Yup. I’m not proud of it, but that’s what I said when I discovered Mr. Spinelli standing behind me at a book event last Friday night. Luckily, he didn’t hear me – or if he did, he was classy enough to pretend he didn’t.

For a chronic wallflower like myself, author events are both terrifying and exhilarating. Terrifying first – the anxiety building for days in advance. Exhilarating afterwards.

When I arrived at the Local Author and Illustrator night at Children’s Book World in Haverford this past Friday, I was happy to see many faces I knew from events like PAYA and the Week of Writing at Drexel Hill University. I chatted with Jennifer Hubbard (The Secret Year), April Lindner (Jane), Susan Shaw (Tunnel Vision), A.S. King (Please Ignore Vera Dietz), K.M. Walton (Cracked), and met illustrator E.B. Lewis (The Negro Speaks of Rivers).

So, we’re all standing shoulder to shoulder in this crowded but charming book store. I’m talking to K.M. Walton about her upcoming release, and she mentions she wants to get a book signed by HIM before he leaves — and looks over my shoulder. That’s when I turn my head and discover the friendly and cheerful gray-haired gentleman signing books right behind me. I look at his name tag – and blurt out the title of this blog post.

Way to play it cool, Dianne.

Anyway, I scrambled to buy a book and get in line to meet him. He was sweet. I babbled incoherently. He continued to be sweet. And I spent the rest of the evening grinning from ear to ear, with his signed book under my arm – planning how to play it much more cool on Monday when I casually tell my students I have a signed Jerry Spinelli book for our classroom library.