Real Friends, Best Friends, and GUTS : Meeting Authors Shannon Hale, LeUyen Pham, and Raina Telgemeier

As previously stated in this blog, we are big fans of Shannon Hale and LeUyean Pham.  We own all of their Princess in Black books:



We LOVE their book, Real Friends:

(The recent activity days book club I attended and LOVED this book.)

Activity Days: Real Friends

We were actually  LeUyen Pham fans first. She is a totally prolific illustrator. We are HUGE fans.

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Then, there is Raina Telgemeier. Mirah has spent the summer reading her books.

Mirah has been LOVING these. I bought her a box set from the book fair at the end of the year last year, and she has been loving them. We haven’t gotten to the Baby Sitters Club yet.

SO when Krysta saw that all three women were coming to an event at the Provo city library she freaked, and sent me the link to the event right away.

Tickets went on sale at 9:00 AM on September 19th, and we were both sitting at our computers for an hour before it opened to make sure to get tickets.

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WE DID IT! The new books, GUTS and Best Friends are coming out, so I bought them with my ticket.

We have been SOOOO excited to go!

The day FINALLY came. The doors opened at 6:15, and Krysta arrived at 4:30. Krysta printed our tickets.



There were two lines, and the girls waited in the book line:


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Mom and Me and Krysta waited in the ticket only line:


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As the time got closer, I went over to the book line, to make sure that everything went okay.

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We got our books, and were in the FRONT ROW CENTER!!

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Pam and Clara Robbins came too!




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We were seated for 45 minutes, and were so excited to see the authors!

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The man from Provo Library came, and he introduced the our honored guests!


First was Shannon Hale!

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Next: LeUyen Pham!

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And Last but CERTAINLY not least Raina Telgemeier

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Raina went first, with her presentation:


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She told us all about herself as a young girl.


She told us all about the books that inspired her as a young girl.

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She was vulnerable about some of the reasons she started to tell her story. It was really inspiring. She told us about how she has an anxiety disorder, that really made things difficult for her. As a person who also has had a lifetime struggle with generalized anxiety it was really comforting to see someone else’s experience that reflected my. That she was able to accomplish her dreams, even with those difficulties.

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A very inspiring woman.


She talked about a book she read as a kid that really impacted her, in a traumatic way. Barefoot Gen. A story about Hiroshima, where at the end, half the characters die due to the nuclear bomb. She says that this book really taught her that stories can be honest, real, and don’t have to have a happy ending.


And admitted that she has a phobia of vomit.

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She then told us all about her process of writing. She showed us that she started story telling and doing art as a little kid. These below she described as “pizza faces:”

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Here are some of her first comics she did at the age of 11.

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One of her first published stories was a strip she said she wrote while in college, explaining to her mom how traumatic the Barefoot Gen book was for her. And how it has been published in many different languages.

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She talked about publishing her other books, all about how Smile was about dealing with her orthodontia as a kid. She even showed us actual pictures!

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She shared pictures of her studio and her coworkers:

Her assistant and her cats.

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Then she showed us the process of drawing, penciling, marking, scanning, coloring on the computer (done by another artist), then printing her books.

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A sweet informative, and heartfelt presentation.

Then Shannon and LeUeyn started their presentation.

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Turns out these two ladies are BFFs in real life!

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They talked about how much they both loved and contributed to their collaboration. They both are middle children in families of seven: A mom, a dad, and five kids. Shannon grew up in Salt Lake Valley and LeUeyn is a Vietnamese immigrant who lived most of her childhood in California. On paper, they seem so different. Yet they shared so many similar experiences, it make collaborating really honest and authentic experience.

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Here they both are a young elementary school girls. Then pre-teens.

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The both followed their dreams. Shannon got her MFA from the U. And LeUyen left a Law program at UCLA to go to the ArtCenter College of Design.


Their most recent collaboration Best Friends, as another memoir that includes illustrated versions of Shannon’s actual childhood fiction.

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They explained to the crowd, that this was a true story. There were several hard things that happened to Shannon while she was young that they tell about in the book. There was a story about a Stake Day at Lagoon. Shannon told us here that she also has an anxiety disorder. That she had so much fear about the roller coasters that she wouldn’t sleep if she knew she was going to be going on them. Her mom only told her that the Stake Lagoon Day was happening late the night before hand.


About how a group of boys won stuffed animals for all of the girls, except her. How her mother stumbled upon the group and Shannon was about to burst into tears. How she could hold back the tears, but not her trembling chin. Her mother took her to a private place, to let out the tears.

LeUeyn talked about how hard it was to illustrate this moment. That she felt defensive for her friend, and heart broken for her.


After this hard experience, they decided to rewrite the ending. The two of them and their publisher went back to Lagoon together…

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LeUyen he her first funnel cake and loved it, and her first jello salad, and didn’t enjoy it.

Shannon still hates roller coasters.


BUT this time, she had real friends with her who went to the same game, and won a donkey for her!

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Things get better, even when they are bad. It is never to late to write a new story.


They sat and talked about their work.

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They were genuinlly funny wonderful women.

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Dean Hale was there too!! He is Shannon’s husband and co-author on many projects, including Princess in Black! He was in an all black track suit, and it was his birthday! He came up to help set up the next activity:




The played Pictionary!

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It was a tie! Of Coolness!

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Next challenge:

Raina drew Shannon, and LeUyen drew Raina!

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While they drew Shannon told us all a funny story about when she was a girl, she was scared of getting her ears piereced when she hear that they used a “gun” to do it. She imagined that they stand you against one wall, and then from across the room they shoot the earring at you.

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Last picture to draw: Birthday cakes for Dean Hale, who was having a birthday that day, and we all sang to him as they drew.

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While they finished, the Q&A started. Shannon was in charge, and she picked all the cutest little kids in the crowd.


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They talked about their favorite snacks, Shannon loves pork rinds, Raina loves any chips.

They said see you later, and we waited to get our pics with them!

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Oh my gosh I freaking LOVE this picture of Mirah.


We were in the first group to take pictures, thanks to Krysta.


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I just said, thank you guys so much, thank you! It was such a great night. Inspired and uplifted.

Raina’s posts later:

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