On Friday, I got the opportunity to volunteer for the Texas Teen Book Festival at St. Edward’s University. My friend and fellow “book person” Madison and I helped BookPeople unload boxes of Young Adult novels, set up the store and panels, and organize the novels by author.
On Saturday, we attended a panel with authors Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone) and Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn). When asked about their thoughts on “Beauty and the Beast” and the upcoming live-action remake of the animated classic (new stills were released the other day, y’all, and I was happy-dancing like Snoopy around my room), both authors critiqued Belle giving up her dreams of having adventure outside of her quiet village to, instead, be with her captor.
While I appreciated their critique, I may as well have had cotton in my ears because that is my all-time favorite Disney movie! (The book, however, is a different story for another day, ha!)
We also listened to the closing keynote given by Leigh Bardugo, author of the Grisha trilogy, who talked about the ways in which we can defeat the stereotype that comes with reading Young Adult fiction.
I would definitely recommend people of all ages to go to next year’s TX Teen Book Fest, but keep in mind how jam-packed the event will be! Expect to have your books signed by two authors, not five. Know that, although the book stacks in the store look like they could be stairways to Heaven, the books go quickly. And the t-shirts? Don’t get me started. Those will be completely sold out within the first few hours of this ALL-DAY event (clearly, still a little bitter about it).
As for next year, I think I’m not going to bring any books at all (*collective gasp* sacrilegious, I know) and instead just enjoy hearing the authors talk. That means no rushing to the signings, no balancing half my height in books within my arms—NO stress! Simply sitting at the panels and absorbing their advice like a sponge (-bob, pre Mrs. Puff’s Boating School).
With that said, some of the signings were totally worth the wait—like, for instance, when I got to see the look on Laini Taylor’s face after I told her my absolute favorite page in her whole series was pg. 134 of Dreams of Gods and Monsters. The main character Karou and her friend Zuzuna are playing a game of Three Wishes, and Karou responds with: “World peace,” to which Zuzana rolls her eyes and says, “If it doesn’t include food, it’s a lie.” True girl, true.
(*raises proverbial glass*) To food! Er, I mean, to ending the YA stigma!
~Olivia Zisman, Poetry Editor