San Francisco Public Library Laureate's dinner, upcoming events

I had a fantastic time at the San Francisco Library Laureate dinner on Friday night. I was crazy-worried about what to wear. My friend Julie Downing's wise counsel: "Simple. Just wear black." Brainwave. Black pants, black jacket with a nice way the fabric fell, and a great scarf. I LOVED the people sitting at my table. No one under 75, I'd guess. One man told me he'd met my father in Qualalampur in 1962! (You never forget my father once you've met him.)

The woman seated next to me was tiny and wore a black net coat with hundreds of bright yellow leather leaves sewn all over the netting, an amber necklace, rings on many of her fingers, and maybe 50 bangles. She was the walking embodiment of "when I'm old, I shall wear purple." I couldn't resist and finally asked, "how old are you, anyway?' She leaned in and whispered, "don't tell anyone, but tomorrow I turn 89." I shared my vegetarian dinner with her when she was given an inedible leg of duck, and she shared half her meringue dessert in return.

"I hope you speak first," she said after dinner, "so I can go home." Alas, she had to stay to the bitter end, but said she would buy my book, Big Cat Pepper, to help her eight year old grandson get used to the idea that she was going to die.

Thank you, thank you, whoever put out those place cards, for sitting such a wonderful woman next to me.

Here's my husband (didn't need to wear black to look handsome) standing with the revered guest of the evening, Charles Darwin.

Upcoming Events: This Sunday I'll be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, moderating a tremendous panel of writers:

Young Hall CS 24, 11 a.m.

Kid Wise: Teaching with Words & Pictures
Moderator Ms. Elizabeth Partridge
Ms. Candace Fleming
Ms. Kathleen Krull
Mr. Kadir Nelson

Don't worry, we're not going to stick too tightly to the "teaching" part of the title! Come say hello!