This is the best kind of festival to go to because there's something for everyone. On Sunday, more than 30 kidlit authors had lunch at the University of Central Missouri student union, and we invited kids and parents to join in. Kids sat at tables with their fave authors and asked all kinds of questions while we chowed down at a marvelous pasta buffet. Illustrator Henry Cole gave a keynote speech that had everyone snorting their milk through their noses. He is seriously funny, and in high demand as a speaker.
|the gorgeous author centerpieces created by Naomi Williamson & Cathy Clear|
Then, after lunch, visitors were welcome to collect author signatures and browse the book sale, which featured middle-grade thrillers like Roland Smith's Chupacabra and YA tales like Terry Trueman's Printz Honor-winning Stuck in Neutral and Antony John's supernatural Elemental. Picture book authors and illustrators were liberally represented, ranging from Michelle Markel's Brave Girl to Brad Sneed's Thumbelina. Well-known authors like Mary Casanova, Mary Downing Hahn, and Stephanie S. Tolan stood beside newbies like myself and Regina Sirois, whose beautiful novel On Little Wings won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2012.
Now while Sunday was a superfun day, the real heart and soul of this festival are the two session days on Monday and Tuesday. This year, the festival hosted about 3,600 students in grades 3-8 who came to hear their favorite authors speak. Each student attended four presentations a day (and at least one class came on both days!). For us authors, that meant delivering 8 presentations in two days, but what fun it was! I was able to address a total of about 450 students in sessions of 30-75 kids each. They were incredibly well behaved and enthusiastic.
|signing a student's T-shirt|
In the evenings, authors had a chance to kick back and get to know each other. This group was among the nicest I've been part of.
|Mary Casanova & Roland Smith|
|Terry Trueman presents a Mock Oscar in the ceremony honoring the festival staff|
I came home very tired but so grateful to festival organizer Naomi Williamson and all the volunteers. If you love kidlit, keep an eye out on the festival website to get updates on next year's festival. You won't want to miss it.