Monday, October 24, 2011

Connections: California Research and IBBY Regional

I'm back from a physically and emotionally exhausting and at the same time an oddly energizing trip to San Francisco, Yuba City, and Marysville, California, with the 9th IBBY Regional Conference in Fresno on the heels of all that travel.

Here is what I've learned about researching the historical background for my fiction related to a very particular period and the cultural fusion of a very particular community:
  1. I pursued all possible sources of information and didn't know until very close to the trip that I'd find the ones I truly needed. For me, this research, much like writing itself, was an act of trust.
  2. I needed to find many perspectives on a single event, story, period, so that triangulation could give me a fuller picture, with greater depth.
  3. I'm very glad I read those many perspectives over a period of nearly three years before I talked to anyone who could be considered a primary source.
  4. Generous, giving people showed up along the way to help me. Trusting the process paid off.
  5. Resources (maps, books, phone books, photographs, and more) showed up to give me answers to questions I hadn't even thought to ask.
  6. I realized I would not know who the right people were to speak to until I'd found them.
  7. When I'd found them, I realized I needed to toss my notes and my prepared questions and just practice the fine art of listening.

Thank you to Sharon Levin for getting me to Fresno and helping me make the transition from research to conference mode!

The 9th IBBY Regional Conference (sponsored by USBBY: the theme was "Peace the World Together With Children's Books") was chock full of inspiration, connections, and marvelous conversations about the rich international world of children's books.

High points for me included:
And now back to breathing for a while, and then to work. But for now, I'm filled with gratitude for the wealth of material this trip has yielded me. And gratitude as well that even in a world where life can be daunting and peace is still a faraway dream, I am able to do the work that I love.


  1. oh dear... IBBY... I've always wanted to get involved with IBBY.

    In any case, THANK YOU! for this post because I didn't know a Brazilian had been awarded the Andersen for illustration last year!! oh boy, now I have to save money to buy some of his books.

    Lately I've been thinking how I could make my passion for children's literature more central in my life, but it's hard (I'm currently an adjunct professor of Portuguese language and Brazilian culture and I have to find out a way to get to teach Children's lit at my university).

    I'm glad you had such a great experience at this conference even though it was so intense and exhausting.

  2. Oh, it looks like Mello was nominated, but didn't win. That's OK. I'm glad to hear about him. That's what being an expatriate for 15 years does to me, it's impossible to get to know all the great children's literature authors and illustrators in my country.

  3. You're welcome, Lilian. And yes, do look for his work--it's really interesting, very imaginative and often using the page and the form of the book itself as part of the narrative.

  4. Thanks for sharing the serendipitous and intangible parts to your research, Uma... it all sounds intriguing.

  5. Your trip and research experience sounds so inspirational. I love PMR's THE DREAMER. Love. Welcome back home, put your feet up.

  6. Thanks, Joanna and Frances. It was inspirational and very touching. Now back to work--no time for putting feet up, I'm afraid, although I did have a cup of tea this morning and stare into the middle distance for awhile.