All for kids: comic books, online camp, and prizes

Juan R. Williams

A gang of superpowered kids face slowdowns on the T and a monster made of slime at the Pru. In a North Shore swamp, a superheroine battles a vampire. At the Roger Clap Elementary School in Dorchester, a young boy comes to know the power he possesses. Such are a few of the stories in the first issue of “Boston Powers,” a new comic book created by artists and writers of the Boston Comics Roundtable, a group that’s been meeting, creating, and publishing for nearly 15 years. “Boston Powers” was meant to launch at the Boston Kids Comics Fest back in April, but the event was cancelled because of the pandemic. It’s the first comic they’ve created geared at kids, and three issues are in the works for this year, all involving a variety of evil-doers and the super-characters that take them on. Editor Dan Mazur writes that he wanted to highlight “the silly, colorful, imaginative excitement of the superhero genre,” all the things that pulled the artists to comics when they were kids themselves. The issue, $6, is available exclusively at the iconic and longstanding Million Year Picnic in Harvard Square. The store, which has been in business for over 45 years, is offering delivery of the comic to people in neighboring towns, and will be offering curbside pick-up soon. For more information, visit themillionyearpicnic.com.

Virtual camp


Looking ahead to the summer months in which the pandemic has cancelled many kids’ camp plans leaving students—and their parents—with warm empty days to fill, the Somerville-based Candlewick Press has created Camp Candlewick, “a new online program to enrich young readers who may be staying safe at home this summer.” The free, 12-week program will place kids in age-based cabins geared from first grade through seniors in high school for workshops, read-aloud sessions, and other activities with additional materials through the website and author and illustrator virtual visits from Cynthia Leitich Smith, Megan McDonald, Meg Medina, and G. Neri. “Over the course of twelve weeks, young people of all ages are encouraged to take part in shared reads, activities, and virtual events with prominent creators.” The camp is an extension of the “Stay Home with Candlewick Press” program, which they launched to help the transition to at-home learning with the cancellation of the school year. The aim is twofold: to celebrate reading and to help kids maintain their skills in a time away from school.

Laurels for letters


In its 20th annual “Letters About Literature” program, which invites Massachusetts students in grades 4-12 to write a letter to an author whose work has a major impact on their lives, the Massachusetts Center for the Book reports that participation was up 25% this year with thousands of submissions rolling in from across the state. Students wrote to a huge range of writers, living and dead, including Harper Lee and Louisa May Alcott, as well as Sharon M. Draper and Jerry Craft. Mass Center for the Book recently announced the winning entries. The top honors include the following: In grades 4-6, Henry Goldstein, a 6th grader from Newton won; in grades 7-8, Worcester 8th grader Kowsar Adam took the top honor; and in grades 9-12, Belchertown 11th grader Analua Alencar Moreira won. The top honor in each category receives $200; honorees receive $25 gift cards. The annual ceremony celebrating the honorees has been cancelled because of the pandemic. For a complete list of all the honorees, visit massbook.org.


Coming out

“Parakeet” by Marie-Helene Bertino (FSG)

“The Dragons, the Giant, the Women” by Wayétu Moore (Graywolf)

“The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead)

Pick of the week

Jillian Kravatz at Harvard Bookstore recommends “A Sand Book” by Ariana Reines (Tin House): “I’ve been awed & confused (in the way only poets seem to make me feel) by Reines ever since reading her game-changing Coeur de Lion. This beautiful book is no different—but times have changed, and Reines responds to the crises and triumphs of the current moment with grace & forwardness.”