Yesterday I attended Book Con in New York. This was actually my third year attending. Despite the sometimes craziness with crowds and poor organization, I had a really good time and was able to see some great panels on YA and children's books.
The first panel I attended was called BFFs Forever with YA superstars Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Gayle Forman, moderated by Sarah Petrie, founder of Forever Young Adult. I have been reading Dessen's books since I was a young teen in the 00's so it was great to see her. I also love Jenny Han. They all spoke about teen girls' friendships, with funny personal stories. They also pointed out how friend break-ups can be so hurtful and have a long-lasting impact yet there is no real language for it like there is for relationship break-ups. It's a topic that hasn't been explored a lot in literature. The three are all friends and supportive of each other as well. You can read a more detailed recap of the panel at Publisher's Weekly here.
Before going to the next panel, I took a walk around the show floor where tons of publishing companies set up booths. I happened to come across Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth. I'll admit, no matter how often my mom tried to get me to read that book as a kid, I always thought it was boring. But it definitely a classic of children's lit.
Next I went to see Taye Diggs and Shane Evans talk about their new picture book, Mixed Me. As you may know, Taye Diggs is a famous actor and actually was just announced as the new star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway. He is divorced from Broadway and Frozen star Idina Menzel and they have a son together. Their son was the inspiration for this book. They talked about race and diversity in children's books. I didn't get a good photo of them, so I'll share this great illustration from the book.
To end the day, I went to Rainbow Rowell's panel. She writes both YA and adult books, her most well-known being Eleanor & Park. My favorite book of hers is actually Fangirl, followed by Landline. She has a sharp, witty sense of humor which was showcased at the panel. We got some insight into her books and writing process, as well as her fangirl obsessions.
All in all, I had a great day! I didn't get any autographs... due to the way the convention is set up, you really have to choose whether you want to get autographs or go to panels, it's very hard to do both. I prefer listening to the panels so that was my choice, and I was happy with it. I bought a cool Book Con t-shirt and got a free tote bag and promotional postcards from two of my favorite up and coming illustrators, Phoebe Wahl and Emma Block. I'm looking forward to next year!