BookFest @ Bank Street 2014
A sellout crowd greeted Leonard S. Marcus and Lindsey Wyckoff, who opened BookFest @ Bank Street 2014 on October 25 with a conversation about “The Making of Goodnight Moon.”
The manuscript of Goodnight Moon was a welcome home gift from Margaret Wise Brown to her artist friend Clement Hurd when he returned form his service in World War II.
For the panel discussion “Presenting the Facts in Picture Books,” three creators talked about their process of researching and distilling information for a picture book audience.
Artist Brian Pinkney thought of the lunch counter in Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, his picture book with his wife, writer Andrea Davis Pinkney, about the Greensboro, NC, sit-ins, as another character. He saw that lunch counter as “holding the memories of all the people there.”
“Science makes me wonder and captures my imagination,” Jason Chin, author and artist of Gravity told the audience. “I write as if I’m teaching someone else. Once I can explain the science, then I can begin the book.”
Deborah Heiligman, author of The Boy Who Loved Math (winner of the 2014 Cook Prize), said the book was 10 years in the making and took both of her sons mentioning Paul Erdös for her to consider the mathematician seriously as a subject.
Book discussions are one of the high points of BookFest @ Bank Street. Here’s a snapshot of them all.
After lunch, we listened to a panel discussion, moderated by Children’s Librarian Allie Jane Bruce, on the topic of “A Search for Understanding: Gender & Identity.” Robie Harris traced the roots of It’s Perfectly Normal (which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year) back to her work with Head Start as a Bank Street teacher, noting that many of the women were teen mothers. “What if we talked to them earlier, before they hit puberty?” she wondered.
Coe Booth said that, as “an NAACP kid,” she modeled the “Man Group” in Kinda Like Brothers after the kinds of discussions she had growing up.
Tim Federle called Nate, the hero of Better Nate than Ever and Five, Six, Seven Nate “highly autobiographical.” He loves writing for middle schoolers because “they get every joke but they’re not yet jaded.” He added, “Anyone who’s survived middle school has been an outsider.”
Susan Kuklin said that when she met Christina, whom she interviewed for Beyond Magenta, their connection was instant. While Christina’s mother was concerned initially about her story appearing in print, Christina said, “If I can get through an all-boy Catholic school dressed as a woman, I can do anything.”
In the Q&A session, Coe Booth talked about how teachers and librarians often say they don’t have her books because they don’t have students with “free and reduced lunch,” code for black students. Tim Federle countered with, “How many wizards do you have?”
For Matt de la Peña, his uncle may have modeled how to be man in his community, but it was Alice Walker’s The Color Purple that “gave me an interior life.”
Photos courtesy of Cheryl Simon. Check back soon for video coverage of the day.