I love going to this book festival each year! It seems to really have grown a lot since it began three years ago. This year, I heard they expected about 10,000 teenagers in attendance! Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend on the day of the event since my son was in the regional meet for his awesome power-lifting ability! But, they had a wonderful day just for educators on the day before the big day. I got to see plenty of authors and talk to some that also attended YAK Fest, so it was a great day. Here are my thoughts and observations from the day.
Ally Carter had some really great things to say. She was on a panel with Elizabeth Eulberg, YAK Fest 2017), and they are obviously good friends. Ally told the crowd that she does all of her writing at a Panera Bread by her home. She just plugs in her earbuds and goes!! They even sent her a gift card when she tweeted about it one day. Memorable story: Ally saw a little girl in Panera one day who obviously had cancer. She was wearing an Elsa dress and seemed so happy. She thought to herself that sometimes you just need to wear an Elsa dress for the day to make yourself happy. Her goal is to have her books be someone's Elsa dress. She wants to make people happy with her books.
This is a new author. Her name is Angie Thomas. Remember that name, people. She is going to be around for a while. My favorite part of listening to her, besides listening to her read from her book (!!), was what she said about her favorite books from her childhood. She loved Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry because she grew up in Mississippi and it really hit home with her. She also loved the Harry Potter series and said she was always waiting for her letter to arrive so that she could attend Hogwarts. In her words, "One book gave me a mirror, and the other book gave me a window." Is that beautiful or what??
Here is a video of Angie Thomas reading from her debut book, The Hate U Give.
Ibi Zoboi and Renee Watson have written two beautiful books that everyone should read. These books discuss cultural issues that I know nothing about, but I can't wait to read them so I can learn. After listening to them read from their books, I know that I will be looking for these to order for you very soon.
I can't say enough about this guy. He has the most wonderful speaking voice and is so passionate about the topics he writes about - probably because many of them are reflective of what he has experienced in his past. For instance, in the book The Boy in the Black Suit, he writes about a boy who keeps finding himself going to the funerals of his friends. Jason told the audience that he had his first experience as a pall bearer at the age of 14. He writes what he knows. This includes using "his language" which was something he never saw in the books he was told to read growing up. This is why he didn't read a whole novel until he was 17 years old! I'm going to try and get him to come to YAK Fest in 2018.
|Laurie Halse Anderson|
Who doesn't love Laurie Halse Anderson?? She is so down to earth and loves to talk about her books. She told us that she wrote Speak because of a personal experience similar to what Melinda goes through in the book. She wrote it for herself and never intended for it to published. Laurie told us that it's a topic that isn't discussed enough and that she encourages teenagers to have the courage to talk about tough topics. Her favorite series as a kid was the Nancy Drew books.