We spent Memorial Day in beautiful Austin, Texas at the Texas State Solo & Ensemble Contest at the University of Texas. There were hundreds and hundreds of high school kids from all over Texas there, giving up their holiday weekend to perform. Small ensembles dotted the benches and walls outside the music building. They were warming up and practicing. I got chills listening to a trumpet trio play Bugler's Holiday.
One of the benefits of an Austin excursion is fantastic food (yummm...Trudy's) and the opportunity to visit Book People Bookstore. We had acquired a friend of Entling no. 2 at the store and she cheerfully tagged along with me upstairs to the kids' section. (My own kids speed away from me in a bookstore as fast as their winged feet can fly them.) We were perusing the shelves when a Book People person came by to offer his help. He told us he had not read ALL the books ther but he had read a lot of them and if we had any questions, just ask.
Hey, I thought, that is MY usual line.
Then it hit me.
That was TOPHER!
I know about Topher Bradfield because Rockstar Rick Riordan raves about him on his blog. Topher was a force in the creation of Camp Half Blood and a children's book evangelist at local schools and literary events in our capital city and beyond.
I chased after him.
"Are you Topher?"
He agreed that he was and asked (probably nervously) who I was.
He must have decided I did not pose an overt threat because we then spent a splendid chunk of time talking books. We share a grand enthusiasm for all things Percy Jackson. He pointed us toward a table of his current picks and we were treated to a series of wonderful booktalks that had passers-by stopping in their tracks to listen (and then pick up the books to buy.)
Then he began to read the first chapter of Skulduggery Pleasant: Playing with Fire aloud to us. Wow! There is nothing like hearing a gifted reader share a book they love.
Topher performed the book with enthusiasm and a whiff of James Joyce in his delivery.
As I left the store with my new stack of books, I was reminded of the famous last words I had uttered an hour earlier, "I'm not getting any books today."
I did not know I was going to meet Topher.