Last Saturday morning while we were all eating breakfast, the grownups lingering at the kitchen table and over the local paper for a few moments before the day's list of activities would begin, Robert came across a small advertisement. It announced a talk and book signing at Mt. Holyoke College by someone who has been a household name around here for many years: Rick Riordan
We were first introduced to Mr. Riordan (rhymes with "fireman" he explained) several years ago while visiting our dear friend, Kelly, at the school in San Antonio, TX where she was teaching middle school reading classes. Living in San Antonio, Mr. Riordan had visited her school, and she kept copies of his book The Lightning Thief for her students to read. She handed us one of those copies that day, and our lives have never been the same!
All three of my kiddos have read almost every book he has written since then ~ one complete series, and the beginnings of two that are still being written. It began with my boys, but now Kayla has taken the reading baton and run with it! She, like they once did, will count the days until the next book comes out, saving money for the hardback, because who in their right mind would wait for the paperback??? Not a true fan ~ that's for sure.
Rick's beloved kids' novels are about Greek, Roman, and Egyptian gods among other things (or so I've heard ~ I haven't read them!), but take place in today's world. The main characters in the books are modern kids, which makes them especially appealing to today's youth.
So, when Robert slid the advertisement my way, I couldn't believe it, and knew immediately that this was a MUST DO for our girl, who had written him a letter last year and was still anticipating a reply. I called her into the kitchen, showed her the paper, and after a moment to take it all in, she about started to hyperventilate!
"Can we go? Can we go? Oh, please can we go?" she quickly fired off.
We began making plans when I remembered that she had a previous engagement that I hadn't even told her about ~ an afternoon treat at Starbucks and other downtown locales with her two special Sunday School teachers. I have this habit of not telling my kids about upcoming events until the day before or day of, because the endless barrage of questions prior to the event becomes too much for me to graciously deal with. So in the middle of our planning, I let out a big, "Oh no!" Fearful of what I might say, Kayla asked what the matter was. I explained about the afternoon girls' date, and she was torn, but also really didn't want to miss this opportunity. I called Virginia, one of the teachers and sweet friend from church, to see if it might work for us to meet up with them later, but quickly realized that this book signing and talk was going to take several hours.
Virginia was so kind in encouraging us to go and not worry about breaking our previous commitment, so we went forward with our plan.
We arrived at Mt. Holyoke at 1:30p.m. and waited in line for the doors to open at 2p.m. Kayla's friend Maddie, and fellow Rick Riordan fan, met us there and saved us a great spot in what became a VERY long line. The deal was, that in order to even be in the line to have a book signed after his talk, you must purchase his new book, The Throne of Fire, there at the auditorium, once the doors opened. Once that requirement was fulfilled, you were allowed to have him sign one other book. We were a bit saddened by this news, as Kayla had already purchased the book THE DAY it come out, which had only been a few days prior to this event. Another friend, though, asked us to purchase her a book and have it signed, which meant that Kayla could get her friend's book signed AND her own book as well. Whew!
Well, the entering the auditorium and the purchasing of books took all of about 10 minutes, which meant that we had 50 minutes to wait for Mr. Riordan's arrival on stage. It was the perfect opportunity to READ! Kayla was nearly finished with her book and got even closer to the end, and Maddie got a great start on hers in that time. (Mom used the time to fiddle around with her camera and learn some of its many features that she did not know existed, because she won't sit down and pop the CD-Rom into her computer and read.)
When Rick finally arrived on stage, he talked for about 15 or 20 minutes about how he got his ideas for his children's novels ~ telling bedtime stories to his little boys. Then he gave another 15-20 minutes for kids to ask questions. We learned that his favorite god in mythology is Poseidon, and that in order to try and accommodate the growing demand for his books, he has now scaled back the time it takes him to complete a novel from one year to six months. This was still unacceptable to most of the audience...
"Why do we still have to wait SO LONG for the next book to come out?" was the question that several kids asked.
Rick laughed and said that there was NO WAY he could write as fast as the kids could read.
"The Throne of Fire just came out on Tuesday," he said, "and I was getting phone calls and emails THAT EVENING from kids who were already finished with it! Sorry guys. There's just no way I can keep up with you!"
He cut the questions off after the 15-20 allotted minutes, but told the kids they could ask one more when they came up to have their book signed.
Kayla was ready, and instead of the pressure filled question she WANTED to ask: "Why haven't you written me back yet?", she chose a much more diplomatic approach: "How many letters do you usually get?"
"I get about 500 letters a week," he said.
Wow! Kayls is now completely satisfied with the personalized autograph by, and the in-person meeting with one of her heroes. A special day indeed!