Other authors featured at the fair include Natasha Tarpley, who wrote “I love my hair!” (2001) now considered a classic. She will present her new book, “The Me I Choose To Be”. Also in attendance will be best-selling author Jason Reynolds, who is the head of the Library of Congress Children’s Literature Ambassador.
Author Lea Henderson (“Daddy Speaks Love”) is a long-time attendee of the fair. She calls it “magical”.
“Not only can young people see themselves reflected in the books featured at the book fair, they have the opportunity to meet the black creatives behind the work,” she wrote in an email. “Every connection is a seed of possibility for young people who come out.”
Philadelphia-based author and illustrator Eric Battle will be at the fair to showcase “BLAM! Black lives have always mattered!a graphic novel telling the stories of 14 historic black people from Philadelphia. Battle is the creative director of the project created by the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University.
Battle contacted 12 illustrators, assigning each a life story, such as singer Marian Anderson (by Nancy Devard), architect Julian Abele (by Mike Leeke), and physician Walter P. Lomax (by Dwayne Turner).
By bringing in so many artists, Battle was able to give each life story its own visual style. He wanted the book to be more educational than a typical graphic novel and more fun than a typical history textbook.
This style is designed “to make the stories as relevant and accessible to people who may not be familiar with comics and graphic novels,” he said. “We don’t want the information to appear dry.”
The book, funded by a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, had a small print run of a few thousand copies intended exclusively for schools and libraries in the Philadelphia area. By special permission, the Salon du livre will have a limited number of copies for sale.
This will be Battle’s first time at the book fair, but not his first appearance. He has been there several times in recent years as a patron.
“I love books. I love beautiful books. I love picture books,” he said. “It’s a chance for me to connect with illustrator friends and author friends. “event just has a great energy. It’s almost like a comic book convention, but not as frenetic, you know?”
However, there could be Comic-Con energy at the Convention Center this year, as the children’s book fair will share the building with the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Festival.
Children’s Book Fair’s mission is to showcase black-centric children’s books, both new and classic, and to encourage parents to develop small libraries in their homes. This mission has become more urgent during the pandemic which has forced many children to spend seemingly endless hours of screen time.
“I can’t tell you how many times during the pandemic parents called me asking what they could do because their kids were stressed out with all the electronics that were going on,” Lloyd-Sgambati said. . “You’re tired of sitting in front of a computer screen. You cannot tell a child to read a book if there are no books at home.