April 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Hanging out with Frank Lloyd Wright, Mary Wong, and Jack Gantos #AASL17

Pre-conference tours are one way to make the most of a visit to a new city and the American Association Of School Librarians (AASL) 2017 conference options had librarians flipping coins to decide which bus to board. Those who traveled the “Art and Architecture in the American Southwest” route voiced no regrets. First stop: Taliesin West, the “winter camp and desert laboratory” of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, now a National Historic Landmark in the hills above Scottsdale, AZ, and home to an architecture school. Next up: the home of Mary Wong, art collector and former school librarian who hosted an afternoon get-together amid a collection of children’s book art rarely seen outside of a museum. After viewing Wong’s extraordinary private collection, the group spent a relaxing—and informative—afternoon with authors and illustrators Jack Gantos, Lynne Avril, Juana Martinez-Neal, Wendy Watson, Mike Venezia, and Molly Idle. A few scenes from the day below:

First stop: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ


A peek at Frank Lloyd Wright’s bookshelf, Taliesin West, Scottsdale, AZ


Mary Wong welcomes librarians to her home and children’s art collection


Author and illustrator Molly Idle sharing one of her new books with librarians at the home of Mary Wong


Author Jack Gantos decorating the wall of Mary Wong’s home


Author and illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal discussing her books at the home of Mary Wong


Author and illustrator Mike Venezia holds court at the home of Mary Wong. Photos by Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.



  1. Beth Conroy says:

    #AASL17 was an amazing week! I was fortunate enough to be on this tour. The entire day was truly an unexpected and wonderful surprise. Many of us thought that the visit to Taliesin West was the “main event” (it was pretty awesome) but stepping off of the bus and into the welcoming back yard of Mary Wong was truly magical. All of us school librarians were welcomed with open arms by this cadre of amazing authors and illustrators. What a day! So happy to have been a part of it.

  2. Hooray for Mary Wong! I have been to her house and it is truly the most astonishing, unforgettable, gasp-inducing experience imaginable. On her walls are hundreds of illustrations from books you know and love, illustrators you revere, and artworks that will knock you on your rear. It’s a museum quality collection, carefully curated by Mary who generously opened her house to librarians who must have been as blown away as I was. Not to mention the stellar roster of authors and illustrators whom she invited to share their talents and time. What a wow of a day this must have been. Wish I coulda been there. Makes you so proud to be a librarian! Thanks, Daryl, for posting this with pictures.

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