Monday, November 5, 2007

Philip Pullman and Hot Shredded Wheat

Being the hubby of a hard-hittin YA librarian and author, I often find myself accompanying Julie on various YA lit related wild rides of parties, conferences, and dinners of sorts. It's actually great, though, since some of our worlds collide–me being a children's lit illustrator and all. This weekend, Julie was invited to see Philip Pullman speak, as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, at the Harold Washington Library downtown. Philip Pullman, case you don't know, is author of the wildly successful book series, HIS DARK MATERIALS (see that crazy movie coming out next month, THE GOLDEN COMPASS). The invitation came from Tim Ditlow, of Listening Library fame (Julie's also on a YALSA selection committee for best YA audiobooks of the year). There was a nice lunch arranged after with the whole group. This was really her deal, but she asked if I could tag along and Tim was gracious enough to accommodate.

I haven't been much of a YA reader up until recently. I mostly read graphic novels (which, actually... some are YA) and "grown-up" stuff. But I was looking for something to read, and saw laying around Sherman Alexie's new book THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN (admittedly curious cause of the Ellen Forney drawings–cartoonist and all). I really liked it, so ever since, Julie's been feeding me more and more YA stuff.

Knowing I was going to be seeing author of THE GOLDEN COMPASS speak, and after seeing that crazy movie trailer and wondering "what the heck is this?!", I knew I had to read at least one of the HIS DARK MATERIALS books before I saw the presentation. So I read THE GOLDEN COMPASS. And, honestly, I got lost at times, but I really liked this book! I know, positive reviews at this point are not breaking news, but it was new to me. Recommended! And so his presentation–actually more of a Q and A setup with this intellectualish dad/daughter team–was really great too. Pullman's funny, humble, and doesn't take himself too seriously (my impression anyways). For writing that style of book, I think that means a lot. So I'm sold on reading the rest of the series.

The lunch afterward was so great! There was a group of about 15 or so mostly Chicago area children's lit, YA audiobook types, librarians, and book review publication writers assembled at the Russian Tea Room (Julie and I had never been). The food, and the tea, was dang tasty! I really wouldn't have guessed it. I'm a vegetarian, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But there was much to choose from. And the company was so much fun. We met a couple of hilarious reviewers from Booklinks and Booklist who were so much fun to talk to and get to know. And the Booklist writer, Gillian, just happened to be the reviewer who just gave Julie's novel GET WELL SOON, that awesome review a couple weeks back! Good times, man. Good times. Thanks much to Tim Ditlow for putting that together and for letting me party it up with the team.

In other news, I saw a shredded wheat commercial yesterday talking about how good it would be to eat "hot." So, being a sucker for a commercial and for trying some new cereal gimmick, I heated up my milk this morning and poured it over the cereal. Don't do it. I mean, I don't recommend it. It was way nast.

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