Score One for Grammy
BY PAT BURNS aka Grammy
Ever since my 11-year old granddaughter became an avid reader, it’s become slightly problematic spending time with her. Rather than anything else, and that includes spending time with me, Skye now prefers to lock herself away with a book. Her favorite book this summer is the sixth in the New York Times bestselling series and the highly anticipated conclusion of The Land of Stories by an American author, actor, and singer, Chris Colfer.
After watching her impatiently pace back and forth waiting for the Amazon delivery of Worlds Collide – I knew she was addicted. When the book finally arrived, Skye disappeared into her room for a day and a half. She emerged and announced, with both excitement and sadness, “It’s finished.”
Wanting to be able to share her love of this book series, I researched Chris Colfer and found out that he’s not only a bestselling author but also one of the stars of the hit TV show GLEE. While reading his The Land of Stories website, I discovered that he was on a country- wide book tour for his latest book in the series, Worlds Collide.
Wait, what? His final stop of the tour is an hour’s drive away in Los Angeles, California? Hot dayum! I think I found a way to make Skye happy and add to her delight. After checking her hectic summer schedule with her mom, my daughter, I purchased tickets for his lecture and book signing. When I told her we were going to see her idol and that she could invite two friends, I have never seen her so happy.
The day finally arrived. Three 11-year old girls, dressed in Worlds Collide character costumes, breathlessly piled into the backseat of my car. The girls chatted away non-stop for the drive to Los Angeles. They talked about the book series, which one of the characters was their favorite, and how much they hoped they would actually meet Chris Colfer.
For every event ticket purchased you received an autographed book and a raffle ticket for a chance to win a VIP meeting with Chris at the end of his program. If you dressed as one of the book’s characters, you were given an extra raffle ticket. As the drive continued and the destination grew closer, the girls would intermittently hurl a high-pitched, sisterhood squeal in unison. The excitement was simply too much for them to suppress.
As a footnote here, it is my great pleasure to be the co-founder of the annual and very successful Orange County Children’s Book Festival. As a result, I have a little clout from time to time with authors, illustrators, publishers and better than average access to events. As soon as I purchased tickets for all of us, I reached out to the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and to the book store hosting the event, Children’s Book World, in a final effort to be given a VIP ticket. Bummer! I bombed on both attempts. Skye, her friends and I were not getting any special treatment!
Chris was presenting his talk at the Landmark Regent Theater. Perfectly situated next door was a long-standing restaurant Barney’s Beanery where we had a pre-event dinner. We sat on the outdoor sidewalk patio and watched girls, ranging in ages of 9-14, parade past us, forming a line along the walkway to the theater’s entrance. One of those girls was another Chris Colfer fan who was good friends with the girls so she and her mom joined us for dinner. Each of the four girls, dressed up in costume, were so thrilled to join the line of 300 people and even to wait for another hour before seeing their favorite author.
The one-hour program delighted everyone. To this obsessed audience of fans, Chris read from his book, played a trivia game, held a Q&A and ended with reading from his epilogue. Then it was time for the raffle drawing. There would only be five raffle tickets pulled for the opportunity of a one-on-one meeting with Chris and each winner would be allowed to bring one person with them.
Each girl held two raffle tickets. As a companion, I was given one ticket instead of an autographed book. They started to call the numbers. As tension mounted, Skye and her friends grew worried as each raffle winner squealed with excitement. Truth be told, I wasn’t even checking my number since the winners jumped up so quickly and ran to the front of the theater. Ticket number five was called and no one squealed. They announced it a second time. Then I thought, that kind of sounded like my single ticket number. “Last time” was announced.
As the raffle numbers were read for the third and final time, I checked my numbers. “It’s me!” I hollered in my grownup squeal. All four girls turned their heads towards my seat and looked at me in complete shock and glee. Their dreams had astonishingly come true.
Convincing the organizer to bend the “two people per ticket” rule, and allow all six of us (four girls, a mom and a grandmother) to meet Chris was a minor miracle. But, this event was miraculous from start to finish. It’s a miracle that these girls would rather hold and read a book than play electronic games, that they would passionately attend an author presentation, and that it was close enough to drive to and that I would WIN the raffle. For sure, the heavens smiled down on us.
When I heard them thank me over and over again, and tell me this was the BEST DAY OF THEIR LIFE, I knew I had scored a big one for my granddaughter and let’s face it, for me, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pat Burns (aka Grammy) is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Orange County Children’s Book Festival; a Celebrity Journalist, Film Reporter, the author of Grandparents Rock®. Also, a happy grandmother of four.