By Rachel Weiss-Feldman
At barely 7:30 in the morning on day two of BEA 2012, the main event hall was nearly full and already energetic, all for the Annual Children’s Author Breakfast. Excited attendees were there for the panel of authors, which included an Emmy Award-winning Glee cast member, a hot (selling) YA author and ‘vlogger,’ and a renowned Newberry winner. There was additional excitement for the Women’s National Book Association, as we opened the program with the presentation of the 2012 Pannell Awards.
The WNBA-sponsored Pannell Book Award is given annually to two bookstores—one general and one with a children’s specialty—who stimulate, promote, and encourage children’s and young people’s interest in books. Stores are nominated by WNBA members as well as those in the book community. Winners receive $1,000 and a framed original illustration from a known children’s author. The Pannell Awards have been given out since 1983. The goal of these awards for the WNBA is to champion the work of booksellers everywhere who bring their passion for books to children and young adults.
This year’s BEA Children’s Author Breakfast was opened by National WNBA President and Pannell Committee Chair, Valerie Tomaselli. She presented the award winners and also gave background about the award and the WNBA. She gave thanks to the Pannell Award judges and to Penguin Books for Young Readers, whose generous gift helped with the underwriting of the awards.
This year’s winning bookstores: Book Beat in Oak Park, MI and Monkey See, Monkey Do in Clarence, NY. Book Beat, a general bookstore, was lauded by jurors for its “tremendous success as an independent haven within a tough urban environment.” Particularly impressive to the judges was the store’s initiation of the celebration of International Peace Day in local schools. Owners Colleen Kammer and Cary Loren graciously accepted their $1000 prize, plus an original illustration by Coretta Scott King Book Award-winner George Ford, from his book Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (Just Us Books, November 1990).
Monkey See, Monkey Do was lauded by judges for its enthusiastic approach to getting kids interested in reading. Monkey See, Monkey Do set up a summer camp program for 300 children, as well as active book clubs, reading and writing programs, and crafts. They were unfortunately not able to attend the breakfast, so we accepted their prizes and illustration on their behalf. Their prizes include an original piece from Jenni Desmond, from her upcoming book Red Cat, Blue Cat (Blue Apple Books, September 2012).
The main event, the author presentations, was highly entertaining. Walter Dean Myers made the formal opening remarks. His message: stress the importance of reading to young people. “What we need to do is develop the next generation of readers. And make every child a reader. Reading has been the key to my way of life; it has transformed my existence,” said Myers.
Chris Colfer, star of Glee, was adorable and funny. His upcoming book is The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell (Little, Brown, July 2012), in which two siblings fall into a magical land where fairy tales are real. They are stories, he says, that he’s been writing since age 10. The Land of Stories is being published by Little, Brown, who Chris thanked profusely. John Green probably got an equal amount of gushing from the lady bloggers and YA readers in the audience. His novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is a #1 NYT Bestseller and a Best Book on numerous book lists. Lois Lowry talked about the last time she was on a BEA panel in 1987. Her new book, Son, is the 3rd sequel to her Newberry Award-winning dystopian novel, The Giver. About writing The Giver, Lowry said, “People always say write what you know. It makes more sense to me to write what you don’t know. What you wonder about.” Lowry stated that she would never have written the Giver series if she just stuck to writing what she knew. As a wanna-be writer who has, many times, been given that particular piece of advice, I found Lowry’s advice refreshing and impressive.
Kadir Nelson presented a slideshow of page illustrations from his newest picture book, I Have a Dream (Schwartz & Wade, October 2012), and a montage of covers from his other books, including We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball (Hyperion, January 2008), which won the CASEY Award for baseball titles. Chris Colfer amusingly helped with the PowerPoint slides. Nelson’s books have earned two Caldecott Honors, the Coretta Scott King Book Award, and The CASEY Award given to the best baseball books.
Attendees received tote bags filled with books discussed by the panelists. They left with a good awareness of children’s books to come, and hopefully some peaked interest in the WNBA!
Rachel Weiss-Feldman, the NYC Chapter Membership Chair, has enjoyed working in book and non-profit marketing since 1990. She is currently having a great time going through some amazing books discovered at the 2012 BookExpo America. Rachel is currently reading America, You Sexy Bitch by Meghan McCain and Michael Ian Black (Perseus), on sale this month.
For more on the Pannell Awards Ceremony at BEA, read the Publishers Weekly article, “Pannell Award Honors Two Bookstores at BEA.”