I was super excited to meet Christopher Paul Curtis at the National Book Awards Ceremony this month! I attended without finding out who were on the finalist list. I love surprises…especially if I can control them in some way.
The first thing I would always do when I arrive at the New School (which is where the ceremony is held) is visit the book seller’s table. I do this even before looking at the program. Looking at the books for sell tells me who I will be listening to that night.
When I came across The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis, I asked the vendor if he Mr. Curtis was going to be there that night. Sometimes authors don’t show up to the event.
Yeah, I believe so, he responded.
And, sure enough. He was there!
I was really happy to meet him in person because his writing kept me up at night as a little girl. His books were among the many books my favorite librarian, Mr. Hardy, placed in my hand when I was in middle school.
When I introduced myself to him during the intermission, he looked at me and smiled.
It’s a pleasure meeting you, Lystria. Do you teach?
Yes! I do! How did you know?
I actually didn’t. I didn’t know weather to ask if you taught or how old you were! You look so young.
Thank you, Thank you. I get that I a lot. I teach third grade.
Oh, third grade! I still remember my third grade teacher.
He signed my book and we spoke a little bit about his writing habits. I had remembered some of his habits by reading all of his books closely over and over again as a little girl.
Do you still wake up at 6 to write?
He started smiling. Well, Lystria, it’s getting earlier and earlier.
After we spoke, I met other authors. But meeting him and hearing him speak was by far the most nostalgic and settling for me.
Before I left, he introduced me to his wife Mrs. Curtis and author, Andrea Pinkney. They all looked at me in my eyes and told me how thankful they were that I was teaching.
Thank you for teaching our children. They told me constantly.
I would be lying if I told you I did not leave that event feeling better then when I walked in. The same feeling I felt after reading Bud, not Buddy or The Watsons go to Birmingham had returned to me when I met Christopher Paul Curtis in person.