Monday, October 24, 2011

Things I Learned at The Texas Book Festival

I didn't take as many notes this year as I usually do, but I'll try to put up a few recaps later this week. Today I want to share a few things I learned at this year's festival:

1. Jack Gantos is as funny as his books. And he talks with his hands more than I do, which is a very endearing trait.

2. Cynthia Leitich Smith and Barry Lyga both have an understanding of the comic/graphic format that I will never possess. The visual differences between a prose manuscript and a comic manuscript are fascinating. Also, listening to these two talk about the format leaves no doubt they are not only professionals, but also unabashed fans of the graphic novel. They like what they do, which is why they do it so well. (and I probably owe Barry Lyga an apology for bossing him around so I could take his picture)

3. Authors whose books get challenged are emotionally hurt by it, but they usually have letters from actual teen readers to validate their book. These letters can help overturn the challenges sometimes. Occasionally, even a librarian will make a strange request that smacks of censorship to a visiting author. David Levithan, Ellen Hopkins, Jay Asher, and Jessica Lee Anderson have thoughtful insight on the subject of book banning/challenging.

4. Some conversations make for great eavesdropping, particularly conversations between Libba Bray and Sarah Dessen or Rebecca Stead and Kate DiCamillo. These women are all funny, warm, and passionate about what they do. They all have a different process but a shared perspective about the importance of stories. 

5. Our State Capitol has entirely too many steps! And I'll be more than happy to walk them all again next year.
Hope you got to enjoy the Texas Book Festival. And if you missed it, I hope to see you there next year. I'll be the one buying more books I said I wasn't going to buy, but it will be okay. It's for a good cause.

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