I just returned home, a bit tired but charged with ideas and feelings of camaraderie. I wish I could personally thank all of the presenters, planners, and everyone at ALSC who made the Institute possible, but since I can’t I hope everyone feels a sense of satisfaction for their roles in this successful event. One person I would like to thank is Dan Rude, who keeps us– and everyone else– informed about ALSC events with blogs, press releases, photos, videos, and all manner of communication. Dan’s humor and willingness to always “go the extra mile” is greatly appreciated. Thanks Dan, and everyone!
Doreen Rappaport, April Pulley Sayre, and Bryan Collier at the closing ALSC Institute session were each captivating. They took us through emotional experiences of fascination, wonder, awe, and sheer unbelievability as they told some of the real stories behind their words and art. Doreen explained that her father’s musical background inspires her to find the “voice and shape of telling each story.” Bryan shared that his watercolor and collage quilt-like images are inspired by his grandmother, who was a quiltmaker. For April, it is nature. Doreen’s talk touched us, April got us chanting (yes, all of us), and Bryan took us to the verge of tears. This was a powerful end to a powerful and enlightening Institute.
The evening reception ended a bit early due to inclement weather. Nevertheless, we are undaunted in sharing ideas, conversation, and catching up with colleagues. I was pleased to be able to chat with Sam Bloom, former Newbery Committee member, among other old and new friends. Sam has been a strong member/supporter of ALSC, and observing him become more and more enthusiastic as he discusses books is invigorating. I am excited to add Sam’s recommendations to my towering and gravity-defying stack of “must reads.” Our spirits are good, even if the weather isn’t, and we look forward to an early breakfast and another opportunity to interact with our friends and colleagues in this warm and friendly environment.
Erin Reilly-Sanders created a strong argument for applying what we know about picturebooks to understanding graphic novels, since they are both sequential art. She also shared the term “graphica,” which can be used instead of “graphic novel” to clarify that graphic novels are not always novels, but this is a format. Applying the concepts about comics/graphic novels from Scott McCloud, Gene Yang, and others, we were treated to discussions with hands-on samplings of how the art works in picturebooks such as Olivia, and graphic novels such as A.L.I.E.E.E.N. Of course I anticipated that her presentation would be terrific, because I knew Erin as a student at my institution, Miami University, when she immersed herself in the study of architecture and also children’s literature– a unique melding of structure and form that shows in Erin’s in-depth perspectives. ~Brenda Dales