With the release of the upcoming YA novel-turned-film The Fault in Our Stars, there's a current trend in the public media to see young adult literature as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Here in New York City, we've always had a longstanding love of books for teenagers. Each year the Teen Author Carnival brings together some of the brightest authors for wonderful discussions and great books. But what about kid readers? Don't they deserve some attention as well?
Happily, the first ever Kids Author Carnival will be happening on May 31st from 6-8:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30). Children between the ages of 8-14 will have a chance to see and meet and hear their favorite authors at the Jefferson Market Branch of New York Public Library. Organizer and author Claire LeGrand (The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls and The Year of Shadows) is the creator behind the carnival. She sat down with me to explain a little bit about what it is and where it came from.
So where did the idea of this Carnival get started?
I love attending the Teen Author Carnival (TAC), which is in its sixth year this May. But I've always thought there should be a similar event geared toward middle grade readers and fans. In general, there seem to be fewer large-scale programs for middle grade books than there are for young adult books—and I want that to change! Middle grade needs love, too! So I decided to stop hemming and hawing about it and start such an event myself. It's been a massive undertaking, but hugely rewarding.
How did you manage to get SO MANY amazing authors for it?
I have NO idea. Persistence, I guess? And sending out a TON of emails. (Thank goodness for my intrepid co-organizers—and fellow middle grade authors—Lauren Magaziner and Heidi Schulz.) I'm just so happy and grateful and humbled that so many amazing authors have responded with such enthusiasm. A lot of them have been just as hungry as I have for more great middle grade events. Also, I think they're excited to participate in such a different kind of event—which I'll elaborate on in a second.
Is this the kind of thing you'd like to do again? Would you like this to be a regular annual event?
I would love the KAC to become an annual event! There is a real, growing appetite for middle grade books out there, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Whom would you like to attend?
The KAC is unique because we are focusing our outreach on kids, not adults. Readers of all ages are welcome! But our goal is to get as many kids as possible to attend this event. We want them to have the chance to meet their favorite authors in an informal, festive environment, designed especially for them. Therefore the KAC features not only short Q&A panels but also fun, interactive stations like games and writing exercises. The KAC will conclude with a door prize giveaway, book sale, and signing—all in the beautiful Jefferson Market Library after-hours. What better way to kick off summer vacation??
Thanks, Claire! For more information on the Carnival, please check out the Jefferson Market Library announcement.