Serendipity 2015 - A Conference in Review

Dear Readers:

I want to take a moment to move away from book reviews and tell you about a little something that happened this last weekend in Vancouver. As the sun rose over the horizon on the morning of Saturday, March 7th, literature enthusiasts began to converge on the Swing Space Building at UBC for the Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable's annual Serendipity event. The them this year? Edgy, Eerie, Exceptional.

This year's Serendipity saw the participation of a dream team of authors, illustrators, and industry professionals, each with a very unique perspective on the children's and YA literature world. Attendees were treated to an incredible variety of topics and a LOT of food for thought. There were gasps, laughs, expletives, and talk of how old one must be before one is able to stop wearing underpants (I don't know that a consensus was ever reached.)

Andrew Smith expanded on the links between coding, poetry, and the role of art in education. He talked about his writing process, his connection with his son (who also wants to be an author), and his love of Julie Strauss-Gabel's editing abilities.

Mariko Tamaki reminded us that cats really do improve on almost anything (see photo) and that censorship helps no one! Her no nonsense approach to representing reality meant a lot of talk about swearing, boobs, blowjobs, and why being a teenager is so darn annoying. Yep, you heard right. It was fabulous!

Molly Idle and Kelli Chipponeri had the crowd in stitches as they bantered back and forth about the creative process, and gave us a sneak preview of Molly's next book, Flora and the Peacocks (it's going to be a square book!) I could have listened to those two for even longer, but alas the event had to move forward.

Last, but not least, we had Holly Black sharing stories from her childhood. As one attendee noted, it's a wonder she turned out as well adjusted as she is! Growing up with a mother who believed in ghosts, goblins, and other mythological creatures is sure to cause a somewhat more creative mindset... or a traumatized one.... And speaking of traumatizing, she also talked a LOT about reality television. The joy!

At the end of the day, after a delightful Q&A panel that included talk of beastiality, the counting of "fucks" in books, love, scotch, and winning awards, we had an opportunity to recognize those who took the time to dress up as characters from books published by the speakers. We had a number of Curse Workers, a Tea Rex, and many others. It was fabulous!

All in all, it was a fabulous event, and I could not have asked for a better team of speakers to work with. I'm only sorry that the day had to end. After working on the planning for over a year, it's sad to see it all over so fast. But at least I have the memory of these events to keep me company until we all meet again some day. At least I managed to snap one final selfie with Mariko Tamaki before dropping everyone off at the airport.

Until next time, loyal readers,



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