Mike Curato is a lovely brilliant duckling who SCBWI is lucky to claim as a success story. I have good news and bad news and good news for you about his keynote. Good news: Mike's keynote was AMAZING. Deep and lovely ideas and fantastic imagery. It was funny and heartbreaking and thoughtful and silly. Bad news: There's no good way to blog a summary of that and retain an iota of his special genius delivery. But Good News II, I bet he will do this talk again, so if you weren't here to hear it, make every effort to see him at any other conference, okay? You're in for a planet-sized treat.
Mike sets up each of his published books as an 'assignment' with 'steps' you should follow to do as he's done.
Assignment One: Fulfill your lifelong dream of creating a picture book that captures the essence of everything you love about reading a picture book.
Step 1: YOU MUST EAT CAKE TO WRITE OR ILLUSTRATE A BOOK (nice shout out to my favorite cupcake shop Cupcake Royale (insert heart emoji)).
Step 2: Tell your inner demons to shut up.
Step 3: Think about the haunting or mysterious or endearing drawings and painting of the artists you love.
Step 4: Think about you as a kid, and how happy you were making art then.
Step 5: Draw things that are just for yourself, make things that make you smile. Think about how small you were and how life looked from that perspective.
Step 6: Go to a conference, win an award, get noticed, get a book deal...
We get to hear about EIGHT other assignments, all the amazing books Mike has worked on/is working on. This is where the blog can't repeat the magic of live Mike. Check out his website, see the wonderful follow up books to Little Elliot, his collaborations with amazing people like Samantha Berger, and his forthcoming graphic novel for teens.
Some final notes from Mike: "Don't think of publishing as the be all end all of telling your story. That stunted me as a story teller. You need to get it out. Even if you tell your story to just one person, that's important, make it count. Make this life count."
Great job, Mike (heart emojis squared).