Tuesday, May 12, 2015
I got to meet Mac Barnett! Of course it was one of those days, where I was planning my daughter's sweet 16 surprise party, had an open house to attend, but also wanted to see Mac Barnett -- who was 45 minutes away. But it was a now or never type of opportunity, so I got in my van and started driving. I was hoping to get there before the even started, to get an autographed book of Guess Again (a perfect book to read aloud when substitute teaching), my favorite of Mac's books.
I pulled into Beaverdale Books, and who should be getting out of his vehicle but... you guessed it, Mac. And I got to park right next to him (his rental)! That alone was exciting! But then I got to meet him, and ask him how he got started. He said that while at college, he had read a book called The Stinky Cheese Man, and that made him want to be a children's writer. He loved that book. When he graduated with his English degree, he wanted to try his hand at writing for children. If that didn't work out, then he was going to pursue his Ph.d. Needless to say, Mac did not go back for his doctorate, because one day he was telling his friend about his desire to write, and that The Stinky Cheese Man had inspired him to do so. His friend replied, "That's my dad" (Jon Scieszka, who wrote the book). What luck! So he gave her a manuscript to give to her dad to read, and her dad passed it along to Steven Malk, his agent. Needless to say the rest is history. Steven Malk then became Mac's agent, and sold his first book, Billy Twitters and his blue whale problem.
I did really love one thing that Mac said. "Picture books are a genre, not a form." In other words, they do no have a strict formula to follow. You can break the rules.
By the way, I did get back in time to surprise my daughter, and it was a really lovely party.