This week, “kindness” is the word of the day in Chicago; two classic middle-grade series get new treatments; a social media campaign promotes picture books; a former child soldier speaks to readers; a “nerdy bird” finally fits in; and YA authors thrive at a literary festival.

Choosing Kind

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel declared October 17 as a city-wide Choose Kind Day, which promotes kindness and taking a stand against bullying. R.J. Palacio, author of Wonder (Knopf), spoke at Mother McAuley High School for an event celebrating the message behind the day. The occasion, which drew 900 people, also honored Mary Cate Lynch, a four-year-old girl born with a craniofacial condition – the same experienced by the character August Pullman in Wonder. Kerry Lynch, Mary Cate’s mother, also spoke at the event. Here, Palacio (third from right, last row) stands with attendees, including Mary Cate at front and center.

Perennial Favorites Revisited

At New York Comic Con on October 11, authors Ann M. Martin (l.) and Raina Telgemeier spoke on a panel called: “Goosebumps and the Baby-Sitters Club Revisited” on October 11. They were joined by R.L. Stine and Dave Roman. Telgemeier and Roman have each, respectively, created graphic novel adaptations of Stine’s Goosebumps and Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club series. The panel was also a timely one as the Goosebumps movie released this month.

Getting Behind Picture Books

The Eric Carle Museum has launched a campaign to promote picture books using the hashtag #GetBehindPictureBooks – and they mean it literally. The museum is asking authors and picture book lovers to take photographs showing themselves peering from behind favorite picture books and to post them on social media sites. More than 100 posts have already been shared by the likes of Mo Willems, Suzanne Collins, Judy Blume, and many more. Here, Eric Carle gets behind a copy of his own The Nonsense Show (Philomel).

A Harrowing and Hopeful Story

Michel Chikwanine, co-author (with Jessica Dee Humphreys) of Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War (Kids Can Press), spoke to more than 300 students at P.S. 126 in Manhattan and signed copies of the book, which is drawn from Chikwanine’s own experience being abducted from a schoolyard in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forced to become a soldier when he was five years old. Here, students listen to Chikwanine speak about his life story and that of other child soldiers.

Bird Is the Word

Illustrator Matt Davies attended a story time event at WORD Bookstore in Jersey City, N.J., on October 10. Davies, who illustrated Aaron Reynolds’s Nerdy Birdy (Roaring Brook/Porter) provided a drawing tutorial for the audience (with the assistance of events coordinator Lydia Hutcheons), completing an illustration of a bird that was a little too big for the pages of the book.

Talking Books in the Twin Cities

The Twin Cities Literary Festival drew 7,000 booklovers to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul on October 17. Twenty children’s authors met fans in the Children’s Pavilion for young readers, Middle-Grade HQ, and in the Teen Tent, where authors gathered for the panel discussion: “Fraught with Peril: Surviving a YA World.” From left: Julie Kagawa, E.K. Johnston, Rebecca Hahn, and Tom Isbell.