Monday, June 26, 2006

Children's Lit Fan-Girl at Large

Seven years ago…

My mother and I were waiting for my plane to Seattle in the Baltimore-Washington airport. Bede had already gone on ahead earlier, as we had ordered our plane tickets at different times. As we were sitting in the waiting room, I heard over the loudspeaker, “Patricia Polacco, please meet your driver in Bay 2.”

Patricia Polacco is a children’s book writer and illustrator. If you’ve heard of her, I’m impressed, but if you haven’t, I don’t think any less of you. The sound of her name over the loudspeaker in the airport is not likely to elicit any sort of curiosity unless you happen to be a children’s librarian. If your mother also happens to be a children’s librarian, the curiosity factor is bumped up exponentially.

I grinned at my mother, and said, “Let’s go see if it’s really her.”

We made our way down to Bay 2. The area was empty except for a non-descript man carrying luggage and a woman wearing a top-knot. I’d seen pictures of Patricia Polacco, and I knew the top-knot was her signature hair-style.

My mother and I debated as to whether we’d approach Patricia Polacco, and decided that we wouldn’t. Curiosity had been satisfied, after all. Then, I called out, “Ms. Polacco?”

Ms. Polacco turned toward us. I said, “We’re two children’s librarians. When we heard your name over the loudspeaker, we had to find out if it really was you.”

Patricia Polacco beamed. “That was really sweet of you,” she said. We shook hands, chatted for a moment, and then we all went on our different ways.

I had left New York City six weeks earlier, and was visiting my family in Maryland before heading off to Seattle. I had wanted to go to Seattle with an actual library job in hand, but all I had was the tentative promise of temporary work with an agency I had contacted prior to my move. As much as I was looking forward to finally living in the same city as Bede, I brooded about what I was giving up by leaving New York.* The encounter with Patricia Polacco helped me trust that my connections with children’s book writers were not at an end.

*Bede was just as willing to move to New York as I was willing to move to Seattle. However, I had decided earlier that year that I was going to move out of New York, and I was still emphatic about that decision when Bede and I got together. That’s not to say that I didn’t have periodic attacks of cold feet…


Lone Star Ma said...

Of course we know who she is! I love Just Plain Fancy myself. Too cool!

galetea said...

Just Plain Fancy and The Keeping Quilt are some of my favorite children's books!

Noodle said...

Oh, yes, I know who she is! Thunder Cake is a favorite here! :o)

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I'm glad to know that Patricia Polacco is known in the world. I've enjoyed Pink and Say and Thunder Cake in particular. I reviewed In Enzo's Splendid Garden, which had good pictures but abysmal rhyme.