This morning Tulsi whispered in my ear, “Pssssst, let’s go for a ride on a butterfly.”

“Let’s,” I replied. In case you didn’t already know, you know now who keeps me in check. And busy.

There is much I want to share from the past couple months! Where to begin?

I’ll start with Hattiesburg, Mississippi…I was very fortunate to attend the Fay B. Kaigler Children’s Book Festival (WOW, AMAZING!!!) where I received the Ezra Jack Keat’s New Illustrator’s Award and faced my biggest fear of speaking in public — one planned speech and one surprise-to-me-speech (gulp) in front of authors I admire ten-fold and hundreds of librarians. I think I did ok, but most importantly, I survived.

ALSO, I…

– drooled over Ezra Jack Keat’s original art. OMG!!!! I learned SO much in that hour of staring UP-close!

– am treasuring this book, a gift from my new friends in Hattiesburg. Deborah Pope also read a heartfelt letter from her father, Martin Pope, who was best friends with Ezra since they were kids. You can read Marin’s words here.

– toured the outrageous de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection (whoa–an impressive treasure!). the highlight was a 50ft + (?) long fabric collage mural by Esphyr Slobodkina!! I would love to create a huge mural someday and when I do, I’ll look to this for inspiration!

– was hosted by some lovely, lovely people (!!), and soaked up inspiration, wisdom and stories from extraordinary children’s book authors!

– scratched hashmarks of some 30-something times I was ‘hit’ by surprise from tidal waves of goosebumps during the talks. So much of Jane Yolen’s talk is still playing in my head. I’ve also got Jane’s  “The Alphabetics of Story” on my mind.

– geeked out with librarians :) and loved spending time with the other award winners!  Meg, Micha, and Nicola and I shared about art, writing, inspirations and motherhood.

– was beyond excited to meet Anita Silvey and hear her lecture on the history of the American Picture Book. I am hooked on her Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac!

Can you tell I had a wonderful time?! It was awesome having Patrick and Tulsi with me, too, and this photo reflects how grateful and energized, inspired and dreamy I felt (and still feel). Weeeeee!