Bibliophiles could be forgiven for suffering a bit of a letdown now that both the Texas Teen Book Festival and the Texas Book Festival are in the rearview mirror.
But there’s still a steady stream of writers for kids and teens coming to BookPeople for appearances in November, including a pair of four-author panels.
First up on Nov. 14 is a quartet of fantasy writers for young adults whose topics range from a cutthroat competition for empress in a Japanese-inspired land to a Paris-set tale of “beasties,” or animals enchanted into human form.
Emiko Jean sketches a “Hunger Games”-like race for primacy in “Empress of All Seasons” (Houghton Mifflin, $17.99), in which the competitors must survive a series of challenges in four palace rooms — themed to winter, spring, summer and fall. All can compete except for the yōkai, supernatural beings that Honoku’s emperor wants to eliminate.
Mari has been training her entire life to win this contest and claim the throne — yet she’s hiding her true yōkai identity. Jean’s world-building in “Seasons” is stellar, from the creation of the yōkai, or monsters, to the palace itself.
Concealed identities are also at the heart of “Grim Lovelies” (Houghton Mifflin, $17.99), Megan Shepherd’s tale of beasties, or animals who assume human form. (Shepherd was inspired by the animals in “Cinderella” who turn human and then revert to animal form.) Anouk has been working for the manipulative Mada Vittora for all of her life, prevented from venturing outside the walls of the witch’s Rue des Amants townhouse. But when Mada is murdered, Anouk and her fellow beasties must find the killer in three days — or the spell that keeps them human will dissipate.
Robin LaFevers, whose best-selling historical fantasy “Grave Mercy” (Houghton Mifflin, $10.99) is newly out in paperback, also will be on the panel, as will Rebecca Schaeffer, whose deliciously grisly debut novel “Not Even Bones,” (Houghton Mifflin, $17.99) the first title in a planned trilogy, explores what being a “monster” truly means. (All, ages 14 and older)
Middle grade and magic occupy center stage on Nov. 19, with four authors who infuse their stories with twists that go beyond the norm, from a hotel of doors to distant lands to an orchard that bears unexpected gifts.
Rebecca Caprara roots “The Magic of Melwick Orchard” (Carolrhoda Books, $17.99) firmly in reality, with 12-year-old Isa lamenting her family’s many moves and her younger sister’s sickness that occupies all of her parents’ attention. But when Isa buries her worn-out shoes in the deserted orchard near her house so her mom will finally notice that she needs new ones, a new pair appears overnight. Could the orchard be the solution to all of Isa’s challenges?
Hypervigilant Cam notices right away when the new sign appears in his neighborhood: “The Hotel Between” (Simon & Schuster, $17.99). He’s convinced that the answer to his father’s disappearance is behind one of the doors, especially after hotel employee Nico brandishes the same kind of coin that Cam and his twin sister, Cass, wear around their necks — a gift from their father before he vanished.
Dallas author Sean Easley explores the family ties that bind with his novel, centered on the magical hotel of the title. Open one door and you can be in Dubai; another, and you’re in Naples. It’s a powerfully appealing framework for a story that also touches on the challenges of grappling with chronic health conditions, as Cass has spina bifida.
Rounding out the panel are Austin’s Samantha M. Clark — fresh from an appearance at the Texas Book Festival and whose “The Boy, the Boat and the Beast” (Simon & Schuster, $17.99) was featured in the Statesman in July — and Ginger Johnson, whose “The Splintered Light” (Bloomsbury, $16.99) follows a boy who lives in a gray world of numbing sameness, until a rainbow ray leads him to find his long-lost brother amid a world of color. (All, ages 8-12)
More authors coming in November
With the recent catastrophic floods in Llano affecting Austin’s own water supply, former Austinite Kayla Olson’s 2017 flood-centric debut “Sandcastle Empire” seems eerily prescient. Olson returns to BookPeople 6 p.m. Nov. 17 with her new book, “This Splintered Silence” (HarperCollins, $17.99), set in space, where a deadly virus (or something worse) is killing off crew members. (Ages 14 and older) … Libby Babbott-Klein brings “Baby Feminists” (Viking/Penguin, $9.99), her lift-the-flap board book for budding activists, to BookPeople 10:30 a.m. Nov. 17 for story time. (The board book is technically for those aged birth to 3, but all ages will appreciate the sentiments.)