It's a face-freezing cold kind of day in New York City, but that's not keeping anyone from basking in the warmth of this thrilling event, the 16th of its kind in the Big Apple.
We're looking forward to keynotes by Newbery Medal winner Kwame Alexander; bestsellers James Dasher, Anthony Horowitz, and Kami Garcia; and picture book revolutionaries Herve Tullet and Laura Vaccaro Seeger, as well as breakout sessions by top editors, agents, and art directors.
SCBWI Co-Founder Steve Mooser welcomed a record number of attendees:
"It's no mystery why you did make the decision to come. A conference on an iPad is never the same as in person. What makes the difference here are the friendships you make, the personal connections, some of which last a lifetime."
Lin Oliver reminded us that we're here to practice our work, to network, and to make friends. She asked us to turn to the person on the right and get acquainted—and the volume in the room went to 11.
There are 1,133 people at this conference, coming from 47 states in the U.S., and 16 additional countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.
No one is here from Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma.
"This is the 12th year that we've had no one from North Dakota here, so I propose a constitutional amendment to eliminate North Dakota from the union," Lin said.
The best represented state is New York, followed by California and Massachusetts. She gave New Jersey a break on account of their bridge-closing governor (zing!).
Thirty-two percent of attendees are published authors and illustrators, and more than 375 illustrators are here—a new record. There is also a clown, a bartender, and a writer-dentist. (A clown, a bartender, and a writer-dentist walk into a conference...)
And away we go!