Monday, June 25, 2012

Dan Rather and The Fonz

The real glamour at ALA Anaheim involves authors (and being able to blog about them while sitting next to the hotel pool under a palm tree!).  Between meetings and workshops, there are opportunities to listen to a range of celebrity authors, and Anaheim has been a joy.  I’ve been able to sit in on a panel discussion on the role of science fiction and fantasy featuring Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, and attend talks by Sherman Alexie (True Adventures of a Part-Time Indian), and journalist Dan Rather.  My morning concluded with a presentation by Lin Oliver and Henry Winkler about their new series Ghost Buddy, which is aimed at middle grade readers, and apparently has a ghostly character that talks just like The Fonz.   Some of these presentations are a call to action, such as Rather telling us that we need to help bring awareness to the role giant corporations now play in controlling what news is reported in the U.S.  Others are reminders of the importance we play in broadening the world of our youngest patrons, as Martin described how his mind was blown when he was able to escape from the 5 block world he inhabited as a young boy living in a Bayonne NJ housing project by reading Robert A. Heinlein at his local library.  Winkler and Oliver spoke movingly about how the best children’s fiction has an emotional component that kids can relate to on a deep level.  But, I think my favorite was Sherman Alexie telling us that we are in charge of organizing all the knowledge that ever existed.  He said that he amazed when you go to a library and badly describe the type of book you are looking for, and the librarian says “I have the perfect book” and s/he does.  He said if librarians really knew how powerful they were they would be incredibly conceited!  Oh, and I have a great photo of the Fonz.