I've been to Kensington Gardens to visit the Peter Pan statue twice, I visited the Paddington bear staue (and gift shop) at Paddington Station, I've walked through the wall at Platform 9 and 3/4. I've been to Almanzo Wilder's home in Malone, NY, Orchard House in Concord, MA. I've made it a point to go to book festivals and discussion panels and book signings, and I have many wonderful memories, but I never wrote about them.
So here's one from 2009.
That year marked my aunt's (who is also my godmother) 60th birthday. I had already been planning to visit Colorado, and before long, it developed into a family reunion/birthday bash. My aunt is one of the people responsible for nurturing my love of reading. For as long as I remember, she was sending me books, specifically books illustrated by Michael Hague. She lives in the same city as him in Colorado, and she would often attend his book signings.
I think these books is the reason I have developed a bit of an obsession with attending author signings. You can love a book for any reason: the story, the characters, the illustrations, your own response to it. And it's nice to have a book that you love signed by the author, because it's special. But I have never bought an autographed book that was not autographed while I was standing right there, watching (like on Ebay or Amazon, or pre-ordered from a store). It just doesn't feel right to me. It's like the book was signed for someone else, anyone else, and I interfered.
It has to be the right combination: a book I love, an author that interests me, locale, cost. . .but when all those come together, it's fantastic.
It just happened that Mr. Hague, and his wife Kathleen, who authors many of the books he illustrates, were doing a signing one day during my visit to Colorado.
I made it a priority, and I was not disappointed. The line was not long, but the wait was a) because I was so excited and b) because unlike many authors/illustrators who just scribble their name with a generic 'best wishes' or 'happy reading', Mr. Hague takes his time on every single book inscription. I have books by him adorned with beautiful, almost full page sketches. The book are beautiful already because of the illustrations, and the original sketches inside make them special, but the "For Erin" inscription, and the experience of meeting him, make them personal treasures.