Leila Thompsky had been saving up her allowance money for a special occasion, and on Sunday she got her chance to spend it on a personal passion — books — at the Fifth Annual Mother-Daughter Book Party hosted by Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse.
Specially created for moms and girls in third through seventh grade, the event featured book signings and face-to-face talks with seven local authors.
Thompsky, 10, brought her mother, Beth Fabinsky, with the idea of getting as many of the featured works as she could afford.
Together, they made the rounds between seven stations. Authors were on hand to discuss their latest works, answer questions about writing and publishing and talk about story ideas, hobbies, pets and more.
"She's a voracious reader and she's already a writer," Fabinsky explained of her daughter. "Talking to authors and learning a little bit about the process of writing is something (Leila) hasn't been exposed to."
Among the books selected for the event were mysteries, like Frances Sackett's "Misadventures of the Magician's Dog," historical fiction like "Finding Zasha" by Randi Barrow and the contemporary "Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child" from Maria T. Lennon, all of whom live in Los Angeles. Author Gwen Dandridge traveled from Santa Barbara to discuss her fantasy book, "The Stone Lions," set in 12th century Islamic-ruled Spain.
The book party is an opportunity for moms and daughters to discover new authors, find good reads and inspire the writers within, said Catherine Linka, children's and young adult book buyer for Flintridge Bookstore.
"A lot of times, parents and children don't know what to read. By having several authors at once we can expose readers to genres they might not have read on their own," Linka said.
Linka circulated among the stations, scattered throughout the store and coffee shop, with a buzzer in hand. Allowing several minutes for discussion, she rang the buzzer for people to switch stations. The round-robin format ensured girls and moms could meet and talk to every author, she said.
At one table, Rachel Searles, first-time author of the sci-fi novel "The Lost Planet," surveyed readers' interest in fantasy series. Lennon coached girls on writing personal narratives, and teacher-turned-author Kristen Kittscher shared how her mystery book, "The Wig in the Window," was inspired by her seventh-grade students at Pasadena's Westridge School.
Barrow shared how she approached the writing process chapter by chapter, not knowing until the end how the story would turn out.
"Other people know the ending of the book before they begin. Not me — I discover the story as I go along," she said. "There's no right way or wrong way."
By the end of the two-hour event, 11-year-old Dariya Yamaga and mom Ardath each had a handful of signed books, including Holly Goldberg Sloan's "Counting By 7's." The fifth grader had recently received it as a present from a friend and had just finished earlier that day, unaware she'd be meeting the author in person that afternoon.
"I just came more to learn about the books and see what's new," she said.
Thompsky also left the shop with a stack of signed titles to replenish her well-read personal library, well worth her allowance money. The thing she liked best about the day was learning more about the authors than the books themselves revealed.
"You can find out what they were feeling through the writing process," she surmised. "Sometimes the book doesn't end up the way the author thought it would."
SARA CARDINE is a freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org