Manhattan Dinner With Kid Lit Legends

After the awards ceremony at Lincoln Center last night, the gracious folks at Simon & Schuster, including Emma Dryden, veep-cum-publisher-cum-editor, invited several of us to Josephina's to celebrate Theresa Nelson's win.

I had the privilege of sitting across from Richard Jackson, who has edited books for 46 years (including Susan Patron's The Higher Power of Lucky), and next to Phyllis Naylor (of Alice and Shiloh fame), who sponsored the PEN work-in-progress award and walked hand-in-hand to the restaurant with her husband of 48 years.

Before the evening ended, I asked the witty and easygoing Mr. Jackson about his dreams for the publishing industry. He thought for a minute. "I'd give five hardcover books to every registered voter in the country," he said. We'd spent a good chunk of the conversation mourning the loss of relationships and manners in the industry, as well as the the waning place of books as artifacts in our society.

Of course the star dinner companion from a teen guys' perspective was Kevin Cooney, Theresa's husband, whose impressive resume includes roles in two Austin Powers' flicks and appearances on Will Smith's Fresh Prince of Bel-Air -- I can hardly wait till they come home from school so I can say I had dinner with "Whitey." Wow.