As a kid, I never paid attention to authors. It was all about the story – I could not have cared less who wrote it. The only authors I can remember being aware of at all as a child were Laura Ingalls Wilder (my hero!) and Beverly Cleary.

Now, though, as an adult, I’m as fascinated by the authors as by the story. Going to hear Linda Sue Park speak after reading A Single Shard was fantastic. Reading multiple books by the same author, coming to recognize prevalent themes or writing styles in their work, delights me and my giant nerd heart.

When I read Hugo Cabret earlier this year, I was just so blown away by Brian Selznick’s work that I looked up what else he’d done. To my astonishment, he was the author and illustrator of a book called The Houdini Box which my parents had owned for years about a little boy who worships Harry Houdini and desperately wants to imitate his tricks. My dad is an amateur magician (a quite good one, if I say so myself) and so the book had always reminded me of him (I’m certain that the reason we owned the book in the first place was because of my dad).

Currently, I’m working on an illustrator for my Visual Arts class. We were each assigned an illustrator who’d won the Caldecott award in the last eleven years and I got David Wiesner. I was somewhat familiar with him as he’s won an astonishing three Caldecotts and a couple more Caldecott Honors. The man is a genius. Now my desk is stacked with his picture books and books about his life and work (he’s alive, only a bit over fifty). I love getting to know his books and about him as a person. I’ve made Bart read a bunch of his books too, because his work is just too good not to share. If you ever have a baby, you can pretty much guarantee that I will buy you one of his books as a gift. I want every book he’s done in my own personal library.

It really increases my appreciation of a book when I’m familiar with either the illustrator or the author. It makes me want to read everything they’ve worked on, to go to an author event in person.

It frankly thrills me to see authors becoming rock stars in their own right – I love it that people want to see JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer as much as they want to go to a concert or a movie premiere.

And come November, I’ll be doing my own star sightings at the Texas Book Festival all over again, when Shannon Hale comes. You know I’ll be waiting outside that building at three a.m. like the groupie I am.

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  1. How fun. 🙂 I love David Weisner as well, I’m gaining a much greater appreciation for Children’s authors and illustrators. It just seems like there are so many great ones out there! Have fun meeting Shannon Hale!

  2. If you haven’t already done so (and if you have, stop me because I am such a broken record), join me on the Madeleine L’Engle train! She is one of those rare authors that spans childhood to adulthood.

    Of course, if you’ve already hopped on the train and find it not to your taste, I don’t know if I want to know about it…

  3. Shannon Hale is a good one! I’ve seen a couple of authors speak and they’re mostly fascinating. I was super disappointed by Lois Lowry because she was rude and unpleasant, but I think in time I will get over it since her books are too darned good to give up.

  4. You should plan a trip to DC sometime at the end of September and come to the National Book Fest, sponsored by the First Lady and the Library of Congress…it’s so amazing, one of my favorite days of the year!

    Also, I took a class in childrens lit this summer and loved it. I discovered so many wonderful new authors!

  5. Have you read Austenland? I’ve only recently heard about Shannon Hale and this particular book of hers sounds interesting.

  6. I would have to agree you. Since graduating I finally have the time to read all the books I couldn’t fit in my head in college. And I find myself going through authors – eating up anything they have written.

    I just finished Goose Girl yesterday (I believe Shannon Hale is who wrote that…if it is not.. then it is the other book I am reading and I feel dumb…but it is really good too!) and to be honest – I can’t wait to read the other books she has written. She was fantastic!

  7. Austenland is disappointing and not really worth the read. Stick to Goose Girl or Enna Burning (my favorite of her books) for a good read from Hale.

  8. If you ever come to Portland, I’ll show you the Beverly Cleary Children’s library (part of our big library) and the lovely statues of Ramona in the park.

    I *LOVE* Beverly Cleary!

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