Healing, One Page at a Time

Twenty-seven children’s book authors and illustrators came together to offer two days of stories, healing, and new beginnings for the community of Newtown, Conn., in the aftermath of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. The May 17–18 event, called “Turning the Page: New Stories for Newtown,” was organized by author Tony DiTerlizzi in partnership with the Children’s Book Council, the Cyrenius H. Booth Library in Newtown, and children’s librarian Alana Bennison, in conjunction with a grant from the Barnhart Foundation. On Friday, Newtown’s public schools and a parochial school each received visits from a few of the authors and illustrators. On Saturday, Newtown Middle School opened its doors to the public for a series of panel discussions, meet-and-greets, art activities, and book giveaways. The guest writers and artists also enjoyed a dinner reception at the C.H. Booth Library with several Newtown-area library media specialists. From l. to r.: illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser, author-illustrator Brian Selznick, Pia Ledina and her son, Suzanne Hurley, Jeanne Bugay, author Christopher Paolini, author-illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, Bev Bjorklund, Yvonne Cech, and author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney.

A Compassionate Reunion

R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder (Knopf) and Meg Medina, author of Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass (Candlewick), were the guests of honor at a midday event at La Casa Azul Bookstore in Harlem on May 18. It wasn’t the first meeting for Medina (l.) and Palacio. In fact, the two were best friends throughout their elementary school years in Flushing, Queens. Coincidentally, they both grew up to write novels that address the repercussions of school bullying. On her blog, Medina had written a post about the history of their friendship, accompanied by photos of them together as kids. At the recent event, the authors spoke about coming-of-age, becoming writers, and why they both decided to write about bullying in their respective books.

Red-Carpet Reunion

Performer and author Tim Federle, whose debut novel, Better Nate Than Ever (S&S), is about a teen who doesn’t let anything get in the way of his Broadway dreams, co-chaired the 10th annual Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s Respect Awards, which were held on May 20 in New York City. The awards honor individuals who contribute to making schools safe and supportive environments for LGBT students and their allies. Among the honors presented was the GLSEN Courage Award, given to NBA player Jason Collins in recognition of his bravery in coming out as a gay athlete. For Federle, the gala was also an opportunity to reconnect with Lilla Crawford, whom he’d met while working on the musical Billy Elliot. Here, Federle and Crawford (currently starring as Annie on Broadway) enjoy a moment on the red carpet.

Power Panel

Elissa Brent Weissman (r.) author of The Short Seller (Atheneum), about a middle-school girl who invests in the stock market, was joined by Elisabeth Dahl (Genie Wishes, Abrams/Amulet), Erica S. Perl (When Life Gives You OJ, Knopf), and Shawn K. Stout (The Penelope Crumb series, Philomel) for an event called Meet Authors with Girl Power. More than 75 girls ages of 8–12 attended the panel, which was held at the Howard County Library in Columbia, Md., on May 17. It was a cozy affair, with quilts and sleeping bags spread out on the floor and s’mores for snacking. The authors talked about the heroines in their books, specifically about what their characters think is hardest about being a girl, best about being a girl, and their characters’ proudest moments and dreams. The audience members also got the chance to share their own thoughts on the topics. Though the event was the first of its kind in the space, the library is hoping to make it a regular series.