How To Design an Inspiring School Visit Presentation

Author Bethany Hegedus is known for her inspiring, touching and thought-provoking presentations to both adults and children for her GRANDFATHER GANDHI picture books. Now she has a brand new picture book out, ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, and is creating new presentations to extend this wonderful story. We thought it would be interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Bethany develops her programming and are thrilled that she agreed to pull back the curtain. Here’s a guest post from Bethany Hegedus on tips for designing an inspiring school visit presentation…

Bethany Hegedus
Bethany Hegedus

You either have a new book out or your first book out and it’s time to think about school visits. Yikes! How can you present your book in an engaging way to a room of 30 kids or an auditorium filled with 500 or more? What do you share from the process? How can you showcase your book’s themes?

Ah, first take a deep breath. Your job as an author/presenter is to inspire your audience. It’s about them—not about you.

After four years of presenting the two GRANDFATHER GANDHI books, with themes around anger, non-violence, waste and recycling, I have a new book out, one that doesn’t deal with any of those themes. ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD focuses on Nelle Harper Lee’s spitfire streak, her childhood friendship with Truman Capote—another of America’s great writers—and her grit and gumption in becoming an author and telling the story that she was born to tell and creating characters who the world has come to love and own, like no other author.

How did I approach designing inspiring presentations? Here’s how:

  • Find and focus on what will interest your audience. Make connections to them.

Be a spitfire with ALABAMA SPITFIRENelle Harper Lee was a spitfire. Today’s kids are spitfires too. What makes a spitfire? Speaking up for yourself and others. Wearing what you want to wear. How can kids be like Harper Lee? The illustrator of ALABAMA SPITFIRE, Erin McGuire, created an image for our #BeASpitfire campaign, encouraging readers to “live lives of their own design”—just like Harper Lee.

  • Find and focus on what will interest educators. Make connections to the classroom.

ALABAMA SPITFIRE is about a writer—and not just any writer—but America’s favorite writer. What did she read as a child? Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Did she write as a child? She sure did. Nelle and Truman wrote pot-boiler mysteries based on their small-town neighborhood’s goings on. Old Mrs. Busybody and The Fire and the Flame were two of their titles. On my school visits, I am going to do mini or extended writing exercises with students based on their observations of their hometowns. Will there be a budding Harper Lee or Truman Capote in the audience? Perhaps. But even more than inspiring America’s next great novelists, I hope to partner with educators to show writing as a skill we can all use. We all have something to say. Writing is our way to say it. And share it.

  • Focus on the struggle. Yours, your characters’, and/or your subjects’.

Understanding resilience, which society is focusing on—rightly—as a way to ensure future success is key. I share with audiences young and old, my ten+ year journey to publishing my first novel. My thirteen-year journey to publishing GRANDFATHER GANDHI, and now I can share with them the decades Nelle Harper Lee took in perfecting her craft, writing short story after short story before landing an agent. Then switching to a longer form: the novel and writing and revising, and revising more to create a book she thought no one would really take notice of that went on to win the Pulitzer and become one of the most beloved books of all time.

  • Be yourself. Be real. And allow your audiences to be real.

Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird

I was in Virginia speaking after the white supremacist marches and violence this last summer. One girl, the only African-American student in a packed auditorium, who I had called on many times, said at the end of the presentation that she was “mad at that man that killed that woman, running her over with his car.” I told her she had a right to be mad. I was mad. Arun Gandhi was mad…and if still living Dr. King and Mahatma Gandhi would be mad too. Our anger was ok. It pointed to something unjust and unfair had occurred. Now, what were we going to do with our anger? Lash out at someone else? Lash inward at ourselves? Or could we talk about our anger and let it move us to action? I shared how the terrorist attacks on 9/11, of which I am a survivor, led me to ask Arun Gandhi to work with me.

What could this student do? I invited her to speak with me after the presentation and we had a long talk about her difficulties being “the only black girl” in the 3rd grade, and how the man who killed that woman in Virginia were white—just like I was. We talked about what being an ally meant and how hard it was to figure out who was our ally or not.

