Sharon G. Flake to be keynoter at Austin’s African American Book Festival

Author Sharon G. Flake, who'll be the keynote speaker at Austin's African American Book Festival for 2016. (Photo courtesy of Sharon G. Flake)
Author Sharon G. Flake, who’ll be the keynote speaker at Austin’s African American Book Festival for 2016. (Photo courtesy of Sharon G. Flake)

Noted young adult author Sharon G. Flake will be the keynote speaker at the African American Book Festival of Austin, to be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 25 at the Carver Museum and Library.

Flake is the author of such books as “The Skin I’m In,” “Bang!” and “Pinned.” “The Skin I’m In,” which deals with a girl who is teased about her skin color and her clothing, won the John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 1999.

Flake, who was born in Philadelphia and lives in Pittsburgh, will help put the focus on young adult literature at the Austin festival, which will include music and prizes. The festival is also celebrating a decade of promoting books. Past speakers have included Leonard Pitts, Annette Gordon, Terry McMillan, Arnold Rampersad and Peniel Joseph.

ReShonda Tate Billingsley, an author and the CEO of Brown Girl Books, will lead a workshop on perfecting your pitch. The festival will also include discussions of “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates and the impact of Beyonce’s visual album “Lemonade.”

The festival is free and open to the public. The museum is located at 1165 Angelina St. For more information about the festival, visit

Texas Teen Book Festival announces lineup


The Texas Teen Book Festival announced its lineup Tuesday for the Oct. 1 event at St. Edward’s University, and participants include Renee Ahdieh, Sabaa Tahir, Ally Carter, Jeffery Self, Traci Chee and John Corey Whaley.

Ahdieh is the best-selling author of “The Wrath and the Dawn” and the upcoming sequel, “The Rose and the Dagger. Tahir is the author of “An Ember in the Ashes.”

Carter is known for the “Embassy Row” and “Gallagher Girls” series, while Whaley is author of “Highly Illogical Behavior” and “Noggin.” Self is the writer of “Drag Teen,” and Chee is the writer of “The Reader.”

Austin author Katherine Catmull (“The Radiant Road”) will also join the lineup.

The authors complement the previously announced keynote speakers, Laini Taylor (“Strange the Dreamer”) and Leigh Bardugo (“Six of Crows”).


The one-day event will feature author sessions and panels, book signings, workshops and vendor displays. It will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 pm. at St. Edward’s, 3001 S. Congress Ave.

The festival is one of the nation’s largest teen book events and is free and open to the public. It’s presented in collaboration with the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, librarians and St. Edward’s. The program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information, visit

Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo headline Texas Teen Book Festival

Laini Taylor
Laini Taylor
Leigh Bardugo
Leigh Bardugo


Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo will be the keynote speakers at the 8th annual Texas Teen Book Festival on Oct. 1, the Texas Book Festival announced Monday.

Taylor is the author of the upcoming “Strange the Dreamer” as well as “Lips Touch Three Times,” and Bardugo is the author of “Six of Crows” as well as the Grisha Trilogy: “Shadow and Bone,” “Siege and Storm” and “Ruin and Rising.” Her sequel to “Six of Crows” will be published in September, and it’s called “Crooked Kingdom.”

Both are big names in young adult literature, and they’ll lead a series of author sessions, panels, book signings and other events for young adult genre fans at the festival, held at St. Edward’s University.

The Teen Book Festival is presented in collaboration with the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, a team of librarians and St. Edward’s. It’s also made possible in part by a grant of Humanities Texas.

The event will start at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 1 and continue through 6”30 p.m. at the university, 3001 S. Congress Ave. It’s free and open to the public.

For more information, visit

New imprint from Simon & Schuster for books with Muslim characters, stories

The new Salaam Reads imprint logo.
The new Salaam Reads imprint logo.

This morning, Simon & Schuster announced it will start a new imprint: Salaam Reads. It will have focus on stories that have Muslim characters or stories with Muslim cultures.

Some of the first books and authors will be:

“Salam Alaikum,” a picture book celebrating peace, community, and love based on the popular song of the same name by global social media sensation and Awakening Worldwide recording artist Harris J.

“Musa, Moises, Mo and Kevin,” a picture book introducing four kindergarten best friends who share their favorite family holiday traditions for Eid, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, and Pi Day, written by H. A. Raz, a pseudonym for husband-and-wife writing team Huda Abdul-Razzak and Azhar Sheraze.

“The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand,” by Karuna Riazi, a middle–grade adventure about 12-year-old Bangladeshi American Farah Mirza from Queens, New York, and her quest to save her brother from a supernatural board game.

