Leimert Park Village Book Fair will be virtual experience

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By Shirley Hawkins

Contributing Writer

LEIMERT PARK — The Leimert Park Village Book Fair returns after a two-year absence Nov. 5.

This year’s fair will be streamed online and fans will be able to engage with their favorite authors with a simple click at www.leimertparkbookfair.com. from 10 a. m. to 5 p. m.

This year’s lineup includes three nationally known authors who will be discussing their books.

They include Nikole Hannah Jones, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The 1619 Project;” Tabitha Brown, the No. 1 New York Times best-selling author of the vegan recipe book “Feeding The Soul;” and 2022 Book Fair ambassador, actress and author Jenifer Lewis, who wrote “The Mother of Black Hollywood” and her newest memoir, “Walking in My Joy in These Mean Streets!”

A roster of local authors also will be featured at the fair, including award-winning mystery writer Gary Phillips, whose anthology “South Central Noir” captures tales of intrigue set in and around South Los Angeles; and film producer Lyn Sisson-Talbert, author of three children’s books including “The Square Root of Possible: A Jingle Jangle Story.”

Sisson-Talbert also produced the award-winning film, “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” along with her husband, director David E. Talbert that is currently a family favorite on Netflix.

Keeping the main stage lively as she interviews 25 authors will be host Jasmyne Sanders, co-host of the nationally syndicated DL Hughley Radio Show.on KBLA Talk 1580.

Executive director and festival producer Cynthia E. Exum said that the festival will once again feature “crowd pleasers and celebrity and debut authors.”

“I’m honored and humbled to be able to once again bring this important literary event to the community,” she said, adding that nearly 50 authors and their books are featured on the festival’s website. “We have gotten a great deal of support from the community and the participants and the sponsor and partners have been really wonderful.”

Exum said that the fair also will feature a special tribute to Eso Won Books, the landmark Leimert Park book store that will be closing its doors at the end of the year.

“I believe that recognized spaces and places are really important to our community because they preserve our history and our culture,” Exum said. “Having places that inspire us is so very important, and one of them has been Eso Won Books.”

The book fair also will pay homage to the late actor and author Sidney Poitier, who wrote “The Measure of a Man.”

“What makes our book fair unique is that we always like to give homage and pay tribute to our past and the people who have paved the way for the authors, poets and writers who exist today,” Exum said.

“For the children, we will also have a Children’s Story Time segment from 2 to 3 p.m. when we will highlight our celebrity children’s authors,” Exum added. “It will be hosted by L. A. Parent magazine and official host Chudney Ross, owner of the Books and Cookies book store, who will also read a portion of her book.”

Exum said that viewers can sign up for the book fair on the website, which has a link to register.

“We will send you a code that will give you access to the programming link on the day of the event,” she said. “I hope our viewers will support all of these wonderful exhibitors, community organizations and independent authors who support the Leimert Park Village Book Fair every year.”

Phillips, a native Los Angeleno, said that the intriguing stories in “South Central Noir” capture the area’s colorful past and touches on stories of hope, survival and revenge. The anthology illuminates familiar landmarks such as the Dunbar Hotel, Central Avenue, South Park, Watts and the Southern Pacific Railroad.

“There is such a wide range of stories in the anthology,” said Philips, who reached out to 13 writers to contribute their stories for the book. “Each story has its own little journey that will inevitably hook the reader and all of the stories have a little surprise or two that the readers will discover. I am ecstatic that each writer brought their ‘A game’ to the anthology that sheds light on the history of South Los Angeles.”

The acclaimed mystery writer is also on a mission to dispel the myth of South Los Angeles as a place considered to be rife with gangs and drugs.

“There are stories here in South L. A. that still have not been told,” he said. “There are scholars, thinkers, doctors and lawyers who grew up in South Los Angeles but they get overlooked by the sensationalism of negative headlines. South L. A. is still a place where people work hard, put food on the table and walk the straight and narrow.

“I believe there needs to be a fuller picture of stories about these people that have yet to be written about.”

Sisson-Talbert, who will be reading from her children’s picture book, “The Square Root of Possible: A Jingle Jangle Story,” said that the story centers around Journey Jangle, a young girl who travels to the fictional town of Cobbleton in search of her beleaguered grandfather, Jeronicus Jangle, who owns a toy workshop.

Sisson-Talbert said that she wrote the book to bring more diversity into the realm of children’s books.

“I grew up reading ‘Annie,’ ‘Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘A Christmas Carol,’” she said. “But I realized that there were few books written for children of color. I felt it was important to write stories of diversity for our son and other African-American children to see images reflecting ourselves.”

Sisson-Talbert hopes the popular book will become a staple in children’s literature.

“We also plan to do a stage production of the book for Broadway,” she said, adding that the film has been translated into 32 languages and viewed in 114 countries.

“The response for ‘Jingle Jangle’ has been overwhelming,” she said.

Her advice for aspiring writers is to “Just keep writing. There are so many avenues such as self-publishing available to writers that will help them get their work out there.”

Shirley Hawkins is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers. She can be reached at metropressnews@gmail.com.

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