IFFBoston 2018

Boston Book Festival is excited to be a part of the 16th Annual Independent Film Festival Boston. IFFBoston is taking place April 25 – May 2 at the Somerville Theatre, Brattle Theatre, and Coolidge Corner Theatre. Over one hundred films will be shown along with nightly parties and weekend panel discussions. Tickets for all events are on sale now at http://www.iffboston.org.

This year, we are sponsoring four films: A Prayer Before Dawn, Far From The Tree, On Chesil Beach, and We The Animals.

Far From The Tree
Sat. 4/28 – 6:30pm

Somerville Theatre

From the New York Times-bestselling book by Andrew Solomon, Rachel Dretzin presents the lives of Jason, Jack, Loni, Leah, Joe, Trevor, and Andrew Solomon. The audience gets an intimate insight into their journeys as people with Down syndrome, autism, dwarfism, a life sentence in prison and parents unaccepting of his identity as a gay man. This film displays families meeting extraordinary challenges through love, empathy, and understanding. Find more details for Far From The Tree here.


A Prayer Before Dawn
Sat. 4/28 – 9:15pm 

Somerville Theatre

Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire brings Billy Moore’s bestselling memoir of his brutal experiences inside one of Thailand’s most notorious jails to the screen. Refusing to die, Moore becomes a student of the lethal art of Muay Thai boxing, which will guide him on an incredible journey to redemption. Find more information on IFFBoston’s screening of A Prayer Before Dawn here.



We The Animals
Sun. 4/29 – 3:15pm 

Somerville Theatre

Three brothers tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents in Jeremiah Zagar’s adaptation of Justin Torres’s novel We The Animals. Torres was a presenter at BBF 2011, and we couldn’t be happier to see his affecting novel brought to the big screen. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father, Jonah embraces an imagined world all his own. In this coming-of-age film, the audience learns, grows, and experiences life with the brothers. For more details on We The Animals, click here.


On Chesil Beach
Sun. 4/29 – 4:30pm 

Somerville Theatre

Based on the novel by Ian McEwan, Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan and Dunkirk’s Billy Howle embody newlyweds Florence and Edward, both in their early 20s and also both virgins. In the summer of 1962, the couple’s spend their honeymoon preoccupied and terrified by the upcoming consummation of their marriage. Here is more information on the drama On Chesil Beach.

Each film offers an escape into a world in which you will be fully immersed in the human experience of facing challenges. Check out the full IFF lineup here to find additional screenings. We are happy to support IFFBoston and celebrate together the power of storytelling to inspire. We hope to see you there! #IFFBoston2018 #IFFandBBF



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Call for Submissions: One City One Story 2018

We are currently looking for the next great story for our One City One Story program. If you are a previously published* author, we welcome your submission of a short work of fiction. Please see below for selection criteria, and please submit your work (only one submission per person, please) via our Submittable page no later than February 28, 2018.

Additional information:

  • Submitted stories may be previously published or unpublished, but the author must hold rights to the story and permit (re)publication by the Boston Book Festival in print and digital formats, as well as translations into multiple languages.
  • Stories should be no more than 7500 words in length.
  • The selected author must be willing and able to attend the Boston Book Festival on October 13, 2018, and to participate in a town hall–style discussion of her/his story at the BBF. The Boston Book Festival is unable to provide travel or accommodations for authors attending the BBF. The selected author must also be available for media appearances and interviews in the weeks leading up to the festival. These should not require additional travel.
  • Preference is given to authors from Boston or New England, or those who have a strong connection to the region. Stories set in the region are also of particular interest.
  • Stories are evaluated for literary merit as well as their potential for fruitful discussion by readers high school age and older. The ideal story should offer many different entry points for discussion by readers, some of whom may not have previously (or at least recently) read and discussed short fiction.
  • Stories are initially evaluated by BBF staff and a selection committee composed of editors from Boston-based literary magazines and media outlets. A short list of stories is then circulated to community members who provide feedback on whether and how they would use the story with the populations they serve. The final decision is made by BBF staff based on this feedback and other factors (such as rights availability and regional interest).
  • The selected author will be notified in early May 2018.

