For the third year running, children’s book creators will take over an author’s stage for an entire day, and devotees of books for young readers will be happy to learn that today is that day. Sally Dedecker, BEA education director, worked with children’s publishers to orchestrate the day’s programming on the Uptown Stage.
The success of the children’s book-themed stage programs (which last year, says Dedecker, were “some of the best attended stage events” of the show) is largely due to publishers’ creativity and spirit of cooperation. “Many people from different houses came up with great, insightful ideas for programs, panelists, and moderators, and pulled together to suggest books that tie in to various topics,” explains Dedecker. “Since we have limited space on the stage schedule, we went through publishers’ submissions to see what topics and titles we could combine, and to determine what would be of most interest to booksellers.”
The resulting agenda touches on a spectrum of themes, and speakers range from the newcomers spotlighted on the young adult and middle-grade Editors’ Buzz Panels to authors often found on bestseller lists. For those planning their stage itineraries, here’s the lineup of events on the Uptown Stage today.
10–10:30 a.m.: Meet the BEA Young Adult Buzz Authors 2015. Susannah Greenberg, president of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations, moderates a panel of debut novelists: Marie Marquardt (Dream Things True), Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything), Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski (Nightfall), Daniel Kraus (The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, Vol. 1: At the Edge of Empire), and Estelle Laure (This Raging Light).
10:45–11:15 a.m.: Wild at Heart: Animal Fantasy in Children’s Books. A panel of authors—Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce (Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures), Tui T. Sutherland (Wings of Fire: Book Five), and Inbali Iserles (Foxcraft)—explores animal-centric fantasy, magic, and folklore in children’s literature. Author and Time magazine book critic Lev Grossman serves as moderator.
11:30 a.m.–noon: Talking to Teens About Tough Topics. Margot Wood of Epic Reads moderates a discussion among YA authors whose novels tackle disabilities, depression, anxiety, and other difficult issues teens face. Panelists are Aaron Hartzler (What We Saw), Cammie McGovern (A Step Toward Falling), Patrick Ness (The Rest of Us Just Live Here), Ellen Hopkins (Traffick) and Lynn Weingarten (Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls).
12:15–12:45 p.m.: Telling the Truth for Every Age. These authors offer their perspectives on the children’s nonfiction genre: Gabrielle Balkan (The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A. with 50 Fact-Filled Maps!), Winifred Conkling (Radioactive: How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World); Steve Sheinkin (Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War), and Matthew McElligott (Mad Scientist Academy: The Dinosaur Disaster). The moderator is Betsy Bird, New York Public Library Youth Materials Specialist and coauthor of Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature.
1–1:30 p.m.: Meet the BEA Middle-Grade Buzz Authors 2015. Jenny Brown, children’s editor of Shelf Awareness and director of the Center for Children’s Literature at the Bank Street College of Education, moderates a discussion among Alex Gino (George), Lisa Lewis Tyre (Last in a Long Line of Rebels), Nicholas Gannon (The Doldrums), Adam Shaughnessy (The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB), and Ali Benjamin (The Thing About Jellyfish).
1:45–2:15 p.m.: Pranks! Experiments! Reading! Bestselling Middle-Grade Authors Reveal the Science of the Middle-Grade Series. Vicki Oatis, director of Youth Library Services at the Norwalk (Conn.) Public Library, moderates a trio of middle-grade authors—Mac Barnett and Jory John (The Terrible Two) and Jon Scieszka (the Frank Einstein series)—who discuss key ingredients of quality series for young readers.
2:30–3 p.m.: Spotlight on African-American Children’s Authors & Illustrators. Panelists Jerry Pinkney (The Grasshopper & the Ants), E.B. Lewis (illustrator of First Step: How One Little Girl Put Segregation on Trial), and Shane Evans (28 Days: Moments in Black History That Changed the World) share insights into their work. The moderator is Vanesse Lloyd-Sgambati, founder of the African-American Children’s Book Project, and cultural correspondent, WURD-AM radio in Philadelphia.
3:15–3:45 p.m.: Middle Grade Characters & Adventures. Middle-grade authors Corey Ann Haydu (Rules for Stealing Stars), Lauren Oliver (Curiosity House), Kevin Sands (Blackthorn Key), and Ken Oppel (Nest) talk about the characters they’ve developed, the worlds they’ve created, and the adventures that bring these books to life. Peter Lerangis, author of the Seven Wonders series, moderates.