Watch Bethany get real and talk about her own inspiration from Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird and about Harper Lee and Truman Capote’s beginnings as young writers.

Thank you, Bethany!

Read more about Bethany Hegedus and her books and presentation on her speaker page.

Client Books Honored By Coretta Scott King, Ezra Jack Keats and Geisel Awards

From new imprints to appearances to major award wins, our clients are keeping busy. Read on…

AWARDS & LISTS

MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERSKwame Alexander‘s OUT OF WONDER (co-written by Chris Colderly and Marjorie Wentworth) won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator award for illustrations by Ekua Holmes. Bravo to all on this gorgeous book of poetry!

Evan Turk‘s picture book MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS won the Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award. We’re singing Evan’s praise! Congrats, Evan.

At this year’s 2018 ALA awards, Salina Yoon‘s MY KITE IS STUCK AND OTHER STORIES (A Duck, Duck, Porcupine! Book) took home a Geisel Honor. Congratulations, Salina!

VOYA Magazine included BLOOMING AT THE TEXAS SUNRISE MOTEL by Kimberly Willis Holt on its Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers 2017 list.

NEW BOOKS

Kwame Alexander has launched his own imprint under publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. We look forward to seeing more innovative and out-of-the-box stories from his authors and illustrators. Both Kwame and The Booking Biz client Lamar Giles will have books on the debut spring 2019 list. Congrats, Kwame & Lamar! Read the New York Times article announcing the big news!

Alabama Spitfire: The Story of Harper Lee and To Kill a MockingbirdWe’re excited for Bethany Hegedus and her new picture book ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which is a #1 New Release in Children’s Literary Biographies on Amazon! Bethany has launched #BeASpitifire campaign in honor of Harper Lee. Meet many kidlit creators and hear how they are spitfires.

Bethany Hegedus and ALABAMA SPITFIRE were also featured in the Austin Statesman newspaper.

APPEARANCES

Javaka Steptoe visited Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art. Discover how he explores the role of art in picture books with this thought provoking article in PW’s Shelftalker with BookPeople’s Meghan Dietsche Goel. The author/illustrator of RADIANT CHILD said, “Great art creates places for people to enter into it.” Check out the YouTube video.

Carmen Oliver - Path to PromotionCarmen Oliver is excited to be a part of the six-week online book publicity course Path to Promotion for authors/illustrators (published and pre-published) looking to make a splash in the school and library market and to help each author tap into their authentic selves in their programming/marketing. Registration opens March 1, 2018.

Additionally, Carmen Oliver will be teaching again at the workshop Crafting Successful Author Visits April 29 to May 4 at Highlights Foundation along side faculty members Peter Jacobi, Jan Cheripko and break-out star author Andrea Loney (who attended last year’s workshop and has soared to success). During the workshop attendees put together their own school visit program then take that program into a school and present supported by the faculty. Testimonials from last year’s attendees include: “The synergy and positive energy from three faculty members were almost unbelievable,” and, “The workshop was small and intimate, which kept me focused and allowed the instructors to do a deep-dive into the information.”

New Year, New Books, New Events

With 2018 underway, our clients are releasing new books and speaking at new events. Here’s their latest news:

BOOK RELEASES

Harper Lee's typewriter by Curious City
Harper Lee’s typewriter, created by Curious City for ALABAMA SPITFIRE

Bethany Hegedus‘ highly acclaimed picture book biography ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (Balzer & Bray, Jan 23, 2018) is available for pre-order. When ordered through BookPeople in Austin, you’ll receive a signed copy by Bethany and illustrator Erin McGuire along with a beautiful handprinted serigraph of Harper Lee’s typewriter, handmade by Curious City. Order by Feb 10, 2018 to guarantee a signed copy.

Erica S. Perl’s middle grade novel All Three Stooges was released on Jan. 9, called “An unforgettable coming-of-age story about comedy, loss, and friendship for fans of Jennifer L. Holm and Gary D. Schmidt” by publisher Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. “Spoiler alert: This book is not about the Three Stooges. It’s about Noah and Dash, two seventh graders who are best friends and comedy junkies. That is, they were best friends, until Dash’s father died suddenly and Dash shut Noah out. Which Noah deserved, according to Noa, the girl who, annoyingly, shares both his name and his bar mitzvah day.”

