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Cartoonist Liza Donnelly Visits Campus

Cartoonist Liza Donnelly Visits Campus

Liza Donnelly

Liza Donnelly

On November 5, Liza Donnelly visited as the Arrillaga-Morris Family Speaker and spoke to Castilleja about her journey to becoming a famous comics artist. Donnelly is known for her cultural and political comics that are published in the New Yorker. Her work has also appeared in many other publications, and she is the author of multiple books.

Donnelly spent much of speech talking about her journey to becoming a comics artist. As a child, drawing and putting on a smile or making a person laugh with her comics were activities she loved. She said drawing and comics had always been a part of her life but were never something she thought she could make a career out of. When she headed off to college, Donnelly majored in biology. After college Donnelly worked at the new York History Museum. While she enjoyed the experience of working at the museum, she regularly sent her work to newspapers and magazines. It took some time, but Donnelly’s work gradually was published. One of her big breaks was when her first comic was published in the New Yorker magazine. She then became a staff artist at the New Yorker, where she has worked ever since.

funnyladiesThrough Donnelly’s speech, she taught me about the power of taking risks and not letting setbacks stop you from trying to reach your dreams. She spoke about how each week, she would send in her comics and normally they would not be chosen. Even today, not every comic she creates is published. She never lets this stop her from doing what she loves. Unlike past Castilleja speakers, Donnelly was more soft-spoken and quiet. At first I thought she did not have much to say, but I quickly realized her true voice was found in her comics. What Donnelly did not say could be seen and understood through the characters and voices of her comics. Her humor and ideas a simply illustrated through her drawings.

From this experience, I learned that not everyone’s point of view has to come from his or her literal words but instead come through in many forms of expression. It is important for each of us to realize and look for these expressions to really get to know and understand a person.

By Molly L. ’16

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Alexandra Fuller Visits Campus

Alexandra Fuller Visits Campus

During Flex, the eighth grade class had the privilege of meeting Alexandra Fuller and being able to experience and relive the life of an aspiring writer growing up in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) through her moving stories.

Fuller was not what I expected. She was dressed in a plum cashmere sweater and sturdy grey jeans, but despite her muted outerwear, she exuded such energy and life that our whole class was soon mesmerized with her lively facial expressions and animated hand gestures. Her accent was soft, but angular in places, and her voice had a captivating cadence. As Ms. Terkeltaub read questions, Fuller would suddenly leap up, face alight with a story on the verge of being told, take three long strides to the center of the room, and start providing us with half an answer, before going on about a tangent; sometimes it was about the time when she rode across the desert on horseback without water or food for days, or the time she almost drowned while being stuck in a coffin with a drunk ship captain. My favorite story was when she recounted the time her eight-year-old daughter and she had to face a bear in the wilderness. The audience was still; everyone bit their fingernails with baited breath until we all breathed a sigh of relief when we reached the end.


Alexandra Fuller

Particularly, I think what made Fuller’s memoir so poignant was the fact that it came straight from her heart. Fuller encouraged us to write stories that mattered to us, not to write for other people. When question time started, aspiring writers in the audience (including myself), bombarded her with one question after another: “Did you always know you were going to be a writer?”, followed by a more personal question, “Tell us about your kids,” to which she merrily proceeded to describe her lacrosse-loving son, and her horseback-almost-died-in-the-forest-with-a-bear daughter.

By the time our session with Ms. Fuller was over, there were many groans of sadness, and as we shuffled out the choral room legs numb from sitting and tensing up during the climaxes of her anecdotes, several students separated to go talk to Ms. Fuller, while murmurs of the transfixing session followed them out. Not everyone lives a life as brimming with harrowing life or death stories, nor lived a life in the midst of a revolution, bit I think there is a story within each and everyone one of us that can be brought out. If I had to narrow it down to one thing that I learned from Fuller, it is to “Carpe diem,” the English translation being “seize the day.” While Fuller acknowledges that she has regrets, my personal opinion is that she is a lady who lives with no regrets.

by Sho Sho H. ’19

We have three of Fuller’s books in the library! -Librarian

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Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Author visits galore are coming up through the end of the semester! Get ready to hear inside accounts of the publishing process, hear inspiring stories of rejection and success, and get your books signed!

doubtOctober 16, 6pm, at Sports Basement SF
As part of San Francisco’s weeklong event Litquake, YA superstars A.S. King and Paolo Bacigalupi will appear to present their latest books. King’s is Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future and features her signature magical realism style. Bacigalupi’s book, The Doubt Factory, is a thriller that responds to contemporary issues in society. You won’t want to miss this!

