I’m so honored to be presenting at the International Research into Children’s Literature conference this year!

The venue for this international academically oriented conference changes every two years. This year it’s in Toronto and they invited me to be on a panel with some other authors.

The thing is, even though it’s tempting to just go for my own session and skip the rest of the conference, I decided instead to take advantage of the free registration and attend as many sessions as I can. So I braved the traffic and the heat and went last night to the opening keynote and boy am I glad I did!

The opening keynote basically sets the mood for the entire conference, it’s very important. The past presidents of the IRSCL each gave ten minute talks about various aspects of children’s literature.

It was held in a huge auditorium and the program began with a native ceremony and an acknowledgement that we were on the lands of Canada’s indigenous people.

A very nice touch!

I sat down and looked around and realized, wow, for an international conference, I’m the only one wearing hijab!

And then I looked around again and checked skin color and from where I sat I was the darkest person in the room!


It’s a weird feeling to be that different!

Mostly I’m used to it but this is an INTERNATIONAL conference! People came from all over the world! Why were they so white? And part of me wondered if maybe only white people really care about children’s literature and then I thought, no way! And remembered the Asian Festival of Children’s Content.

I’m thinking that IRSCL should partner with them, the work they’re both doing overlaps in spots!

There was a reception afterwards with a tabla playing duo (another nice touch!) and finger foods.

I needed some water! But they only had some kind of fruit punch and then diet coke (it was too late for caffeine for me) and a bunch of wine and beer–out of the question of course!!!!

Finally a friend showed me a water fountain and I filled up a cup.

Ended up having a fascinating conversation with some of the delegates and while I went to get some of the fruit punch I met a delegate from Washington who said she’d seen me at the NCTE Atlanta and that she ‘loves me’. She was the first of several fans I got to meet that evening.

This might sound pathetic but it felt SO good to meet people who take the work you do so seriously!

In the midst of all the rejections, failures and frustrations that lie in trying to compose a new work of art, meeting people who love you because of your work feels amazing!

It had been a rough month!

I’d had quite a few negative experiences too personal to get into and then there was this…

I find life is like this. You get the negative and you get the positive and even though you learn a lot more from the negative you need the positive, just to give you hope, to keep on going.

My panel is on Monday afternoon down at the Lillian H. Smith branch of the Toronto Public Library. It houses the Osbourne collection and is one of the nicest branches in the city!

Should be fascinating! Can’t wait to hear what the other panelists say! I already know what I’m going to say.