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BEA: Where to Start?

Book Expo America comes around once a year in late May, early June and it is an extravaganza of books. It’s pricey to spend a few days in New York but they do offer hotels that make it a bit more palatable (gulp!). I have to say, it’s worth the money.

On Wednesday, May 28th, School Library Journal hosted their annual Day of Dialog.  It costs about $35 and for that you get an amazing day of presentations by children’s and YA authors on a variety of subjects. In addition, the publishers do short presentations about what is coming out this summer and fall. Check out the schedule of this year’s event: http://www.slj.com/dayofdialog/schedule/

This year we started off with Jacqueline Woodson who has a new book coming called Brown Girl Dreaming (pub. date August 28, 2014). She read from the book and gave some background on it – it was such a great speech. The book? 9780399252518_p0_v1_s600-1She has created one of the most impressive autobiographies I have ever read. First of all, it is written in verse and, let me tell you, it is exquisite. Her story is that of a child of the Civil Rights movement and the South and a large, loving family that envelopes her to this day. It is amazing. Here she is signing ARCs of the book later in the day.

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Next came a panel on Wordless Picture Books (WPB). Take a minute and think…all of the Caldecott Honor books this year were Wordless Picture Books (or nearly). David Wiesner’s Mr. Wuffles!, Molly Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo,  and Aaron Beckers’ Journey all won Caldecott Honors. That has never happened before. Teachers like WPB because they rely on visual literacy, not the actual ability to read. Yet there is a story there and practice in understanding stories and story structure is incredibly beneficial to children. If a child is having difficulty reading, a WPB is just the thing for them. The art itself is phenomenal so kids will become engrossed on that level as well. And perhaps they will write their own story?

Arron Becker did Journey. Here’s the book and here’s Aaron signing. He’s such a nice guy and so talented. He has a new WPB coming called Quest.  Can’t wait!

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Molly Idle was terrific. I swear she is always smiling. Her Caldecott Honor was Flora and the Flamingo and it’s a wonderful wordless story of Flora and the dance of imitation she does with a flamingo. The art is beautiful. She has a new one coming in late September called Flora and the Penguin and it looks terrific. Here are  the two titles…I neglected to get a photo of Molly although here’s a shot of the entire panel. Molly, obviously is second from the left. Raul Colon (WPB is Draw! comes out in September) is far left, Molly, Aaron Becker, and Bob Staake (Bluebird).

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The morning continued with a fabulous panel on Diversity in Middle Grade Fiction. It’s a terrible photo but here’s the panel from left to right: Brenda Woods, Kwame Alexander, Raul Gonzalez, Coe Booth, and Kat Yeh. They were awesome! Brenda has the most wonderful novel this year that I absolutely loved, The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond.  Kwame has a new book out called The Crossover, written in verse, and it has gotten rave reviews. That’s next on my list! Raul has an illustrated story book called Lowriders in Space.  Does that sound like something middle school readers will go for? Coe Booth has done two books that I really think highly of, Tyrell and Kendra. These are set in the inner city and the stories are very gritty and realistically done. Her new one is Kinda Like Brothers and I am expecting great things from it. Lastly, was Kat Yeh who has a new book coming called The Truth About Twinkie Pie. I was so impressed by Kat and can’t wait to read the ARC.

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Are your appetites whetted? 🙂 More tomorrow in the Day of Dialog and BEA. There was a ton of things going on!

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