I was on the fence about heading into downtown Berkeley for the Bay Area Book Festival on Sunday, June 7. It wasn't clear to me what I would be seeing there, aside from a huge circular structure around a dry fountain made from 50,000 books donated from the Internet Archive and dubbed "Lacuna." The website told me about booths and free lectures (but you need to get tickets), demonstrations and book signings. Aw, I thought, it's a book event. Just go.
We parked easily, several blocks away, down University Avenue and walked up to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The white peaks of the tents were visible. I had hoped to say hi to Marissa Moss, an author and illustrator I knew, creator of children's books like Amelia's Notebook and now publisher of Creston Books, but there were people at her table and she was occupied. I knew I had to take a picture of the Lacuna, so we went in that direction to take a look. Many of the books were already gone. The structure was more open air than library now.
We came upon The Forest, an amazing installation, built perhaps as a meditation site when lit up during the night, and it functions as a play site during the day.
But the most wonderful surprise of all was happening upon Liz Climo, creator of a webcomic I follow called Hi, I'm Liz. She's also an animator for The Simpsons (watch for her name in the credits). I walked by a table with her newest book Rory the Dinosaur: Me and My Dad and asked the woman sitting there if she was Liz. "No, she's over there giving a demo. She'll be back to sign books when she's done." We looked over at the folding chair audience and the woman standing in front of it, and yes, recognized the characters the woman was drawing on a newsprint pad.
"What would you like me to draw?" She asked. Children raised their hands. "A giraffe!" said one boy. And then a little girl: "a cat!" Liz asked if the cat should have spots or stripes? "Spots."
Next? Another little girl: "A smiling cat."
We wandered the streets—the festival covered nine square blocks—and talked with Mary Laird at the San Francisco Center for the Book booth. My spouse printed a bookmark on the tabletop platen press and pretended it was a miracle.
We saw Malcolm Margolin of Heyday Books from afar, and picked up a cool sticker at the National Novel Writer's Month (NaNoWriMo) booth.
Finally, we got back to Liz Climo's booth, and I purchased two copies of the book. I told her that my daughter and I were two of her thousand-million blog followers. She asked which characters were my daughter's favorites, and I was stumped. They are all cute. Climo drew the rabbit and bear on a postcard and signed them to my daughter. Then she signed the books. I thanked her for her work and for making our world happier. I think we made each other's day.
Liz Climo has a wonderful book of her webcomics that I promise will make your day, too, called The Little World of Liz Climo.