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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Networking in New York

New York will be in a good mood when I arrive this afternoon – an afterglow of congeniality from the Giants’ Super Bowl lightning-bolt win. Of course, there’s always a feeling of camaraderie at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) conference. SCBWI is an international professional organization that promotes knowledge among authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, educators, and booksellers who are passionate about children’s books. It’s the ideal networking opportunity for people who are already a part of this industry, as well as those who want to join in. I look forward to their annual winter conference each year; it’s a great place to meet enthusiastic and talented authors and artists. That’s where I met Lisa Trumbauer. Her book A Practical Guide to Dragons had just topped the NY Times bestseller list. She went on to write one of our first sports books for girls, Storm Surfer. And now she’s working with us on another project for Spring ‘09.

Last year’s conference brought together three of the biggest names in children’s literature: Katherine Paterson, Susan Cooper, and Brian Selznick. It was an alignment of the heavenly bodies. This year’s opening address will be given by poet Nikki Grimes. Wow! And Richard Peck, one of my favorite authors, will be there, along with Susan Patron (Newbery Award-winning author of The Higher Power of Lucky) and David Wiesner (Caldecott Medal-winning author/illustrator of Flotsam).

I’m also excited to hear from some equally influential stars on the business side of the industry. David Gale, Vice President/Editorial Director at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Mark McVeigh, the Editorial Director at Aladdin Paperbacks, will be heading up breakout sessions. I’ve signed up for both of them. When I return to the office, I know that my laptop will be reaching its megabyte limit with new names and addresses of potential authors and illustrators for Stone Arch Books, as well as info on the hottest industry trends, the latest technology, the changing profile of young readers, and the delight and challenge that all the participants share in the ageless art of storytelling.

--Michael Dahl
Editorial Director, Stone Arch Books

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