Monday, September 24, 2012

Brooklyn Book Fest

Yesterday I attended one of my favorite events of the year, the Brooklyn Book Fest. Not only is it walking distance from my apartment (very convenient), but it's always such a vibrant, stimulating day. This year, there were quite a few Little, Brown Books for Young Readers authors on panels, and I was happy to be able to see each one.

First up was Wendy Mass, who was on a Middle Grade panel, "A Blues for Middle School" with R. J. Palacio (Wonder), Adam Gidwitz (A Tale Dark and Grimm), and Sheela Chari (Vanished). Paul Acampora (Rachel Spinelli Punched Me in the Face) was a fantastic moderator, and the authors discussed those perilous middle school years. The highlight for me was the Q&A at the end, where pretty much all of the questions were asked by kids. Several kids asked Wendy about The Candymakers--one asked if Wendy had intentionally tried to make her readers hungry by "all of those adjectives" and another asked what her inspiration for writing the book was, to which Wendy answered, "So I could eat a lot of candy in the name of research."

The next LBYR author up was Libba Bray, fresh off the first leg of her tour for The Diviners which pubbed last Tuesday. Libba competed in "Jeopardy" against Natalie Standiford (Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters) and Daniel Nayeri (Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow), who is a fellow CBC Committee member (and new father to a 13-day old baby!). Author Zoraida Cordova (The Vicious Deep) moderated. Alas, like me, the contestants often had trouble remembering character names, responding to such "answers" as "This couple's vows are likely to include the phrase 'As you wish'" with "Uh, who are Cary Elwes and Robin Wright". Other, questions were "Who was the Mia girl from the novel by Meg Cabot" and "Who are the two characters in A Fault in Our Stars" but thankfully the audience was able to swoop in with any names the panelists were stumped on. 

I then left the Youth Stage for a quick jaunt over to the Target Stage to see Frank Viva read Along a Long Road to a tent full of (mostly) attentive children:

And then it was back to the Youth Stage for the final two panels of the day. Barry Lyga (I Hunt Killers) was on the "It's A Hard Knock Life" panel (that Annie song kept popping into my head periodically all day) with Susane Colasanti (Keep Holding On) and Louise Rozett (Confessions of an Angry Girl), moderated by Jennifer Castle. My favorite moment of the day was during the Q&A--a young girl (I'd guess she was anywhere between 10 and 12) told Barry that she read the description of I Hunt Killers and wanted to read it, but her father (who was sitting right next to her) also read the description and thought it was too gory for her. She asked him what he thought, and Barry said, "Are you asking me to tell your father that it's okay for you to read my book?" and she said yes! Barry handled it well--he told the father that he didn't know his daughter, that he recommended the dad read it first to determine if he thought his daughter could handle it, and also, "Sorry to tell you this, but if your daughter wants to read the book...she's going to read the book." to which the daughter laughed and nodded her head exuberantly. Apparently the father did end up buying the book for his daughter... hope it doesn't give her nightmares!

The last panel of the day was titled "Ghosts, Goddesses, and Wolves" and was moderated by Jessica Shirvington (Entice). Malinda Lo (Adaptation), Andrea Cremer (the Nightshade series), and Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood) discussed the transformation--both physical and emotional--of the characters in their books. Malinda gamely succeeded in avoiding any spoilers of her new book, although she did reveal one spoiler: that in real life, one generally needs to get a job. 

The weather was absolutely gorgeous in Brooklyn yesterday, and the Book Fair had probably the best turnout I'd ever seen. Every panel was standing room only, and the discussions were great and the audience engaged.

Till next year! 


Sangeeta said...

Great post! I wasn't able to attend the "Blues for Middle School" or "It's a Hard Knock Life" panels, but now I feel like I was there. Fun story about Barry Lyga.

sheela said...

It was nice to meet you at the book fest. Thanks for including that photo of the panel! I had a great time!