YALLFest a great time for fans of young adult books

  • Sunday, November 24, 2013

If you walked the streets of downtown Charleston on Saturday, Nov. 9, in the vicinity of the American Theater, Charleston Music Hall and Blue Bicycle Books, you were probably surprised to see a lot of people, especially young adults, waiting in line and carrying stacks of books. The reason they were standing there was that Blue Bicycle Books, together with Amazon.com, had launched their young adult book festival – YALLFest – for the third year in a row. Fifty of the country’s top young adult authors participated in panels, coffee table talks, and book signings.

As I recently became a full-time employee at the Mount Pleasant Regional Library and part of my job includes Young Adult services, I thought it would be a good idea to sign up to volunteer at this literary fest. I had no idea with to expect or what I needed to do.

The only thing I knew for sure was that I had to be on my feet for at least four and a half hours. At first I was assigned to be a “crew” member at one of the book signing locations. Basically I needed to make sure that the line of fans kept moving in an orderly manner so authors would be able to sign as many books as possible within their appointed time.

When I arrived at the location, I was told that I was reassigned to the American Theater where the coffee table talks were held – and boy, did I enjoy that.

Every 45 minutes, two authors would come and sit at a small round table and ask each other questions, some personal, but most work-related. Later they would answer questions from the audience. Rainbow Rowell, author of “Eleanor and Park,” shared the table with Stephanie Perkins, author of “Lola and the Boy Next Door.” Rainbow told the audience that the problem the main character in her book had with her mother was based on her own difficult relationship with her mother. Both authors warned future writers that they had to be careful not to become a recluse when they decided to become full-time writers. Rainbow admitted that she has to make herself go out of the house to buy groceries, and sometimes it takes several days for her to respond to a phone call.

Pseudonymous Bosch, the pen name of the author who wrote “The Secret Series,” was questioned about his real name, and of course, he was keeping it a secret. His table partner was Adam Gidwitz, author of “A Tale Dark and Grimm.” He explained why he ended up writing this specific book. Adam is a teacher and one day he was asked to be a substitute librarian for a day. One of his duties was reading a story to a group of second graders. After deep consideration he decided to read one of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. As we all know, these fairy tales are not rated G; in general, they are very violent. But Adam picked one that he thought would be okay. To make a long story short, though Adam is a great writer and a very entertaining storyteller, students were leaving the room after the story was told, eyes downcast and not really happy campers – except one girl, who went to him and said, “You should write a book about this.” And that’s what he did.

Authors Ally Condie (the “Matched” trilogy) and Marie Lu (the “Legend” trilogy) finished the afternoon coffee table talks by discussing their dystopian novels, and Marie admitted that her protagonist is actually smarter than she is.

I hope you attended this year’s festival and enjoyed it as much as I did. If you missed it, I really recommend you go next year, especially if you have an aspiring young adult writer in your household. It is a great experience to see your favorite writer in the flesh and listen to his enthusiastic stories and discussions.

Library Programs

PLAY: Thanksgiving Fun (all ages)

Saturday, Nov. 23 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

Create a colorful turkey craft.

Tellabration: Tales in the Afternoon (ages 4 and older)

Saturday, Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m.

Take part in this annual worldwide celebration of laughter and storytelling. Enjoy Claire Willett’s collection of puppets and stories about diverse cultures and a variety of animals.

PLAY: Lego Club (ages 4 and older)

Saturday, Nov. 30 from 2-3 p.m.

What can you build with Legos?


Wee Reads (0-24 months)

Thursday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m.

Time for Twos (2-3 years)

Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 10:30 a.m.

Preschool Storytime (3-5 years)

Thursday, Nov. 21 at 11:30 a.m.

Monday, Nov. 25 at 3:30 p.m.

Mirjam Veldkamp works in the reference department at the Mount Pleasant Regional Library (1133 Mathis Ferry Road, 843-849-6161, www.mtplibrary.blogspot.com, www.ccpl.org, find us on Facebook). Remember to email MtpReference@ccpl.org if you wish to receive a PDF copy of the programs being held each month at Mount Pleasant Regional.

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