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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Spotlight: G. Neri and Jesse Joshua Watson

A week or two ago I had the pleasure of sitting down to drinks with author G. Neri and illustrator Jesse Joshua Watson.  If their names come within spitting distance of a memory, it’s probably because they were responsible for last year’s title Chess Rumble, published by Lee & Low.  Chess Rumble appeared on the most recent list of ALA Notables, which is no small feat (as anyone who has ever watched the Notables will attest).  Not content to merely sit on their laurels they’ve been hopping about, hither and thither, talking up the book and going to cool places.

Which brings us to a juvenile detention center in the Bronx.

The words "juvenile detention center in the Bronx" sounds hardcore to your average everyday librarian like myself.  And in this particular case, the Bridges Juvenile Center also happens to have a great library and literacy program.  What Neri and Watson took part in was the center’s Author and Artist series.  Here’s what they had to say on the subject:

"Also, we did an event at a juvenile detention center in the Bronx which is run by a woman named Jessica Fenster-Sparber who has done a fantastic job setting up one of the best collections of YA and MG books for these kids. Jesse and I had a great time out there and Walter Dean Myers and his son Chris also have been there. I am trying to spread the word for them and encourage getting more local authors and illustrators to visit. It means so much to these kids."

Heck yeah.  We have more creatively inclined people in this town than we know what to do with.  And it seems to me that some of you authors and arists out there might be interested in taking part in this program, yes?  If so, here’s the lady you’re going to want to contact:

Jessica Fenster-Sparber
Library Coordinator
Passages Academy
New York City, New York

Here are some pictures of Neri and Watson doing their thing (thanks to Mr. Neri for passing them on).  Take a look at that awesome library behind them.

Good stuff.  Even if you’re not an author or artist with the chutzpah to visit, that doesn’t mean you can’t help.  At the Literacy for Incarcerated Teens website there are several book wishlists that make it easy peasy to buy this center, and others, some books.  Heck, if you even have YA books that are new and nice enough be donated, you can do that too *cough cough publishers cough cough*

And this would be me and the fellas, just to prove that I wasn’t lying about the whole sitting down for drinks thing at the beginning of my post.  They’re sweethearts and if I ever get around to it I’m going to make my next podcast feature the interview I did with them.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Yay! G. Neri is really a nice guy–I got to talk to him at the SCBWI L.A. conference last year. What a great cause–I will linkie to this post on Finding Wonderland.