Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Bookstore People: Topher Bradfield

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.


Jen Robinson said...

I always go to Trudy's when I'm in Austin, too. I practically lived at the one near campus when I was in grad school.

Clearly, the next time I go to Austin I'm going to have to add a trip to Book People to my agenda. But it sounds like I might need an extra suitcase, if Topher is around.

Camille said...

That is the one we were at. Shiner Bock+Austin+Trudy's=Perfect. After the bookstore we went to Amy's for ice cream!!!!

I felt like I had known Topher forever after just a few minutes. Something about children's lit makes that so easy.

Jen Robinson said...

It sounds like an excellent Austin day, Camille. Personally, I favor the Trudy's margaritas over the Shiner Bock, but I think that they work in the same fashion. And I completely agree about children's books providing that instant connection. Actually, it was after being at Trudy's on my last trip that I met Brian Anderson, and felt like we were instantly buddies. So maybe the combination of Trudy's and children's book enhances things a bit. (grin).

Anonymous said...

Jen, we ARE instant and forever buddies! I wonder how many friends we had in common before we met? And yes, to stray back on topic, Topher Bradfield rocks. I met him at my very first SCBWI meeting, when he recognized my Robin t-shirt (as in Batman and Robin) for what it was.

Jen Robinson said...

Definitely, Brian. The mere fact that we both read and comment at Book Moot is evidence to kindred spiritship (which the spell-checker says is not a word).

I am clearly going to have to meet Topher the next time I'm in Austin. You know, if I can find any time between visits to Trudy's.

Camille said...

Next time you have to be in Austin, I will meet you and Brian at Trudy's.
Seriously, let me know. Then we can enjoy an expotition to BookPeople.

Jen Robinson said...

KidLit drink night (or afternoon, more lilkely) at Trudy's it is, Camille. Sounds like a lot of fun! I don't have any trips scheduled right now, but I suspect I'll get there in the fall sometime. And the combination of Trudy's and a trip to BookPeople, with you and Brian, sounds like a perfect day.

Anonymous said...

I'll be there. :-)

And Jen, using words that are not in the spellchecker is part of the fun of writing for kids!

Chris said...

Hey - my daughter was involved in one of Bookpeople's other camps this week which Topher created (Based on the Kiki Strike Books by Kirstin Miller). Topher is amazing!

some notes and links on the camp and the books here.