TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour

The TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour is your opportunity to learn from and build personal connections with extraordinary book creators and their brand-new titles. Included in all Virtual Book Tour posts are original interviews with authors and illustrators, lesson plans, an activity designed for young people, and much more!

Welcome Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg on Destination Unknown

In this post, we feature author Bill Konigsberg, whose previous, acclaimed titles include The Porcupine of Truth, a Stonewall Book Award winner. You can hear him speak about his new book, Destination Unknown, and try his “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Bill Konigsberg and the cover of Destination Unknown

Destination Unknown

  • Written by Bill Konigsberg
  • Published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
  • Release date: September 6, 2022

It’s 1987 in New York City, and Micah is at a dance club, trying to pretend he’s more out and outgoing than he really is. C.J. isn’t just out, he’s complete out there, and Micah can’t help but be both attracted to and afraid of someone who travels so loudly and proudly through the night. Is it friendship? Romance? Is C.J. the one with all the answers or does Micah bring more to the relationship than it first seems? As their lives become more and more entangled, the AIDS epidemic ravages their community, and what Micah and C.J. have between them will be tested, even as they find their voices through activism and form a bond that will determine the course of their futures. In Destination Unknown, Bill Konigsberg returns to a time he knew well as a teenager to tell a story of identity, connection, community, and survival.

From Destination Unknown, by Bill Konigsberg.

“Yes, we were at a club with plenty of gay people around. But no, none of my friends besides Deena knew I was one of them.”

Click here to view a longer preview of Destination Unknown, by Bill Konigsberg.

Explore Destination Unknown

Listen to Bill Konigsberg talking with TeachingBooks about creating Destination Unknown. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.

Invitation to Imagine

TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Bill Konigsberg.

Imagination Activity with Bill Konigsberg

I love using my memory as a prompt for writing. In this exercise, I want you to remember something enjoyable from earlier in your life, when you were a kid. I want you then to write a scene about it, and instead of TELLING us what happened, SHOW it. Set the scene and give us the action. Use specific smells, sights, and sounds. If it’s Christmas Eve when you were six, instead of saying, “My favorite Christmas Eve was when I was six. I got lots of presents and we ate a nice meal,” I want you to slow down and set the scene. For instance, you might start with “The living room was lit with colorful lights, and in the center of it stood a Christmas tree. Underneath the tree were more presents than I’d ever seen before. I was wearing my Spiderman pajamas, and my sister was wearing SpongeBob ones. I remember hearing Joy to the World, and the smell of hot chocolate.”

Finish This Sentence . . . with Bill Konigsberg

As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Bill Konigsberg’s response.

“A surprising thing that helps me work is…”

A surprising thing that helps me work is candy! A lot of people drink coffee, but for me, a dish of candy is the best. Sour Patch Kids are good. So are Sweetarts. It’s good to have some mix in there, so I will often include something chocolate, like M&Ms.

“I hope my book may encourage teens to think about…”

I hope that my book may encourage teens to think about the fact that they are living in history, right now. Sometimes we are so close to something that we don’t yet know what it will mean in the long run. For instance, the COVID pandemic. If you want to do something that you may be glad you did later on, journal! Write about what it was like to go to school from home, if you did that. Remember all the sights and sounds and tastes and feelings. One day, maybe 25 years from now, this period will be interesting history, and you can help give it meaning by writing about what the experience was like for you! We are all historians, or can be!

“Where I work is…”

Here is a photo of my muse and work partner, Buford. He is always in my office with me when I write. 

Buford, Bill Konigsberg's dog, looking out a window.

Thank you!

To wrap up this Virtual Book Tour, we thank Bill Konigsberg for signing a book for all of us.

The title page from Destination Unknown, signed by the author, Bill Konigsberg, with the message, "Be you, always!"

More Connections to Bill Konigsberg and Destination Unknown

Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!

All text and images are courtesy of Bill Konigsberg and Scholastic, Inc. and may not be used without expressed written consent.

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