This is my newest book. I bought it two days ago.
I went to a book signing for Kevin Henkes a couple of days ago and bought Owen from the bookstore sponsoring the event. It's not Henkes's newest book, though. That would be Penny and Her Song, his first easy reader, and the main reason for the signing. But I bought that book a few days earlier. I also took along a couple of his other books that I already had.
I really like Henkes's picture books. They're tender, funny, and friendly. He also writes chapter books, which I haven't read any of, but after listening to him at the signing, I think I will.
Henkes read a couple of his stories (including Penny and Her Song) and then talked about the process he goes through in writing and illustrating a picture book. He then took questions from the audience, and I got called on! I asked an intelligent question in a clear, calm voice, and was quite proud of myself. Listening to Henkes gave me inspiration for my own somewhat faltered writing ambitions.
Afterwards, during the signing process, I hadn't planned on talking to him while he signed my books because I figured I'd said enough during the Q&A. But I hadn't counted on him asking me questions.
Q: Do you want the date and signature?
Q: Do you want the date, too?
A: Oh, just the signature is fine.
Q: How're you doing today?
A: Fine, thank you.
Q: Are you a teacher?
A: ...!?... I ... No.
A: [commence incoherent babbling about not being a teacher, sort of]
You see, it was that last pause that undid me. I figured after I said "No" that it was his turn to talk. He had several options. He could have explained why he asked that question by saying something like, "Oh, well you look like one", or "Oh, the lady before you was a teacher, so I just wondered", or "Oh, the signing is taking place in an elementary school, so I thought it was a logical assumption." Or he could have closed that line of inquiry by saying "I see" and left it at that. But no, he said nothing. And I became confused as I considered his question, and then there was this silence, and he still had two books left to sign, and so I started babbling, which, if you know me, is Nothing New. I'm hoping that I did it sotto voce enough that, with the noise of other people in line, he didn't hear anything I said.
By the time he finished signing my books, I had gathered my scattered wits and was able to give him my hearty thanks. I left the signing feeling pretty good, though, because I had asked that intelligent question, and I'd got four books signed by a talented author and illustrator.