Photos from the Texas Book Fest 2023
I had a great time at the Texas Book Festival this past November. BIG shout out to my publisher Lee & low, Reading Rockets, and the Book Festival for having me. I have done many local events such as library readings, class visits, co-producing a book fair, vending at book fairs, etc but have never been to such a huge book fair and met so many folks in the business. I met people I’ve admired for a ong time and some new folks who are awesome storytellers!!
Reading Rockets: School visit w/ McBee Elementary
Here I am talking to a gang of mostly Latino students at the school about “Fresh Juice/ Jugo Fresco” in Spanish. This might be the biggest audience I read to in 2023, second only to a reading I did w/ Maestra Jill Guerra for our book “We Are Yoga”. My reading was rough because of technival difficulties but the kids and the school still rocked with me thankfully.
After the reading I was able to hand each and every student (probably over 100) a copy of my book in Spanish or English. This was made possible because of Reading Rockets, the school, and my publisher. These types of events are important because we brought the stories to the students. More below….
This writer and Cubana Adriana Cuevas who talked about her career and her latest book “The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto”.
This is bro Andy J Pizza who I knew as a podcaster from the show “Creative Pep Talk” and he was sharing his book “Invisible Things”.
Authors Brunch: At a TBF board member’s home
Ok, I wish I had taken more photos. I was too blown away by the home of this board member who hosted us. I got to meet some people who I’ve admired for years and met some new folks; authors, organizers of the event, and more. Particularly I remember meeting Michelle Hernandez who is an organizer for the Texas Book Festival, Becky Gomez who is an educator and artist who also volunteers at the fest. Authors? Man I saw old friends like Michael Genhart from the Bay and Shadra Strickland from Baltimore. But also I met Vashite Harrison, Don Tate, Derrick Barnes, David Bowles, and Minh Le. I also met some new folks like Emma The Otheguy, Pedro Martin, Christina Soontornvat, Ana Siqueira, Jamar Perry, Anne Wynter, Cathery, Mohit, and moreeeeee.
Black Pearl Books – Black Owned bookstore in Austin, TX
The owners of Black Pearl Books reached out to me and several Black authors in an effort to give us a space to convene and just to build community. I didn’t know about the store before, but I do now and I’m so glad I went because I got to chop it up with Jerome Pumphrey, Anne Winter, and Vashite Harrison. I also got to walk around this beautiful story which did an excellent job of celebrating Black authors. If you’re ever in Austin, go support them!
Big shout out to Cathery Yeh and her husband who drove me around from hotel to reading to brunch and around the city. They are a family from Cali who were based in Austin now. Cathery also took most of the photos of me reading for Reading Rockets.
They wanted to see a mural I had painted with the Trust Your Struggle Collective back in 2008. The mural has been damaged but the historic business it was painted for, the Victory Grill is still standing!
Here are some photos from the mural, around my hotel, and around the downtown area.
Texas Book Festival
I started my reading that day with a dedication to brother Damion Hunter (Megah Brown) , who was my friend and my barber. He passed away in 2023 suddenly and left behind a wife and family. I met Damion through recommendation around 2013 or 2014 and he cut my hair and that of my son’s for many years. Our families hung out together beyond the barbershop and I like so many were deeply saddened by his passing. So I wore a tshirt with the name of his barbershop that day intentionally. When I first self published Furqan’s First Flat Top in 2016 I asked my good friend Eli to do a book trailer sharing the book and me getting a flat top. The brother cutting my hair in this video was Damion. Rest in peace.
This was me reading during my session. There were not a lot of folks there as I am still relatively brand new to the kids book world outside of the Bay, but it was fun. Claudia Guadalupe Martinez took these photos of me 🙂
Ok dig this, I got to listen to a master class in picture book reading, performing, and improvising. Ive been reading to students for over a decade just to get here but it was really awesome listening to how these authors, illustrators, and storytellers did it.
From Top to bottom, left to right: Roda Ahmed & Charnaie Gordon reading Etta Extraordinaire, Juana Medina – Elina Rides, Panel w/ Celia Perez and Aida Salazar, Ana Siqueira-La Supercapa de Abuela, Shadra Strickland- Jump In, Emma Otheguy-Too Many Tia’s, Minh Le-Real to Me, Anne Wynter-Nell Plants a Tree, Vashtie Harrison- BIG, Don Tate-Jerry Changed the Game, Magdalena Mora & Claudia Guadalupe Martinez-Still Dreaming, Nikkolas Smith-The Artivist
This was dope moment. This is me with Don Tate. Thee Don Tate!! Don is an OG who has been working as an illustrator and author since the early 2000’s I believe. I remember seeing Ron’s Big Mission, It Jes Happened, and so many others and being inspired. Don was kind enough to take a photo with me and I felt honored!
Protest for Palestine
On the last day of the Book Fair there was a protest and march scheduled to be held at the state capitol, which coincidentally was a block away from the fair. There was zero mention of Palestine or the protest by the fair which I was unfortunately not surprised by. Nonetheless I had to be there. I have been going to and attending protests my entire life. That isnt a cool point, or a brag. It is a sad reality that the struggle for freedom, ciivil and human rights here in the US and abroad continues. This person wearing a cowboy hat as he rocked a keffiyeh and held a palestinian flag caught my eye. Had no idea there were Palestinian cowboys but I was happy to see it.
I took these photos as I arrived and at first there were 1000, then 5k, then 10k. By the time I watched footage of it later that day there was at least 50k people in Austin Texas protesting/marching. See footage of that here.
Saw this family and had to snap a photo of them:)
This!!!! I loved seeing this sign because although there was a HUGE Palestinian and Arab population there, tons of Latinos, Black folks, White, and Asian people where there in solidarity. After the march, I headed back to the Bay.
I want to give a shout out to Shaughnessy Miller and Jenny Choy at Lee & Low Books, Michelle Hernandez and all the staff at the Texas Book Festival, Cathery and her husband for the rides, all the volunteers who gave me and other authors rides, Jeannie Moody at McBee Elementary, the board member who hosted us for lunch, etc. That’s it folks, I hope you enjoyed these photos.
Dig this? Check out these photos from my trip to Columbus Ohio for the SOL Con.