This week, Sonia Manzano takes the stage with Rachel Renée Russell and family; David Levithan, John Corey Whaley, Laurent Linn, and Sarah Prager talk LGBTQ YA; illustrators celebrate the opening of a Dr. Seuss-inspired exhibition; Harlem-area readers attend a kick-off event for the Book Rich Environments initiative; the Nocturnals series entertains kids at pediatric hospitals; and Leda Schubert celebrates her book and Pete Seeger at a musical launch.

A Big ‘Draw’ For Readers

The Thalia Kids’ Book Club at Symphony Space welcomed Dork Diaries author Rachel Renée Russell, who spoke in conversation with author and former Sesame Street star Sonia Manzano. Also joining them were Russell’s daughters and collaborators on the series, Nikki and Erin, who both read passages from the Misadventures of Max Crumbly and Dork Diaries series. Nikki made secret drawings of children from the audience, and later brought them on stage to see their portraits.

An Openly YA Panel

Authors (from l.) John Corey Whaley, Laurent Linn, Sarah Prager, and David Levithan appeared at Books of Wonder in New York City for an Openly YA panel discussion on June 13. Whaley (Highly Illogical Behavior), Linn (Draw the Line), and Levithan (You Know Me Well, written with Nina LaCour) were celebrating the paperback releases of their recent books, and Prager was there in support of her recently published nonfiction book for teens, Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World, which profiles figures from LGBTQ history. Among the topics the authors discussed were the evolution of gay characters in YA, queer books or characters that were important to them when they were younger, and pushback against writing LGBTQ content.

Cats in Hats

Members of the Western Massachusetts Illustrator’s Guild attended an opening reception for Cats in Hats, a celebration of Dr. Seuss, at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Mass., on June 9. The exhibition features more than two dozen illustrations of cats wearing hats, and is being held in recognition of the new Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Mass. Here, author-illustrator Grace Lin stands with gallery owner Richard Michelson in front of Lin’s piece, “Good Things.”

Spreading the (Book) Wealth

The National Book Foundation, the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, and the Campaign for Grade Level Reading have joined forces for the Book Rich Environments initiative. So far, the organizations have worked together to provide more than 270,000 books to areas with limited access to reading material. Penguin Random House, Hachette, and Macmillan were among the publishers that donated. The Manhattan Book Rich Environment kick-off event was held on June 12 at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center in East Harlem. Readers selected books and met authors like Jeanne Birdsall, seen here with an attendee. Additional events will take place throughout the country this summer.

Nocturnal Visitors

Fabled Films introduced their partnership with the Ryan Seacrest Foundation’s broadcast media centers, called Seacrest Studios, in 10 pediatric hospitals nationwide. The studios will be using the Nocturnals series, written by Tracey Hecht and illustrated by Kate Liebman, to entertain children at the hospital. The first event was held at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Events included a read-aloud and viewings of animated shorts featuring the Nocturnals. Art therapists also transformed kids into Nocturnal characters—like this girl, whose face was painted like Bismark, a sugar glider from the series.

Sing Out!

Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Vt., welcomed Leda Schubert for the launch of her picture book Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing (Roaring Brook/Porter), illustrated by Raúl Colón, on June 10. The store saw their biggest crowd yet in their children’s room. In keeping with the musical subject-matter of the book, Schubert—who is a musician as well as an author—and guests sang in celebration, while accompanied by banjo player Mark Greenberg.