isn’t this amazing? I’m so glad I’m an English teacher and not a math teacher. This is so much better than a math convention!”

It was awesome. I want very badly to go back. Or maybe to live permanently amidst those stacks of books.

On a side note, St. Louis itself was also full of wonderful surprises, a few of which are here:

And, best of all:

Thank you, ALAN, for inviting me, and Groundwood Books for sending me!

Hindsight is at least 20/30

I’ve been asked a few times how Prince of Pot came to be. Well, it’s not autobiographical and I wasn’t raised on a grow-op. But the question has made me think about all the connections that do exist between Isaac’s life and mine.

I’m on the Groundwood blog here, talking magazine headlines and inspiration.

And I’m at Open Book Toronto here, talking broken hearts and broken swing sets. And, of course, bears.

And more news!

There’s a rule about blogs. One is supposed to offer interesting and entertaining content, and not talk about oneself all the time. But I have so much exciting news this week!

I’ve just signed a contract with Groundwood Books for a young adult novel, to be published in Fall 2017.* And can I say that I was already thrilled to be working with Groundwood even before they won Best Children’s Publisher of the Year in Bologna?

Next news: The Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada have shortlisted DNA Detective for the 2016 Information Book Award. Woohoo! There are many other stellar books on the list, including Annick’s Urban Tribes, by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy, Groundwood’s West Coast Wild by Deborah Hodge, and Kids Can’s Child Soldier, by Jessica Dee Humphreys and Michel Chikwanine. Plus lots more fodder for my to-read list!

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* Sooooooo far away. Aaaaaaaaaaah. How will I last that long? People say their books are like their babies. Having had both, I can tell you that books take a LOT longer to birth.