During Children’s Book Week, May 13–19, authors will visit schools on Friday, May 17, and give a “Turning the Page, New Stories for Newtown” presentation at Newtown Middle School for residents on Saturday, May 18.
C.H. Booth Library’s Children’s Librarian Alana Bennison said she first heard from Robin Adelson, the executive director for the Children’s Book Council, Inc, in January. Ms Adelson told Ms Bennison that she had been approached by author Tony DiTerlizzi, who created The Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black.
“He wanted to bring authors to Newtown for Children’s Book Week,” Ms Bennison explained. “So he sort of put out the word to his friends in the business.”
Mr DiTerlizzi gave his idea a name: Turning The Page, New Stories for Newtown. A number of his friends responded.
“Lo and behold, 18 of his very best friends in the children’s book business said they would love to come,” Ms Bennison said.
Some of the responding authors were unable to make it to Newtown for the Friday schools visit, so Ms Bennison suggested holding a community event on Saturday. Some authors will be available for one of the two days, while others will be participating both days.
Ms Bennison said before everything could be scheduled, she first contacted the schools. Each school was also given the option to host the authors as would best suit the school.
The list of authors scheduled to come is a “who’s who” of children’s literature, Ms Bennison said.
Along with Mr DiTerlizzi, authors set to visit Newtown are Peter Brown, Bryan Collier, Neil Gaiman, Robin Glasser, Jeff Kinney, Barbara McClintock, Natalie Merchant, Jane O’Connor, Christopher Paolini, Ridley Pearson, Jerry Pinkney, Jon Scieszka, Brian Selznick, David Shannon, R.L. Stine, Mo Willems, Dan Yacarrino, and Jane Yolen.
The Saturday, May 18, community event will run from 10:30 am until 4 pm, with author presentations held in the NMS auditorium. A meet and greet will also be held, in the school’s cafeteria.
While Ms Bennison said tickets for the individual panel presentations are free, she also said they are limited. The free tickets for the panel presentations are being made available at the C.H. Booth Library’s Children’s Department for Newtown residents only.
The meet and greet in the NMS cafeteria on May 18 will be open without tickets, but the panel discussions will not be open to people without tickets.
Panel discussions are “Reimagined Fairy Tales,” “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words,” “Books to Movies,” “Iconic Characters,” and “Scary Stories.”
The meet and greet will include a rotation of authors, who will be available to sign books, and drawing lessons with visiting illustrators Paul Meisel, Bruce Degen, and Jennifer Thermes.
“It’s a rare gift. It’s a rare opportunity,” said Ms Bennison, “for these people all to be in one place that’s not a book expo or a library ALA conference.”
Along with the visiting authors and illustrators, moderators for the panels on Saturday will be Mr Degen, Mr DiTerlizzi, Mr MacDonald, Ms Thermes, and Ross MacDonald.
Each author is donating his or her time, said Ms Bennison, and the sponsoring publishers are donating books.
The event is co-sponsored by the Children’s Book Council and the Barnard Foundation grant given to the C.H. Booth Library’s Books Heal Hearts fund.
Residents are encouraged to bring copies of their own favorite books by the participating authors and illustrators, because, Ms Bennison said, the donated books will be available, but there is no certainty of if there will be enough for everyone.
Ms Bennison said she is already compiling a large pile of books she would like to have signed by the visiting authors and illustrators.
“I just want kids to have the opportunity to meet these really great authors and illustrators,” said Ms Bennison.
She also said she hopes parents will take the opportunity to bring their children to a once in a lifetime gift.
“I hope they will mark their calendars now, that they will make it a priority to come,” Ms Bennison said, “because to me this is a really special thing.”