Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I’m hitting the road to research the past…

...with a road atlas from the future. I hope this thing doesn’t lead me anywhere that won’t be built for another six months.

Friday, July 16, 2010


If it occurs to me that today is the 1st anniversary of the 40th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, does that make me nostalgic for last year’s nostalgia? Don’t answer that. Now other books are coming out (Ballet for Martha, next month) and other books are in the works (It’s 1869, not 1969, on the drafting table these days) but Moonshot will always have a special place on my shelf, and I do appreciate my memories of last year, especially of listening to NASA’s real-time internet broadcast of the original mission transmissions. Through that broadcast and through all the attention the anniversary received I got to share with friends what I had worked on for so long in relative privacy of my studio, and that’s worth remembering. Happy 41st, Apollo 11!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

ALA recap

Recently I’ve been trying to spend (a little) less time on the great and terrible internet, so I’m late in saying thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me to Washington for ALA, where I had a wonderful time, and thank you to this year’s Sibert Committee for the Sibert Honor for Moonshot (a considerable contributor to the wonderful time), and thank you to Roaring Brook for a chance to have a Ballet for Martha signing while at the conference. (Ballet for Martha! Coming next month!) Thanks also to everyone who came by and picked up a book!

After conference duties were done I spent a day at the National Gallery, and after seeing a few great things, I happened onto the museum’s collection of Renaissance Portrait Medals. The medals, given as “tokens of esteem,” were created very deliberately on the model of ancient Roman coins. (Click to enlarge the sketch.) I looked at these for a minute before I realized, ah ha, here are the great grandparents of the Newbery, the Caldecott, the Sibert (the Pulitzer, the Nobel) and so on. Today’s children’s literature medals have fewer swords, less nudity, and no elephants, but the connection is clear. That discovery made a coda to ALA, and I left Washington satisfied. (Also, the exhibit was an opportunity to to brush up on usage for the word “obverse,” so that was another bonus.)