Boston Book Festival recap

The 2014 Boston Book Festival involved a lot of discussion of the boundaries between realism and fantasy. Somewhere along those boundaries, Curious George and Llama Llama paraded around Copley Square; Gregory Maguire sang in character as Baba Yaga; and my eight-year-old self grinned like a fool at her copy of Hello, Mallory, now signed, personalized, and inscribed BSC 4-ever!

curious george   llama llama
As I was not one of the 1200 people to brave the Rick Riordan keynote, the first session I attended was "Middle Grade: Masters of Fantasy," featuring Holly Black, Soman Chainani, Cassandra Clare, and Gregory Maguire and moderated by our own Roger Sutton (my friend: “Is he wearing a bow tie?”). The authors bantered about world-building, how to win over fantasy-haters, and the order in which chapters should be written, which seems to be a sticking point between collaborators (and clearly good friends) Black and Clare. Several dozen young readers lined up to ask questions about everything from writing advice to how Wicked ended up with salacious bits.

mg fantasy panel Masters of Fantasy: Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Soman Chainani, and Gregory Maguire

The "Middle Grade: Journeys Near and Far" panel featured Paul Durham, Laura Godwin, S. E. Grove, and Ann M. Martin, with host Rachel Keeler. Debut authors Grove and Durham talked about their writing journeys as well as the journeys their characters take, and Martin and Godwin played off each other in describing what it’s like to write together. Apparently, one of them is more like The Doll People’s cautious Annabelle, and the other is more like adventurous Tiffany. Not to speculate, but I know which author on the panel has said shy baby-sitter Mary Anne is based on herself

Friend of The Horn Book (and Simmons Center for the Study of Children's Literature director) Cathie Mercier hosted "YA: Reality, Meet Fantasy," featuring A. S. King, Scott Westerfeld, and Meg Wolitzer. Did you know that Scott Westerfeld wrote three interactive Powerpuff Girls novels? I do now, and I also know that he’s hilarious, that Meg Wolitzer is really down-to-earth, and that A. S. King believes YA is such a vibrant community because “teenagers haven’t been shut up yet.” (In a good way.)

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go brag to all the other eight-year-olds about my celebrity encounter.

hello mallory
Shoshana Flax
Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor of The Horn Book Magazine, is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. She was a 2019-2020 member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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Sam Bloom

My younger sister's party trick was pretty great: pick a number, any number, and she would tell you the corresponding BSC book title. So since she had them all, I read them too, and I was a big fan... but I remember getting really annoyed by the little re-cap Martin would put at the beginning of each book. Apparently I couldn't just skip that part, who knows?

Posted : Oct 28, 2014 09:21


It was always Chapter 2. I knew that. And yet, I could never skip it either.

Posted : Oct 28, 2014 09:21

Katie Bircher

I think "Is [Roger] wearing a bow tie?" might be the new "Is the Pope a Catholic?"

Posted : Oct 28, 2014 04:38


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