As planned, Amanda and I left Norwich yesterday morning at just about 4:45 a.m. and had a rather nice (as well as uneventful) drive down to New Jersey where we picked up Darci and continued on our way to Baltimore through the rain and increased traffic that you just can't seem to avoid on I-95 here in the Northeast Corridor. Still, we got to our intended destination in plenty of time to hang out and wait for the much-anticipated-by-Amanda book-signing by her very favorite illustrator and inspiration for a lot of her own work, Gris Grimly.
I was rather surprised to see that the venue was a rather tiny independently owned bookstore in a northern neighborhood of Baltimore and was wondering if perhaps the shop used Time Lord technology - aka "bigger on the inside than on the outside" - but nope, it was a cute little book shop in a cute little neighborhood.
We had plenty of time before the signing but not wanting to try to get through the mess that was downtown due to the annual running of the Baltimore Marathon, we more or less camped out at a Starbucks right around the corner from the bookstore and killed time until the book-signing was slated to start -
Finally the designated hour arrived and we, along with about 20-25 other people, gathered in the back room of the bookstore to listen to Mr. Grimly's presentation as well as ask him any questions we might have had. Now, because it's in the Parental Contract that we are required to embarrass our children whenever the opportunity presents, I took that time to ask what advice Gris might have for an aspiring illustrator (as I pointed to Amanda whom I was standing behind as she sat on the floor along with everyone else who was limber enough to do so).
Of course Amanda couldn't see me point her out but it became rather evident as the answer to the question was directed right at her while the others were all laughing a bit and she later accused me of "outing her" but I think perhaps in some small way she was glad that I had. Oh, and for other aspiring illustrators out there, the answer to the question was to draw as much as you can and get a lawyer!
Following the question-and-answer period, books were signed and photos were taken and I think I may have embarrassed Amanda again a time or two but I was simply living up to my parental contractual obligations!
Oh, and lest I forget, the reason that the book-signing was being held at The Children's Bookstore rather than at a Borders or Barnes & Noble is that Gris prefers to support the independent and smaller stores rather than the big "box" stores. It's his way of giving back some and I think it's a great way for readers of his books and fans of his illustrations to meet him.
All in all, I was quite impressed with Amanda's "role model" and am looking forward to the eulogy that he'll be delivering at Edgar Allan Poe's funeral today which is the next "big thing" on our trek to Baltimore. I'll be sure to keep you informed!