Book Tips and Sips at Ani’s Day & Night

Join Texas Book Festival and spring 2022–published Austin authors Dalia Azim and Juli Berwald for our first free, public, in-person event of the year!

We’re bringing together Central Texas readers and members of the literary community for a casual conversation about books—classics, new releases, fiction, and nonfiction—we’re eager to add to our to-be-read shelves this spring. Come gather with us at the Ani’s Day & Night patio on Wednesday, April 13 at 6 p.m. for book recommendations, community, and delicious cocktails available for sale from the Ani’s bar.

No reservations required, but if you RSVP via the form below, you’ll be entered into a drawing to receive complimentary signed copies of Dalia’s and Juli’s new books plus two drink tickets.

Book swap: Bring a book you loved and want to share, add it to the swap, and take home a new read of your own!

Copies of Dalia’s and Juli’s new books for sale on-site courtesy of BookPeople!


Speakers: 

Dalia Azim, Country of Origin (Deep Vellum / A Strange Object, 3/15/22)

Dalia’s work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Aperture, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Glimmer Train (where she received their Short Story Award for New Writers), Other Voices, Alcalde, and Sightlines, among other publications. She serves on the board of Austin Bat Cave—a literary community and writing workshop center—and is the manager of special projects at the Blanton Museum of Art. She graduated with a dual degree in art and literature from Stanford University and grew up in Canada and Colorado.

Juli Berwald, Life on the Rocks (Riverhead, 4/5/22)

Juli, a Texas Book Festival alum, received her Ph.D. in Ocean Science from the University of Southern California. The author of Spineless and a science textbook writer and editor, she has written for a number of publications including the New York Times, Nature, National Geographic, and Slate.

Moderator: TBF Literary Director Matt Patin

Tips & Sips RSVP

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Ani’s Day & Night is located at 7107 E Riverside Drive in Austin.


We love putting together free programming in support of authors and readers here in Texas. If you believe in strengthening a love of literature and keeping arts programming free and open to the public in Texas, please consider supporting the Texas Book Festival. 

Journey to the Gala with Don Tate!

Last Friday, the Texas Book Festival hosted the annual First Edition Literary Gala at the Four Seasons Austin. The evening saw presentations from award-winning storytellers and friends of the Fest, including Carrie Fountain, Noah Hawley, Chang-Rae Lee, Elizabeth McCracken, and recipient of the 2021 Texas Writer Award, Don Tate! 

We are delighted to talk with Don about his experience leading up to the big event. Read more below to spend [a couple of days] in the life of critically acclaimed Children’s author and illustrator, Don Tate!

Journey to the Gala with Don Tate

I learned that I was selected as the 2021 Texas Writer Award recipient while checking emails on my iPhone, while I was at a restaurant drive-through window. The message came from Texas Book Festival Literary Director Matthew Patin, informing me about the award.

Matthew said: 

“Your prolific contribution to Texas letters, your lengthy TBF alum status, your tireless commitment to community engagement, awareness, and in-school programming, including with Reading Rock Stars and The Brown Bookshelf —the choice is a no-brainer, really. And from me, and on behalf of the TBF staff and board and Author Selection Committee, I’d be honored if you’d accept the award.”

Moonstruck, I sent this message back to Matthew: 

I’m reading this email from a Schlotsky’s drive-through window, ordering a jalapeño turkey sandwich, with a mask covering my face, and hoping my very dark sunglasses are hiding my now red misty eyes. How’s that for a visual, huh? Of course, yes! I accept! Coming from my beloved friends at the Texas Book Festival, I can’t think of a greater honor!!

I was thrilled to receive the news, but I was also baffled—and even a little embarrassed. Like a lot of creative people, I tend to suffer from Imposter Syndrome. It’s a feeling of self-doubt, like I’m not quite what others perceive me to be. Past winners included names like Attica Locke, Dan Rather, and Pat Mora.

I also realized I’d be the first Black man to receive the recognition. My anxiety jagged up a few more notches. Being the first of anything is exciting, of course. But it can also be heavy, especially when it’s a Black first. Would folks take their recognition of me seriously? Might folks think the award to be penance for some past oversight? Or, do I simply worry too much?

In time, I was able to post the news to my social networks. Hundreds of people responded with congratulations, saying, “You deserve this!”

