Check Out the Author Fan Face Off by Stacey Rattner
Dear Teachers and Librarians of Middle Grade Readers,
Are you looking for something new and exciting for the first 10 minutes of class? The last 10? A different way to promote reading? Look no further! “Author Fan Face-off” may just be what you are looking for.
In late summer, when the pandemic was still in full swing author Steve Sheinkin sent me an email. With school visits and in-person conferences canceled, he had some time on his hands (not to worry–he has a new book coming out in this fall and more on the way!). He wanted to create something fun for teachers and librarians. One conversation and a few days later, our booktube quiz show, “Author Fan Face-off” or AFF, as we affectionately like to call it, was born. Today over 40 episodes are posted on our channel.
The concept is simple. One author. One book by that author. One super fan. We ask ten questions, and, in case of a tie, an exceptionally challenging bonus at the end, to see who knows the book better. I don’t think this is a spoiler when I tell you that usually the fan knows the book way better than the writer. Our favorite example of this is Katherine Appelgate’s episode.
Our archive includes rockstars such as Kwame Alexander, Meg Medina, Chris Grabenstein, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Christina Soontornvat, Candace Fleming. Cece Bell, Trenton Lee Stewart, Stuart Gibbs. Alan Gratz. Nic Stone. Far too many to list.
Please don’t ask me for my favorite. Steve and I love the pilot with Chris Grabenstein! We had no idea how it would all go and were surprised by a nearly flawless first episode. We love Katherine Appelgate’s because her challenger pulled away with the win before we were even halfway through. Ruth Behar and her challenger sang together. Pablo Cartaya shared with us some insightful words of wisdom. Kenneth Oppel’s challenger intimidated me with his resume. We recorded Christina Soontornvat’s episode with a fan from Singapore only days before the author won the Newbery honor for her All Thirteen. We’ve seen a bunny, cats and a dollhouse. Even a body cast. We’ve talked about pie, school lunches, and doughnuts. It’s enough to make you hungry.
We hope teachers and librarians can use our episodes to book talk. I shared the Pax episode with a third grade class and my hold list for the book became a page long.
Maybe one of our books was or is your current read aloud. In my own school I’ve recently spied at least three of our books on teacher desks. Show the video and play along. How well does your class do? Are there any questions we should have asked? We’d love to know.
Kids enjoy watching and want to get involved. “Can we watch your show?” one of my fifth graders asked during a recent class.. Another fifth grader reached out to his favorite author asking him if he would be up for the challenge. When the author agreed, my student forwarded the thread to me and we’ll be setting it up soon.
Our authors have been so generous and eager to participate. Fortunately for them, all they have to do is show up for the Zoom. “You had me at ‘and you really don’t have to do anything to prepare,’” Rita Williams-Garcia wrote to me in an email when I asked if she would do it.
You know your super fans. One of my favorite fans is current 6th grader, Chase. Ever since 3rd grade, he would periodically run into the library to record video messages to post on Twitter begging Judd Winick (HILO) to come to Castleton Elementary School, requesting details on the next book in the series or wishing him a happy birthday. So when Judd agreed to be on AFF, I knew exactly who his challenger would be. Hair combed and donned in his ironed, clean polo shirt picked special for the occasion, Chase did not disappoint.
Do you have an author-fan pair to recommend? Are you having AFF viewing parties with your students? Let us know! DM us on Twitter @staceybethr @stevesheinkin or email us email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org ! We’d love to hear from you!
New episodes drop every Monday morning at 7am EST. Set your timer. Subscribe. You won’t want to miss our Spring line up! Hint: One pair includes a multi-Newbery winner with a new movie out on Disney+. Another one already had a movie made from her book. And our 50th episode just might be someone in the AFF family. Stay tuned! Until then, continue to keep safe and healthy and happy reading!
Stacey Rattner is the “Leaping Librarian” at Castleton Elementary School in upstate New York. She is active on Twitter where you will often find pictures of her leaping with readers and book creators @staceybethr @C_ESLibrary and her blog librarianleaps.blogspot.com. Since September 2020, Stacey has been the co-host of the new YouTube/BookTube show, “Author Fan Face-off” with author, Steve Sheinkin.