Illustrator Larry Day‘s newest picture book with Kay Winters, VOICES FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, released Jan. 10. From the creators of VOICES FROM THE OREGON TRAIL and COLONIAL VOICES comes an unflinching story of two young runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, told in their voices and those who helped and hindered them

AWARDS AND HONORS

What Girls Are Made OfElana K. Arnold’s YA novel WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, won the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Young Adult Fiction.

The sequel to Elana’s A BOY CALLED BAT also has been selected as a Junior Library Guild book! BAT AND THE WAITING GAME will be on shelves on March 27 and is available for pre-order.

Mitali Perkins has received a 2018 Walter Honor from We Need Diverse Books for her YA novel YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR.

APPEARANCES

Melanie Crowder spoke of the story behind her recent YA novel AN UNINTERRUPTED VIEW OF THE SKY on Colorado Public Radio on Jan. 12.

Our clients will be at Denver’s first Children’s Festival of Stories! The event, which was designed and organized by The Booking Biz Associate Agent Sarah Azibo, will bring more than 30 authors and illustrators to the city center to engage with young readers, parents, librarians and educators March 16-18. Activities include storytimes, readings, illustration demonstrations and unique creation stations for attendees. An Evening of Story will be held for librarians and educators, and a World of Workshops offered for aspiring artists and writers of all ages. Among the speakers are Melanie Crowder, Pablo Cartaya, Elaine VickersMiriam Busch, Sarah AronsonAmmi-Joan Paquette and Emily Arrow, who will be offering special rate school visits in the area March 12th-16. Visit www.denvercfos.com for more festival information and contact The Booking Biz to arrange a school visit with these presenters.

 

 

2018 Bookish Resolutions

The new year has started, and at The Booking Biz, we hope 2018 is bringing you all good things–including lots of wonderful books!

A new year is also a good time for changes, resolutions, and making the world better. Books can help.

Inspired by their own books, our clients are sharing their own resolutions. What are yours?

Maybe a FoxKathi Appelt, author of MAYBE A FOX

My New Year resolution is to consider more fully the angels in my life and to focus on them. In fact, focus is going to be my “word of the year.” In writing and in life.

Sarah Aronson, author of THE WISH LIST

The problem with resolutions is that I can never choose just one! Just like the fairy godmothers of THE WISH LIST, I am going to have a year filled with kindness, determination, and gusto. I want to share the sparkle–with readers and writers. I hope that 2018 will be a year filled with lots of happy beginnings, middles, and of course ever afters!

 

Molly B. Burnham, author of the TEDDY MARS series

My resolution is to open myself up to my full purpose, potential, and possibility, just like the dog in my upcoming book, who learns that she is capable of so much more than she thinks a dog can do.

Miriam Busch, author of RAISIN, THE LITTLEST COW

My New Year’s resolution? Perspective, perseverance, and play!

Voices From the UndergroundLarry Day, illustrator of VOICES FROM THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

My New Year Resolution is to support teachers and librarians for their hard work and empowering children with the courage and freedom to explore new subjects.

Janet Fox, author of THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE

My New Year resolution is to help all children believe that love will win.

Liz Garton Scanlon, author of ANOTHER WAY TO CLIMB A TREE and the upcoming KATE, WHO TAMED THE WIND

I resolve to get outside and love the Earth like she loves me!

Bethany Hegedus, author of the upcoming ALABAMA SPITFIRE: THE STORY OF HARPER LEE AND TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

My 2018 resolution is to #beaspitfire, sharing with kids and adults how we can all live lives of our own design. How we can all tell the stories we were born to tell. And that, most of all, childhood matters.

Dianna Hutts Aston, author of A BUTTERFLY IS PATIENT

My resolution today and every day is to inspire children to seek their dreams with courage and perseverance…and along the way, stop often to smell the wildflowers, listen to the trees, and grow strong on the fruits of the earth.