October 21, 7:30pm, @ The Booksmith
The first rule about Chuck Palahniuk is you don’t talk about Chuck Palahniuk. No, wait, that’s Fight Club. The author of Fight Club has a new book coming out, Beautiful You, and this is your chance to learn all about it.

October 22, 7pm, @ Books Inc – Opera Plaza
What better way to get into gear for NaNoWriMo than to hang out with an established, bestselling author? Scott Westerfeld (Uglies, Leviathan) will appear to present his latest book, Afteworlds, a novel-inside-a-novel starring a teen girl who is about to publish her first YA novel. Time to get inspired! (This is a ticketed event. $22 includes a copy of the book.)

clarielOctober 22, 7:30pm, @ The Booksmith
If you’re a fan of true tales of adventure and drama, you’ll want to read Alice + Freda Forever: A Murder in Memphis. The author, Alexis Coe, will appear at the bookstore in conversation with Mallory Ortberg (of to talk about this book, about two young girls who hatched a dangerous plan so that they could be together forever.

October 23, 7pm, @ Kepler’s
You loved meeting Sabriel and Abhorsen. Now the trilogy becomes a quartet with the release of Clariel, Garth Nix’s new novel. Get to the bookstore to see Nix in conversation with author Michael Grant, of the popular Gone and BZRK series, and then leave with an armload of new reads!

October 25, 2pm, @ The Reading Bug
It’s Graphic Novel Day! Your favorite graphic memoirist, Raina Telgemeier, will appear alongside superstar artist Kazu Kabuishi (you’ve seen his art in the Amulet series and on the new covers of the Harry Potter books) and talk about their latest works!

October 25, 4pm, @ Linden Tree Books
Older teens who are fans of horror writer Kendare Blake should hurry over to hear all about the second book in her Goddess War series, which started with Antigoddess (available here in the library!). This new book is titled Mortal Gods and releases on October 14.

October 27, 7pm, @ Kepler’s
YA trendsters need to get to this event to see Sara Raasch, Corrine Jackson, and Kasie West present their latest books. Raasch’s novel, Snow Like Ashes, is a fantasy for fans of Graceling. West’s latest, On the Fence, is a realistic fiction novel starring a girl who is surprised to find a different side to herself when she gets a summer job. Jackson’s book is a paranormal fiction novel called Ignited, about a world of Healers and Protectors.

Michelle-Phan-Book-CoverOctober 28, 7pm, at Kepler’s
Are you a YouTube addict? Then you probably know Michelle Phan, a self-made celebrity known for her beauty tutorials. Now Phan has penned her first book, and you can meet her and get your own copy signed, as well as hear her inspiring story. (This is a ticketed event. $25 includes a copy of the book.)

October 29, 7pm, @ JCCSF
Author-activist-journalist extraordinaire Cory Doctorow is coming to town! His latest book, Information Doesn’t Want To Be Free, is a must-read for anyone interested in copyright, intellectual property, and the digital age. Doctorow will appear alongside his partner-in-crime at his website Boing Boing, David Pescovitz. (This is a ticketed event starting at $25.)

November 6, 6pm, @ The Booksmith
And you thought Lemony Snicket had abandoned the Baudelaire orphans? Think again! Local Bay Area authors will attempt to coax Mr. Snicket out of hiding at this hilarious event. (This is a ticketed event. $10.)

Are we missing anything? Tell us! And be sure to report back on these awesome events after you attend! We want to hear all about it.

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8th Graders Chat With Jason Reynolds for Banned Books Week

8th Graders Chat With Jason Reynolds for Banned Books Week

Last Wednesday, September 24th, the 8th grade class of 2019 got to participate in one of the most interesting Flex Blocks we’ve ever seen: A long discussion about Banned Books Week (or, really, Challenged Books Week) and a Skype call with the author of When I Was the Greatest: Jason Reynolds. That should have caught your attention significantly, I hope. They got to Skype Jason Reynolds? Yes, we did. And I could go on for days telling you all about it, but I’m supposed to give you a little synopsis in a short, sweet article. The challenge begins:

We were all quite nervous about meeting him in the first place. We didn’t know what to expect: a tall man in a tie and a fedora, giving us a lecture about his amazing book? A young adult who was overjoyed at the fact that his book had gotten released? But the Skype call started, and we saw a big smiling face (and crazy cool dreadlocks) eager to tell us about his story.

