Wil Mara 2020 New Jersey Author of the Year

The NJ Center for the Book is thrilled to announce that our Board Member, Wil Mara, has been chosen by the New Jersey Association of School Librarians as the 2020 New Jersey Author of the Year! Wil is a veteran of the publishing industry with more than 300 books to his credit. He has penned both fiction and nonfiction for all ages, written over a span of more than thirty years and released through some of the biggest houses in the world, including Rosen, Macmillan, Dorling Kindersley, Scholastic, St. Martin’s Press, Tor, and others. Most recently, his ‘Twisted’ series has become a hit with parents, teachers, librarians, and middle-grade students, including those in the challenging reluctant and hi-lo categories.

Wil also served inside the industry as an editor, production manager, and executive for twenty years, with tenures at Prentice Hall, McGraw-Hill, and Harcourt Brace. He has since entered the realm of Hollywood, now developing his ‘Twisted’ series for television with one of the leading LA-based production companies, as well as three other projects based on his published works. Peripherally, he does numerous appearances to teach writing skills for schools and other institutions, is an executive committee member on the board of directors for the New Jersey Center for the Book, the host of the ‘Voice of American Libraries’ podcast, and was the 2019 recipient of the Literary Lion of New Jersey Award, whose past winners include Gus Friedrich, Dean Emeritus of Rutgers University, and Joyce Carol Oates, National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist.



Robobaby by David Wiesner Selected to Represent NJ at the 2020 National Book Festival 

The 20th annual Library of Congress National Book Festival celebrated American Ingenuity with presentations by more than 120 celebrated authors historians, and poets. About 25,000 people attended the virtual event held on September 25-27, 2020. Some of the featured authors at the virtual Festival included Jason Reynolds, Colson Whitehead, Amy Tan, Sandra Cisneros, and John Grisham. Some of the most viewed videos are of John Grisham, the joint presentation by Kate DiCamillo and Ann Patchett, Colson Whitehead, James McBride, Jenna Bush Hager, Madeleine Albright, Mo Willems, Heather Cox Richardson, N.K. Jemisin and Chelsea Clinton.

The NJ Center for the Book featured picture book Robobaby by NJ-born David Wiesner as the Festival’s Discover State Reads on the Roadmap to Reading virtual Festival platform. Over one hundred people visited the NJ Center’s virtual booth that had a variety of handouts available to download, including an activity sheet to go along with the book Robobaby, a list of previous NJ Great Reads titles, a list of the books people said they couldn’t live without from a National Festival poll in 2019, and information about the Center’s first and second e-book serials for kids by NJ authors and illustrators. Visitors to the booth could also take a poll this year by choosing a book they couldn’t live without from a list of suggested titles. Some of their must-haves were Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Access the Virtual Festival Platform, then stream the culminating PBS television special for an engaging, immersive experience. Recordings of author presentations are available on the Library of Congress’s YouTube channel, such as the video presentation by Jason Reynolds, the current Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Additional video content, including fascinating Q&A sessions with select authors, is available for a limited time on the Virtual Festival Platform (accessible by registering first)

Listen to Wiesner discuss his new book, Robobaby,


So, what's the deal with the Jersey Devil?

Is it myth or real?  Is it on the level?

Is it scary and mean?  Is it big, bad, and evil?

Has it ever been seen, our New Jersey Devil?

Quoted from The New Jersey Reader                               by Trinka Hakes Noble

Have you ever wondered about the Jersey Devil?  Now's your chance to find out.

Join the Jersey Trackers and Mr. C as they track the Jersey Devil, searching for clues all around New Jersey in this exciting mystery series, The Jersey Trackers and the Imagination Tree Mystery!  Click here

And if you love that, check out our second e-book, The Greatest Mystery in all of History!  Click here

Every story in the series features some of New Jersey finest publishing talents, with a general rule of one author and one illustrator per chapter. As such, Jill Mills, of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians, had this to say—

“New Jersey is rich with history and mystery, and amazing authors and illustrators who weave tales of each. The New Jersey Center for the Book brought together some of the state’s best writers for children to create two exciting stories that first take us all over the state and then throughout history to preserve the power of ideas and imagination. My students have loved hearing these stories as much as I have loved sharing them.”

To learn more about the Jersey Tracker series, Click here

Congratulations to Renee Becker Swartz, Board Chair of the New Jersey Center for the Book

At its 50th celebration, the Monmouth County Library Commission honored its longstanding chair, Renee Becker Swartz, by naming the Children’s Library of the Eastern Branch of the Monmouth Public Library in her honor and in recognition of the many contributions she has made to the library, state and nationally. Swartz was honored by the commission, Congressman Chris Smith, local civic leaders and family and friends at the Eastern Branch Library celebration.

Swartz has been a dedicated proponent of libraries as the heart of the community and books as agents of change, encouragement, entertainment, and education.  She has worked tirelessly to keep the Monmouth Library system as one of the leading libraries in the state, as well as supporting numerous programs throughout the state of New Jersey and nationally promoting education, books and libraries. At the national level  she has been appointed to several significant organizations to promote literacy and libraries throughout the country. Renee was a presidential appointee to the national Institute of Museum and Library Services Board, and a founding member of the Library of Congress Directors for the Center for the Book. At the state level she has served on the NJ Library Advisory Council from 1976 through 2011, as Chair of the Monmouth County Library Commission since 1975, and was the founding member and chair of the New Jersey Center for the Book.

Photo left to right:   Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, Swartz, Congressman Chris Smith, Library Director Judith Tolchin

Jacqueline Woodson, Library of Congress Ambassador for Youth Literature, Headlines Program

The New Jersey Center for the Book, the founder of  the Literacy Alliance of New Jersey, sponsored a statewide celebration of the renowned young people’s author Jacqueline Woodson, at The College of New Jersey campus, on October 16, 2019.  Ms. Woodson, the Library of Congress Ambassador for Youth Literature, 2018-19, met with 200 students in grades five through eight from Fisher Middle School, Ewing Township; Grace A. Dunn Middle School, Trenton; Luis Munoz-Rivera Middle School, Trenton; and Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School, Trenton.  Click here to read more.


NJ Center for the Book

Statewide Literary Celebration 350th Anniversary

The family morning session programs and activities offered a variety of activities for children. “The Mythmakers,” Richard Stillmand and Gerald Fierst, performed a fun-filled journey of stories and songs that captured the highlights of New Jersey’s history.
The New Jersey Center for the Book and The Newark Public Library presented a program in celebration of New Jersey’s 350th Anniversary on Saturday, January 18, 2014 from 11am to 4pm at The Newark Public Library.