DMA Arts & Letters Live 2014

The Dallas Museum of Art offers a literary series called Arts & Letters Live (including the BooksmART programs "for the young and young at heart") that brings outstanding authors and illustrators to town every year.  I love this programming and have been volunteering for the events for several years.  

The day the season's lineup is announced is always exciting; I open the email and eagerly devour the list to see who's coming ... I know, total nerd.  Each season offers an outstanding offering of children's, young adult, and adult authors.  Just a few of the amazing writers I have had the opportunity to hear through this programming include: E.L. Konigsburg, Marcus Zusak, Kathryn Stockett, Daniel Handler, Maira Kalman, Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, Eoin Colfer, and Lois Lowry.  This year is no different, offering an excellent array of talent (including S.E. Hinton, author of The Outsiders who will be here on April 24!).  

I've attended two BooksmART programs this year and both were fabulous:

Oliver Jeffers

I have longtime been a fan of Jeffers' work.  It is whimsical and charming, and I love his distinctive handwriting (always a weakness with me).  Mr. Jeffers visited the museum on February 9, and the illustrator himself proved to be just as charming as his books and artwork. First off, he has an Irish accent so the room fell in love with him right off, but he also has a delightful sense of humor, a passion for what he does, and a lovely appreciation for his fans.  He did a stellar job of presenting to a crowd that ranged in age from 2 to 82 and kept all completely entertained.  And during the book signing, he drew something special in every book and had a word for every person who waited for a signature.

One thing I loved that he said is that everyone is an artist when they are young.  Some just stop.  When young artists came through the line, he would tell them, "Just keep going".  I like that. I wish I had kept going. 

Here is a video he showed at the beginning that shows his studio and gives a taste of his fun personality: 

Tim Federle

Tim Federle is new on the scene but he has definitely made a big splash.  He published his first book Better Nate Than Ever in 2013 to stellar reviews and much critical acclaim. This autobiographically inspired debut novel tells the story of Nate, a kid growing up with big dreams in a small town; he knows that life will get better if he can just get to New York City.

After reading several reviews and tweets about this novel, I read it last year and loved it.  It's heartfelt and hilarious.  Although I have never felt the draw of the stage, I could definitely relate to Nate's desire to find his place in the world... particularly in the midst of middle school!  And writers with comic talent always have me at hello.  ;)  So, I was thrilled when I saw Tim Federle's name on the season's schedule and was doubly thrilled when Carolyn Bess, Director of Programming and Arts & Letters Live, asked me to introduce him.  What an honor! 

Well, what a treat it was when Mr. Federle visited on March 2.  He was an absolute riot.  I
loved him from the minute I met him, as did the entire room.  We were rolling from the moment he began.  Unfortunately, Dallas experienced a crazy cold snap that day and icy roads kept many from attending.  But, the author took it all in stride and the small crowd that attended (what he described as, "almost enough for a party bus") enjoyed every moment!  It was a side-splitting afternoon celebrating writing, following dreams, and tap dancing that was more than worth bundling up and facing the elements.  

If Tim Federle is ever in your area, I advise you to be first in line to see this talented, hilarious guy!  Librarians, he will be at both TLA and ALA annual conferences this year.  :)

Side note: Tim Federle is the creative genius behind Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist which I have previously mentioned is a favorite gift of mine.  He is now at work on Hickory Daiquiri Dock which will likely be my new go-to gift for new parents.  ;)  

If you live in the Dallas area, I highly recommend taking advantage of the Arts & Letters Live series.  Most of the programs are free, but you do have to reserve tickets ahead of time.  Click here for the season at a glance.  Hope to see you at an upcoming event!

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