Alamo Heights Junior School teacher Stephen Briseño and his family proudly identify themselves as “book nerds.” Year after year, avid readers enthusiastically prepare projects for the San Antonio Book Festival.
This year, Briseño’s wife and 8-year-old daughter will be in the audience, and he will be on the other side of the table.
As the author of a new children’s book, Briseño will join 100 other authors from across the United States for the 10th annual book festival. After a cancellation in 2020 and an entirely online 2021 version, the 2022 festival returns to its downtown footprint on Saturday, with a full day of programming from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
faith and kindness
Briseño will make his first author appearance at the San Antonio Book Festival at 2 p.m. in the HEB Children’s Gazebo at McNutt Garden on the campus of the Southwest School of Art to read from The Notebook Keeper: A story of kindness from the frontier.
“To say I’m thrilled would be putting it lightly,” Briseño said. “I’m beyond excited and honoured, and humbled to be a part of it.”
The keeper of the notebook tells the story of young Noemi and her mother, who left their home in Mexico to seek a new life in the United States. A border guard told them: “Go and find the keeper of the notebook… She will tell you when you can cross”.
The story stems from a situation at the San Ysidro border crossing in Tijuana during the Trump administration, Briseño said. Although no one seems sure where the system originated, someone on the Mexican side of the border kept a register listing the names of asylum seekers, who were given a number and had to wait indefinitely for their names to be called.
After being inspired by a former student and his daughter to create his own picture book, Briseño said he found his subject through the “notebook” and the story of the migrant experience. of a young girl. In her book, Noemi and Mama ultimately face a life-changing act of kindness that confirms Mama’s words to her young daughter, “Have faith, mi vida.”
Lots to see
Once Briseño completes his authorship duties, he will join the other festival attendees as they stroll through the Central Library and Southwest School of Art campus to attend the many live readings and discussions, as well as events. online in the new SABF virtual tent on Augusta Street. .
He’s looking forward to seeing children’s book author Mac Barnett in particular, a New York Times bestselling author whose picture books are staples in the Briseño library — this time as a colleague.
In addition to national authors such as Barnett, Pulitzer Prize winner Margo Jefferson, thriller author David Baldacci and artist/actor/author Janelle Monáe, the 10th edition of the San Antonio Book Festival features a wealth of local authors.
Alongside Briseño, other authors from San Antonio and Texas featured at the 2022 festival include David Bowles, Wondra Chang, Adriana Garcia, Xavier Garza, Stephen Harrigan, Marcia Mickelson, Harriett Romo, Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, William Jack Sibley , Jonny Garza Villa, and many more.
The full list of authors is available here, along with brief biographies and information about their books.
A big thank-you
SABF executive director Lilly Gonzalez said the festival really started Thursday night, with a private celebration honoring San Antonio educators, including Briseño.
“It’s just a big thank-you party,” Gonzalez said, for the hard work teachers have put in over the past two years to adapt to the constant changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s just about letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge what they’ve been through, we want to thank them for being our allies and standing up for children’s books, and helping kids get better. enthusiasm for reading.”
Commitment to local school districts also grew in the festival’s 10th year, she said. Author visits to schools are an integral part of the festival’s mission, but this year visits were taped for distribution to schools in the San Antonio Independent School District and Edgewood Independent School District.
Reaching local students and showcasing San Antonio authors are ways to deepen the festival’s commitment to its hometown, she said.
When she and her fellow organizers considered how best to celebrate the annual festival’s first decade, she said they were unanimous in “wanting it to be very reflective of San Antonio and celebrating the local talent that we have here.” even in our city. .”
More information on participating authors and events, as well as a downloadable map of the festival site, can be found on the SABF website. Participation is free.