Author event with Kekla Magoon

Photo of author Kekla Magoon, who has a wide smile, rectangular glasses, and short hair with lots of curls. She's wearing a deep V-neck in a black and white print, pictured with a green yard behind her.

One of this year’s Battle of the Books titles is The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. The author is visiting virtually on April 14 for a 30-minute live Q&A! You may type your questions in advance within registration or hold them for the event.

The Season of Styx Malone tells the funny, poignant story about one amazing summer in small-town Indiana, when Caleb and Bobby Gene make friends with the slightly older, way cooler Styx Malone. Let’s be clear: Styx Malone is definitely too cool for school! He knows things… like about elevator trading, where you can essentially make something out of nothing. These boys are going to make a bag of fireworks (obtained by temporarily trading their baby sister) into a green moped. All these brothers want is to see the big city of Indianapolis, but their (maybe overly) protective father wants them to stay close to home in Sutton. The desire for adventure wars against the need for safety throughout the family’s interactions.

The boys follow foster child Styx into one “interesting” choice after another, hoping to achieve their dream of having independent mobility via the green moped, affectionately nicknamed Grasshopper. When things take a turn for the worse, everyone has to reconsider what a happy ending will look like. As Caleb and Bobby Gene lobby for adopting Styx, it turns out that adults can sometimes make good things happen. It’s a delightful book full of good humor from the point of view of three bored friends longing for more from summer than watering holes and doing chores (Mom was not happy about the baby sister trading).

Kekla Magoon is the author of many novels and nonfiction books for young readers, including The Season of Styx MaloneThe Rock and the RiverHow It Went Down, and the Robyn Hoodlum Adventure series

She has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the John Steptoe New Talent Award, three Coretta Scott King Honors, the Walter Award Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and been longlisted for the National Book Award. 

Kekla conducts school and library visits nationwide and serves on the Writers’ Council for the National Writing Project. She holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she now serves as faculty. Visit her online at keklamagoon.com.

Cover art has an illustration of a Black teenager in a slightly off-center ball cap, adjusting his mirrored sunglasses. In the glasses, you can see two other Black kids. The title of the book appear in script on the orange hat.

The book is also available as an ebook, on CD, and as an eAudiobook.

What is Home? asks Brandon Hobson

The book cover depicts a woodsy scene in grays and blues, with a lone figure inverted on a path in the center, framed by three interlocking triangles in pink, green, and gold.

by Rohini G.

Brandon Hobson, author of The Removed, believes that good fiction starts with a question. 

“The big question here was how do we grieve, and how do we heal. But I’m also interested in the question of what is home?” Examining these questions is the starting place for his writing, Hobson says in an interview with Zibby Owens.  

In The Removed, Hobson hauntingly weaves together two strands. First is the story of personal loss experienced by the Echota family; second, the devastating loss experienced by the Cherokee Nation – the traumatic heritage of the Trail of Tears, the forced removal by the U.S. government from 1830 to 1850 of an estimated 100,000 indigenous people (including Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole, among other nations) from their homes. 

After fifteen years, the Echotas are still struggling to come to terms with the death of their son, Ray-Ray, who was killed in a police shooting at the mall. Maria tries to keep the flame of remembrance alive for her son, as she deals with her husband Ernest’s struggle with Alzheimers, son Edgar’s meth use, and daughter Sonja’s detachment. As the family’s annual bonfire approaches – an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death – Maria takes in a foster child, Wyatt. Buoyant and quirky, Wyatt is a born storyteller, spinning gripping tales about snakes and birds and an underworld, called the Darkening Land. 

While reading this book, I was enthralled with the way Hobson shifted perspective with each character and got into the skin of that person, especially Tsala, a Cherokee spirit who tells a story of his own murder for refusing to be removed. Written in a lyrical, minimalistic style, The Removed is a a powerful story, a profound yet quick read, available in book format and also as an eaudiobook and ebook from Libby/OverDrive. 

Hear author Brandon Hobson in person on Wednesday, March 10. For information, click here.

The book cover depicts a stylized eagle in black silhouette with outstretched wings against an orange background, with a single feather fallen to the ground beneath.

Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, with a PhD in English and seven years’ experience as a social worker for disadvantaged youth. His previous book, Where the Dead Sit Talking (also available as an eaudiobook from Libby/OverDrive) was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction and winner of the Reading the West Book Award. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at New Mexico State University and teaches in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM

USA Today * O, the Oprah Magazine * Entertainment Weekly * Harper’s Bazaar * Buzzfeed * Washington Post * Elle * Parade * San Francisco Chronicle * Good Housekeeping * Vulture * Refinery29 * AARP * Kirkus * PopSugar * Alma * Woman’s Day * Chicago Review of Books * The Millions * Biblio Lifestyle * Library Journal * Publishers Weekly * LitHub 

Rohini is the Adult Curriculum Specialist with HCLS. She loves literature and rainy days.

Virtual Author Visit with Fredrik Backman

The author, dressed in a dark grey button down shirt, stands with his hands in his jeans pockets. He has short brown hair, and a slight beard.

Frederik Backman discusses his newest book, Anxious People, on Thursday, September 10 at 5 pm. Signed copies of Anxious People are available for online pre-order through the Curious Iguana bookstore. This poignant comedy tells the story of a crime that never took place, a bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Rich with Backman’s, “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature,” according to Shelf Awareness, Anxious People’s whimsical plot serves up unforgettable insights into the human condition and a gentle reminder to be compassionate to all the anxious people we encounter every day. 

Backman is the New York Times bestelling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie was Here, among other titles. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.

A Man Called Ove is the classic story of a curmudgeon, but with a twist: he didn’t develop this attitude in old age, he’s been “a grumpy old man since he started elementary school.” As we learn more about Ove through glimpses of his past, we realize that the rule-following, the caustic comments, the meticulous planning, all ensue from a beautiful love story and Ove’s resulting losses. With dismayingly unconventional new neighbors, can he find a path forward and live up to the example of his wife, Sonja, a wonderful woman whose thoughtfulness and kind nature would welcome them with open arms? Or will he continue to be his cantankerous, resistant self? Read this delightful story to find out, if you are not already one of the millions who have loved this book full of hilarity and heart.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry describes a touching relationship between 7-year-old Elsa and her 77-year-old Grandmother. The two of them have a secret world, where they escape to tell stories and play make-believe (or so you think). The regular world holds many scary realities for a precocious little girl, including big dogs, bullies, impending new siblings, and cancer. Sometimes grandmothers, even the eccentric ones, know exactly what their grand-daughters need. This story rewards the reader’s patience, as all the seemingly disparate pieces slowly form a highly satisfactory, emotional resolution.

Whether you jump in with the newest book or treat yourself to some of Backman’s older titles, you will be entertained and enlightened. Register now for the online author event!

The event is cosponsored by Maryland Humanities, Frederick County Public Library, Curious Iguana, and the Weinberg Center for the Performing Arts.