About a month ago, I saw a local bookshop advertising an event with Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books, and spinning off into several other series’ of books on mythology. My son LOVES those books, so I immediately tried to buy tickets. The event was sold out.
On Monday morning, my kids were going through our daily ritual of looking at the events on our family Google calendar through the Echo Show in our kitchen. An event was listed for that evening: Rick Riordan. My son looked at me inquisitively, but I told him that I must have added the event to our calendar before realizing that it was sold out.
Later that morning, I received an email: REMINDER — DETAILS FOR YOUR UPCOMING EVENT WITH RICK RIORDAN.
I scanned my email Inbox and sure enough — I had purchased tickets back in MAY when the event was first announced. I then remembered thinking at the time that it would make a great birthday gift for my son, who was turning 10 only about a week and a half prior.
I then told my son when he arrived home from school that it turns out we did have tickets to see one of his favorite authors (second only to maybe J.K. Rowling) and that we would need to leave the house shortly. The suburb where the event was taking place was at least a 30 minute drive, in normal conditions, and we were headed into rush hour.
I also had a fleeting thought in the back of my head that a good friend had also bought tickets for her son. I sent her a text and sure enough, she was on her way.
By the time my son and I reached the theater, there were over 100 people already lined up, and doors didn’t open for another 45 minutes. I told my son that we would not be finding a place to eat as planned, but instead grab some sandwiches to go from Starbucks and sit and eat in line.
When the doors opened, we were each handed our pre-signed copies of Rick Riordan’s latest book, The Trials of Apollo. In all my glory, I had already bought my son a copy of this new release for his birthday. He told me that he hadn’t started reading it yet, so in its pristine state I told him I would be returning that copy to Amazon.
My friend had to meet her husband at the airport and hand off her daughter, so my son and I marched to the front of the theater and saved seats for all of us just a few rows from the front. I told my son that we would be able to see Rick Riordan’s sweat. He made a face but I told him that it was true — the lights of the stage would likely make it very hot up there.
My friend and her son arrived as the theater filled quickly. The two kids were breathing excitement. My friend’s son asked if I had read any of Rick Riordan’s books and when I admitted that I hadn’t, he looked at me and said “traitor.”
Traitor I somewhat felt, indeed, as the theater that held 1,000 people erupted in applause when Rick Riordan came on stage. His many references to characters and plot lines in his books thrilled his fans. I, on the other hand, had no idea what he was talking about. I can only imagine what it would be like to be in a throng of Harry Potter fans if one had never read the books and the confusion around words like “patronus” “muggle” and “butterbeer.”
My son’s face was shining the entire time. He was thrilled. And I was thrilled that he could experience being at an event that celebrated an author and the books he had written.
I was particularly impressed with the Rick Riordan Presents collection. In his own words from his website: Our goal is to publish great middle grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage. Over the years, I’ve gotten many questions from my fans about whether I might write about various world mythologies, but in most cases I knew I wasn’t the best person to write those books…. Let them tell their own stories, and I would do whatever I could to help those books find a wide audience!
And the event was made possible by a local bookstore, Anderson’s Bookshop. It is a 6th generation family-owned business that hosts about 400 author events per year. I am fortunate that I have been able to attend several.
I left with a tired (past his bedtime!) but very happy 10-year-old, who had his signed copy of The Trials of Apollo tucked under his arm. I was going to give my signed copy to my 7-year-old, but then had to bribe him to give it back to me. Event though it is Book 4 in a series of 5, I wanted the signed book for my own shelf.
And to think that were it not for an email reminder, I would have missed the event altogether….