Jason Reynolds wrote many novels before his debut novel When I Was The Greatest, and none of them had made it to the public. He was getting frustrated, as anyone who spends many years writing their stories and only see them get turned down would be. He was talking to Walter Dean Myers’ son, Christopher Myers, and telling him that he was going to quit writing, and move on to something else. His reply was, “If you stop writing, what about when my dad dies?* Who’s gonna carry on? Who’s gonna write those stories for the people out there to hear?” And Jason just said, “I don’t know, but it’s not gonna be me.” But then, after some more convincing remarks from Christopher, he went back home and started writing straight from his heart, a story that was his own. He wrote the raw truth about the poverty-stricken teenagers in Brooklyn, taking little pieces from people’s lives to create a woven story. The book made it out…and when he had started, he was just an hour away from quitting writing altogether.

Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds

To connect back to the topic of Banned Books Week, Ms. Seroff asked Jason about the criticism his book got, or if it was challenged at all. He mentioned that the cover was controversial. I mean, a book with a blank black cover except for a gun in a colorfully knitted cozy? It was bound to get some remarks regarding the implications and meanings of that gun. There were many requests, asking that he change the cover. He didn’t. He wasn’t erasing any part of his story. To this, he received a huge round of applause and appreciation from us.

With our time coming to an end, Ms. Gómez asked a much appreciated question: While we were keenly waiting for his book to reach us in the library, what books would you recommend to the 8th graders to read? Lucky for us, he gave us a long list of books, most of them sitting at his “bookshelf”, which were stacks of books in the fireplace (we all found this hilarious). Clarification: the fireplace doesn’t work, so there is no opportunity to burn the books, Fahrenheit 451-style. Okay, I know you all are bouncing up and down for the book list, and lucky for you, here are the authors Jason recommended to us that we can find right in the Castilleja Library:

Jacqueline Woodson (6 of her print books are in the library; three of her ebooks are in Overdrive)
Cynthia Kadohata (4 print books)
John Corey Whaley (Print book in the library)
Walter Dean Myers (11 print books; 3 ebooks)
Jandy Nelson (2 print books)
Neil Gaiman (3 print books in the library plus some short story collections; 11 ebooks)
NoViolet Bulawayo (Print book in the library)
Laurie Halse Anderson (11 print books; 4 ebooks)
Sharon Draper (2 print books)
Matt de la Peña (1 print book; 1 ebook)
Kiese Laymon (1 print book)
Zadie Smith (1 print book)



SO MANY BOOKS! After you drop by the library to put your name on the hold list for When I Was the Greatest, make sure to check out the authors above! I sincerely hope the hold list for Jason’s book will soon be the size of a full-blown Defense Against the Dark Arts essay by Hermione Granger.

There’s only one more thing! Jason was kind enough to give us some sneak peeks on his work soon to come out: The Boy in the Black Suit, a book about Matt recovering from the loss of his mother dying from breast cancer, is coming out next January. Jason has five more books in the works after that, sharing the stories of people all around the world, so there’ll be no shortage of work for him!

To wrap up the high-energy-level Flex period, Jason asked for us to take a selfie, or a groupie, really, with all of us in the picture. We, being experts at this phenomenon, all cheered and agreed. The picture’s on the portal for all of you to see! 🙂

I can’t wait to read his book as much as you. Happy reading!

-Athena N. ’19

*Unfortunately, Walter Dean Myers died this past July. Thankfully, Jason Reynolds decided to keep spreading his own stories.

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Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

islaWelcome back to campus! There’s no better time than the beginning of the school year to get your read on. Check out these nearby events with authors and creative types.

September 7 @ 4:00pm, A Great Good Place for Books
Love romance? Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and the upcoming Isla and the Happily Ever After, will appear to celebrate the completion of her trilogy.

September 8 @ 7:00pm, Books Inc Opera Plaza
If you missed yesterday’s event, Stephanie Perkins will appear in San Francisco, in conversation with another YA superstar, Nina LaCour, author of such books as Everything Leads to You.

September 12 @ 7:00pm, Kepler’s
Throne of Glass fans, get excited! Sarah J. Maas is visiting, and her third book is coming out. And to celebrate another trilogy coming to a close, Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky) will appear alongside her.

September 13 @ 4:00pm, Palo Alto Library
Head to the downtown library to celebrate the abundance of teen books turned into movies!geteven

September 18 @ 7:00pm, Books Inc Opera Plaza
Three YA authors, Gretchen McNeil, Anna Carey, and Catherine Linka, will read from their new books and sign their autographs.

