A Bounty of Bookish Fun for Kids and Teens



Attention, parents. If we have anything to do with it, you won’t hear “I’m boooorrrrred” this spring. We hereby promise to do our part to save your sanity and keep the kids occupied with great books and book-fan experiences. Let’s start with the teens and work our way down to the tots:

SE-YA posterStock up on books and meet authors at the SE-YA Festival 
This weekend: Saturday, March 12, 2016
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Middle Tennessee State University campus, Murfreesboro

Once upon a time in 2013, four Rutherford County public school librarians –Erin Alvarado, Barbara Collie, Liz Hicks, and Marcie Leeman — took a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, for the YALLFest young adult book festival. They were so bowled over that for the next year, all they could talk about was how much they wished they could give Tennessee students the same type of fun, positive experience. Then in 2014, they met with YA authors Courtney C. Stevens and Sharon Cameron at the Tennessee Association of School Librarians conference, where the six women started talking about their vision for a book festival for readers and fans of YA and middle grade books. Collie says when they went back to YALLFest in 2014, their focus changed:

“Instead of, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if our students could experience this?’ our attitude became, ‘We can do something like this for our students!'” she says. “The whole way back from Charleston, the team started developing a plan for what has now become the Southeastern Young Adult Book Festival or SE-YA.”

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David Arnold and Adam Silvera will be at SE-YA fest to sign Mosquitoland and More Happy Than Not. (photo via AWordOnWords.org)

The inaugural SE-YA festival will be held this Saturday, March 12, 2016 on the campus of MTSU in Mufreesboro. Thanks to the support of sponsors, authors, and publishers, the event is FREE and open to the public. Teens (and pre-teens!) can attend panels and book signings, where they’ll meet 35 authors of chapter books, middle grade, and YA, ranging from debut authors to well-known bestsellers, including: David Arnold, I.W. Gregorio, Kim Liggett, Jasmine Warga, Beth Revis, Carrie Ryan, Lauren Oliver, Adam Silvera, Maggie Stiefvater — and many more. Middle grade authors on the lineup include Lauren Oliver, Linda Sue Park, Tracy Barrett, Alan Gratz, Victoria Schwab, Kristin Tubb, and Carrie Ryan. (See the full list here.)

“We are so thrilled to be bringing so many great authors to our area and giving students an opportunity to interact on this level with published writers,” Collie says. “Our goal is to change the literacy landscape of our community — one reader at a time.”

More Fabulous, Free YA Events 
These events are also free to attend, and they all take place at Parnassus Books:

Awesome Books for Elementary and Middle School Kids

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“I couldn’t put it down,” says Gennie, 10-year-old junior bookseller, who heartily recommends The War That Saved My Life.

This spring, we’re bringing not one, not two, but THREE Newbery honorees to Nashville to meet their young readers face to face: Linda Sue Park, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, and Kate DiCamillo, who was also the 2014-15 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Whether they’re reluctant readers or total fangirls/fanboys, meeting the real person behind a famous story is an impactful experience that changes the way kids think about books. All of these events are FREE and take place in the store unless otherwise noted:

Event details are subject to change, so make sure you’re subscribed to our events newsletter for the latest updates.

And Finally… Perfect Picture Books for the Littlest Book-Lovers
Spectacular new releases, hand-picked by Stephanie Appell, manager of books for young readers

Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole

This wordless book is a complete delight. One afternoon, Spot, the cat, slips out an open window for a stroll about town. As he wanders into bustling full page spreads illustrating places such as a market, a museum, and a train station, Cole also shows us his young owner’s search for the lost cat. Readers will delight in spotting Spot on each page, and Spot’s eventual return home makes for a sweet, satisfying ending.

The Night Gardener by Terry Fan, Eric Fan

Mysterious animal topiaries begin appearing all over William’s small town. Then, one night, William spots a mysterious stranger, and his life is changed forever. The highly detailed and delicate illustrations begin all in shades of sepia and blue-green, almost mimicking darkness illuminated by old street lamps, but as the Night Gardner transforms William and his town, pops of bright colors pierce the monotone images.

Your Alien by Tammi Sauer, Goro Fujita

Here’s the story of an adorable little alien who crash-lands on Earth and the boy who decides to keep him. Fujita’s alien is a masterclass in conveying emotion through illustration, whether he’s delighted by the water fountain at school, looking with trepidation at Mr. Binky the class rabbit, or watching the boy being tucked in by his parents with a sniffle as he begins to feel homesick. Just try reading this without wanting a little alien of your own, I dare you.

Cricket Song by Anne Hunter

Anne Hunter’s lyrical, expressive language is perfectly accompanied by full, soft scenes of the natural world at dusk. Gentle watercolors create soft gradients of pastel colors that compliment Hunter’s quiet descriptions of animals settling down to sleep. This beautiful book is tailor-made for sweet dreams.

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko, Tim Miller

Snappsy the Alligator is just minding his own business when someone starts narrating his life — inaccurately! While the unseen narrator describes Snappsy “prowling through the forest, looking for victims,” Snappsy is really just on his way to the grocery store. But who is this narrator, and why do they seem to have it in for poor Snappsy? This sly and funny story is sure to be a winner with readers who like a bit of meta in their fiction.

Bloom by Doreen Cronin, David Small

Doreen Cronin absolutely nails the cadences of a fairy tale, but the fairy in this tale has a wholly unique form of magic. Bloom uses her power over the natural world to create a beautiful glass palace for the king and queen, but her muddy, messy ways soon begin to bother the royal family, and they agree to part ways. When the glass palace begins to crack, they implore her to return, but the only person able to learn the messy magic that will save the kingdom is an ordinary serving girl. Text, typography, design, and illustration all work together here to create a wonderful story about rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty, with a healthy dose of girl power on the side. This might be the most worthy successor to Robert Munsch’s The Paper Bag Princess I’ve ever seen.

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes, Laura Dronzek, Laura Dronzek

Kevin Henkes is simply one of the best writers of picture books working today, and When Spring Comes is a perfect example of why that’s the case. The intentionality with which each word is selected and the simplicity of his language (“Before Spring comes, the grass is brown. But if you wait, Spring will turn it green and add little flowers.”), coupled here with Laura Dronzek’s bright, bold acrylics and masterful use of white space, are a complete joy.

Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow, David Barrow

“I must warn you,” Elephant tells the little boy at the beginning of their game, “I’m very good.” The little boy, however, must be the worst seeker in the history of the game, as he fails to spot Elephant’s giant feet sticking out from behind the living room curtains, or Elephant’s trunk hanging out from under the bedsheets, or essentially the entirety of Elephant barely hidden behind a very skinny tree. Young readers will delight in spotting Elephant in each spread though, and Barrow’s chunky Elephant is a hider to root for. Be sure to look at the final endpapers for one more surprise.

The Wrong Side of the Bed by Lisa M. Bakos, Anna Raff, Anna Raff

Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day have met their match. When Lucy wakes up with tangled hair, rumpled pajamas, and can only find one bunny slipper, she quickly realizes what kind of day it’s going to be. “Bad day books” are one of my favorite little picture book subgenres, and this is a hilarious and wonderful addition — and I’m not just saying that because looking at Raff’s illustration of Lucy as she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed is like looking at myself in a mirror before I’ve had any coffee in the morning.

As always, our booksellers and special guest readers offer storytime under our stars every Thursday at 3:30 and Saturdays at 10:30.

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Spring is shaping up to be a blast for all ages! Bring your readers by anytime to pick out some new favorites.