Tag Archives: events

Make Not The Past Rosy, Nor The Present Bleak

On September 30th, I had the honor to present, with my fellow judges Joanna Rudge Long and Besty Bird, the 2016 Boston-Globe Horn Book Awards to children’s book creators. Unlike many other awards, we were not given a set of criteria to base our reading and evaluation on.   It was simply, look for excellent books in Picture Books, Fiction and Poetry, and Nonfiction category.

One award title for each category and up to two honored titles.  The author and illustrator both receive the award in cases of an illustrated title.  This year’s titles were announced in late May.  You can see the program description and watch the May announcement on the Horn Book site.

On October 1st, I attended the Horn Book Colloquium at Simmons College focusing on a theme inspired by the titles we chose, with talks and panel discussions based by the winning creators.  This year’s theme was Out of the Box — because, boy, did we have a hard time figuring out where to place some of our favorite books of the year!

So, the picture book winner, Jazz Day, is also poetry, and can arguably be Nonfiction, and one of the Nonfiction honored titles, Voice of Freedom, is a picture book of verses, too.   There are also other out of the box endeavors by the creators.

As part of the program for the day, I had the honor to interview Ekua Holmes and Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrator and author, of Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.

We discussed many topics about the book and about their craft and when I asked both of them what they would like to see published more for children, these are their answers – and I paraphrase grossly here:

Weatherford: I’d like to see more lesser known people of color movers and shakers profiled for children.  We probably don’t need one more book on Martin Luther King Junior or Harriet Tubman; but we definitely need to tell stories of others who paved the roads and blazed the trails for us through extremely difficult times and against all odds.

Holmes: I’d like to see more books about just the daily miracles of any child of color — their lived experiences and they can be quite bright and fulfilling, full of art, music, beauty, and happiness.  We need to tell these stories!

I agree with both of them.  Let’s have a fuller exploration of the past; don’t make it rosy, and don’t hide the ugly spots.  But let’s also fully represent the present.  There are definitely struggles and dark moments, but we must also celebrate and acknowledge the love and support that many children experience in their own families and communities.

And let’s make sure that multiple and differed perspectives and voices from the seemingly homogeneous marginalized communities are heard and honored.  There is room for the representation from the entire spectrum of experiences and values.

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Sunday Select, USBBY Special


Quotes (Paraphrased) of the USBBY Conference

(On Verse Memoirs) Even when writing one’s own memoir, there are gaps that one has to fill with invented details. — Margarita Engle

(On Verse Novel) We are always writing outside of our own experiences.  The important thing is to be conscientious in one’s research and understanding of “the others.” — Padma Venkatraman

Translators are writers, editors, storytellers, researchers, and cultural mediators, all rolled into one. — Panelists’ Consensus on Translation

Where does a translator’s loyalty lie: with the author or the readers?  In a way, we can say that by being loyal to the readers, one is loyal to the authors as well.  And there is the loyalty to the text.  Also the loyalty to the idea as IF the author actually knows the target language and makes the meaning or the language very clear to the kids who will be reading the translated book. — Ajia

Certain kind of information is best conveyed via what we consider as the “comics format.”  Look at the airline safety guides, manuals to put together furniture, etc.  Certain stories can be best expressed via the duality of text and images. — Gene Luen Yang.

We need to encourage the chaotic and messy creative process that is writing and creating stories: especially in children and the importance of play.  — David Almond

from the 11th Annual USBBY
Regional Conference, New York, NY


Title of David Almond’s talk

11th Annual USBBY Highlights

USBBY is the United States Chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY.)  I joined USBBY only this year and am so glad to have attended the whole conference.  What a weekend!  Presenters come from China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, Brazil, Great Britain, France, The Netherland, Iran, Austria, Denmark, etc. and the topics include picture book art, translation, graphic novels, verse novels, Alice in Wonderland (as part of the theme of the year,) international YA literature, disabilities in children’s books, among many others.


LuAnn Toth and Kate DiCamillo


Lois Lowry


Chris Raschka

Attendees were treated to thoughtful and moving speeches by Leonard Marcus, Lois Lowry, Kate DiCamillo, David Amond, Chris Raschka, Susan Cooper and also lively and enlightening panel discussions.  Panelists included well known American children’s book creators such as Gene Luen Yang and Paul O Zelinsky, and international guests such as Roger Mello (Brazilian illustrator,) Ajia (Chinese translator,) and Lisbeth Zwerger (Austrian illustrator.)


