My trip up the road to the Texas Teen Book Festival @TXTeenBookFest #ttbf15

My trip up the road to the Texas Teen Book Festival @TXTeenBookFest #ttbf15

This weekend was another great Texas Teen Book Festival here in Austin. Here is how I spent my day.

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I skipped the Star Wars trivia session and opted to get some work done in the meeting space for my first panel. I really can’t ever just be doing one thing at at time…

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There was an interesting panel for parents attending with their kids on Dr. Sara Villanueva’s new book The Angst of Adolescence. Dr. Villanueva is an Associate Professor of Psychology at St. Edwards University and she just sent one of her children off to college out-of-state so she speaks from personal and professional experience. She presented clinical research in an accessible way to help parents understand their teens. Luckily my two children are both (just barely!) under four and I won’t have to use those tips for awhile! But it was helpful information for anyone who works with teens.

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Sonia Manzano gave a great speech and read two passages from her new book, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. Here is an article on her from American Libraries Magazine. She was candid about a less-than-ideal childhood where she turned to media to escape what her family and neighbors referred to as ‘la lucha’, or the struggle. The passage in which she describes seeing West Side Story for the first time left me teary. “My God,” she said, “Have I been asleep until now?” She described how it felt to see on the screen everything she saw around her every day: the stoop, the street corner, the vivid colors. But it was beautiful instead of hideous, like reality. “I think that is what art IS,” she said. “Taking the everyday and making it beautiful.”

She read a passage where she accidentally caught a brief moment of Sesame Street on TV where two black people where beautiful, smiling, and kind characters with letters and numbers flashed above their heads. When she became a character on the show and eventually a writer, she wanted to portray the person that she had always wished for as a child. She spent 44 years on Sesame Street! I am looking forward to checking out her book!

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So many books for sale!

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I am currently reading Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan and listening to Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray so I was excited to see the two of them. Levithan edited Bray’s book Beauty Queens so they talked a bit about their relationship as author and editor and the friendship they have developed over the years.

The best part of the day was seeing the bus loads of (super diverse!!) teens from all over Texas and the country that came  for this one day event. Groups of teens wearing brightly colored shirts that said things like “We Like Big Books and We Cannot Lie…” were standing in line buying books, getting books signed, taking pictures with authors, listening to panels, and lining up to ask authors questions.

Teens are reading and loving it! The kids are all right!

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