I was fortunate enough to earn my master's degree from Simmons College, in the prestigious Children's Literature program. It was something I wanted for years before I ever applied. I remember once I found out that an advanced degree was available in the subject I loved, and the location was on the East coast, I would occasionally let my mind wander, and soon enough I'd be online, reading the course descriptions.
I had a wonderful experieince in my two years at Simmons, and one of the courses I especially looked forward to taking was Picturebook. Whenever I say that to people, they say something along the lines of "How cute!" or "What fun!". It was fun, but it was alot of hard work, too. Aside from the regular types of papers, involving literary theories, styles of art and illustration, and visual literacy, we had a mammoth project: a 100 page paper. Technically, it was 50 two page papers, but it was all due at the same time.
Fortunately, the course was not all work and no play. Near the end of the semester, we took a field trip to the Eric Carle museum in Amherst, MA. We went on a day when author/illustrator Mo Willems was presenting, so were like groupies. We all spent our rent money in the bookstore, and then waited in line for hours to meet him and have him sign our books. I'm a big fan of Elephant and Piggie, and how can anyone not love the Pigeon?
We had a group picture taken with him, and I love this photo. After grad school, many of my classmates moved away. I'm still friends with alot of them on Facebook, but we all moved on with life: marriage, babies, careers, etc. But this picture is a reminder of how we all met in the first place, and why we all love Children's Literature, and the trials and tribulations we went though that no one outside our program can relate to (like having to choose a single sentence of the Victorian novel Tom Brown's Schooldays, and write a paper using New Criticism- uuuuuuuuugggggggghh).