I thought about what I had accomplished since I started my writing career in 2010. I thought about several other recent honors I’d received—the SCBWI Golden Kite, induction into the Texas Institute of Letters. I was ready to put all that worry aside. But I began to worry again. The award is presented at a fancy gala! And I don’t own a tux. On the afternoon of the gala, I posted this to social networks: 

“Tonight’s the night—the Texas Book Festival’s literary gala! And I’ve sweated the whole tux thing way too much. I don’t own one, and I did not want to splurge on a pricey rental. So, I got the $49.99 blue-light special—which is a fair-looking tux, but not one of the more modern, skinny-fit ones with the narrow legs that I’d prefer. It’s more high school awkward, but the sales team said that with my athletic build, I could pull it off. The other thing is that it’s a black-tie event—which, if you know me, I like to be different. So if everyone else is wearing black tuxes, I want to wear— don’t know—ripped jeans and chukka boots or something. Anyway, after two years of being mostly shut-in, it will be nice to get out and have some fun with my literary friends!”

Later that evening, I was in aflutter some more:

One half-hour before the festivities, and I’m Googling “How the hell do cuff links work?”

That night after, I posted this: 

“Oh, what a night! Book lovers, philanthropists, politicians, authors, librarians, poets—an audience of almost 500 people! They raised almost $110.000 in about ten minutes to support Texas libraries. Then, I accepted the Texas Book Festival’s Texas Author Award. Even got a standing ovation after my acceptance speech. So honored to be acknowledged by an organization that I love. And my $49.99 tux, it worked!”

Texas Book Festival Gala 2022 at the Four Seasons photos ©Bob Daemmrich Author program

And the next day, I posted more about the cool cowboy boots that came with the award: 

“I forgot to mention in my previous post, the recipient of the Texas Writer Award receives a nifty pair of handmade custom cowboy boots. They are made by Rocketbuster out of El Paso, Texas, and they are fine works of art.”

“The process of creating them was quite an amazing experience, too. First, they asked me to trace my foot on paper and take other measurements—which included my heels, the waist of my foot, my instep, and the ball of my foot. I had to measure my calves in two different places. As far as the boots, I selected the toe box shape, the medallion stitching design, the height and style of the heel.”


“Rocketbuster builds the boots from scratch, but I picked a basic catalog design and then customized them from there. The Texas Book Festival’s logo would go on the front, but there was also a space on the back to fill. I thought about what the Texas Book Festival has meant to me over the years. To me, it’s been about presenting to children under the Read Me a Story tent or giving children books during the Reading Rock Stars program. So, I created this piece of art that represented that.”

“As the artists at Rocketbuster created my boots, they texted images to me along the way—sketches of the boots, leather choices, stitching color. It was cool to see how they literally carved and painted my design into the boots. I think they turned out so great, but I’m afraid to actually wear them. I put them atop my bookcase!”

To sum this post up: I am proudly a writer. I am proudly a Texas Writer Award recipient. And now, I am the proud owner of my first hand-made-from-scratch cowboy boots!

 

Amplifying Black voices with Kindred Stories

In honor of Black Culture Month, we’re excited to share a list of recommended reads from our friends at Kindred Stories! The team at Kindred Stories is committed to amplifying Black voices and bringing diverse stories from throughout the African diaspora to the local community in Houston and the world at large through their website offerings. Check out the full list below!

From Kadie, Bookseller and Community Programming Liason:

With Pleasure by August McLaughlin and Jamila Dawson is for folks that loved Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Marie Brown or Come as You Are by Emily Nagoski, this is a great follow-up. Advocating that therapy is not enough, this book outlines the authors’ therapy sessions. Then discusses some of the patterns from each session. I use it as a workbook, looking at the sessions and seeing how my experience relates to the person mentioned. I also love the grounding exercises! If you’ve been in therapy before, and you’re looking to have a supplement, this is a great resource. If you’re interested in incorporating more pleasure into your life, this is a great resource! If you, like me, are considering going into the sexual health field, this is a great resource!

From Stevens, Bookseller:

I am feeding my appetite for some sci-fi adventures by reading Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Complete Trilogy. By diving into an intergalactic realm with the protagonist Binti, I can disconnect from the present world for an hour or two at a time.

From Chanecka, Bookseller and Buyer:

One of my favorite reads so far this year is Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti Blackness by Da’Shaun L. Harrison. Intersectionality is a trendy term right now and there has been an increase in literature in pop culture as well as academia. However, this exploration of the intersectionalities of Black, fat, and male presenting was like nothing I have ever read. This work was palatable, compelling and essential. More people need to read this work!

