Saturday, October 28, 2017

Bookfest@Bankstreet 2017

So Bookfest@Bankstreet happened today. I've attended quite a few and written about some here and here and here and here. I skipped it last year and can't remember why. I very nearly skipped this year but for Jerry Pinkney being on the roster. You see, I am a stalker of poor Jerry Pinkney. As soon as I learned about his appearance, I emailed my colleague and fellow Pinkney stalker, Maggie.

Maggie's the ELL teacher at my school and she is phenomenal. We collaborated on a lesson built around Pinkney's Lion & Mouse. We had begun the lesson before the Youth Media Awards were announced. When Lion and Mouse nabbed the Caldecott, we did a happy dance! I missed Bookfest in 2012 because Maggie and I presented at a workshop featuring Pinkney at the Hudson River Museum. That happened to coincide with the weekend of Superstorm Sandy. Good Times.

Our day began with coffee and breakfast in the lobby. We quickly found The Three Billy Goats Gruff at the table of books for sale through the Bankstreet Book Store. Then headed in to find seats in the auditorium. Again. There were not enough seats to be had and folks were sitting on the stairs. Not that the seats are all that great - straight-backed, albeit padded with very little leg room. They really need to find a bigger venue or limit registration further. 

Anywho. The first panel was moderated by Stephen Savage and was the main event for Maggie and me. #NoWords: Picture Books for Children. Savage started things off by avering that the he doesn't like the term "wordless." He finds it demeaning and requested that we stop called these books wordless. Jerry Pinkney, Barbara Lehman and David Wiesner joined him on this panel. 

Savage entertained with photos of each book taken "in the wild."


Next up was the panel entitled, "it makes Me Laugh: Humor in Children's Literature moderated by Betsy Bird, who has edited an anthology of short stories called Funny Girl. Her panelists were Carman Agra Deedy, Jon Scieszka and Rita Williams-Garcia. It was a bit hard to take notes due to all the laughing, but here are a few quotes I scrawled illegibly in my notebook: 

"The King's fool is always most powerful." Carman Agra Deedy.

"Being funny takes a lot of work." Jon Scieszka.

"I cackle a little when I take my characters down a peg." Rita Williams-Garcia.

Leonard Marcus spoke about the history of Golden Books. 

Then we broke out into our book discussion groups. As usual, there were so many great groups to choose from! I ended up choosing, "A Funny Thing Happened" moderated by SLJ YA books editor, Shelley Diaz. She chose five excellent titles that were laugh-out-loud funny, which is kind of a rarity in YA lit. 

Our box lunch was delish. 

The afternoon consisted of a panel moderated by Carole Boston Weatherford called, "The New Golden Age of Nonfiction for Young People." Her panelists included, Don Tate, author of Strong as Sandow; Candace Fleming, author of Giant Squid and ; Tonya Bolden, author of Pathfinders: the extraordinary journey of sixteen black souls and Eric Velasquez, illustrator of Schomburg: the man who built the library, which was written by Carole Boston Weatherford. I've already purchased each of the books by the panelists. I am particularly excited about the two picture book biographies, which are part of my unit with sixth graders this year.

Finally, Carman Agra Deedy delivered the keynote. I very nearly left early since I heard her speak in Atlanta at ALA Midwinter. I am so glad I stayed. She is an electrifying storyteller.

Another Bookfest@Bankstreet recorded for posterity.

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