It was a steep learning curve, this shelter-in-place pivot from an in-person book festival to an online happening. Instead of two glorious days in May in downtown Berkeley, we worked round the clock to get at least part of our line up ready for an online happening. And not just a two-day online festival. We managed to get two and a half months of just beyond incredible book programs to you via our YouTube Channel.
What can I say about the children’s and YA programming? I learned new skills every single day. I am out of this world grateful to the entire technical team that made it possible for me to produce 30 just absolutely delightful and insightful programs for young audiences. This post is for Dora La Flora, David Gelfand, and Suzanne Rivecca in particular: you were instrumental in this kickass series. Of course, Samee, Jared, Peter, and the whole festival team were also there to make this happen.
But let us not forget the truly amazing moderators of these online sessions. Last year, I started having all middle grade and young adult authors being interviewed by local teenagers. That was such a huge success that I was adamant to repeat this.
Of course, our local teenagers had their own shelter-in-place challenges. No hanging out with friends. Having to navigate online schooling. Cooped up with family for months. And yet, they did it. And the rocked! So here’s the biggest shoutout to you: Renée Diop, Naomi Rose Wilson, Madison Harvey, Jennifer Leon, Laila Butcher, Jasmine Edwards, and Khepera Lyons-Clark, proud members of Cinnamongirl, Inc. Mabyn Lam, Sofia Roscigno, Liam Watt and Sammy Destin of Albany Middle School, Aria Sindledecker all the way from across the Bay, and Oakland’s very own Quinn Boyd-Roberts and Tej Wong. You made me glow with pride. You were funny, smart, confident, and super well-prepared. You went deep and grilled authors where necessary, you brought joy and lightness to the table, you shared your love for reading with the authors, but also your own writing dreams. In short: I am in awe! And I am also heartened because I know that our future, grim as it may seem at the moment, is in extremely capable and compassionate hands. I applaud you all!
For picture books and chapter books, I thought up what turned out to be an innovative move: I paired the authors with their illustrators. Innovative? Well, yes! Many of these author and illustrator duos had never met each other until we recorded their sessions. The joie de vivre that sparks off these programs is simply heaven and makes you forget about shelter-in-place, viruses, and other hardships.
Thank you authors, illustrators and moderators! You made our world a brighter place!
We have one more recording to go and two premieres on July 11, 2020. All programs will stay up on the Bay Area Book Festival’s YouTube Channel. Go and have fun, learn stuff, read books and make sure that all these authors and illustrators can continue to make their amazing books.
As for us? We’re already cooking up new plans for the fall, the winter, and next spring. So stay tuned! We’ll be back with more!