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Celebrating Judy Blumesday in NYC….WITH JUDY BLUME!

Things have been crazybusy lately, so I’ve only had a chance to post about this now. And of course I NEED to post about this, because how often am I going to have a chance to say that I shared a stage with the amazing JUDY BLUME?!? Needless to say, I was a wee bit excited:

Thanks SO much to Drew Richardson and Symphony Space‘s Thalia Kids’ Book Club for inviting me to help celebrate Judy Blume’s 80th birthday last month in New York City – you can read the Publishers Weekly coverage here and School Library Journal article. I participated in the afternoon event for young readers along with Rachel Vail (Well, That Was Awkward), Soman Chainani (The School For Good and Evil), Jacqueline Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming), Colby Minifie (actor in Jessica Jones, Glee and other productions) and (of course) Judy Blume herself. 

Symphony Space, by the way, is such a great venue. If you’re ever in NYC, do check out their events

But back to Judy Blumesday. I arrived SUPER early because I didn’t want to take the chance of not being able to find a cab or getting lost on the Metro. I immediately spotted the Judy Blume poster:

And LOOK! My name’s on the poster, too!

Here’s a selfie I took with Colby, Rachel and Soman just before Judy arrived (Jackie Woodson was delayed but she arrived just in time, yay!):

In case some of you didn’t know, I illustrated some of the reissued Judy Blume chapter books and middle grades published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster back in 2014. Here’s how I became a Judy Blume illustrator and you can read how I worked with Simon & Schuster to create a new look for Judy Blume classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

I am delighted to report that THIS time, I did NOT burst into tears upon meeting Judy in person again. We even had a chance to chat for a bit in the Green Room, and she told me that she’s carrying SAM & EVA in her bookstore!!!!! 

My favorite part of the event: seeing Judy talk to the young readers during the Q&A. It was the first time I had seen her interact with kids and what struck me most was how she answered their questions as if they were grown-ups. No talking down, no changing her tone or how she expressed herself. 

Rachel Vail was a wonderful moderator, leading the initial discussion between Soman ChainaniJacqueline Woodson and me about Judy’s work. Colby Minifie did SUCH a good reading from Otherwise Known As Sheila The GreatNow I want to reread that book!

I talked about how I created the illustrations for Judy’s books. Then Rachel gave the kids a writing prompt for them to work on.

After about five minutes, some of them volunteered to read aloud their work — I was SO impressed, wow.

Another highlight of an evening packed with highlights: having my agent (Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd) in the audience during this event, plus I got to meet her husband:

Another familiar face in the audience: Mindy Yuksel. It was great to meet her sons (one of whom had entered my Look Again Found Object Art Challenge last summer), who presented me with a box of Turkish Delight (yum).

I was honored to be interviewed by Scholastic News Kids reporter, Josh Stiefel:

Such an amazing day. Drew Richardson of Symphony Space was also kind enough to give me comp tickets for the evening event, so I took my writing critique partner, Carmella VanVleet. Here’s the program:

So many hilarious and moving readings, observations, video birthday greetings. And we ran into my Simon & Schuster editor and his wife in the green room! Also glimpsed Molly Ringwald but didn’t have the nerve to approach her.

What I loved: that so many of us were from different backgrounds, had different experiences growing up, but we were all there because we adored Judy Blume and her work. You can find out more about Judy at her website, (lots of content for adults as well as young readers!).

You can read more about the Judy Blumesday celebration at Symphony Place in Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal.

And here’s a music video that Amanda Palmer that debuted at the event:

Makes me misty every time I hear this song.

THANK YOU, Symphony Space, for inviting me to be part of Judy Blumesday! Do check out their Thalia Kids’ Book Club events and adult Thalia Book Club events. Did you know they have a Thalia Book Club Camp for kids?