Some parts of my childhood are still alive – and vibrantly so.
I remember my grade four teacher reading Judy Blume‘s Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing to my class. Apart from frequent laughter, I don’t remember my specific reactions to it. I did, however, order the book from the Scholastic Book Club, eagerly anticipating its arrival. It’s one of the first books I’ve ever loved.
I still have that book. Heck, I’ve read it twice in my adult years, including once in the last week.
Needless to say, when I found out that Judy Blume would be making a stop in Toronto in support of her latest book, In The Unlikely Event, I was excited and pleasantly surprised. Thanks to the Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon, I’ve had the privilege of seeing people like Kazuo Ishiguro, David Suzuki and Chris Hadfield for free. Mr. Hadfield’s appearance has been my favourite Appel Salon event for a few years. People like Bruce Cockburn have come close to topping it, but still, it would take a lot for someone to actually clear that bar.
…Until last Monday evening.
The atmosphere was charged long before the event started. I arrived at about 2:40 p.m. thinking that I’d be the one to start the lineup. That would have been true if there weren’t about five other people already in line before I even set foot in the library. Still, at least half of the fun with any given Appel event involves waiting for the doors to open, so I had no complaints about doing that for three hours and twenty minutes.
Before we were let into the Salon an hour before the starting time, the line stretched to the elevators and coiled into the stacks. If you can’t visualize it due to having never visited the Reference Library, I’ll describe it this way: the lineup was long.
As for the actual event, it was far from being a disappointment. I can think of at least a few which didn’t live up to my expectations.
Left to right: Rachel Giese and Judy Blume
I’m struggling to remember specifics; that’s what I get for waiting a few days to write this blog entry. Besides, people like Michelle Lynne and Lindsay Reeder have got me beat on that already; that’s one tag team I don’t feel like going up against, thank you very much.
Here’s what I do remember:
- Feeling absolute joy as Rachel Giese interviewed Judy Blume. This wasn’t an event where I struggled to stay awake; I was paying attention and keenly alert to what was being said. To echo a quote from Ms. Giese, it’s Judy freakin’ Blume!
- The Q&A session, where one woman courageously defied her stuttering to thank Judy for her influence. That was easily one of the most emotional moments I’ve witnessed at any book event.
- The faux time travelling. This event happened on a Monday, but for some reason, I kept thinking that it was Wednesday.
- Being on cloud nine long after the event was over.
I’ve lost count of the number of Appel Salon events I’ve attended, but as of Monday, I’ve got a new all-time favourite. It was definitely a night to remember.