From Terri, Kindred Stories Owner:

I’m currently re-reading Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward and falling in love with this book all over again. Jesmyn’s ability to make you feel completely immersed in her iteration of Black rural Mississippian life is effortless and feels unbelievably authentic. Salvage the Bones is written within the context of an economically disadvantaged family preparing for the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina and her prose allows the reader to literally feel the storm breathing on them through the pages. Although I’ve never personally lived in this kind of environment, I find so much comfort in the characters’ search for love, connection, and hope even in the midst of trauma and tragedy. Jesmyn Ward’s books are my go-to when I need to quiet my mind and get out of any reading slump.


Support Kindred Stories by purchasing these great recommendations online or by stopping by the store if you are in the Houston area located at 2304 Stuart St, Houston, TX, 77004!

Celebrating Black Culture Month

In February, the Texas Book Festival will highlight Black storytellers, authors, booksellers, and community leaders in celebration of Black Culture Month.

We are joining the national Black History Month conversation, but we are also using February as an opportunity both to share the contemporary work of incredible individuals, organizations, and Texas booksellers including Black Pearl Books, Kindred Stories, and The Brown Bookshelf to celebrate lasting and year-round commitments to inclusive literary communities.

Is there is a Black author, bookstore, or literary organization you would like Texas readers and TBF audiences to know about? Take a moment to share over on our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages.

Celebrate Pride with Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival is reading with pride to recognize LGBTQ+ lived experiences reflected and championed in the pages of great storytelling. Throughout the month, we will be sharing special content by our staff and friends that celebrate LGBTQ+ authors, literature, and culture in Texas and beyond!

Pride Book Resources for Children & Teens:

  1. Guide for Selecting Anti-Bias Children’s Books
  2. Middle-Grade LGBTQIA+
  3. Rainbow Book List
  4. YA LGBTQIA+ Sci-Fi & Fantasy Reads
  5. LGBTQ+ Booklist from Social Justice Books

Announcing Hybrid Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival will take place October 23 through October 31 as a hybrid event. Starting Monday, October 23, virtual sessions will lead up to the Festival Weekend on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol and along Congress Avenue in downtown Austin. The Festival will include a robust, diverse lineup of established, emerging, and debut literary talent for readers of all ages.

All attendees can attend sessions in our outdoor tents and are welcome to visit the in-person and virtual Exhibitor Marketplace, which features book publishers both big and small, university presses, booksellers, independent authors, and an array of items for the literary shopper.

This year, book enthusiasts can look forward to the return of so many things they love about the Festival–a terrific author lineup, timely and thoughtful panel topics, a Saturday evening Lit Crawl, and more. Stay tuned for more announcements coming soon! Read the full press release.

Follow us on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for more 2021 Festival updates! Sign up for our newsletter here to be the first to know.

Interview with The Brown Bookshelf

Today we’d like to spotlight The Brown Bookshelf, a group of authors and illustrators dedicated to amplifying awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers. Their flagship initiative, 28 Days Later, is a month-long showcase of the best in Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels written and illustrated by Black creators. 

During each day of the twenty-eight days of Black History Month, The Brown Bookshelf profiles a different children’s or young adult author and children’s illustrator. Importantly, though, 28 Days Later emphasizes the necessity of celebrating Black authors, creatives, writers, and artists year-round. Their monthly Generations Book Club continues what 28 Days Later begins by featuring a themed list of books by Black creators for the youngest readers through adults and related links and resources.

We had the fortunate opportunity to speak with Brown Bookshelf Board member Paula Chase-Hyman, author of So Done and the Del Rio Bay series. Find the Q&A below!

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Tell us about the origins of The Brown Bookshelf. What inspired you to be a part of the organization? 

Back in the early 2000s, there was a writing forum called The Blue Board. I met many of the writers that I still consider friends there. It’s also where I met Varian Johnson, Kelly Starling Lyons, and Carla Sarratt. Varian had just come out with his first YA, My Life as a Rhombus, and my debut YA, So Not The Drama, was on its way. YA was exploding. It was a true renaissance as it gained mainstream popularity beyond teen readers. But Varian and I noticed that YA with and by Black people wasn’t getting the same level of attention. Not current or past works.

