San Francisco is thrilled to host the ALA Annual Conference again this June. The Bay Area has a rich literary tradition and children’s books definitely are a part of it. Years ago, I wrote an article for School Library Journal (Déjà Views: A Tour of San Francisco Settings You’ll Recall from Children’s Books, SLJ, June 1997) that highlighted the city’s ties to Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Kate Douglas Wiggin, Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, Kathryn Forbes, Berta Hader, Jade Snow Wong, Virginia Lee Burton, Eleanor Cameron and Laurence Yep. Several of the books mentioned in it are now in limited supply, if not out of print. This is not surprising: Wilder’s letters to her husband Almanzo, chronicling her journey to the city to visit their daughter, popular journalist Lane, and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, were written 100 years ago (West from Home). Wiggin’s work to establish the first free kindergarten in San Francisco (funding it with proceeds from the sale of The Bird’s Christmas Carol) took place almost 30 years before that. Maybelle’s uphill battle to save her species—can anyone conceive of a San Francisco without its cable cars?—was based on the successful Citizens’ Committee to Save the Cable Cars, almost 70 years ago (Maybelle the Cable Car, by Virginia Lee Burton).
But the literary spirit lives on, and thrives. A list of current local children’s and teen authors and illustrators, or books set here, would be a long one.
Indulge me, then, as I mention just a few, and the ALSC Preconference: Distinguished and Diverse: Celebrate the 2015 ALSC Honor Books, on Friday, June 26, 2015, 11:30 AM – 4:00 PM, as there are several Honor Books (and their authors and illustrators) with Bay Area connections:
- Yuyi Morales (Caldecott Honor Viva Frida) lives part time in San Francisco, and learned to make puppets from books borrowed from the Western Addition Branch Library.
- Jon Klassen’s partner-in-imagination, Mac Barnett (Caldecott Honor Sam & Dave Dig a Hole) is from Oakland, and as teen, he was Peter Pan at Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland.
- Belpré Illustrator Honor Little Roja Riding Hood, Susan Guevara, received her BFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Author Susan Middleton Elya lives in the Bay Area.
- All California children benefitted from Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation (Belpré Illustrator Honor, Sibert Honor), written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.
- Several of the illustrious people profiled in Portraits of Hispanic America Heroes (Belpré Author Honor, by Juan Felipe Herrera) are well-known to the Bay Area, including Joan Baez and Rita Moreno.
- We are so proud of talented local illustrator Christian Robinson, who created the Sibert Honor book Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker with author Patricia Hruby Powell.
- And of course, those top-of-the-food chain Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands (Sibert Honor by Katherine Roy) are from our neighborhood (on a clear day, I can see the Farallon Islands from the park at the end of my street).
The Gold Rush may have ended almost two centuries ago, but San Francisco continues to offer literary gold—and several have shiny silver medals this year. Please join us in honoring them, and all other ALSC book honor winners, at the ALSC Preconference. Welcome back to the Bay Area, ALA!
Today’s blog post was written Carla Kozak, the Children’s and Teen Collection Development Specialist at the San Francisco Public Library, for the Local Arrangements Committee.