Walter Dean Myers to Chair Children’s Art Auction at BEA

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Award-winning author Walter Dean Myers, who has confronted numerous challenges to his books for young people, will help raise funds to support the free speech rights of kids by serving as the honorary chair of the Annual Children’s Art Auction and Reception at BookExpo America. Proceeds of the June 6 auction and reception, sponsored by the ABC Children’s Group at ABA,  will help support the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and its Kids’ Right to Read Project, which opposes the hundreds of challenges to books that occur in schools and libraries every year.

“Over the years, I’ve seen censorship grow,” Myers said recently. “The bottom line is that the America we love needs our support. We have to stand up and be counted.”

The Librarian of Congress recently named Myers as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature in recognition of his long and successful career as an author of young adult works, including the award-winning books Sunrise Over Fallujah, Fallen Angels, Monster, Somewhere in the Darkness, and Harlem. Myers won the Newbery Honor for Scorpions (1989) and Somewhere in the Darkness (1993). However, his books have also been frequently challenged, beginning with The Dragon Takes a Wife, a story featuring a black fairy. Myers received a death threat over the book.

ABFFE President Chris Finan believes Myers is an ideal choice to chair an auction supporting free speech. “This is a huge boost for the auction. We are excited and very grateful to Mr. Myers for his support,” Finan said. An added bonus is that Myers’ son, Christopher, who has illustrated many of his father’s books, will also participate in the auction. Father and son will act as auctioneers during a live segment of the otherwise silent auction.

The ABC auction has long been one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the social calendar of the children’s book industry, attracting booksellers, publishers, authors, illustrators, and other industry professionals. It is not only an opportunity to buy wonderful art but also a chance to socialize with friends from around the country. Light refreshments, beer, wine, and non-alcoholic drinks will be served. It will be held on Wednesday, June 6, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00p.m. in the South Concourse of the Javits Convention Center.

Tickets for the auction and reception are $95 ($75 for bookseller members of the ABC Children’s Group) and can be purchased here.  A ticket to the event is included in ABC Children’s Institute registration, which is open exclusively to bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association.Tickets for the auction and reception may sell out prior to BookExpo. If not, they can be purchased at the event for $105 ($85 for ABC Children’s Group members).

A letter from Myers urging artists and illustrators to donate to the auction can be found here.  Answers to frequently asked questions about the auction can be downloaded here, and a form for those interested in submitting artwork is available here. The deadline for submitting art is May 1.