It’s been so long now that I don’t know which of us came up with the idea first. But we decided that an outlet was needed to amplify Black children’s literature, specifically those creatives that 1) weren’t the publisher’s pick, what we consider under-the-radar, and 2) those creatives that had blazed the trail for the rest of us. Unsurprisingly, nothing like it existed. We knew it would be a lot of logistics, so we each identified people to come in to help round out the concept. He asked Don Tate and I asked Kelly Starling Lyons and Carla Sarratt, who no longer works with the group but is still very much a book advocate as the Director of Libraries at the University of Mount Union.

For the first few years, Don created these wonderful posters with headshots of all 28 featured creatives. Our hope was that librarians would display it. Over time, we phased that out due to the amount of work both on Don’s part and the libraries – because to display it, in all its glory, would have really required a larger printout. Still, I’d like to think that Don’s posters are collector’s items that one day someone can feature as part of the movement to showcase the depth and breadth of excellence in the Black children’s literature community.

We’ve been fortunate to maintain a board of seven to nine creatives on The Brown Bookshelf since its inception in 2007. And this is no easy feat. Every one of us is an actively working author and/or illustrator. We do this work because we believe in it. We’re a family and team:

Crystal Allen

Tracey Baptiste

Tameka Fryer Brown

Gwendolyn Hooks

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Why is it important to amplify Black voices and storytellers, especially for young readers?  

Representation matters. There is no reason to perpetuate dulling our voices. Make no mistake, Black voices/storytellers have been and continue to be out there. But they’re dulled again and again. It’s not true that our stories aren’t out there. It’s not true that our stories won’t resonate with readers. It’s certainly not true that our stories won’t sell – especially if they were actually given the same consistent lift as books by white creatives.

I’ve always been a history buff. And there was a time when I liked watching shows like CNN’s The ’70s, ’80s, etc… But whenever you look at shows that purport to show you a slice of life from an era, Black people, if shown at all, tend to be given a few seconds almost always for their contributions in sports or entertainment. If one were to look at those shows, the simple assumption is either we didn’t exist at all or we had no part in crafting the era beyond the one Black artist they’re highlighting. Obviously false on both accounts. When media and books lack multiple, well-rounded portrayals of the role Black people played in America’s culture and development, the narrative is that we weren’t playing any role. So then it becomes easier to keep parroting falsehoods and pushing single narratives of the Black experience.

Young readers represent hope. You’ll notice that rather than specialize in a single genre, many Black creatives have worked across the children’s lit sphere. It’s because we understand the importance of having Black readers see themselves from picture book through Young adult literature. It’s also a chance for non-Black readers to see, hear and touch Black experiences. The earlier a reader is exposed to those stories the greater the chance we have of stamping out single narratives and falsehoods.

What sparked 28 Days Later and how do you celebrate Black History beyond Black History Month? 

28 Days Later came out of the same discussions as our creation of The Brown Bookshelf. They were simultaneous creations. When we decided we needed to amplify Black works, 28 Days Later became the how. I still remember Varian questioning using the title of a zombie movie for our initiative. It was a bold, if not odd move. But my rationale was that 28 days later educators, parents, and librarians would walk away loaded with a long list of books for the young readers in their lives and with increased knowledge of the creatives behind those books. Emphasis on knowledge of the creatives.

I’ve always had a personal mission to make sure Black children’s lit creatives get the chance to become as well known as Ezra Jack Keats, Beverly Cleary, or Judy Blume – those authors whose work is in front of generations of readers. If names like Carole Boston Weatherford, Floyd Cooper, Sherri L. Smith, Derrick Barnes, Pat Cummings, Coe Booth, or Denene Millner aren’t familiar to you, despite their many contributions, that’s a problem for me.

Building on amplification opportunities, we began the Generations Book Club, last June. The initiative was conceived by Kelly Starling Lyons as a way to highlight books by Black creatives, boost book sales, help families nurture literacy skills, and bridge the social distancing divide by offering a shared reading experience within families and groups. Throughout the summer, we highlighted a single picture book, middle grade, young adult, and adult books across specific themes like Music, Culture, Community, and Heritage. In September, we decided to go beyond summer, stopping only for the 28 Days window. Using themes to curate books for the entire family has been a great way to build on exposing just how much work is out there.

Do you have a favorite author/artist who has inspired you in your storytelling? 

