Meg Medina and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich in conversation with young writers Mariah McCoy and Giselle Caban
Sunday, May 9
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Newbery Medalist Meg Medina’s new book, Merci Suárez Can’t Dance (a Kirkus “Most Anticipated Book of 2021”), re-introduces us to her touching, funny titular character, now a seventh-grader. Joining her in conversation is celebrated author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich with It Doesn’t Take a Genius, a hilarious and moving coming-of-age tale about a young boy’s self-actualizing journey at a historic Black summer camp. These two popular authors are interviewed by Mariah McCoy, 14, and Giselle Caban, 15, two writers who are part of the inaugural cohort of Write Your Story, a yearlong creative-writing workshop for young girls of color in partnership with Cinnamongirl, Inc. Tune in for a warm and intimate discussion of new books, the creative process, and the necessity of anchoring and nurturing diverse voices in literature.
Teen activists Shreya Ramachandran, Lilly Platt and Haven Coleman in conversation with Rachel Sarah
Sunday, May 9
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
Learn how to save the world like a girl! Shreya Ramachandran, 17, Lilly Platt, 12, and Haven Coleman, 14, three phenomenal young women of Girl Warriors, bring us on their fearless climate-activism journey. From leading climate strikes to suing their governments, these inspiring eco-advocates will not back down until we have a planet that’s sustainable, healthy, and hospitable to all. Their stories are brought to life by Rachel Sarah in her book GIRL WARRIORS: How 25 Young Activists Are Saving the Earth, and they’re joining her for a spirited look at how we can all be warriors for justice and a better world.
This event is also part of the Festival’s Women Lit series
Young Writers of Cinnamongirl, Inc. in conversation with Misa Sugiura
Saturday, May 8
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Summer 2020 marked the start of Write Your Story, an exciting year-long collaboration with Cinnamongirl, Inc, that brought creative-writing workshops and artistic mentorship to young women of color, ages 12 to 18. Our amazing inaugural cohort of girls spent the year honing their voices and their visions, with encouragement and instruction from a wonderful faculty of women authors of color, and now they’re ready to present their original work in a published anthology and reading at the Bay Area Book Festival. Celebrate these new rising literary stars and one of their instructors, award-winning YA author Misa Sugiura, as they share stories, insights, and nuggets of inspiration.
Ellen Oh and Kelly Starling Lyons in conversation with Joanna Marple
Saturday, May 8
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
All kids and teens should be able to see themselves in the pages of the books they love. And who better to help than your friendly neighborhood librarian? In a conversation that couldn’t be more timely and important, Bay Area librarian Joanne Marple interviews two exciting voices on the vanguard of this topic: Ellen Oh, CEO of the grassroots nonprofit We Need Diverse Books, and Kelly Starling Lyons, member of The Brown Bookshelf, an organization championing Black-authored books for young readers, on how to dismantle barriers in children’s and young adult literature and embrace the tools to diversify our bookshelves.
Jeff Chang, Dave 'Davey D' Cook in conversation with Madison Harvey
Sunday, May 2
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Hip-Hop, one of America’s most influential and constantly evolving musical genres, is about so much more than infectious beats, and you’re about to get schooled by the experts! Cinnamongirl Madison Harvey, 15, leads this electrifying conversation with Jeff Chang, whose award-winning hip-hop history, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, has just been adapted for young adult readers; and Dave ‘Davey D’ Cook, syndicated radio personality and hip-hop journalism pioneer. Learn about the fascinating roots and exciting future of the hip-hop generation…it’ll move your feet and your heart.
Wattpad Books turns the digital stories its community loves into published books. The result? Stories you can’t find anywhere else, by young writers from all over the world. Come listen to these two magnificent young authors as they tell the stories of their lives, their writing, and how their dreams came true through Wattpad and a mountain of talent. Daven McQueen won the Watty Award for Science Fiction and is the author of The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones. Mexican-born Shay Bravo, who won the 2019 Watty Awards, is the author of Historically Inaccurate. Together the authors garnered more than a million reads on Wattpad. Daven and Shay will be in conversation with Mariah McCoy, one of the dynamic young writers of Write Your Story, the Fest’s immersive creative writing and mentorship program for girls of color in partnership with Cinnamongirl, Inc.
Teen entrepreneurs Simone Bridges and Adelle Pritchard in conversation with Quinn Boyd-Roberts and Brian 'The Startup Squad' Weisfeld
Saturday, May 1
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM
It’s never too soon to be a boss. Come listen in while Quinn Boyd-Roberts,14, aspiring entrepreneur and avid reader, picks the brains of Simone Bridges, 15, and Adelle Pritchard, 17, two young dream-weavers who are taking charge and killing it in the business world. This trio of magnates-in-the-making will be joined by Brian Weisfeld, author of The Startup Squad (a middle-grade series hailed as “The Baby-sitters Club for the next generation”) and founder of the organization of the same name that empowers young girls to follow their passions and reach their potential through entrepreneurship.
