This week, Wimpy Kid publishers unite; Kwame Alexander is feted in Brooklyn; Minneapolis celebrates Beyoncé and books; the Yonkers Public Library welcomes Sandra Cisneros; kid entrepreneurs show what they’re made of; and stars gather to celebrate student writers.
A Friendly Bunch
Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney (front row, center) hosted the first annual “Awesome Friendly Gathering,” in which his publishing teams from around the world joined Kinney and Wimpy Kid Inc. for three days of brainstorming, presentations, and discussions about upcoming projects. Approximately 30 publishing representatives from 10 countries participated in the summit, which took place June 4–6 in Plainville, Mass., where Kinney lives and runs an independent bookstore. The event gets its name from the new Wimpy Kid spin-off book, Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson’s Journal (Amulet, Apr.), in which hero Greg Heffley’s best friend has a turn as narrator. Here, Team Greg and Team Rowley get ready to face off for a friendly game of whiffle ball.
Let’s Have a Ball
On May 22, Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander was honored at the Brooklyn Public Library’s 2019 Ball for Brooklyn, which was held at the Barclays Center. Hosted by writer Baratunde Thurston, the gala also honored Ample Hills Creamery and the Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets. During his acceptance speech, Alexander spoke of his childhood in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and read from his new picture book, The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, one of four titles that launched the author’s Versify imprint at HMH Books for Young Readers this spring.
Author Sarah Warren (back row, center), recently visited Lucy Craft Laney Community School in Minneapolis, to commemorate the third anniversary of Beyoncé Day on May 25, 2016, as declared by the state’s governor at the time, Mark Dayton. As part of her visit, Warren spoke with students about her new picture book biography about the superstar, Beyoncé: Shine Your Light (HMH, June), illustrated by Geneva Bowers. The children also received Beyoncé Day T-shirts.
Coming of Age
The Foundation for the Yonkers Public Library, in partnership with Yonkers Public Schools, hosted an event with Sandra Cisneros titled “Coming of Age in America: An Author Talk with Sandra Cisneros.” The event, held on May 20 at the Riverfront Library in Yonkers, N.Y., drew 300 students. Cisneros’s presentation was also livestreamed to more than 450 students in grades seven to 12 throughout Westchester County. Following the author talk, Cisneros also held a more intimate conversation with a small group of Yonkers students.
Brian Weisfeld, co-author of the middle grade series starter The Startup Squad (Imprint) with Nicole C. Kear, celebrated the book’s launch at the Palo Alto Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, Calif., on May 19. Weisfeld invited 22 local girl entrepreneurs to participate in a business fair-style event, where they could present their business and speak with attendees. The event aligned with the mission of the series, which is to empower and inspire girls, whatever their passions may be. Here, Weisfeld appears with the young innovators, who show off their products. Photo: Gaurav Mehrotra.
The Stars Come Out
Celebrities gathered at Carnegie Hall in New York City to pay tribute to 800 teen artists and writers, as part of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards presentation. Attending the national ceremony on June 6 were (second row, second from l.): Tracy K. Smith, 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States; actress, writer, and producer Tina Fey; Richard Robinson, chairman and CEO of Scholastic; fashion designer Zac Posen; astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz; actress Rose Byrne; and the Gold Medal Portfolio recipients. Founded in 1923, the scholarship is the nation’s longest-running program for creative teens in grades seven through 12; the awards are presented by the nonprofit organization the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. This year, more than 340,000 works of art and writing were submitted by students in every state. Sixteen high school seniors received the program’s highest honor, the Gold Medal Portfolio, which includes a $10,000 scholarship.