Fast forward about thirty years . . .
When I found out that Judy Blume would be in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to receive the 2009 Southern Mississippi Medallion at their annual children's book festival, I just couldn't miss seeing her.
She is a beautiful woman and a beautiful speaker. She began her speech by admitting that she loved her library copy of Madeline so much that she hid it in the back of her toy drawer so that she wouldn't have to return it. She had related so completely to brave little Madeline and the lovely world created by Ludwig Bemelmans. Ms. Blume spoke about her stand against censorship and her desire to write books that she wished had been around when she was young. She spoke endearingly about her mother and the rest of her supportive, wonderful family--even tearing up a few times. She spoke about how parents and children can communicate through literature, and how literature creates a safe place to have those discussions. And, as in all great speeches, Ms. Blume finished her talk by returning to the beginning saying that she constantly strived to get rid of the critics and censors and "go deep inside to that place where [she] can be a brave and strong as Madeline."
Needless to say, she got a standing ovation. And, lots of teary listeners.
After her speech, I was able to stand in line for a few hours and have my books signed. When I finally made it into the room where JUDY BLUME was sitting, I was so nervous that I took about ten pictures that looked like this:
Then, I put down my purse and steadied my camera with both of my hands and was able to get one picture like this:
And, here we are:
Plus, I haven't even told you about all the other amazing, authors at the conference: Louise Bordon, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ashley Bryan, Yuyi Morales, Arthur Yorinks, and John Green. Surely, some magic, genius fairy dust has landed on me. Right?