Uma Krishnaswami, author of THE GRAND PLAN TO FIX EVERYTHING

Two-fold New Year resolution: 1) to read my draft as if I were a stranger to it, and 2) revise like a sculptor looking for the story’s hidden shape.

Lindsey Lane, author of EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN

My New Year Resolution is to live into the mystery where anything can happen. Anything.

Feral NightsCynthia Leitich Smith, author of the FERAL series

My New Year’s resolution is to lift up and empower new and underrepresented voices.

Carmen Oliver, author of BEARS MAKE THE BEST READING BUDDIES

This January, my husband and I jetted away for a couple days to explore the beauty of Santa Fe, New Mexico, and while exploring its wonder, I was reminded how important it is to take time to move and as Georgia O’Keefe said, “take time to look.” In 2018, I plan to make more time to do both and I invite you to do the same. My mom reminds me from time to time to stop and smell the roses, and this year, I’m going to do lots of moving, looking, and smelling. Thanks, Georgia and Mom.

Ammi-Joan Paquette, author of TRAIN OF LOST THINGS

My New Year’s Hope is that all the lost be found and that all the found be cherished–this year and beyond.

Penny Parker Klostermann, author of A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE

My New Year Resolution is to do all I can to encourage children to read happily ever after.

Mitali Perkins, author of YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR

My resolution is to cross borders of race, class, education, gender, politics, religion, and age to try and bring the distant near.

Another Kind of HurricaneTamara Ellis Smith, author of ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE and her upcoming ROSIE’S SHOES

My two New Year Resolutions are to make friends with people who seem to be different from me [like the characters in ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE] and to find the light inside myself so I can really know who I am, and to help other people find their own light too [like the characters ROSIE’S SHOES].

Caroline Starr Rose, author of RIDE ON, WILL CODY!

My resolution for this year is “Ride On!” When things are great, keep on trucking. When things are challenging, know they can’t last.

Javaka Steptoe, author/illustrator of RADIANT CHILD: THE STORY OF YOUNG ARTIST JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT

My New Year Resolution is to find more ways to be party of positive social change.

Paper Chains by Elaine VickersElaine Vickers, author of PAPER CHAINS

My New Year Resolution is to always remember that family, friendship, and stories are what link us all together.

Dianne White, author of GOODBYE BRINGS HELLO, which comes out on June 26

My wish for the New Year is to be brave and grateful, to “open the door” to new adventures and to encourage others to do the same.

Meg Wiviott, author of PAPER HEARTS

My New Year’s resolution is to strive to be brave and kind.

Winter Recommended Reads 2017

Happy Holidays from The Booking Biz!

No time of the year is bad for reading, but with winter weather outside and time off from work, the holidays are a great time to read new books and give books to others. Here are some of our best recommendations for wonderful holiday reading:

PICTURE BOOKS

It’s great to introduce kids to the wonder of reading early. This winter, spend time with your youngest family with these amazing books.

Penguin's Christmas WishAuthor/illustrator Salina Yoon‘s holiday board book with PENGUIN’S CHRISTMAS WISH, in which the beloved character Penguin finds Christmas magic in unlikely places.

Tis the season for kindness, and BE THE CHANGE written by Bethany Hegedus and Arun Gandhi, illustrated by Evan Turkshares the kind wisdom of the Mahatma Gandhi. Such a great thing to be thinking about this time of year. You can reflect and be the change you wish to see in the new year.

MUDDY: THE STORY OF BLUES LEGEND MUDDY WATERS written by Michael Mahin and illustrated by Evan Turk celebrates the music that would inspire rock and roll.

Elf in the House

The excitement of Christmas Eve is the subject of the GHOST IN THE HOUSE follow-up ELF IN THE HOUSE, written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Adam Record.

Story is at the heart of how we learn, grow and entertain, and in Adam Lehrhaupt‘s THIS IS A GOOD STORY, illustrated by Magali Le Huche, story is broken down so readers can build it back up.

Emily Arrow offers up kidlit tunes celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, and winter in her new WINTERTIME SINGALONG CD (and kazoo!), with songs inspired by CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS, THE POLAR EXPRESS and others.

