Literature

Little Lit

AE septbooksSeptember brings a series of unique and popular children’s authors to Bookshop Santa Cruz

The moment a child settles in next to you, her eyes wide as you open a book, is pure magic.  Those pages hold the keys to language, curiosity and imagination, but also talking llamas, warthog weddings and immortal grandfathers. Read to that child, and she will soon slay dragons (or better yet, train them), book in hand, not even realizing that as she sneaks off to finish one more chapter, she’s learning about empathy, courage, and countless other ideas cultivated in the extraordinary garden of children’s literature.

Lucky for us, gardens grow well in Santa Cruz, and fall is harvest season. In fact, a bumper crop of fascinating children’s authors will be coming to Bookshop Santa Cruz this fall as part of an unprecedented Children’s Events series. Mark your calendars and gather up the kids; this is your chance to meet some of the award-winning storytellers who dazzle and delight them.

Rosemary Wells kicks off the series on Monday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. for her new book, Max and Ruby at the Warthog’s Wedding. If you make a habit of reading to children—and you should—she is the reason you can recite the words to Bunny Cakes in your sleep. After writing and illustrating more than 130 books, winning numerous awards, and inventing iconic characters like Max and Ruby, Yoko and McDuff, she hasn’t lost an ounce of her passion for childhood literacy. “The book itself is the golden ring,” she says. “This is how we really learn, by reading.” As for writing, she doesn’t compromise. “Children learn up; they don’t want to be spoken down to. If you’re reading Treasure Island to a room full of older children, believe that the 3-year-old in the room is listening too.”  

Jennifer Holm is next, for her new novel, The Fourteenth Goldfish, on Sunday, Sept. 21 at 3:30 p.m. Best known for the Babymouse series she created with her brother, Matt, when she couldn’t find graphic novels or comics that told stories from a young girl’s point of view, she continues to challenge our notions of typical girlhood through Ellie, who is drawn into the world of science as she tries to work out why her grandfather Melvin seems to be residing in the body of a 13-year-old boy. Hilarity ensues, of course, but Holm also explores the ethics of scientific discovery, as well as the joy of new beginnings, and the nature of the cycle of life.

When Gene Luen Yang, appearing on Monday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. for his graphic novel, The Shadow Hero, decided to revive the story of a masked crusader from the 1940s named The Green Turtle, he felt the weight of doing justice to the first Asian-American superhero. The short-lived original comic revealed no origin story, but he was intrigued by the opportunity to create one that reflected the depth of the immigrant experience. “Every superhero has a super hero identity and a civilian identity, and a lot of their lives are about code switching from one mode of expectations to another. I really think that mirrors something in the immigrant kid’s life.” Indeed, that kid unmasked turns out to be Hank Chu, the American-born, teenage son of Chinese immigrants, living in a fictional Chinatown during the 1930s, but once he dons the green cape, evildoers beware. Yang also wrote the award-winning graphic novel, American Born Chinese, and Boxers & Saints, but he’s best known for his popular comic adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Finally, who is Pseudonymous Bosch? He’ll be in town on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. From what we can tell, he’s the bestselling author of the Secret series, a lover of dark chocolate and stinky cheese, and a very bad magician. He says that his new series, Bad Magic, is his way of getting to be, by proxy, the magician he was never able to be, but his book tells a different story. Clay hates magic, and yet, when he finds himself transported to a camp for troubled kids on a volcanic island, magic may be his only way out. Will Pseudonymous Bosch ever tell us his real name? Possibly. Will he keep writing great books for middle-school readers? Absolutely. “At that age you’re still open to having your notions of the world and universe turned upside down, and to see the magical possibilities.” Well put, but readers coming to the event remain curious. Will there be magic? Should they bring chocolate? Would that be cheesy? It remains a mystery.

A run of interesting events for October promises Young Adult sensations Paolo Bacigalupi and A.S. King, plus Ursula Vernon and John Flanagan. It makes for an inspiring season, so don’t forget to stop by Bookshop Santa Cruz and say hello to your favorite storyteller. All the kids are doing it.

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