This conversation comes with an artistic advisory: prepare to dive deep into your imagination and be surprised by what you might find. You’re about to enter the place where dreams (and stories) begin. National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo), founded in Berkeley in 1999, has grown into the largest writing event in the world, boasting 500,000 annual participants, including 100,000 kids and teens in its Young Writers Program. Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone’s story matters. NaNoWriMo is all about getting that story on the page. If something has been holding you back—whether it’s lack of time or knowledge, or the idea that writing novels is something only adults can do—then let teen author Meridith Lackey, middle grade author Shanthi Sekaran, and YA author R.C. Barnes help you get your creative juices flowing, banish your inner critic, and take the creative risks to write the novel of your dreams.
It’s a love letter to her adolescent years in Berkeley, R.C. Barnes’s first book in her YA Tattoo Teller series Ink for the Beloved, featuring a fearless teenage detective who possesses a unique psychic talent involving tattoos. R.C. (also known as Robin Claire) was a long-time executive at Walt Disney Studios and has published many short stories in sci-fi/mystery and dystopian anthologies. Barnes works as a writing coach and is a college essay reader at Berkeley High. Full bio.
Shanthi Sekaran is a novelist who lives in Berkeley. Her first middle grade novel, The Samosa Rebellion, will be out in the fall of 2021, and her last novel for adults is Lucky Boy. When Sekaran isn’t writing novels, she is part of the writing team for New Amsterdam, an NBC television series. She plays soccer and the ukulele and has two sons and a cat.Full bio.
This year will be high school sophomore Meridith Lackey’s first year of officially participating in NaNoWriMo, having never done so before due to school. She has completed three co-authored manuscripts in the past four years and is presently beginning work on what she hopes will be her first complete solo project. In addition to writing, Meridith also plays tuba, is an advocate for proper representation of asexuals in the media and, now that she is stuck at home, is finally getting those extra 2-3 hours of sleep she needed. Full bio.
Marya Brennan is NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Programs Director. She believes that writing fiction is a transformative experience, and she loves helping people (young and old) discover the magic of this process. She taught middle-school English for five years, has written several beautiful, messy novels (one still in progress), and traveled Europe as part of a two-person street circus. She loves revising words she’s already written and making herself laugh. She’s less fond of writing third-person bios. Full bio.
At Girls Garage in Berkeley, girls use power tools to build the world they want to see. But a different kind of world-building also takes place at Girls Garage: the kind that creates a vision for a better and more equitable future. Proving that words and pictures can be just as transformative as power tools, a class called Protest + Print empowers girls to translate their hopes, dreams, fears, and anger into activism around the issues they care about most. Led by instructor HyeYoon Song and Executive Director Emily Pilloton, Protest + Print is a cohort of high school girls channeling the legacy of printmaking to make art that’s visually arresting, powerfully participatory, and unapologetically activist. Also featuring teen Protest + Print participant and recent high school graduate Malaya Conui (Oakland School For The Arts, 2020), this conversation will center on how art and writing can amplify activist voices, particularly in a political moment charged with racial and gender inequity.
As a young designer, Emily Pilloton was frustrated by the design world’s scarcity of meaningful work: work that incorporated a human factor. Unable to find a model that spoke to her, she built her own. Fast forward to Berkeley, where Pilloton founded Girls Garage, a nonprofit design and building program and dedicated workspace for girls ages 9-18. Their motto? “Fear Less. Build More.” Pilloton has taught thousands of young girls in Berkeley how to use power tools, weld, and build projects for their communities. Her latest book, Girls Garage: How to Use Any Tool, Tackle Any Project, and Build the World You Want to See, was released in June 2020. Full bio.
Artist and arts educator HyeYoon Song is the lead instructor for Girls Garage’s PROTEST + PRINT program, a venue for girls to explore and express the complex personal and political issues that impact their daily lives. Born in South Korea and with experiences of migration to New Zealand and, eventually, Berkeley, Song explores landscape, identity and narrative in her work by exploring the vocabularies of print and the multiple in an unconventional and multi-disciplinary context and her practice extends into designing project-based curriculum integrating technical skills to equip youth to exercise their voices and power. Full bio.
Malaya Conui is a young visual artist and student from Oakland, California. Her work, both in art and community organizing, focuses on Asian American identity, representation, education, social justice, and community building. Conui’s primary mediums are painting, screen printing, and digital design. She has recently graduated from Oakland School for the Arts and is currently attending UCLA. Full bio.
The Graton Writing Project is a series of writing workshops open to middle- and high-school Native students from Sonoma, California, that culminates in a published youth anthology. This year, students were asked to write on the theme of environmental issues. Come hear the students read excerpts from their pieces and share their insights. Presented by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.