An Illuminating Book Fair Wraps Up

The Chapin Book Fair, a beloved school tradition, continued with much vitality this fall as the Parents’ Association Book Fair team transformed the experience into a multi-week virtual celebration for students, professional community members, parents and alums.

Despite being unable to host an in-person event in the Assembly Room, “Illuminate: Our Collective Light” offered plenty of excitement to go around. Among the captivating elements were a read-aloud video with Head of School Suzanne Fogarty and Lower School students; a Lower School book election; a Project Cicero Book Drive; vibrant décor, book displays and students’ impressive artwork illuminating the halls of 100 East End Avenue; a reimagined virtual raffle for parents, students and Professional Community members; an online purchasing platform (open until midnight tonight, November 23); and a robust line-up of published authors suitable for and enjoyed by each division.

Below, you will find a round-up of these 10 inspiring and generous writers of myriad genres, who joined via Zoom to share their creativity and expertise with our students:

Middle and Upper School Visiting Author

Misty Copeland, the first Black female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre, spent an unforgettable hour with Middle and Upper School students, discussing her new book Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy, an illustrated nonfiction tribute to influential dancers of color. The Assembly Room and classrooms around the building were filled with students watching the dynamic, livestreamed presentation. Ms. Copeland shared with her captivated audience topics including her favorite choreographer, overcoming physical and mental challenges, activism, how to cope with imposter syndrome, and of course, being an award-winning author. The exciting discussion was moderated by our Class 12 Dance Club President, who also facilitated questions from nine lucky students from Classes 4-12.

Upper School Visiting Authors

E. Lockhart, the author of The New York Times bestselling novels We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud and many other titles, introduced Upper School students to her newest publication, a YA graphic novel, Whistle. Illustrated by Manuel Preitano, the book tells the story of 17-year-old Willow Zimmerman and her topsy-turvy, super-powered life in New York City. Ms. Lockhart told the students that her childhood visits to a relative in downtown Manhattan helped inspire Whistle.

Judy Batalion, whose highly acclaimed The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos was a smash success, discussed how she transformed that manuscript into an edition for young readers, also called The Light of Days, and her work co-writing the screenplay for a Steven Spielberg film adaptation. Ms. Batalion also answered questions from a pair of student moderators.

Glory Edim, the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a book club and digital platform that promotes Black literature and sisterhood, shared her insights with a Class 11 American Experience class and answered thought-provoking questions from several students. Ms. Edim spoke, as well, about her short-story anthology, On Girlhood, that explores the nuanced line between Black girlhood and womanhood.

Middle School Visiting Authors

Alyson Gerber gave a relatable talk to the Middle School that detailed the origin of her newest middle grade novel, Taking Up Space, which centers around body image and self-esteem. Her previous books, Braced and Focused, tackled feelings about physical challenges, learning struggles and anxiety.

Veera Hiranandani, a noted middle grade writer, Zoomed into Middle School classrooms to share her newest book, How to Find What You’re Not Looking For, a historical novel about prejudice and anti-Semitism set against the backdrop of the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court case. Ms. Hiranandani also answered a range of questions from the students.

Misako Rocks!, a Japanese manga artist and popular author, offered an energetic talk about her middle-school-focused graphic novel series, Bounce Back. She also gave a virtual manga drawing lesson, which the students seemed to especially enjoy. We’re fortunate, as well, to have Misako teach manga in Clubhouse, Chapin’s after-school program.

Lower School Visiting Authors

Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, read her newest picture book, Ambitious Girl, to the Lower School students, who watched her from their classrooms. She is also the author of Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea. Ms. Harris, who founded Phenomenal, a female-powered organization that brings awareness to social causes, lives in San Francisco with her partner and two daughters.

Helaine Becker taught Lower Schoolers about the history and significance of Title IX legislation through her non-fiction picture book, An Equal Shot: How the Law Title IX Changed America. Her previous books include the award-winning Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13. Ms. Becker lives in Toronto, Canada.

Debbi Michiko Florence has written dozens of books for children, including the popular Jasmine Toguchi chapter series, which is part of the Class 2 curriculum. Lower School students related to this adventurous heroine through the author’s discussion of her latest installment, Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen. Ms. Michiko Florence is also the author of the middle grade novels Keep It Together, Keiko Carter and Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai.

The School would like to offer its deep appreciation to the tireless Book Fair chairs and volunteers* for launching such a momentous, fun and, yes, illuminating event! Thanks also to the countless community members who purchased books to support Chapin, and, of course, all the magnificent authors who shared their time and incredible talents with us.

*Special thanks to:

Chair: Shirin Green
Marilyn Soto-Lee, Content Production Chair

Laura Van Der Lans
Sabina Daley Deaton

Chair: Austen Cruz
Lauren Muzinich
Gina Tomenson
Shazia Khawaja
Melissa Cohen
Amy Qiu
Xiomeng Li

Author Acquisition, Book Selection & Vendor Relations
Chair: Vivienne LaBorde-Luyombya
Elizabeth Hines
Victoria Arms
Minae Lee
Jennifer Liu
Emily Ewing
Wendy Zhang
Jamillaah Cary

Finance & Pre-Auth
Chair: Sarah Saint-Amand
Jahanaz Jaffer
Aliza Kassim
Garrett Wheeler

Project Cicero, Volunteers and Canvas
Chair: Reshma Rughwani
Lauren Davidson Sachs
Sarah Magier
Toan Huynh
Melody Li
Anne Hogarty
Jennifer Galante Han
Sharon Keh
Nicole Katcher
Rosanna Troiano
Tameka Koney

Chair: Min Cho
Zainab Akbar
Krista Corl
Lucia Corral
Emily Heitner
Saniya Mehdi
Anna Caspersen

Author Hospitality
Chairs: Austen Cruz & Shirin Green
Ngan Nguyen
InSung Cho
Maryam Kamali
Jodi Messina-Nozawa