CHAPTER BOOKS AND MIDDLE GRADE

Here are some of our winter favorites for kids of every age … including adults.

The WIsh List Book TwoEveryone wants wishes to come true, and Sarah Aronson‘s THE WISH LIST series from Scholastic is just that.

For an inspirational story encouraging girl empowerment, we love STEP UP TO THE PLATE, MARIA SINGH by Uma Krishnaswami.

Reading is fun during dark, spooky nights, and Janet Fox‘s THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE is an historical fiction adventure with ghosts and creepy characters.

Written by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee, MAYBE A FOX tells a beautiful, heart-warming tale that’s a great read by a roaring fire.

The Epic Fail of Arturo ZamoraPablo Cartaya‘s THE EPIC FAIL OF ARTURO ZAMORA is filled with familia, comida y amor!

Family and friendship come in all different configurations in Elaine Vickers‘ PAPER CHAINS and Melanie Crowder‘s THREE PENNIES.

TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE: IT’S ALIVE! by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson will keep budding scientists and nature lovers learning over the holiday.

Pet lovers will want to read Elana K. Arnold‘s A BOY CALLED BAT to review all that is involved with making a new friend.

If you’re hoping for good fortune in the new year, JASPER AND THE RIDDLE OF RILEY’S MINE by Caroline Starr Rose is a golden pick!

And for help keeping your New Year’s resolution, Molly B. Burnham‘s TEDDY MARS ALMOST A WORLD RECORD BREAKER gives readers the never-give-up attitude.

YOUNG ADULT 

Winter is always a good time to reflect on the world and our place in it, and how better than to read amazing YA books…

OverturnedThere’s nothing like a good thriller to keep your mind off the cold weather outside, and Lamar Giles‘ new book OVERTURNED is just that.

National Book Award finalist WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF by Elana K. Arnold is especially poignant right now as women speak up.

The highly acclaimed YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR by Miltali Perkins is on many best-of lists for a reason. It’s is currently on agent Sarah Ahzibo’s TBR list for the holidays.

Plus, a treat for the ears, the audiobook version of Kwame Alexander‘s SOLO includes the music created for the book by Randy Preston! What’s not to love?

Check out more books by our speakers.

5 Fundraising Ideas Kids Can Do

Last year, we wrote 21 Ways to Fund Author Visits, focusing on ideas librarians and teachers can do to raise money for equipment, special projects, and author visits. As I bought some lemonade from a neighborhood stand the other day, I realized we’d left a big part out of our list: the kids! Continue reading “5 Fundraising Ideas Kids Can Do”

Movies, Stars & Champions

Rickshaw GirlThe best movies are based on books, which is why we’re so excited for the movie version of Mitali Perkins‘ novel RICKSHAW GIRL, which is scheduled for release in 2018! The book tells the story of Naima, who uses her talented painter of Bangladeshi alpana patterns to help her family earn money.

Our clients have lots more amazing news… Continue reading “Movies, Stars & Champions”

Lessons From Nonfiction Author Visits

Vampires, fairies and wizards make wonderful subjects for stories, but what about horses that can spell, bodybuilders with awesome strength or simply quiet eggs? These last three are all from nonfiction books, and while textbook reading assignments are often received with bored eye rolls by kids, nonfiction books such as these delight as much as they inform. Continue reading “Lessons From Nonfiction Author Visits”

Rainy Day Reading List

Ahh, fall. The weather will soon be turning colder. Heaters will come on. And rain and snow will keep us cuddling up inside. All we need is a mug of hot cocoa and a good book to read.

When the rain hits us at The Booking Biz, we like to curl up with the books we’ve read and loved, the stories we enjoy living in over and over again. We thought you might be looking for books like that as we move into the fall. Books with characters you want to hug and worlds you want to live in—even the harsh worlds because they help us find hope for our own.

Here are some of our favorite books from our clients. How many have you read? We recommend getting them all…because you never know when another rain storm will hit. Continue reading “Rainy Day Reading List”