Thursday, July 07, 2005

Do NOT test me on my Caldecotts...

Did one of the silliest things ever in a long long time... i queued up for 5 hours last night to get Neil Gaiman's autograph. In all honesty, i'd rather hear him talk and share ideas and insights than to get an autograph (not that i don't appreciate his dedication in personalising and signing books for the hundreds and hundreds of people who turned up in the seeming unending queue.. even after the queue has been stopped. "Are they breeding in line?" asked Gaiman when i was getting my book signed.. so funny...and yes.. he does look exhausted...even taking breaks to stretch himself.. he was still doing signings at 10pm when we left after dinner! Did he really signed for a thousand?) .. i'd treasure that a whole lot more... doesn't mean that i will give up my autographed books though!

My books that got autographed

Is that a mouse i see before me?

And that's a wolf coming out between the pages

"Are they breeding in line?"

i found that the tips that he shared during the talk at are so much more memorable... (then again.. with old age.. i might forget them.. so better write them down somewhere) such as:

There's no such things as writer's block... just like you don't see show salesmen with salemen's block or doctors with doctors block. What you'd have is bad writing days where you get stuck on a thing or idea and good writing days when "liquid diamond flows from your fingertips".. but at the end of it... when it is all written and re-read.. sometimes.. you can't even distinguish the parts when you have good writing days.

Hence, work on various projects at a time, so that you can get unstuck and work on something different... e.g.. like wat Gaiman did for The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. The most, go and do mundane things like shampooing the cat...a story that he shared which was funny.. cos his 20 pound-cat could defy gravity and crawl up a mirror...a supposedly impossible task.

Finish what you write cos if keep it in the drawers unfinished... elves are not coming in the middle of the night to help you finish it... no matter how much food you leave outside.

And he also shared with us how he was sneaking into a hotel room in the middle of the night, which he was sharing with Terry Pratchett, during one of the conferences, when a voice went," i don't know what god-forsaken hour you call this, but your father and i have been worried sick." and since both Pratchett and himself couldn't sleep... they stayed up and discussed Good Omen's sequel. (Don't quote me on that.)

Anyway, while i was queuing... there was this couple behind me... they saw that i was going to get Gaiman to sign on my copy of The Wolves in the Walls and asked if that was for my children..

Ha!... that's mine.. until the day i die... then i will leave it for my children...

So this brought on a whole lot of sharing from the gentleman about how he actually went to the States and gotten The Rainbow Fish for his nephew... and his sister read the book, fell in love with it.. and decided to keep it for herself. He kinda snorted and said that she didn't know such a book existed (Com'on.. printed in 1995, unless you have a personal interest... people hardly go trampling to look at children's books unless you have read them yourself during your own childhood). The gentleman was very impressed with the book, lamenting that such books, The Rainbow Fish and Joseph Had a Little Overcoat were not available in Singapore...

So, of cos i had to say that they are available... in the libraries and good bookstores... just that at the kind of prices that they are selling at over S$25 per book, parents would hardly get them for the children, especially at Borders...*sigh* i don't want to talk about it but i will. They were selling The Wolves in the Walls at S$38 when Kinokuniya was selling it at S$28!! And think of it this way. At S$6 you can get a McDonald's meal.. and you buy a children's book at S$28??? Using a dollar-to-dollar comparison, in the US, a McDonald's meal cost US$6 and the same book costs US$9. You do the is definitely more affordable for consumers there...and you kinda need to educate the parents here on the different type of good quality books.. award-winning ones..etc.

So he went on to say that The Rainbow Fish was amazing and it had won a Caldecott award.

At that point... i corrected him... it did win awards.. but not the Caldecott...Nononoon... I tried to tell him.. no it didn't...

Yes, he insisted.. it did win the Caldecott award and he remembered seeing the gold embossed badge on the book.

No.. i said... for i was very sure...Funnily.. he didn't say anything about Joseph Had a Little Overcoat... that book did win a Caldecott.

but you know wat ..he still insisted.. so i let him be.... i turned around to my companions and mouthed, "Do NOT test me on my Caldecotts!"

And you know something? I am correct... a quick search revealed that The Rainbow Fish won some awards and they are:
American Bookseller Book of the Year (ABBY) Award
Bologna Book Fair Critici in Erba Prize
Christopher Award
IRA-CBC Children's Choice
North Carolina Children's Book Award
(taken from North-South Books)


In my heart... knowing that the Caldecott awards are for the best illustrations... i can't imagine The Rainbow Fish winning.. yes, it has a nice story.. and shiny gimmicky scales in the book to boot. But, compare it with my all-time favorites honor books such as Stephen T. Johnson's Alphabet City (such realistic paintings that you think that they are photographs), David Shannon's No, David! and last year's winner, Mordicai Gerstein's The Man Who Walked Between The Towers, it doesn't hold a candle..

So yeah..again.. do NOT test me on my Caldecotts....especially when i tell you i can confirm plus guarantee it.

UPDATE: This qas the queue for Neil Gaiman's signing.. and considering that i was way in front.. the end of the queue prob waited for 10 hours!! har har har

Queues for Neil Gaiman's autograph

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