National Book Festival

Washington Travel Blog

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Despite predictions of rain, the day began with bright sunshine and just spotty clouds as Kimberleigh and I left the house.  We picked Erin up and then continued on over to the Suitland Metro station.  Here we bought tickets and checked on Smartcard balances.  Kimberleigh's mom showed up just as our train did so with a little bit of rushing, we all got on.

Popping up out of the Smithsonian metro stop, we were greeted by the growing grey skies and helpful volunteers passing out purple programs.  We walked over to the first tent and picked up our free totebags and festival posters.  Our media specialist had asked if we could pick up a poster for her, and the volunteer easily fulfilled my request.

We then scooted over to the Children's tent because I wanted to hear Jon Scieska speak and he along with five other authors/illustrators was listed for this first hour of the festival.

Jon Scieska
  Scieska was announced just as we arrived; however, he did not begin speaking.  We soon realized that the event was a roundtable.  Unfortunately, the mikes on the authors were not working so we had trouble hearing anyone except the woman asking the questions.  We were becoming bored when I discovered that the authors had more in common than just being speakers at the National Book Festival; they were all co-authors in a progressive on-line book called the Exquiste Corpse.  Realizing that Scieska was going to read the first episode of the story convinced us to stick around.  Listening to the short segment definitely made us all interested in what would come in the next episodes since Scieska promised us werewolves, fake vampires, swindlers, desperados, a roller-skating baby, and two meatballs.
Jodi Picoult
  The other authors joked about being a little scared with this "hot potato" story but the project is definitely a neat one.  A notable quotation from one of the authors: "If we are an illiterate society, we are going to fall apart as a democracy."

First regular speaker of the morning was in the Fiction & Fantasy tent: Jodi Picoult.  I have not actually read any of her books yet but I plan to change that fact in the next few months.  She was bubbly and passionate about her writing.  She has grown incredibly from the young woman who when hearing the answering machine message from Seventeen magazine offering to pay her for a short story, she then called all her friends to see if it was one of them joking with her to an acclaimed author who now gives advice to aspiring writers (read, write often and frequently, take a fiction workshop course, finish whatever you write).

LOC tent
  A humorous quotation about the different genres: "like fantasy with worlds that don't exist...like romance with men who don't exist."

After listening to Picoult, we ventured over to the Library of Congress's little tent.  Here, workers showed us the LOC's Flickr site where we could search for historical images across all subjects.

Our next tent was at almost the opposite end of the festival: the Pavillion of States.  Erin and I picked up little maps that were stamped or stickered at each state's table.  Kimberleigh's mom veered off from us to go try to get an author's signature.  We had fun seeing the promotion of literary programs in each state, but the crowds were a bit overwhelming.

After grabbing lunch (a cheese sandwich for me), Erin and I continued back to the Children's tent to hear Lois Lowry talk.

Julia Alvarez
  I had enjoyed her Number the Stars when I was younger but I did not feel very inspired by her words today.  I did enjoy hearing that her favorite type of furniture is desks.  We skipped out on the question and answer portion of the talk to try to get a good position for our next speaker who was over at the Fiction & Fantasy tent again.

Julia Alvarez is one of top Latina authors in the US right now and being Spanish teachers, Erin and I were both very interested to hear her speak.  I had never read any of her works fully although I'm pretty sure I read an excerpt as part of a literature course my freshman year of college, and after listening to her speak, I am eager to check out In The Time of the Butterflies.  Several important quotations:
"We become brave almost by accident.

Pavillion of the States--Idaho

"A way to cultivate an elastic, inclusive imagination is by reading." 
"American treasurehouse of public libraries."  (Alvarez stated that she would not have become a writer if not for our public libraries.) 
"Anyone can sit down at this table [reading]." 
"You can't help but tell the stories that are in you to tell."

With the rain picking up, Kimberleigh's mom decided to leave, and she went with her.  Erin and I walked back to the Pavillion of the States and managed to finish our maps.  We ducked into the PBS area just long enough to pick up another bag.  This actually came with a few goodies such as a young children's book and simple DVD.  Then we also decided to head home.  Discovering the Smithsonian station closed, we detoured over to L'Enfant which actually worked to our advantage, no line switching now.

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Jon Scieska
Jon Scieska
Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult
LOC tent
LOC tent
Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez
Pavillion of the States--Idaho
Pavillion of the States--Idaho
Judy Blume
Judy Blume
tent sign
tent sign
inside the LOC tent
inside the LOC tent
Pavillion of the States--American …
Pavillion of the States--American…
set-up of the Pavillion of the Sta…
set-up of the Pavillion of the St…
Washington
photo by: b93sp