Monday, April 14, 2014

Spotlight on Books 2014

I've just returned from the annual Spotlight on Books Conference held at the lovely Sugar Lake Resort near Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I am overstuffed with ideas, memories and the delicious foods served at the conference.

My conference began on Friday afternoon when Laura Givens spoke about the new Star of the North children's choice award. She was the main instigator for this new award and serves as Chairman of the committee for it. The winner's of this year's award will be announced later this month as will the nominee's for next year's award. I am eager to have my students participate by reading this books and voting for their choices.

Laura also spoke briefly about using Twitter for her PLN which was of interest for me as the only media specialist in my district. I am constantly looking for ways to connect with other people who have the same sort of job I do.

Friday evening we had lightning rounds where various speakers had 7 minutes to tell us about a program, activity, or useful tip. We learned about a paranormal investigation at an area library because some people feel it is haunted. We learned about using Storybird to have students write books. We learned about Project Read which puts books in the hands of children who might not otherwise have books to read. We learned a way to extend the life of paperback books in our media centers. And many more things too!

Saturday morning was the time for local authors to introduce their books. Then the featured authors all had time to speak.

This year's featured authors were Mary Logue who first picture book - Sleep Like a Tiger - won a Caldecott Honor for the illustrator. Mary also writes young adult and middle grade books but is mostly known for her Claire Watkins adult mysteries set near the Mississippi River in SE Minnesota and neighboring Wisconsin.

I bought Killer Librarian for my Kindle. I also have the first couple of Claire Watkins books on my Kindle.

I bought the three mysteries she wrote with her partner Pete Hautman - Snatched, Skullduggery, and Doppelganger to read myself and then donate to my elementary media center.

Michael Hall shared his amazing picture books with us and told us how his past experiences in science and as a graphic designer led him to this career. His books are filled with bright colors and clever shapes and tell amazing stories.

He read us his latest release - It's an Orange Aardvark - which will be available on April 22 and also shared the story of a red crayon which will be his next book.

We finished the afternoon by hearing Will Alexander talk about his books. Will won a National Book Award for his debut novel Goblin Secrets. He told us how his first career as an actor led to his current career as a writer. He talked about how his desire to live in a story led him to acting and to writing.
All in all, it was an amazing conference and I can't wait to attend next year. 

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