Good luck comes in threes, and IRA

This has been an unbelievable month. The Jane Addams Children's Book Awards were announced at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and guess what?

Marching for Freedom won for older children.

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan won for younger children. The award honors "children’s books of literary and artistic merit that invite children to think deeply about peace, social justice, world community, and gender and racial equality." I can't imagine a more meaningful award. My deepest thanks to the Jane Addams committee, and congratulations to all awardees -- Jeanette Winter, Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney, George Ella Lyon & Stephanie Anderson, Tanya Lee Stone.

I had a blast at the International Reading Association meeting. A dinner with some funny and yet serious authors and librarians at Gibson's Steakhouse. One of those evenings where we each got up to speak for a few minutes, and somehow we started riffing off each other. Illustrator Loren Long had me totally in stitches with his deadpan delivery. "My wife likes to say I color all day," was followed moments later by "The Pokey Little Puppy wasn't just my book, it was my friend." Love it!

The next morning I was on a panel "The Illustrated Teen" with a group of awesome people: Holly Black, Henry Neff, Stephen Emond and Scott Westerfeld, all of our eclectic words and images woven together by Susanna Richards. This photo of mine looks boring, but it was spectacular. Scott writes steam punk which is one of my favorite words right now. Stephen and Henry are both amazing illustrators. I have to admit being a little jealous when Holly and Scott showed off fan art. How totally cool is it to write stuff that opens people's imagination so much that they draw what they see?

Lisa Yee has a great blog post up about how totally fun IRA is,. I went over and stole... um... borrowed this great picture of me with Arthur Levine and the redoubtable Peepy getting a free ride in Arthur's name tag pouch.

But here's the real reason it all goes smoothly: crazy hard work by the publishing people. Check out Emily Heddleson on the phone, moving books, helping a customer and SMILING! My hat's off to you all.