The Battle of the Children's Book Bands was really really fun. As you know, if you've been reading the blog regularly, I got to be a 'celebrity' judge for this New York Public Library fundraiser event. The judges were me, Ann Brashares, Maureen Johnson and Jennifer Belle.
Basically, there are three bands made up of people from the children's book world. These bands -- The Effin' Gs (a pun on what early reader copies of picture books are called: F&Gs), Mr. MacGregor (named after Peter Rabbit's nemesis) and Tiger Beat (named after a magazine that had, like, fold-out posters of Scott Baio that you could put up on your wall, and --
Tiger Beat still exists!!! I had no idea. Why don't we ever promote books in there, you publishing people?
(On a side note, I am ALL OVER this month's issue of Justine magazine. Ruby's advice column and a big photo of me and all the Roo books!)
Ok. Back to Tiger Beat! If you don't know who Scott Baio is/was, that doesn't matter. He was the Justin Bieber of his day. Or the Joe Jonas. You get the idea.
Back to the BATTLE. Tiger Beat is named after the magazine.
Über Librarian Betsy Bird (AKA Fuse No. 8) was our hostess. In the green room beforehand, she provided M&Ms and sorted all the green ones into a bowl in case we wanted to make wishes or have any of the other experiences green M&Ms have to offer.
I ate THE MOST OF ANYONE. (I hadn't had dinner. Or sleep. Also, I am greedy.)
It was great to meet Ann Brashares, whose Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants needs no introduction; and also Jennifer Belle, whose (decidedly adult) novel Going Down is a great read. Maureen Johnson is always exciting in her own way, but I totally know her. She was wearing fishnets!
Also lounging were various band members, a four month old baby, a 9 year old girl, various and sundry librarians. (Yes, I ate more M&Ms than all of them.)
Then we judges trooped out into the audience and the Effin' Gs came on stage. One important thing, though: we judges didn't really know what we were supposed to do! We were supposed to be amusing in between sets, and then JUDGE. That's all we knew. My plan was to judge based on tightness of pants. If that judging system had prevailed, Tiger Beat would have won, because Libba Bray (Printz-winning author of Going Bovine and spangle-jacketed frontwoman) was wearing some seriously excellent and tight ones.
Okay, The Effin' Gs were great. My favorite song was about "that guy at the party you really want to take home -- and then you realize, everyone else at the party wants to take him home too" -- a song called Randolph Caldecott. Editor Namrata Tripathi was the frontwoman, and she is beyooootiful and great. Editor Lynne Polvino on bass and vocals, John Adamo on drums (I think) and another guy who was also in Mr. MacGregor on guitar (but I don't know which one! See below. Sorry, dude!)
Then I got up and chatted with Betsy about the band, and how they reminded me a little of Veruca Salt, another band with a kid-lit referencing name. She quizzed me on the contents of my iPod, which are too embarassing to mention here.
Up next, Mr. MacGregor. The dudes in the band were Dennis Shealey, Mo Botton and Jim Thomas, but they didn't introduce themselves and I couldn't figure out which was which. They had a much more thrash-metal sound (as Maureen said later, they were nice and screamy) -- but their lyrics were very YA. "Are You There God? It's me, Margaret!" was my favorite, but they also did a great love song to Grilled Cheese.
Last, Tiger Beat. I've seen these guys before. They are awesome: Libba Bray on vocals; Natalie Standiford on bass (her new book is Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters); Daniel Ehrenhaft on guitar (my fave of his is Friend is Not a Verb); and Barnabas Miller on drums and (author of Seven Souls and Break the Surface and apparently website-free).
Libba is a great performer. She struts around and dances and banters -- she's just amazing. She's also my friend, so it was really sweet to see her in this element. Her voice was especially awesome on the "soul medley" -- which included Wishing Well and Baby, I Love You and something else awesome I am forgetting right now. Then at the end Miller came out from behind the drum kit and sang Purple Rain. He totally rocked it.
Belle and Brashares didn't chat as much as Maureen and I did, because there was no band changeover when they came up, but they were charming and then we went back to decide the WINNER.
Only, we realized: our purpose in being there was to raise money for the NYPL. Not to actually judge. So we announced that our favors as judges could be bought -- and audience members should pony up cash for the band they thought should win. All money went to the library (although some looked likely to disappear down MJ's bra...) and the Effin' Gs were declared winner.
Then we stood around and schmoozed with the exceedingly well-dressed dudes who head up NYPL's teen programs, and MJ and I went out and ate avocado rolls.
I had so much fun. Sometimes I can't believe the awesomeness of my job.
P.S. Feeling like supporting the NYPL now? Please do!