Beginning this week, libraries on the West Coast are being treated to free books, extra funds, and a special brand of entertainment, all thanks to Jeff Kinney. The author-illustrator is hitting the road to promote No Brainer (Abrams, out now), the 18th book in his bestselling Diary of a Wimpy Kids series.
During live performances of “The No Brainer Show,” Kinney will pay tribute to the scores of librarians who connect their patrons with engaging books. “With the wave of book banning sweeping the country, librarians have been thrust into the forefront of the culture wars,” Kinney told PW. “It’s so important to cherish, respect, and uplift librarians, whose passion is to put the right books in the hands of readers. The work librarians do changes and sometimes saves lives.”
Local bookstores stretching from San Diego to Bainbridge Island, Wash., are also joining the action, playing host to Kinney’s “No Brainer Show.” The author himself will moonlight as master of ceremonies during each hour-long event, in which he tests readers and their families on their quick-thinking abilities.
Here’s what fans can expect when Kinney’s tour van rolls into town over the next two weeks:
Library-Bound. During his West Coast tour, Kinney will contribute $100,000 to local and school libraries and make surprise pit stops to community libraries. The author partnered with 11 publishers to donate books to help diversify libraries’ existing collections—something he has come to appreciate as an adult. “Growing up, there were lots of books available to me that were about kids who looked like me and had a similar upbringing,” he said. “Truthfully, I took it for granted. But I’ve come to realize how vital it is for a young reader to be able to find positive reflections of themselves in books.”
Honoring the Extraordinary. Kinney will be conducting a nationwide search to reward librarians for their work in their respective communities. Winners will receive a weekend trip to Boston—hosted by Kinney—while one grand prize winner will be sent to New York City as a special guest at next year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (Wimpy Kid main character Greg Heffley has been a balloon in the parade since 2010. The contest closes on December 31, 2023.
Readers Got Game. Librarians aren’t the only ones who will be rewarded. Kids and their families will be able to participate in a one-hour game show, conducted by Kinney at West Coast bookstores where they can compete to win prizes on behalf of their local library.
Writer Meet-and-Greet. Participants will have a chance to meet guest writers making appearances along the tour route. Earlier this week, Matt de la Peña visited Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, while Jon Klassen and Maggie Wheeler stopped by Pages: A Bookstore in Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Indie Bookshop Pit Stops. The remaining schedule for “The No Brainer Show” includes:
• Thursday, October 26: Wild Sisters Book Company in Sacramento, Calif. (Special guest: Booki Vivat)
• Friday, October 27: Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif. (Special guest: Gene Yang)
• Saturday, October 28: Hicklebee’s in San Jose, Calif. (Special guest: Judd Winick)
• Sunday, October 29: Rakestraw Books in Danville, Calif.
• Thursday, November 2: Third Street Books in McMinnville, Ore.
• Friday, November 3: Barnes & Noble in Portland, Ore.
• Saturday, November 4: Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, Ore.
• Sunday, November 5: King’s Books in Tacoma, Wash.
• Monday, November 6: Brick and Mortar Books in Redmond, Wash.
• Tuesday, November 7: Village Books and Paper Dreams in Bellingham, Wash.
• Wednesday, November 8: Eagle Harbor Book Co. in Bainbridge Island, Wash.