Graphic Novels panel

Two breakout sessions offered conference goers 24 different workshops to further examine aspects of children’s literature with the mindset of broadening one’s knowledge and bridging cultures.

My first break-out session choice was on Verse Novels and Memoirs.  Authors Holly Thompson, Padma Venkatraman, and Margarita Engle gave great talks and insights into the power of telling stories with verse and their incredible dedication on detailed researches into the characters that they were to portray.

Nami Concours 2015The second break-out session for me was an introduction to the incredible international picture book illustration concours held on the Nami Island of South Korea.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen picture book illustrations being taken so seriously, treated with such reverence, and brought to life and made so relevant to the children and adults who encounter these objects of literature and art.

Because the Nami Concours is such a unique and amazing event, I will devote an entire post on it in the coming week.  Look out for my post — or you can check out the website:




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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 4


Selected sights and some notes

Lucasfilm hosted a Readers Theater for Star Wars fans:



Adam Gidwitz conducting a Jedi Lesson:



More Talented Artists from Diverse Backgrounds in the Artist Alley

Edwin Huang


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Dexter Vines


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Tran Nguyen


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Annie Wu

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Velentine De Landro


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Janet Sung


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Creators of Lumberjanes: Noelle Stevenson & Shannon Watters (Grace Ellis is not pictures)





Couldn’t Leave without Seeing the Gotham Panel

with the super talented actors!

 IMG_20151011_165930-COLLAGE IMG_20151011_165412 IMG_20151011_165122 IMG_20151011_164726 IMG_20151011_164637 IMG_20151011_164129

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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 3


Selected sights and some notes

First event of the morning — a wonderful session sponsored by Scholastic where Raina Telgemeier fielded many audience requests and drew for the crowd:IMG_20151010_111738



Star Wars Everywhere

Books, Crafts, Movies, TV Shows… IMG_20151010_112211




Jelly Bean ART! (Click and Enlarge to see the details) IMG_20151010_115119


Artist Alley

Spent some time at the Artist Alley — Couldn’t stay too long… too many wonderful art, too little money… IMG_20151010_115658


Probably my new favorite pop artist:


This is an example of Haas’ art (from his website) — TOTORO!

A couple of other accomplished artists with their own distinct styles:

Ray Fawkes


Tony Moy (梅)– TOTORO!!

Jed Henry — inspired by traditional Japanese art (hmm… a theme here?) TOTORO!!!



Jiu Ge (from Beijing/Seattle) Fan Art of Buckie & Loki IMG_20151010_122740

Didn’t get this artist’s name but again, Japanese Manga/Anime inspired artwork:


Jim Mahfood:IMG_20151010_124245

Dave Crosland:


More Cosplay Fun

Doctor Octopus — all home made, anchored on a backpack frame

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Over the Garden Wall (Cartoon Network)

War Boy (Mad Max: Fury Road)


Masters of Unreality: Heavy Metal & SFF (SciFi/Fantasy)
(AKA My Favorite Panel Today)

These three authors/metal musicians discussed their inspirations, influences, writing habits, views on popular vs canonized literature (and music,) etc.:

Myke Cole (Gemini Cell: A Shadow Ops Novel)
Michael Fletcher (Beyond Redemption)
Peter Orullian (Trial of Intentions)

One point raised by Cole resonated with me, although he was referring to contemporary music. He encouraged the American music fans to be conscious about how American music industry has always been in the “exporting business” and how we miss the gems from around the world if we just stay inside the US bubble.


Michael Fletcher, Myke Cole, Peter Orullian

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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 2


Selected sights and some notes

Arrival: 10:15 a.m.


Waiting in line (in clumps) for special event wristbands:IMG_20151009_102318

Got three wristbands — Marvel Lego Games Panel, Adult Swim Panel Block, and Batman Bad Blood Panel — IMG_20151009_104059Wound up only going to the Adult Swim event.

Some future comics from Dark Horse at the Announcements panel:IMG_20151009_110459





This kind of serendipitous encounters is why I enjoy attending the Con — an artist commissioned on the show floor to make a Boba Fett image in his own style:IMG_20151009_121100 IMG_20151009_121135 IMG_20151009_121627 IMG_20151009_121631
And no Con can be completed without Cosplay or random outfits (like mine):

Kiki’s Delivery Service:IMG_20151009_140538

No special anything:

Beetlejuice — this couple made their own “faces” and even the book!

