Andrea and I mothballed our Just One More Book children’s book podcast in 2009, just weeks before she was diagnosed with breast cancer. One consequence of the diagnosis was we had to set aside plans to attend the 20th Annual Children’s Illustration party. When we’d been the year before as part of our Rock Stars of Reading road trip (documentary video series) we turned long-distance friendships into personal connections. It was a tough cancellation.
One of the realities that struck us on that first trip was just how tight and mutually-supportive the children’s book community is in the Amherst/Northampton, MA area. One would expect a pool of gifted creative minds working in an industry that’s under significant pressure would be cutthroat-competitive. It turns out that’s not at all how they roll. Veterans and newcomers alike are genuine friends and are committed to each other’s success. Talk about inspiring.
We had the privilege of witnessing that vibe again last year. We made the pilgrimage to the 22nd Annual show which was about a week after heavy snow felled trees and knocked out power in the area. People were still without power. Some roads were still obstructed. Though the weather was gorgeous and the grass green during our trip. Still, the Fischers’ house was cold and dark so they were staying with the Diterlizzis.
This year’s party takes place today. As soon as we left last year’s event, we had it in our mind that we would be there today. However, a number of conflicts emerged and we weren’t able to make it work. Which has me kind of bummed out. I feel like the Amherst/Northampton children’s book community is our tribe. We’ll miss hanging with them today.