Brooklyn Book Festival biggest ever
by Rose L. Thayer
Sep 15, 2009 | 17706 views | 0 0 comments | 588 588 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Book lovers from all over the New York area flocked to Borough Hall on Sunday for the Brooklyn Book Festival, hoping to catch a glimpse of a favorite author, catch up on what’s new, or just enjoy a sunny day with the family.

Hosted by Borough President Marty Markowitz, the Brooklyn Literary Council, and Brooklyn Tourism, this year’s festival was the largest of its four-year history.

Some of the headlining speakers included Naomi Klein, Russell Banks, and Christopher Myers. Aside from listening to discussions and readings, visitors wandered through rows of tents with genres ranging from religion to politics to poetry.

One of the more popular areas by far was the children’s activity tent.

Even some adults admitted they were looking forward to hearing children’s author Mo Willems read. Sarah Wallman, a former Brooklyn resident whose mother is a children’s librarian, traveled in from New Haven for the event.

“She always keeps me up to date on the popular kid’s books, but I’m always looking for an excuse to come back to Brooklyn,” Wallman said. “And it’s always nice to see people who like to read.”

And Willems made sure to include some jokes for the adults in his audience. “This book title was ripped right from today’s headlines,” Willems said, referencing his soon to be released book, “Pigs Make Me Sick.”

Over at the Forbidden Planet tent, the famed Manhattan comic book store’s manager and buyer, Jeff Ayers, convinced Ayanni Hanna to try out a “Johnny Hiro” comic book, written and illustrated by Brooklyn resident Fred Chao.

“I’m a huge comic book fan,” said Hanna, as she paid for the new comic book. “I want to write comics for a living, so I’m always looking for something new to read.”

The entire festival was not just about discovering new books, however.

It also provided an opportunity to discover future writers. In conjunction with the festival, Markowitz hosted the fourth annual Brooklyn Lit Match teen writing contest.

This year’s theme, “Brooklyn Next,” asked students to write about change, in any style they chose. The contest’s ten finalists read their work aloud at the Youth Stoop tent.

Rachel Rigondon, a 16-year-old student at Brooklyn Technical High School, took home first prize - a brand new laptop computer - for her piece, “If it Were to Rain.”

“My mom kept bothering me to do it and so the night before I was like quick, do something!” Rogondon said.

It is estimated that a record 30,000 people attended this year’s festival, and many vendors said sales were up from previous years, too.

Markowitz, who started the event four years ago, said he is thrilled with the growth. “Now more than ever before,” he said, “Brooklyn is Booklyn.”

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