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June 12, 2016

Barnes & Noble's Teen Book Fest

by Donna Huber

Yesterday my niece and I attend Barnes & Nobles first ever nationwide Teen Book Fest. With all the hype about the event I was really hoping for something terrific, though it was cautious hope.

I live in a small town so I knew we weren't attracting any big name authors like they were in larger cities. But still there  were plenty of games and events being offered that the staff could really step up and make shine.

I really wanted to go to the Royal Party on Friday night and have my picture taken with Prince Maxom from Keira Cass's Selection series, but my niece wasn't available and I didn't want to go sans teen. The PR person for my local B&N said it was a lot of fun. The royal party was followed by a trivia contest and a local author book signing.

On tap for Saturday, was B-First to Know at 11 am. We were to be treated to first looks of new books in favorite series and from favorite authors like the pre-quel to The Maze Runner and Veronica Roth's new book. It was listed as an event. And to me an event is something more than a table with teaser booklets. But that is all there was for this first event of the day.

Yes there were some cool stickers and pins and posters to pick up, but it took what 5 minutes? The next event wasn't until 2 pm. What a waste of time coming in at 11 am! Seriously, even without an author there for this sneak peek, the event staff could have had a a full program planned. I guess they weren't given a script for it so they couldn't use their imagination to build excitement for these new titles. Can you tell I was disappointed?

The next event was at 2 pm: B-Part of the Fun. It included a number of games including a scavenger hunt, a spelling bee, and a story ball. The scavenger hunt was fun and a little challenging. We had to find a book aonhot air balloons, a book without words, a book with one word title (though the sheet said a book with one title and the editor in me wondered doesn't most books only have 1 title?), a book 500 pages long and more. I kind of wonder about the judging of it. We found a book that met each category but we didn't win. Did we just not get books that were popular so perhaps they just didn't know it fit the category or were there specific books we were suppose to fine? My niece and I had fun and that was the most important thing.

The spelling bee was HARD. There were to be 4 categories - Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Dr Who. Harry Potter went a little better than the others (I don't think we did any from Eragon). But the only words I knew how to spell in the Harry Potter round was Bludger and Dumbledore. One word I don't even remember from the series - Circe. For LOTR there were Andriel and Dunedain among other words. Most people had difficulty with the the spelling bee to the point the employee running the event was apologizing that they didn't come up with the list of words. I think a problem here was the series are older and therefore, while well loved, may not have been read in a few years. If they had chosen more recent hits - Hunger Games, Divergent, The Grisha series etc., it may have gone over better.

Our story ball story was a bit weird - it had to do with a depressed zipline, a monkey, and a bad apocalyptic novel where the author doesn't use quotation marks when characters speak. (If you don't know what story ball is, it is when a person starts a story and then another person adds a line and then another person adds another line until everyone has had a turn.)

The games were okay. I think the staff could have been a bit more enthusiastic.. I think the vibe carried over into the crowd making something that could have been a lot of fun not so much.

At 3 pm it was B-Japanese. It was all about Anime/Manga. A local graduate student lead this event. I'm not an anime or manga fan, but my niece is so we stayed for it. It was pretty good. We watched a behind the scenes video for the movie Naruto and an episode of Bakuman. I'm still not anime fan, but it was fun to hear the teens talk about their favorite ones. Some of them were very passionate about it. The workshop was suppose to include "learn to draw" segment, but I don't think anyone really stayed around for that.

Then at 6 pm we returned for the Tri-Wizard Tournament. It was probably the best event of the day. The staff were a little more into it so that helped with the general excitement. And a lot of people showed up (and not just teens!). After being sorted into a house, Gryffindor of coure, first up was a riddle from the Sphinx. Our riddle was "what has an eye but does not see". Then we headed back to the children's area for some Quidditch. We chose to face-paint the golden snitch. I thought I did a pretty good job on my niece's face. At the cafe we answered a potions question about the elixir of life and sampled butter beer. We did well with our charms challenge, but totally failed the classical reference quiz (we were good and didn't Google for the answers). We even made our own wands.  My niece played a game of wizard chess while we waited for the house scores. Gryffindor won the house cup!

We picked up milshakes on the way home and decided that we were in the mood for a little Harry Potter movie magic.

Today at 2 pm my B&N is hosting a creative writing workshop. I'm not sure if we will head back for that or go to the pool. Yesterday was exhausting, but overall a fun afternoon. I hope for more events like this as it was nice not having to drive to Atlanta to have some bookish fun.

Did you go to your B&N's BFest? If you so, what events did you attend?

Oh and if you wondered if we walked out the bookstore with purchasing anythg. No. My niece picked up An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir after we entered the contest.

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