by librarian Jackie Reeve

Last Tuesday the Children’s Book Council held a 90-minute Children’s Author Speed Dating event at BookExpo America. This was a chance for librarians and booksellers to meet each other and almost 2 dozen teen and children’s authors. As an elementary school librarian (K-4), this was the perfect event for me to get started at BEA. And it was very much like a short first date with each author, complete with some awkward pauses and some great conversations cut short by that cursed buzzer. I loved it.

Nineteen authors were given three and a half minutes to pitch their upcoming books and themselves to a roundtable of excited book lovers. When the buzzer sounded the authors moved on to the next table, leaving each group with a taste of their process, their new work, and their personalities. But for me, that short little “date” was enough time to become enamored of some new books and some new authors. They were all just so lovely.

No one sits still for photos while speed dating, so I apologize to the authors in advance for any mortifying poses I captured. They don’t deserve such cruelty. From left to right, starting with the top row: James Dashner, Jane Hampton Cook, David A. Adler, Lisa Greenwald, Linda Urban, Laini Taylor, Susan Stockdale, Ashley Spires, Clete Barrett Smith, Maria Rutkoski, Jennifer Roy, Kate McMullan, Tahereh Mafi, Carrie Jones, Jeff Hirsch, and Laura Lee Gulledge.

We didn’t leave with any whole books, but I left with bookmarks and samples, a list of ARCs and galleys to track down at the Expo (I scored 6 of the 19), and several more titles to add to my book order for next year. Plus I was inspired to connect with some of the authors further, through their Twitter accounts and maybe even a visit to my school (budget willing). As exhausting as those 390-second bursts could be, this was by far my favorite part of the Expo. I would recommend it in a heartbeat to anyone who wants to connect with authors beyond a quick fangirl moment (“I loved your last book!”) in the autograph line.

Here is the complete list of authors we “dated”, with their websites and Twitter handles where available:

Jackie Reeve is a school librarian living at the Jersey Shore, married to an Englishman, and loving her crafty life. She catalogs her attempts at being a domestic diva, her globetrotting adventures, and her love for all things kid and book over in The Orange Room at And beware, she has a dangerous obsession with cardigans. You can find her on Twitter @jackiereeve.