*For the purposes of this program, “published” means having had a work of short fiction appear in an online or print edition of a magazine or journal with an ISSN or in an anthology with an ISBN.

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BBF: Beyond Copley Square

If you’ve been to the Boston Book Festival, you know it’s like a whole thing, with authors, illustrators, vendors, volunteers, musicians, and maybe even a costume character or two flocking to historic, beautiful Copley Square, along with tens of thousands of booklovers just like you. But what you might not know is that we’re also active citywide, partnering with other organizations to spark a love of reading among Bostonians young and old. We wanted to let you know about two of these programs that took place during BBF weekend!

Shelf Help at the Curley School

On Friday, the day before the BBF, Caldecott Medalist and Coretta Scott King Award winner Javaka Steptoe made a visit to the Curley School in Jamaica Plain. This K-8 school, part of the Boston Public Schools system, was the recipient of our 2017 Shelf Help initiative, which culminated with Javaka’s memorable school visit, coordinated in partnership with the Wondermore organization. His presentations gave Curley school students a window into this brilliant illustrator, author, and artist’s inspiration and artistic process and got them (even more) excited about the thousands of dollars’ worth of brand-new books that will soon grace the shelves of their newly-reopened school library, thanks to the publishers and individuals who pitched in to donate books and funds via the BBF’s Shelf Help initiative. Special thanks to the Shah Foundation and Connie Coburn, as well as to Candlewick Press, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Penguin Young Readers for their substantial support, and to the Children’s Book Shop of Brookline for encouraging customers to donate at the store!

Mini-BBF at East Boston Branch Library

This year, readers could hop on the Blue Line and ride to a mini–Boston Book Festival, thanks to a new partnership with the Boston Public Library. The beautiful new East Boston Branch of the BPL hosted plenty of bookish fun, including a visit and storytime with Curious George as well as kids’ workshops with local author James DeMarco and Newbery Medalist Matt de la Peña, plus a discussion of One City One Story and (thanks to the magic of Facebook live), the BBF’s cookbook session livestreamed from Copley Square. We were pleased to be able to give each of the participants in Matt’s workshop a brand-new copy of his new picture book, Miguel and the Grand Harmony, and we are grateful to the library staff and volunteers for helping us produce and promote the event. We hope to expand this program in coming years, so let us know if your neighborhood would like to work with us to host your own mini-BBF!

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Find Yourself at BBF 2017, This Weekend!

BBF 2017 kicks off TONIGHT, 10/26, with Lit Crawl Boston, presented by Boston’s Literary District, and continues tomorrow, 10/27, with The Book Revue, a free author variety show featuring poetry, monologues, live music, and even a surprise or two. But the big event takes place Saturday, 10/28, in Copley Square and at indoor locations around Back Bay. This year’s BBF theme is “Where We Find Ourselves”—we encourage you to consider what this theme means for you, our city, and our culture as you explore the many choices for fun and thoughtful programs at this year’s BBF. And read on for some essential tips to help you make the most of your day at the BBF!

It’s all free. This year every single session, workshop, and event at the BBF is free, and no tickets or preregistration are available for any session. If you’ve been using Sched’s interactive planning and scheduling tools on our website, that’s great, but that’s all they are—convenient planning tools for you, not registration or a guarantee of admission from us. Admission and seating at all our events is first-come, first-served, so we recommend you arrive early for sessions that are especially important to you! Need help navigating our online schedule? Visit this brief tutorial.

Plan ahead if you plan to drive. This year, we’re partnering with ParkWhiz to help BBF attendees find and book the best deals on parking near the festival. You do need to book parking in advance in order to take advantage of the ParkWhiz deals, however, so take a few minutes and have one less thing to worry about as you head into the city.

Heck, plan ahead if you plan to take the T, too. Again this weekend, the MBTA is using shuttle bus replacements on the red line from Cambridge, so allow extra time if you’re coming across the river!

Bring a tote bag (or buy one from us!). Thanks to our partner booksellers, book sales and signings follow all of our sessions, so bring a bag (or buy a new one at our merch booth!) to stock up on new finds (not to mention goodies from our 75+ exhibitors on Copley Square!).

Love the BBF? Help keep it free to all. If you love the BBF, help support it! The BBF is run by an independent nonprofit, and we rely on donations from individuals to help keep the festival thriving and free to all. Donations in any amount are appreciated, but membership benefits start at $50; more substantial donations of $500+ can get you priority seating, party invitations, and more! You can contribute to the BBF online anytime or at the membership table at the big BBF tent on the day of the festival. Thank you for your support!

Most importantly? Have fun! We hope you enjoy this free celebration of books and literary culture. We’ve certainly had fun putting it together for you. Tag us on Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #BBF2017—we can’t wait to see how you spend your day!

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BBF 2017: Where We Find Ourselves

The theme for this year’s Boston Book Festival is “Where We Find Ourselves.” The theme speaks in part to our political moment, to how we arrived at this strange and often disconcerting place in history and what we can collectively and individually do next. Sessions like “Politics” with Maureen Dowd and Jared Yates Sexton, “Geopolitics” with Graham Allison, Meghan O’Sullivan, and Nick Burns, and “Racism in America” with Carol Anderson, Chris Hayes, and James Forman Jr. address these questions directly, while sessions like M. T. Anderson’s YA Keynote and and “#LookItUP: Knowledge Matters” with Brian Halley, Marilynn Johnson, and Tom Nichols explore them more implicitly.

Ideas of travel, migration, and home also surface throughout our sessions, featuring works of both fiction and nonfiction, as authors explore the literal places we reside in or journey through. “This Is the Place” explores women’s writings about home, while “Arrivals and Departures” features Adam Gopnik and Kristen Radtke’s memoirs about inhabiting, and traveling through, unfamiliar places. In “Strangers in a Strange Land,” three fiction writers—Jonny Sun, Lisa Ko, and Hala Alyan—probe questions of migration and rootlessness. And in “Voices of America,” writers Ha Jin and Grace Talusan as well as publisher Ilan Stavans examine how writers address the immigrant experience.

Of course, in addition to these and other thematically linked sessions, we have dozens of other eclectic events and activities designed to appeal to all sorts of readers. Sessions on food, suspense novels, and the Beatles, as well as plenty of programs for teens and younger readers, remind us that there’s nothing wrong with finding a little fun in our reading, too. We have more BBF Unbound and Reading Like a Writer sessions than ever before (including one on poetry), and we’re pleased to be hosting a full slate of readings in fiction, memoir, and essays at the BPL’s new Newsfeed Café—a great spot for book clubs to grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat while getting inspiration for their reading choices in the coming year.

We’re pleased to partner with Boston’s first-in-the-nation Literary District, which is presenting its second annual Lit Crawl in Back Bay on the Thursday before the BBF. You’ll find the full schedule of their Lit Crawl events on our website as well—it’s the perfect way to kick off the BBF festivities!

This year every single event at the BBF—including Lit Crawl—is absolutely free, and tickets are not required to attend any session. If you’re still familiarizing yourself with our new interactive schedule, you might want to refer to this tutorial blog post from last year. Our mobile app will soon be updated for 2017 as well. Enjoy getting to know our schedule and planning your BBF day—in the meantime, we’ll be busy behind the scenes getting ready to welcome nearly 250 authors—and you!—to Copley Square in just a few short weeks. For all of us who find ourselves through books and literature, it’s sure to be a memorable weekend.

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Join Us to Give the Curley School Some Shelf Help!

It’s back to school season, and this year, no one will be more excited to return to school than the 950 students at the Curley K-8 School in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood. After several years without a school library, a dedicated team of parents and other volunteers has raised funds to reopen the library this fall.

But the Curley School could still use some help to fill their shelves! The Boston Book Festival, along with publishers Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Penguin Young Readers, HarperCollins, and Candlewick Press, is donating brand-new books to the Curley K-8 library. We’re also teaming up with Wondermore to bring award-winning author and illustrator Javaka Steptoe to the Curley for a school visit the day before his public BBF appearance on October 28.

We’re off to a great start, but there are still a lot of shelves to fill, and that’s where you come in! We’re asking friends and fans of the BBF to join us in donating books and funds to restock the shelves at the Curley School. Focusing primarily on a diverse collection of award-winning books published during the library’s closure, the Curley School’s wish list will make hundreds of young readers very happy.

Here are some ways you can get involved:

  • Peruse the Curley School’s wish list online and donate a book directly to the school library. You can even honor a family member or beloved teacher or librarian with a bookplate dedication!
  • Visit the Children’s Book Shop in Brookline to donate a book from the Curley’s registry list (and maybe pick up something for your own family, too)!
  • Contribute funds directly to the Shelf Help project by visiting the donations page and selecting a dollar amount. Or stop by the merchandise booth at BBF 2017 on October 28 and donate on-site!
  • Spread the word about the Curley School’s library and Shelf Help by sharing this post on social media, using the hashtag #ShelfHelp and tagging @bostonbookfest and @curleyk8!

Thanks so much for your help–together we’re bringing the love of reading to a new generation of Boston kids!


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Summer Reading 2017

Whether your summer plans involve packing a suitcase for a far-flung destination or just packing a bag for the nearest beach or pool, you’ll want to be sure to include a good book (or two . . . or three . . .) wherever your summer adventures take you. Team BBF has compiled some of our favorite summer reading recommendations to send you on your way—happy summer, and happy reading!

Debbie Porter, Founding Executive Director

I recommend the novels of Rachel Cusk. Outline and Transit are the first two books in what are being called Cusk’s post-divorce trilogy. Cusk has spoken about her reluctance to write either fiction or autobiography, and her latest works are not easily classified as either.

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Topping my own summer reading list is David Grossman‘s A Horse Walks into a Bar, winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize. I also plan to dig into a pile of BBF 2017 authors’ books, but since we haven’t announced the authors yet, I can’t tell you which ones!

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Norah Piehl, Deputy Director

If your summer travel plans include a Caribbean cruise, you probably don’t want to pack Maile Meloy’s Do Not Become Alarmed; for everyone else, however, I thoroughly recommend this literary thriller about a cruise ship vacation gone horribly awry. Besides being a true page-turner, Meloy’s latest takes on issues of privilege and prejudice, as well as the fragility of family life and relationships.

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I spent part of my childhood in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and Karen Dionne’s fantastic new suspense novel, The Marsh King’s Daughter, took me right back to that area’s remote beauty and wildness. Perfect for fans of Emma Donoghue’s Room, this novel is both a survival story (in more ways than one) and a revenge narrative that practically begs to be read in a single sitting.

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Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel, Young Jane Young, doesn’t come out until late August, but trust me: you’re going to want to get your hands on this one before summer’s over. A single mother who’s completely reinvented herself in the years since she was at the center of a high-profile political sex scandal now has to decide whether to revive her own political ambitions and reenter the public eye. Young Jane Young thoroughly skewers the culture of slut-shaming while also being smart, funny, and stylistically playful.

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OK, I’ve got to sneak one more in here, since it wouldn’t be like me not to recommend at least one YA novel. I listened to the audio version of Justine Larbalestier’s My Sister Rosa on my long runs this spring, and let’s just say it had me glancing back over my shoulder on isolated parts of the Charles River Greenway! Sort of The Bad Seed for a new generation, Larbalestier’s truly unnerving novel also offers an appealingly diverse set of characters as well as plentiful reflections on genetics, free will, and the fuzzy boundaries between good and evil.

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Sarah Parker, Director of Operations

It’s a sad state of affairs (for me, at least) when there’s no new Tana French to sink my teeth into once vacation rolls around. She’s my ideal summertime read and I think has the Anglophile (Hibernophile?) literary thriller market pretty well cornered. Lucky me to stumble upon former Guardian writer Susie Steiner‘s Missing, Presumed in the library. This UK mystery hurtles along at a breathless pace and saves the biggest surprise for the very end. And–she has a new one coming out in July!

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I’m absolutely transfixed by the new season of Twin Peaks, and the idea of revisiting the original (in all forms!) allows me to keep the dream alive between new episodes. I first read The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer (by Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David) in high school, so I’m interested to see how it stands up so many years later. And by many, I mean three. (Just kidding! I’m old.)

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And just like our friends at the Horn Book, I think that “summer reading” should be anything you want—for every member of your family! For my older son that means every Pokémon book he can get his hands on, and a new favorite series: Frankie Pickle. And don’t forget your rights as a reader!

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Madelene Nieman, BBF 2017 Intern

The Vegetarian by Han Kang
I devoured this book as fast as I could read it while on a German train. In the midst of shouts from the drunken residents of Cologne, I was enraptured by the story of Yeong-hye, a housewife in Seoul whose rebellious choice to first give up meat (and eventually food altogether) is met with disdain and violence from her family. A drama in three acts, The Vegetarian explores themes of body politics, female sexuality, and nature, all while maintaining the most elegant prose I have encountered in quite some time.

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Frozen in Time by Owen Beattie and John Geiger
Nothing to cool you down on a steamy summer day like the story of hundred-year-old bodies preserved in ice! Frozen in Time tells the story of the Franklin Expedition, an ill-fated 1845 search for the Northwest Passage that ended in starvation, cannibalism, and lead poisoning. The story is told in two parts—the first describing the expedition itself, and the second describing the excavation of the wreckage that took place during the 1980s.

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Crucial Interventions by Richard Barnett
The second of Barnett’s books on nineteenth-century medicine, Crucial Interventions provides an overview of advances in the practice of surgery. The real highlight of this book is the hundreds of pages of rare medical illustrations, garishly detailed and beautifully printed. Perfect for the casual fan of grotesque portrayals of human anatomy, this certainly makes a unique coffee table book. (I would not recommend reading it on the T.)

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Cassie Sheets, BBF 2017 Intern

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
As a debut author, Thomas creates a riveting, intelligent YA fiction novel about race, ghettoization, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement. This book offers an intelligent, nuanced, and bold statement about race relations in the United States. A perfect read to feel connected with current political movements and to create empathy across race and class divides.

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She Persisted, written by Chelsea Clinton and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
This picture book, filled with one-page biographies of thirteen women, will inspire people of all ages to look up to women who have persisted and succeeded, despite institutionalized and personal setbacks. The book includes a diverse collection of women, with several names that are less well known but nonetheless important in creating a well-rounded understanding of history, or rather, herstory.

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Blue Sky, White Stars, written by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
There’s something haunting about legendary children’s book illustrator Kadir Nelson’s painting style. Is it the way he creates light in dark places? Or maybe it’s how realistic yet dreamlike his characters look. At a time when we need it most, Naberhaus’s bold, poetic words and Nelson’s dramatic renderings of families across the nation make a simple and important statement: America is diverse, and diversity is American. A perfect 4th of July read for your family.

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BBF Unbound 2017: Seeking Submissions

2016’s BBF Unbound series of community-curated sessions offered a veritable feast for readers and writers, featuring discussions on spicy contemporary romance novels, mouthwatering food in fiction, and best practices for creating a nourishing writers’ group. We love hearing your ideas for sessions and working with you to develop successful BBF presentations and workshops.

We’re now accepting proposals for 2017 BBF Unbound sessions, to be presented at the Boston Book Festival on October 28.

We are looking for outside groups/individuals who can introduce fresh voices and new ideas to the BBF. Be creative! The session can involve a debate, demo, workshop, literary improv, dramatic readings, panel discussion, literary games, etc. We are not looking for product promotions, plugs for businesses, or sessions featuring a single author publicizing his or her book. Note that in 2017, due to venue limitations, we are particularly interested in proposals for small writing/publishing workshops.

You will be responsible for running your session, i.e., gathering participants, beginning and ending on time, and covering any expenses (beyond room rental and basic A/V). We will publicize your session on our website and in our Program Guide, and we will expect you to publicize it as well.

We will evaluate proposals based on: 1. Will the content appeal to the BBF audience? 2. Does the content offer something different from standard BBF fare? 3. Is the individual/group offering a plausible plan for implementing the session?

Applications are now closed–the deadline for applications was June 30, and we will be notifying successful applicants soon.

Questions?: Contact Norah Piehl, norah@bostonbookfest.org

If you would like to submit a hard copy of your proposal, or if you would like to submit supporting materials, please send them to:

Norah Piehl, Deputy Director
Boston Book Festival
32R Essex St. Cambridge, MA 02139

We look forward to reviewing your submissions!

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Request for Proposals: Shelf Help 2017

Boston Book Festival is once again reaching out to the Greater Boston community to help us implement our annual Shelf Help project. We know that many elementary schools lack the resources to fully stock their school or classroom libraries with contemporary, high-quality books. We want to help one teacher or librarian grow their book collection, and then we will organize a children’s book author or illustrator visit to share the wonders of book creation with young readers!

Our 2017 Shelf Help initiative wants to provide new books to one K-8 classroom or school library near the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. We will be collecting donations at the ninth annual Boston Book Festival on October 28th.

If you know a teacher or librarian at a school that needs some Shelf Help, please forward them this RFP, which has links to a short online or downloadable application. All proposals are due by May 30, 2017.

You can also lend direct “Shelf Help” to the Boston community! If you would like to donate a book, please come to the Boston Book Festival on October 28 and look out for our information booth, or you can donate through our online book wish list. Email us at info@bostonbookfestival.org to receive a link to the “Shelf Help” donation site. If you would prefer to make a cash donation, please visit our donate page. Upon checking out, select “Make this a gift” and designate “Shelf Help” as the gift recipient in the appropriate box.

With “Shelf Help,” we aim to support students’ discovery and expression of their voices through access to an increased selection of books within their school environment. Words have power to motivate and provoke all readers to discover themselves and their place in the world, and we hope that Shelf Help will encourage students to view themselves as literary explorers!

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Shake Off That Bad Mood! We’ve Got Big News for Kids and Families

We are thrilled to announce that beloved (and mysterious) children’s author Lemony Snicket will be the kids’ keynote presenter at the ninth annual Boston Book Festival on October 28 in Copley Square. Author of the wildly popular Series of Unfortunate Events (now a Netflix original series), among many other bestselling books, Snicket will appear at the Boston Book Festival to present his latest picture book for children, The Bad Mood and the Stick, featuring art by Matthew Forsythe. This whimsical story illustrates the unexpected outcomes of one little girl’s bad mood, and Lemony Snicket’s presentation at the BBF is guaranteed to banish any bad moods from the premises!

Snicket’s presentation will headline a full day of programs for children, teens, and families at the 2017 BBF. These will include story time presentations by picture book authors and illustrators, panel presentations and discussions, hands-on workshops with working artists, and much more.

In 2015 and 2016, the BBF presented a standalone spring children’s festival called Hubbub. Hubbub will not continue as a standalone festival in 2017; instead, we will build on many Hubbub partnerships to expand and enhance interactive and interdisciplinary programming for children and families at the October BBF. Somerville-based children’s publisher Candlewick Press, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, will be the Presenting Sponsor of these expanded children’s offerings, which we’re calling “Hubbub at the BBF.” Costume character meet & greets, STEAM activities, scavenger hunts, celebrations of global culture, and tons of festive fun—the whole family will discover a full day of storytelling and surprises at the BBF. We hope your family makes plans to attend Lemony Snicket’s kids’ keynote and then spend the day with us at the Boston Book Festival on October 28!



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