TeenBookCon Reflection: Pics, Tweets & Quotes From Our ‘lil View of the Con.

Valerie (owner of Blue Willow), explaining TeenBookCon to the authors.

The night before the con authors and event planners gather at Blue Willow Bookshop to meet and to sign the infamous walls. Have you ever seen the walls? It’s worth a trip! Authors from every genre, age bracket and area have participated in the tradition.

The authors (and some of us volunteers), learning about TeenBookCon. Photo by: Lisa Stultz

On Saturday morning, before they enter the auditorium for the keynote speech, the authors gather in the library at Aldine High School for a group picture. (Better versions are available to view on the Blue Willow Bookshop and TeenBookCon websites).

The auditorium was completely full for the keynote speech by Laini Taylor. She got lots of laughs as she discussed how writer’s hate pants, douche chill and math problems.

Author Laini Taylor giving her keynote speech.

Valerie ready to start out TeenBookCon.

Every seat and most of the steps full for the keynote speech.

The first stop for Simone and I was the “What We Knew” panel with Alexandra Bracken, Sharon Cameron and Tim Wynn Jones.

The “What We Knew” panel.

The “Bound By Death” panel with Zoaida Cordova, Ashley Eston, Lance Rubin and Kim Savage was fast dark and funny. Simone loved Lance Rubin and knew that she wanted to read his work after hearing him talk.

Lance Rubin on the “Bound by Death” panel.

I was a bit nervous to moderate the “Hollywood Calling” panel with Alexandra Bracken, Jeff Giles, Andrew McCarthy and Angie Thomas.

Andrew McCarthy, Alexandra Bracken, Jeff Giles, Angie Thomas

It was held in the auditorium and had a great attendance.

The audience for the “Hollywood Calling” panel.

The panel went quickly as the authors were pitched myriad questions such as, Who would you want to play you in a movie?
Angie Thomas: Taraji P. Henson
Jeff Giles: Andrew McCarthy
Alexandra Bracken: Mandy Moore
Andrew McCarthy: Jeff Giles

Photo courtesy of Valerie Clark.

My daughter took these of me with a (Pretty in…) pink background asking Andrew McCarthy a question.

The panel got into a fascinating discussion about movie renditions of film and all agreed that authors must let go of their work to have it adapted well. The movie must be its own work of art.

Kayla Cagan, Nina LaCour and Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Next I moderated the “All’s Fair in Love and Art” panel with Kayla Cagan, Nina LaCour and Benjamin Alire Saenz. Our discussions varied broadly from musicians, to questioning the amount that religion influences their work. When asked “if you had an endless supply of a book that you could give away what would it be?”
Kayla Cagan: Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina
Nina LaCour: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Benjamin Alire Saenz: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Nina-Simone 💕

At the end of the panel Kayla Cagan asked the kids in the audience to hold up their books and this is what it looked like.

We stopped by the Blue Willow Bookshop sales area and picked up some of the titles that we were most excited to read.


I had the pleasure of helping Nina LaCour in her singing line. There’s such joy in watching young readers interact with an author whose work they admire, or whose work they can’t wait to dive into. Simone worked with Kayla Cagan. One of her favorite moments to observe was when a student shared where she was going to college in the fall, and it just so happened to be Kayla’s alma mater.

Simone also had the opportunity to meet Lance Rubin and she feels that they share a similar “aesthetic”.

Simone and I

A million thank you to Blue Willow Bookshop, the incredible committee chairs, the authors and the publishers who send them. Connecting kids with books and authors, what could be better than that?


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