September 18 @ 6:30pm, Book Passage Corte Madera
If you loved The 5th Wave (which will soon be a movie starring Chloe Grace Moretz!), you’ll want to be first in line to see author Rick Yancey appear to promote book two in the series, The Infinite Sea.

September 19 @ 7:00pm, Hicklebee’s
Authors Lisa Culbertson and Catherine Linka will appear to promote their books. Culbertson’s is called Catch a Falling Star and is a romantic comedy about a Hollywood star in a small town. Linka’s novel, A Girl Named Fearless, is a dystopia that takes place in a terrifying future America where a young girl is bought so that a man running for president can have an attractive First Lady.

R.J. Palacio

R.J. Palacio

September 19 @ 7:00pm, JCC SF
Are you one of the scads of fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder? Don’t miss her speech! It’s sure to be inspiring. (This is a ticketed event. $10.)

September 20 @ 7:30pm, The Booksmith
Bestselling fantasy and sci-fi author Malinda Lo (Ash, Adaptation) will introduce and interview Sarah Waters, author of the new book The Paying Guests. This novel is a psychological thriller set in post-Edwardian Britain.

September 26 @ 6:30pm, Books Inc Laurel Village
If you were one of the many fans of Cynthia Kadohata’s book The Thing About Luck last year, you’ll be glad to know she has a new novel coming out, called Half a World Away. Come to this event to get the scoop.

September 30 @ 7:30pm, Nourse Theater
Local author and activist Dave Eggers (A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) will sit down in conversation with the acclaimed feminist, literary author, and MacArthur Genius Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah) to discuss her important work in multiple arenas. (This is a ticketed event benefiting 826 Valencia. $27.)

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

September 30 @ 8:00pm, JCC SF
Participants in last year’s reading challenge might remember the book Go. Or if you’ve ever admired any book cover, chances are, it was designed by Chip Kidd! This acclaimed graphic designer will appear to converse with Michael Cho, a graphic novel and comics artist presenting his latest work, Shoplifter. (This is a ticketed event. $25 and up.)

September 30 @ 7:00pm, Linden Tree
Fantasy-adventure fans, head to the bookstore to meet author Jaleigh Johnson, presenting her recent novel The Mark of the Dragonfly. Get your own copy and have it signed, or check it out from the library in print or ebook form! (This is a free event, but they request an RSVP. Visit the site for more details.)

October 2 @ 7:00pm, Kepler’s
Best-selling author Lauren Oliver (Delirium, Liesl & Po) will appear alongside Jandy Nelson (I’ll Give You the Sun, The Sky is Everywhere) as both present their latest books.

October 3 @ 7:00pm, Hicklebee’s
Lovers of realistic fiction won’t want to miss an event with three local superstar writers, Jandy Nelson, Stephanie Kuehn (Charm & Strange), and Nina LaCour (The Disenchantments, Everything Leads to You), all promoting their latest novels.

October 10-18, San Francisco
It’s LitQuake! Celebrate all things literary with this week-long festival of books. Especially don’t miss the TeenQuake, dedicated especially to YA literature and teenagers!

Aasif Mandvi

Aasif Mandvi

October 11 @ 8:00pm, JCC SF
Anyone who loves to laugh or watch Comedy Central will know Aasif Mandvi. The comedian has written his first book, a memoir called No Man’s Land, and will make a stop in San Francisco to promote it. (This is a ticketed event. $25 and up.)

October 13 @ 6:30pm, Linden Tree
Are you one of the many fans of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder series? She will be making ONE stop in California to read from her books and discuss the next book in the series. Meyer will be joined by three other fantastic, fierce authors: Gennifer Albin, Nikki Kelly, and Jessica Brody. This event is not to be missed!

Do you know of other events not listed here? Let us know!

Have you gone to an event? Write a review for the library website!

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Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

Upcoming Bay Area Literary Events

It’s our last listing of events of the year! Don’t forget to check some of these events out. And remember, the author visits don’t stop happening over the summer. Be sure to check your favorite bookstores and local library for other great events.

crusadesApril 25, 7:30pm, at Stanford
Novelist-poet Sherman Alexie (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Blasphemy) will make an appearance and speak and tell stories about his work and life.

April 25, 7:30pm, at Kepler’s
If you’re passionate about social science and social justice, you’ll want to see famed author Barbara Ehrenreich, known for her seminal book Nickel and Dimed. She will present her new book, Living With a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth About Everything, a memoir that tells of her experience reading the journals she wrote as a teen. (This will be a ticketed event. $10 in advance, $15 at door.)

