I have a thing for books. I mean, duh, I’ve written one, but it goes way beyond that. Bookstores are my happy place. I’d rather drop a wad of cash on a stack of books than a pile of new clothes any day. I love to surround myself with books and tend to feel a little off in homes where I can’t see a single tome anywhere. Books. They’re part of my lifeblood. And I’m working hard to make them part of my children’s lifeblood too. I buy them books more frequently than I should admit to my husband. (I can hear him right now moaning “What’s wrong with just going to the library??”) I let them pile books around their rooms. I let them leave books in every bathroom, in the car, on the dining room table. I almost always let them read “just one more page” at night. And I let them see just how much I love and value literature. I’m not picky about what they read. Fiction. Non-fiction. Poetry. Little kid books. Picture books. And yes, graphic novels and comic strips. All the graphic novels and comic strips they want. Because books are books, words are words, and whatever helps them foster that love for reading, helps them feel like books are a safe haven to dive into when the world gets to be a bit too much to handle, works for me. They love a good graphic novel. They love a good comic strip. I endorse it all heartily. So much so that this week we went to not one, but two book signings in a row to see people who draw as much as they write and enchant our lives with their art. On Sunday we braved the heat and the crowds to hear from Stephan Pastis, author of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip. We arrived just on time for the event, but not early enough to get a “good” spot in the book signing line. Unfazed, the girls were patient almost two hours without uttering a single complaint about either the heat or the wait and finally beamed as he signed their new book and posed for a quick photo.
Then, Monday, we said to heck with bedtime and ventured to a local independent book store to hear from Ben Hatke, author of, among other things, the amazing Zita the Spacegirl and Gene Luen Yang, author of a crazy number of graphic novels. The two authors interviewed each other and answered a ton of questions, keeping the audience highly entertained, but the highlight of the evening was when C showed Ben one of her comic strips and he laughed.
And really that’s why we attend these things. For inspiration. Because nothing says “You too can write a book!” or “You too can draw comics!” more than saying “Look! These people do this every day! They’re people like you and me! They started drawing when they were kids like you! And they got to this point because they just kept on going.” We rode the high of Ben’s giggle all the way out of the store where M whispered to me that one girl sitting near him had been doodling and he couldn’t believe how talented she was. I asked him if he’d recognized her, and he mumbled something about a kid running up to her and asking her if she was the author of the Babysitters Club graphic novel series. She was. So, of course, we had to turn right back around, because it’s not every day that you get to meet not just one, but two of your idols in one day. Raina Telgemeier could not have been sweeter about our fangirl onslaught and all the requisite gushing and even posed for a photo with the girls, who, at this point could barely contain themselves. To be fair, in this photo, Little L is trying to match the smile on the cover of Smile, but I don’t think it was much of a stretch.
Sometimes you go to book signings and the authors aren’t exactly what you expected. It’s a treat when they are just as amazing as you thought they’d be. Without a doubt we met some true comic book heroes, not just authors. Today, all books purchased over the weekend have been read and are being reread and little fingers are hard at work drawing more comics. All in all, I deem the two events an unmitigated success and another great stop along the road to growing lovers of books, reading, and writing. Go books!