Monday, May 6, 2019

Highlights and Inspiration from the Bay Area Book Festival 2019

What a weekend!

I got to be on a panel, moderate a panel, and be a contestant on a Young Adult edition of Literary Death Match!

It was two days full of wonderful people, kid lit folks and readers, and inspiration. Here are some of the moments still resonating for me:

When a book is well-written, everyone can identify with the main character. —Tania De Regil

Stumbling on my own photo in the printed festival program!

The theme of creating books we didn't have for ourselves for this new generation - from my own story about "Queer as a Five-Dollar Bill", to my wonderful co-panelist Cindy Pon, whose all-Asian casts continue to be groundbreaking (and such good reads — I loved "WANT"!

The wonderful Mina Witteman, who organized the wonderful children and teen programming.

The theme rising again in the panel I moderated, with amazing panelists Atia Abawi and her refugee story, "A Land of Permanent Goodbyes", to e.E. Charlton-Trujillo's "Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution" (the second book in what's going to be a trilogy!)

A whimsical "forest" for the youngest readers

And that very same theme echoed in the words of Mylo Freeman, who told the story of how, ten years ago, a teacher told her about a young black student who refused to play a princess in the class play because she thought a princess couldn't look like her. That inspired her to create the best-selling “Princess Arabella” series—for which she's now writing book 14!

An exuberant performance melding rap, history, and young people's empowerment by the Alphabet Rockers

The kindness of our children's literature community. I loved how for the "Seasons, Sounds and Sandwiches" panel, Picture Book authors Meg Fleming, Tim McCanna, and Alice McGinty held the microphone for each other as they read sections from their picture books. It was such a kind and selfless moment, a "here, let me help you tell the audience about your book" generosity, that made me so happy.

What a hoot! My fellow Literary Death Match co-stars, (left to right): Gordon Jack, Zoraida Córdova, our brilliant and hysterical host Adrian Todd Zuniga, me (!), and Cindy Pon.

How my panel with Cindy Pon was moderated by a teen reader, Riya Kataria, a high school junior who had read both of our books and did a wonderful job! (And how great is a teen book festival event that centers teens? Super-Great!)

My panel with Cindy Pon and the wonderful teen moderator, Riya!

The faith that our books make a difference. As Alice said on the motivation for her "Pancakes to Parathas: Breakfast Around the World" picturebook, "I wanted to make the world feel smaller."

Kid Lit friends Alice McGinty (left) and Meg Fleming

And most of all the super-engaged audience of readers!

I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of the Bay Area Book Festival 2019. Thanks to Mina and all the festival organizers!

The light in me recognizes and celebrates the light in you,

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