Q&A: East Boston Librarian Margaret Kelly Highlights What’s On for the Neighborhood Festival

We’re excited to be returning to the East Boston Branch of Boston Public Library for the second edition of BBF in East Boston!

We piloted our first Neighborhood Festival in East Boston last year, and had over 100 attendees in just our first year. This year, we’re stepping it up. We’ve expanded programming, added live mariachi music, and developed all-day activities, such as a community-developed poem.

Margaret Kelly, branch librarian in East Boston, tellls us a little more about what made last year’s East Boston Neighborhood Festival successful, why the Neighborhood Festivals are important, and what to expect for this bigger and better line-up this year!

Check out the full schedule.

1) Last year’s East Boston Neighborhood Festival–BBF’s first beyond Copley Square–was a huge hit. What are some of your favorite highlights?

My favorite was definitely the writing workshop for children that Matt de la Peña presented. Both the children and parents really enjoyed it, and so did I. Matt was very funny and really got the children excited about writing.

I  also really liked the art and illustration workshop for children conducted by James DeMarco, a local author and illustrator. It was kind of amazing that all the children from the youngest to the oldest made these great dinosaur drawings. They all looked like dinosaurs, and all the children put their own spin on it.  I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful.

James will be back this year but this time he will be  speaking on a panel discussion about writing and publishing, which I’m looking forward to.

2) What was the most unexpected part of the day last year?

I don’t know that anything was really unexpected, but, if anything, it was how excited the adults were about all the programs. We had a short story discussion group that the participants really enjoyed. Most of our other programs were geared toward children. But the parents and other adults loved these programs, too. I think they particularly enjoyed seeing the children get so excited about books and maybe there was a nostalgia factor, as well, with our Curious George visit and storytime.

This year we have increased our programs and have something for all ages.

3) Why is the festival important to what you do and the neighborhood?

It’s a great opportunity to connect people with books and authors.  It makes both reading and writing more accessible. Through meeting and hearing from both famous and local authors, participants get the message that everyone has a story, and I think that is very powerful. Most of all, the festival is about having fun and celebrating reading. I love that it is a neighborhood event and a celebration of both reading and community.

4) We’d love to know more about East Boston. What books are flying off the shelves?

 The President is Missing by James Patterson has been very popular, as well as The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas has been in high demand from both adults and teens.  In the Children’s Room, it is nearly impossible to keep any books by Mo Willems and Jeff Kinney on the shelves.

5) Any sneak peeks into what we can expect at the 2018 BBF East Boston Neighborhood Festival?

There is going to be an array of fun and interesting programs for adults and children.  Pete the Cat will be visiting and we will have a panel discussion from local authors about writing and publishing. Actress Sheetal Sheth will  be reading from her first children’s book, and Daniel José Older will be presenting a writing workshop for preteens.

All ages will be invited to help craft a community poem on East Boston and also to create their own blackout poetry.  To give visitors a flavor of East Boston, local artist Veronica Robles will perform with her all female mariachi band.

6) Will there be programming for all ages?

Yes, we truly will have something for everyone.

Check out the full schedule.

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