Saturday, March 15, 2008

I had the coolest time on Monday and Tuesday. The University of Central Missouri (where I attend and work) holds a Children's Literature Festival each year that is self-proclaimed to be the biggest in the country and I believe it. I volunteered to help and am so glad that I did. I was assigned an author each day to essentially be their gopher. The first day I was assigned to Gary Blackwood with two high school National Honor Society students from the local high school. First, I was impressed that they wanted to do it. Second, I assumed that they were getting something out of it-- they aren't, except the experience and ability to add it to their resume (which didn't occur to them until I said something). Third, it's their Spring Break and they were willing to help. Very impressive young men. I was, of course, also impressed by the author who's most notable book would be the Shakespeare Stealer which took him approximately 29 years to publish from the time he thought of it getting out of the Army during the Vietnam War to it's publication. I like that he tells the accurate story of how hard it is to get published (a frequent theme at the festival), but he also told them to keep trying. He was interesting in that he showed them some of the fencing moves from the book and in the last session he switched it up with some ESP cards. One girl was able to guess 10 of the 25 cards. He said that was really good and the highest he'd ever seen presenting.
I also got to see Roland Smith who is an impressive speaker and author. There were tons of kids in the session I attended because he is so popular. I've only recently been turned on to his books by local school librarians who always raved about him. I'm not sure why I balked at reading any of them, but I got started because two were on the state reading lists and I'm hooked! He's very readable and I can see why reluctant boy readers would be so engrossed by them.
I was also able to visit the book store where many of the authors and illustrators books were being sold and because I volunteered I was getting a 20% discount. To no one's surprise, I got a little crazy and made sure to get books from authors I was working with for autographing. I think this is very cool. My children, who I expect to be as amazed as I are generally not. Disappointing...
The next day I was assigned to Mary Cassanova which I admit I hadn't heard of until the festival, but it turns out she's quite famous and has written many, many books. Most of the authors said they've been able to do a lot of traveling because of their writting and incorporating their own lives into the stories. She has a series of Dog Watch books that are based on her life in a small border town up north where the dogs are allowed to wander town as long as they behave. Her series is based on her own dogs and adventures they've had. I was told that once I had my author settled I could wander off to hear others so I took full advantage of it. I was able to see Michael Spradlin, MJ and Herm Auch, R.W. Alley and Alane Ferguson (loved her!). It was great and I certainly plan to do it again next year.
Posted by Picasa

No comments: