BookExpo announced their 2017 Children’s Book & Author Breakfast will feature two YA authors: Jason Reynolds, author of All American Boys; and Marieke Nijkamp, author of This Is Where It Ends. They will be joined by co-anchor of NBC’s Today Savannah Guthrie and middle grade author Jennifer Weiner (Little Bigfoot, Big City).
All American Boys is Reynolds’ latest YA novel. The winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award and co-written with Brendan Kiely, it follows two teens – one black, one white – as they grapple with the repercussions of a fist-happy cop attacking a black teenage boy. Reynolds is also the author of multiple middle-grade novels and is currently writing a Miles Morales YA book for Marvel.
In Nijkamp’s This Is Where It Ends, the principal of Opportunity, Alabama’s high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class. The auditorium doors won’t open. Someone starts shooting.
In the past, BookExpo has been criticized for lack of diversity. When a panel for the young-adult-focused BookCon was announced in 2014, there were over 30 writers and celebrities – including one cat – but no voices that could be considered “diverse.” What followed was the social media campaign #WeNeedDiverseBooks, which turned into We Need Diverse Books, an official grassroots charity organization. “Campaign members, in conjunction with Lee & Low Books, secured a diverse panel of acclaimed children’s authors, including Grace Lin, Matt de la Peña and Jacqueline Woodson” at that year’s BookCon. Nijkamp was one of the founding members of the WNDB campaign.
BookExpo also received criticism in 2015 for their Children’s Book & Author Breakfast panelists, which included three men and one woman, all white.
The largest gathering of book trade professionals in North America, BookExpo is designed to lead the global publishing industry to its consumer driven future and celebrate storytelling in all its forms. BookExpo runs at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City from May 31 to June 2.