“Yo Soy Muslim,” a lyrical picture book in which a parent shares with their child the joy and pride in having a multicultural heritage, written by Mark Gonzales, HBO Def Jam poet and TEDxRamallah speaker.

Salaam Reads plans to release its first book in 2017 and at least nine a year.

Of course, there are Muslim-based independent publishers like Happy Books and Kube Publishing, but this is the first major publisher to create such a line.

We’ve written a lot about the lack of diversity in books offered to children before. My hope is that this new imprint allows children who aren’t Muslim to also read about Muslim children, and not just at “World Cultures Day” or around Christmas time, when teachers also throw in Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

After all, isn’t this one way we can bring peace in our time: when kids are exposed to a lot of different people who are different than themselves, but then realize that their stories aren’t really all that different.


Texas Teen Book Fest set for Oct. 1

The Texas Teen Book Festival has set its date for 2016: Oct. 1 at St. Edward’s University.

The festival is one of that nation’s largest teen book events, usually attracting more than 4,000 readers. In 2015, 32 authors spoke at the fest.

The festival is a joint project of te Texas Book Festival and BookPeople, with support from St. Edward’s University and Humanities Texas, and in partnership with the Badgerdog writing program. The Festival is free and open to the public.

Authors for the fest will be announced in late spring.


Newbery goes to ‘Last Stop’


Matt de la Pena won the Newbery Medal for the best children’s book of 2015, “Last Stop on Market Street.”

De la Pena, a  California native who lives in Brooklyn, is a frequent visitor to such Austin locales as the Writing Barn and the Texas Book Festival.

The book deals with race and class and is illustrated by Christian Robinson. It was also a finalist for the Caldecott Medal, which was award to “Finding Winnie,” written by Lindsay Mattick and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. It’s about the writings of A.A. Milne, author of “Winnie the Pooh.”

Both awards were announced Monday by the American Library Association, which is meeting in Boston this week.


The Newbery and Caldecott awards are among the most cherished in children’s literature. They were announced Monday by the American Library Association, which has gathered in Boston for its annual midwinter meeting.

Lifetime achievement awards were given to illustrator Jerry Pinckney and novelist David Levithan.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of “Between the World and Me,” was among 10 winners of the Alex prize for adult books that appeal to teens.

Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Award for the best book by an African-American writer. Williams-Garcia was cited for “Gone Crazy in Alabama,” the third of a trilogy about the Gaither sisters.

Laura Ruby’s “Bone Gap” won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.

The Belpre award for best Latino/Latina book was given to “Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir,” written by Margarita Engle. Rafael Lopez won the Belpre illustrator prize for “The Drum Dream Girl,” written by Margarita Engle.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Texas Teen Book Festival announces lineup

More than 4,000 fans of young adult books are expected to attend the Texas Teen Book Festival on the campus of St. Edward's University Sept. 26.
More than 4,000 fans of young adult books are expected to attend the Texas Teen Book Festival on the campus of St. Edward’s University Sept. 26.

The Texas Teen Book Festival has announced more than 30 authors who’ll appear at its annual event, which takes place this year on Sept. 26 on the campus of St. Edward’s University.

The keynote speaker is Emmy Award-winning actress and writer Sonia Manzano, best known for her role as Maria on the PBS series “Sesame Street.” After more than four decades on the show, Manzano announced her retirement last month and will present her latest work, a coming-of-age memoir titled “Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.” She’ll speak from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Other authors include Rick Yancey (“The 5th Wave”), Kaui Hart Hemmings (“The Descendants”), Jess Andrews (“Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl”), David Levithan (“Another Day”) and Libba Bray (“Lair of Dreams.”

The festival, which is expected to attract more than 4,000 young adult book readers, starts at 8:30 a.m. Sept. 26 and continues until 6:30 p.m. It’s free and open to the public.

For a complete schedule, visit

This year, the festival is hosting, for the first time, the Texas Teen Book Festival Writing Contest. It’s sponsored by Delacorte Press, and there were 55 entries. Three winners will be announced Sept. 1, and each will receive feedback from Delacorte editors and be honored during opening ceremonies Sept. 26.

Also, Topher Bradfield of BookPeople will host this year’s Texas Throwdown Game Show, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. The  show will feature Claudia Gray (“Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), Pierce Brown (the “Red Rising” trilogy), Jenny Han (“P.S. I Still Love You”), Aaron Hartzler (“What We Saw”), Cindy Pon (“Serpentine”) and Gareth Hinds (“Macbeth”).

Badgerdog Literary Publishing sessions of note include the Poetry Workshop with Carrie Fountain, from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., and Fiction Workshop with Callie Collins, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., both of which take place in Library Classroom 1.

The festival is a collaboration of the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, library volunteers and St. Edward’s University. The program is also made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.