Sharing the Spotlight

On November 6, President George H.W. and Mrs. Barbara Bush hosted a screening of the film version of The Book Thief in Houston, Tex., for 300 guests. Twentieth Century Fox approached Barbara Bush to host the screening because of her work as a literacy advocate. Author Markus Zusak, film director Brian Percival, and stars Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nélisse were in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. Said Barbara Bush, “I would have loved this incredible film under any circumstance, but the fact that one of the key plot lines involved a caring adult teaching a precious child to read – well, that was the icing on the cake. What a painful, tender, and ultimately rewarding story so very well told by all involved.” From l. to r.: President Bush, Barbara Bush, and Zusak.

Kickin’ It

Actor-turned-author Octavia Spencer, who won an Academy Award last year for her role as Minny in The Help, recently wrapped up a three-week book tour for her first middle-grade novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (S&S), which kicks off a mystery series about a 12-year-old Brooklyn-to-Tennessee transplant with a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. Spencer’s stops included a visit to the Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, Calif., where she spoke to a packed auditorium of third, fourth, and fifth graders dressed as ninjas. Shown here, Frostwood Elementary School in Houston, Tex., greeted Spencer with student artwork inspired by her book.

Another Side of Vegas

The 12th annual Vegas Valley Book Festival was held on November 2. Drawing more than 10,000 visitors each year, the event is the largest literary festival in the Las Vegas Valley area and features author readings, book panels, illustration demonstrations, and more activities. Among the guest authors in attendance was Alexandra Bracken (The Darkest Minds series, Disney-Hyperion), who spoke on the Resurrecting the Future panel with fellow YA novelists Kimberly Derting (the Body Finder series, Harper) and Anna Carey (the Eve trilogy, Harper). Seen here, Bracken (l.) and Derting (r.) greet fans and sign books following the panel.

A Local Launch

Lifelong Seattleite Jason Vanhee celebrated the fruits of his literary labors on November 5 with a publication party for his first YA novel, Engines of the Broken World (Holt). His employer of the past 14 years, University Bookstore, played host for the launch. Vanhee began working on the book during the 2009 National Novel Writing Month; his now-editor, Noa Wheeler, read the first pages of the novel at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in 2010.

In Stitches

The staff of Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit First Book takes its annual party and costume competition very seriously: just look at the expressions on the faces of its publisher-and-author-relations team, shown here as characters from Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray). From l. to r.: Erica Perl, Sithara Thalluri, Matthew White, Miriam Keil, and Alison Morris.