Mildred L. Taylor for sure. I’ve always been a fan, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized how growing up reading her books about the Logan family impacted me as an author. Being exposed to books that told stories of pain and triumph with an honesty that empowered the reader, making it easy for me to write books that revolved around tough topics. Taylor’s work showcased a certain historical era, but the themes of her work are as relevant today when it comes to the duality of the dangers of one’s Blackness while celebrating the many joys of our culture. 

What’s next for The Brown Bookshelf? 

We find ourselves in an interesting place since Kwame Alexander asked us to host the 2020 Kid Lit 4 Black Lives rally. It was an incredible event to be part of and it increased our exposure greatly. The more viewers to our 28 Days Later spotlight, the better. However, it also lit a flame for broader advocacy for Black creatives. In August, we worked with Renee Watson and Cheryl and Wade Hudson on A Call To Action, essentially outlining elements of the publishing system we believe needs to be overhauled to better support Black creatives. 

In March, we’ll be announcing new partnerships and initiatives that were borne directly of both the rally and our Call to Action. Mindful that there’s only so much bandwidth an individual has, we’re excited to be working with organizations like Highlights Foundation and We Need Diverse Books to build on our efforts to amplify and empower Black creatives in children’s literature. As long as there’s a place to find our voices, that’s one less excuse available for anyone pretending not to understand the importance of representation.

Be sure to follow The Brown Bookshelf on Facebook (@thebrownbookshelf), Instagram (@BrownBookshelfTeam), and Twitter (@brownbookshelf).

Thank you, Reading Rock Stars Dallas & Fort Worth!

By Josephine Yi, School & Community Programs Intern

Last week, we made some exciting virtual visits to elementary schools in Dallas and Fort Worth for our Reading Rock Stars program. Students got to meet authors and illustrators: Kelly Starling Lyons, Cozbi Cabrera, Monica Brown, Sili Recio, Don Tate, Isabel Quintero, Zeke Peña, and Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey. These storytellers shared their personal narratives and valuable advice for our future authors and illustrators. 

Kelly Starling Lyons (author of Dream Builder: The Story of Architect Philip Freelon) described her experience growing up as a young girl reading books: “Reading was like dreaming… I liked books about everything: fairies, astronauts, folktales, fables. But I realized what I was missing in these books was myself.” She reminded our Reading Rock Stars that their voices matter and prompted them to work hard, use their imagination, and have faith in themselves. Don Tate (author and illustrator of William Still and His Freedom Stories: The Father of the Underground Railroad) walked us through how he illustrated his own books and let us in on his writing process. His books celebrate many different black historical figures and he shared the secret to becoming a great illustrator- practice! Don encouraged our Reading Rock Stars by saying “use your special language, it’s the personality you leave on each page.” Cozbi Cabrera (author and illustrator of Me and Mama) began her conversation with our Reading Rock Stars by asking them to join her in singing Good Morning to You and engaged them in an interactive read-aloud. Her mindful communication with students acknowledged their curiosity and agency. 

Thank you to all of our authors and illustrators in Dallas and Fort Worth for speaking to the importance of remembering, honoring, and uplifting our communities, the heroes in our own personal lives, and the ones who have fought for racial equity throughout history. This Black History Month, one way we can honor black achievement is by exploring the virtual exhibits currently on display at the National Museum of African American History and Culture! You can also join the celebration by sharing these activity choice boards with kids in your community. 

Reading Rock Stars DFW, Choice Boards

We also want to say thank you to librarians at our six participating schools. We see your hard work and feel proud to be part of your team. Can’t wait to be back on your campus next year! Thank you to all our generous sponsors, including H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Texas Cultural Trust, The Miles Foundation, Thomas M., Helen McKee & John P. Ryan Foundation, and the Sid W. Richardson Foundation.

Tell us about your Festival experience!

Booklovers! We are so grateful to you for making this year’s Festival one of the best yet. With plenty of sunshine, engaging conversations, and a buzzing Congress Avenue, the 2019 Texas Book Festival was a success. We could not do any of this without you!

We’d like to hear your thoughts on this year’s Festival. What did you think about our lineup and activities? Where did you spend most of your time? What was your experience like?

Take our survey here for a chance to win the above grab bag, which includes a #TXBOOKFEST tote, a Festival pencil bag, and seven books from this year’s amazing authors, including Stephen Harrigan, Merrit Tierce, and Rodrigo Márquez Tizano. We want to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable experience at TBF, so your feedback will help us plan an even better Fest next year.

We can’t wait to hear from you!