Avengers, with Quick Silver running:


IMG_20151009_134634My #1 Goal this year — meeting the creative soul behind Zen Pencils: Gavin Aung Than, all the way from Australia!  We chatted for a bit and I wished him best of luck of his two new books and on his North America book tour.  Look for him and buy his books!  His touring schedule can be found HERE.  but I’m going to list it all here for you.  Please support him!
Monday, October 12
7:00pm @ Harvard Coop (B&N College)
Tuesday, October 13
7:30pm @ BookPeople
Wednesday, October 14
7:00pm @ Tattered Cover Colfax
Thursday, October 15
7:00pm @ Changing Hands Phoenix
Friday, October 16
7:30pm @ Mysterious Galaxy
LOS ANGELES (Huntington Beach)
Sunday, October 18
2:00pm @ Barnes & Noble, Huntington Beach
Monday, October 19
7:00pm @ Third Place Books
Wednesday, October 21
7:00 pm @ Books Inc Berkeley
Two more fun things to report: Will buy Star Wars Origami for both the Library collection & for my Origami folding group.


Teeturtle is a fantastic T-Shirt company with simply fun Sci-fi Fantasy designs.  They can be found HERE.


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New York ComicCon 2015 – Day 1


Selected sights and some notes

Arrival: 1:15 p.m.


I decided to not visit the show floor and attended as many panels as I could fit in for the next few hours: DC Comics – Master Class/Art History; Vertigo: The New #1s; Geeks in the Stacks: Engaging Your Library Community with Pop Culture; Star Wars Rebels Season 2 Sneak Preview; Sean Bean Brings Legends to NYCC

Two of the five events were of greater interest to Graphic Novel lovers and librarians: the Vertigo panel that revealed 12 series titles and the practical advice for librarians and libraries that wish to host their own local Cons.

I am intrigued by these first issues from Vertigo coming out in the next 3 months:






And at the Geeks in the Stacks, teen librarian Ivy Weir gave some on-point practical advice on how to host a library Comic Con:

  • Keep it free to attend and friendly to all ages
  • Act like it’s the biggest Con
  • Create a brand
  • Vet your guests
  • Ask your online and real life communities for help
  • Remember this is fun!


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Coretta Scott King Book Awards Breakfast: A Most Memorable Morning from ALA 2015, San Francisco

We always grumble about it being too early (7:00 a.m. on a Sunday during a long weekend of festivities and after a couple of really late night parties); we always know that once we get there, something magical will happen so all our sleepiness will be swept away: when the entire room sang Lift Every Voice and Sing together, when the morning invocation calls to attention of the importance of this award in our still trying time for African Americans, and when the award winners give their heart-felt, thought-provoking speeches.

This year felt like it was the BEST yet!  From Jason Reynold’s tribute to his mother and the power of community, to Kwame Alexander’s rousing spoken words; from Kekla Magoon’s insistence of telling the world the multi-faceted truths behind the single-angled reporting of the media, to Frank Morrison’s belief of encouraging all children to be who they truly are; from Marilyn Nelson’s quiet reminder of the power of words to Christian Robinson’s (and Patricia Hruby Powell) dancing like Josephine Baker!  And of course, to the dreaming and frustration and dreaming again by Jacqueline Woodson and Christopher Myers.

Jackie’s and Chris’ speeches in their printed form can be found on the Hornbook site.

Dream Keepers by Jackie and This untitled speech by Chris are must reads!  Don’t miss this moving tribute to Chris by John Steptoe (new talent winner): Giant (for Christopher Myers)

That entire breakfast was at once extremely somber and electrifying.  These talented African American authors and artists have joined a long line of creative souls who continue to inspire and inform young readers.  Bravo!

(Christian Robinson & Patricia Hruby Powell – illustrator/author duo for Josephine even danced for us.)

Another noteworthy honoree of the day is Deb Taylor (my fellow 2002 Newbery member,) of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore for her Distinguished Services over the years!  Here’s a picture of her giving her passionate speech —



and her talking to Marilyn Nelson, author of Carver: A Life in Poems, (2002 Newbery Honor book winner):


More pictures and reports of this past weekend at ALA can be found on the SLJ site.  And my own photo documentary of the weekend is forthcoming!




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