I have been waxing poetic about all of the authors who will be at the Southern Festival of Books, but I have been leaving out an important genre -- children's and young adult authors. I think that genre fell to the wayside before I went back to teaching, but now it's of high interest to me. As a Language Arts teacher for middle school grades, I need to know something about what my students like to read. Therefore, children's and young adult authors are once again on my radar. SFB always invites a wide array of children's authors, and even has a special Children's Tent with activities and guests aimed towards the younger set.
Here are some of the children's and YA authors slated to appear at the Festival this October:
Tom Angleberger, The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Grades 4-6). Summary from Amazon: "Dwight . . . shows up at school one day brandishing a little origami Yoda finger puppet. The really weird thing is that it doles out very un-Dwight-like bits of wisdom, and the mystery is whether the Yoda is just Dwight talking in a funny voice or if it actually has mystical powers. Origami Yoda . . . is the kind of thing that can dominate all those free moments in school for a few weeks. Angleberger’s rendering of such a middle-grade cultural obsession is not only spot-on but also reveals a few resonant surprises hidden in the folds. Naturally, Yoda-making instructions are included."
Marina Budhos, Tell Us We're Home (Grades 6-9). Summary from Amazon: "It is fate when Jaya, Maria, and Lola meet and quickly become best friends. All three eighth graders are members of immigrant families who have settled in an upscale New Jersey community. The girls find it hard to fit in because their mothers work as nannies and housekeepers for their schoolmates' families. Then Jaya's mother is accused of stealing from one of her clients, and the girls wrestle with the growing divide between them and the community and among themselves. . . . These three girls are outcasts, like many teens, and the story may resonate with readers who often feel like outsiders looking in."
Lauren Kate, Torment (Grades 9-12). Summary from Amazon: "This sequel to Fallen (2009) continues the complex tale as Luce tries to uncover the truth and break the cycle of falling in love, dying young, and being reincarnated. Daniel, her lover through the ages and a fallen angel, institutes a truce with Demons to protect her from the Outcasts, who would do her harm. For her safety, Daniel hides her at a boarding school for the Nephilim, children of human and fallen angels, and cautions her to remain on campus and learn all she can. . . . It's unlikely this title will garner new fans for the series, but those already hooked on the epic romance won't want to miss it."
Louis Sachar, The Cardturner (Grades 9-12). Summary from Amazon: "Alton Richard's great-uncle Lester is rich and ailing, a combo that leads Alton's parents to hatch a plan for the teen to cozy up to the old man and carve out a chunk of inheritance. Though blind, Trapp is a brilliant, world-class bridge player and needs someone to read him his cards and make his plays. Enter Alton, who . . . withstands the constant barbs from his irascible uncle and grows more intrigued by the game (in no small part due to the cute, kind-of-crazy girl who also plays). Sachar liberally doles out detailed commentary on the basics and then nuances of the game, and in a nod to the famously dull Moby-Dick chapter on the minutiae of whaling, a little whale image appears when the bridge talk is about to get deep so readers can skip right ahead to a pithy wrap-up. . . . An obvious windfall for smart and puzzle-minded teens, this is a great story to boot, with genuine characters (save the scheming parents) and real relationships, balanced by casual, confident storytelling."
Jon Scieszka, SPHDZ #1! (Spaceheadz) (Grades 3-5). Summary from Amazon: "Michael's first day in fifth grade is not going well. A new school is bad enough, but the teacher has partnered him with two extremely weird kids. Bob and Jennifer tell Michael that they are Spaceheadz from another planet and that they need his help to save the world. Michael wants to save the Earth – but does that mean helping the Spaceheadz or turning them in? The young aliens speak primarily in TV advertising slogans, which fit remarkably–and hilariously–into the dialogue. The intriguing book design includes chapter headings in English and SPHDZ characters, occasional white-on-black pages, and SPHDZ "stickers" scattered throughout the text. The black-and-white cartoon illustrations are often integrated into the text layout, giving the book a graphic-novel feel."
Deborah Wiles, Countdown (Grades 5-8). Summary from Amazon: "More than a few books have been written about growing up in the early 1960s, but Wiles takes her story . . . to an impressive new level by adding snippets of songs and speeches and contemporaneous black-and-white photographs to the mix. Drawing on her own experiences during this turbulent time, Wiles’ stand-in is 11-year-old Franny Chapman. Living near Andrews Air Force Base, Franny and her classmates are used to air-raid drills, where they practice how to “duck and cover.” Worries about a nuclear disaster become concrete when President Kennedy announces Russian missiles are in Cuba. But, at the same time, life goes on, and while rumors of war swirl, Franny must also deal with family issues, including a shell-shocked uncle who embarrasses her, an older sister with secrets, and a best friend who has eyes for someone else."
Mo Willems, Knuffle Bumny Free: An Unexpected Diversion (PreK-2). Summary from Amazon: "Trixie and her family are off on a fantastic trip to visit her grandparents—all the way in Holland! But does Knuffle Bunny have different travel plans? An emotional tour de force, Knuffle Bunny Free concludes one of the most beloved picture-book series in recent memory, with pitchperfect text and art, photos from around the world, and a stunning foldout spread, culminating in a hilarious and moving surprise that no child or parent will be able to resist."
Make sure to follow @SoFestofBooks on Twitter so that you can try to win their ongoing Twitter author contest. Watch for clues about a different Festival author each week; be the first to guess the author, and win a pass to be first in line for the author signing of your choice. Also check out their Facebook page for additional info leading up to the Festival.