I'm generally a pretty gregarious person. But despite this, presentations are punctuated by butterflies and queasiness. I go through a cycle of frenzied preparation, to denial that I have to do this, to resignation and nausea. But also, with each one, I have been reassured by the kids how I’m doing. And that’s just the best reward of all.
At one presentation earlier this year, a little crew of five, four boys and a girl, sat in the front row and took charge of calling out different challenges for me. There were sisters in triplicate, dressed identically, who occupied the next row, while the tiniest ones sat in their moms’ laps. First, we read the story. When I came about 2 feet of the front row and read, “Centipede Dragon was ill,” eyes widened and there was an audible gasp from the girl. Then I gave a 3-minute talk about how I came up with the idea, for that all-important second audience of parents and Librarian. And finally, the Magical Scale Challenge! The kids sat quietly while listening to the story, and then were rapt with attention while wiggling to the music during the many rounds of the Challenge. It was a good 20-25 minutes into the presentation before some natives got restless. Anyone in the industry knows that’s a COUP.
There was one boy in particular who will, truth be told, make someone a very lucky partner some day. He was the most supportive little man, encouraging me the whole time, telling me that the car I tried to make “didn’t look so bad,” assuring me to take all the time I needed to complete each challenge, and at the end of the presentation, said it was the best one he’d ever been to.
And so comes the moral of the story. If you are in it to sell books but you don’t want to give presentations, you just better not be in it.