Five teens have been chosen to act as models for holographic guides at Walt Disney World who will guide tourists through the parks. They use a cutting-edge technology, but there is a glitch; when the kids fall asleep, they are transported to the Parks in their holographic forms. Once there, they learn the true reason they have been chosen: characters come alive at night when the parks close, and the villains are trying to stage a takeover. They have to save Disney, and themselves, from the Overtakers.
When I read on Ridley Pearson's website that he would be signing his new Kindgom Keepers Book, The Insider, at Downtown Disney, I knew we had to go. I kept it a secret for an entire month just in case the scheduling didn't work out, but I wanted to say something every single day. We finally told Katarina about the book signing on Tuesday night, and she was ecstatic.
We arrived at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney at 7:30am to get in line for purchasing the book. Two and a half hours later, we had a book and wristband.
The blue bag Katarina is clutching so tightly contains her copy of The Insider, six days before it was officially released.
Ridley hasn't even showed up yet, and it is already the best day ever.
The actual signing didn't start until 4:00. That is how these things work. You buy a book and get a wristband, and then you come back at a later time to sit in line to meet the author.
We looked around Downtown Disney, but didn't stray too far from Once Upon A Toy, because we planned to get back in line at 12:00. Yes, four hours early. That wasn't a bad choice, because there were already four people in line when we arrived, and it filled up quickly after us.
All these people are less than half of the line that eventually formed.
I've stood in a lot of book signing lines before. I've even organized a few of them when I worked at a bookstore, but this was the first line I've ever been in that was fun. Seriously fun. It was amazing.
First, we had the best person in line behind us. Her name is Tracy, and she is a youth librarian. It is rare to meet a Tracie(y), so that is always a special moment. Plus, this Tracy is awesome.
Second, there was Daniel. His job was to keep the crowd entertained, and give out prizes for correct answers to trivia questions. This really helped the time to speed by.
Katarina answered the first trivia question correctly, knowing the names of all the Kingdom Keepers books, plus the novella, in order. (Thank you to Mary Castanares at Disney for sharing this photo with me.)
You will notice that the book jacket is off, and there is a bookmark inside, because Katarina was already on chapter 4 of the new book by this point.
Fancy buttons, because we are Kingdom Keepers Trivia Experts. True story.
Third, kids who love to read. It was a pleasure to overhear great conversations between book-loving kids waiting in line to meet their favorite author. In the "Do you look ahead or read the end of the book first" debate, Katarina staunchly defended her position of reading books in the order the author intended. There were conversations about favorite characters, scenes, and books, as well. (I'm not sharing pictures of these book-loving kids, because I don't put images of other people's kids on the internet, so here's another picture of me and Katarina with our...I mean...HER book.)
Fourth, Ridley Pearson showed up early. There was a rumor going around the line that sometimes he comes out to the line to visit with people before the signing. I wasn't optimistic this would happen, but one hour before his scheduled appearance, he visited the line.
He talked to people, took pictures, and generally rocked.
I love so much that my new friend Tracy is in the background of my picture with Ridley Pearson. Accidental photobombing perfection.
After spending about twenty minutes in the line, Ridley went inside and started the signing early. This ensured that he was able to sign as many books as possible before the time was up, which I think really shows how much he cares about his readers.
Fifth, getting books signed, and talking to one of your favorite authors. Katarina was so excited when it was our turn in line. She knew there wouldn't be much time (although I will say that unlike most author signings, they didn't rush people through, and he was taking time to not only sign the new books, but also older books and items), so she planned in advance what she wanted to say and ask.
After she told him she was one of the Insiders, using the app to complete challenges and read and write fan fiction, she had a couple of questions to ask about future book plans.
This was the look on her face when Pearson told her there are no Starcatchers novels in the works right now (sad), but there is a good chance there will be new Kingdom Keepers novels (exciting) with some of the same characters and new story lines.
He signed The Insider and her copy of the first Kingdom Keepers book, Disney After Dark. He also signed Thomas' bookmark.
Meeting a favorite author, in the place where many of his books are set, and confirming your suspicions that he is awesome, really is the best day ever.
If Ridley Pearson is doing a book signing near you, I recommend attending. It was an amazing experience. If your kids (or you) haven't read any of his books yet, get thee to a bookstore or library immediately. You can follow Ridley Pearson on social media (twitter and facebook) - he is a lot of fun, and is really great about interacting with his followers. Also check out the Insider App. I love that Pearson is encouraging kids to write and share their words.
*This post was in no way sponsored. We purchased our own book, as well as all the other books in the KK and Starcatchers series, and all love of Ridley Pearson is our own.
Are you a Ridley Pearson fan?
Have you ever met one of your favorite authors? Tell me about it!