April 26, 4:30pm, at SFPL – Main
Have you seen the new biopic “Cesar Chavez?” Are you dying to know more about the legendary man and co-founder of the United Farm Workers? The author of the new biography The Crusades of Cesar Chavez, Miriam Pawel, will appear to discuss her book.

May 1, 12pm, at Books Inc – Opera Plaza
Have you read The Circle yet? Popular local author Dave Eggers, founder of 826 Valencia and McSweeney’s, will appear to sign copies of his latest book, just coming out in paperback this month.

defenseMay 1, 7:30pm, at Nourse Theater
Foodies, rejoice! The acclaimed food writer Michael Pollan will give a lecture about his books and work. It will be filmed as part of a PBS documentary about his book In Defense of Food. (This will be a ticketed event.)

May 3, everywhere
It’s California Bookstore Day! Celebrate by visiting your favorite independent bookstore in your area. Many of them will have special events, sales, and author visits.

May 3, all day, at Lee’s Comics
It’s Free Comic Books Day! Stop in anytime to get a free comic book, and of course, stay to pick out even more you’ll want to read!

May 6, 6pm, at Book Passage
Two of our library’s hottest authors, Jenny Han (Summer novels, Shug) and Morgan Matson (Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour) will be visiting the bookstore to promote their new books. Jenny Han’s latest is titled To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, about a girl who writes love letters but doesn’t send them. Matson’s new book, Since You’ve Been Gone is a book about summer, so it’s the perfect thing to grab at the end of the school year.

May 7, 3:30pm, at The Reading Bug
Love fairy tales and fantasy? Popular author Jessica Day George (Princess of the Midnight Ball, Tuesdays at the Castle) will appear at the bookstore’s mother-daughter book club.

DEEP_BLUE_jacket_frontMay 8, 7pm, at Kepler’s
If you liked author Jennifer Donnelly’s historical fiction novels Revolution or A Northern Light, you’ll want to check out her next offering. Even if you’re not a historical fiction fan, you’ll be interested – her next book starts a series about mermaids! The author will appear to promote this new title, Deep Blue.

May 8, 7pm, at Lucie Stern Community Center
Stanford Stegner Fellow NoViolet Bulawayo, who just won the prestigious PEN/Hemingway Award for debut novels, will appear to speak about her novel, We Need New Names. It is about growing up in Zimbabwe and coming to the United States. (This is a free event that requires registration. Click here to learn more.)

May 10, 4pm, at Dominican University
Are you a fan of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren? She has written a new book, A Fighting Chance, and will appear to talk about the book and her work in the Senate.

chameleonMay 13, 7:30pm, at Kepler’s
Acclaimed author Francine Prose has written another novel! This one takes place in the happening Paris of the 1930s and stars all manner of authors, expats, dancers and artists. The author will appear at the bookstore to talk about the new novel, titled Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932.

May 17, 4pm, at Books Inc – Berkeley
Did you read Marissa Moss’ books when you were younger? The author-illustrator (Amelia’s Notebook, Mira’s Diary) has a new series starting, starring a vampire who just wants to be a regular sixth grader. Blood Diaries is sure to be funny!

May 21, 7pm, at Books Inc – Opera Plaza
This event should catch a variety of types of readers. Three authors will be appearing: Kiera Cass, whose final novel in the Selection trilogy comes out soon; Kevin Emerson, a musician whose novel features music and romance; and Amanda Maciel, whose first novel Tease should appeal to fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.

goldens3May 27, 7pm, at Books Inc – Opera Plaza
Realistic fiction readers should go to this event to see author Dana Reinhardt. Her new book, We Are the Goldens, is about a girl who feels inseparable from her older sister, until her sister begins keeping secrets.

June 6, 7pm, at Hicklebee’s
The Teen Advisory Board at the bookstore will be hosting four amazing YA authors, including Stephanie Kuehn (Charm & Strange) and Katherine Longshore (Gilt). RSVP required.

June 17, 4pm, at Linden Tree
Kim Culbertson, author of the YA romance Catch a Falling Star, will appear to talk about her new book.

June 22, 4pm, at JCCSF
Author Jennifer Weiner (In Her Shoes) will appear to present her new book, All Fall Down. In addition, she is sure to talk about the other thing that makes her famous – her outspoken decry of the literary world’s bias against women writers.

Ongoing Saturdays, 4pm, at SFPL – West Portal
Want to get a free book? Just visit the library, where the teen librarian will trade you a book (might be old, might be new, might not even be published yet) and in exchange, you give her a book review by the end of the month!

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