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‘New Stories For Newtown’ Program Returning

Thanks to funding through the Books Heal Hearts program at C.H. Booth Library, said Children’s Librarian Lana Bennison, she and committee members Ross MacDonald, Janice Bernard, Yvonne Cech, Kim Weber, and Georgia Monaghan are able to present two days of well-known author and illustrators to students and residents of Newtown. A day of visits to the Newtown schools by children’s literature luminaries — to include Gail Carson Levine, Alan Katz, Sara Darer Littman, Jennifer Thermes, Jarrett Krosoczka, Dan Yaccarino, Paul Meisel, and Joe McKendry — will take place on Friday, June 6. The school visits will be followed by a day of presentations for the public at Reed Intermediate School.

This is the second year that the library has been able to attract famous authors and illustrators to the New Stories for Newtown event, said Ms Bennison. Last year’s New Stories for Newtown began when Mr MacDonald, a Newtown resident and children’s author and illustrator, suggested it to Ms Bennison.

“Years ago, when I was in Canada, I would do school visits with poet Robert Priest,” Mr MacDonald said.

When the two men saw what great ideas kids threw out to them at their presentations, the school visits “morphed into a week-long series of school visits” incorporating presentations and opportunities for the children to write and illustrate a story with the professionals.

“Then we encouraged the kids to write and illustrate their own things,” Mr MacDonald said, culminating in a printed, bound book that was distributed to all of the district’s schools.

This year, the committee plans to incorporate that idea into a follow-up art and writing contest, “Words and Images,” this summer. Authors and illustrators taking part in the June 6-7 event, as well as some who were unable to take part this year, and contestants will contribute to the book resulting from the contest.

Two presentations on Saturday, June 7, are geared for young adults and adults interested in teaching creative writing or learning about what it takes to write for children. “They are really for anyone who is into inspiring kids to become writers, and not just educators,” said Mr MacDonald.

Author Gail Carson Levine will moderate the panel that includes Alan Katz and Sara Darer Littman for the “Writing Magic” presentation, from 1 to 1:45 pm, in the cafetorium of RIS.

“So You Want To Be a Children’s Book Author” will be presented from 2 to 2:45 pm, with Newtown illustrator-author Jennifer Thermes serving as moderator. Jarrett Krosoczka and Dan Yaccarino will join her. These successful children’s authors will offer practical advice on becoming a children’s book author.

Activities scheduled from 12:30 to 3:30 pm are for both children and adults. Visit Joe McKendry, Paul Meisel, Ross MacDonald, Jennifer Thermes and more for “Draw My Favorite Stuffed Toy.” Children and adults are invited to bring in their favorite “lovey” to be drawn by these popular children’s book illustrators. While there is no charge for this event, a ticket must be picked up at the information desk just inside the entrance to the school, for a place in line.

Drawing workshops, “Writing With Pictures,” from 1 to 3 pm, are limited to the first 25 people to sign up that day. Nathan Fox will lead “Comic Book Illustrations” for ages 9 and up. “Cartooning and Graphic Novels” with Jarrett Krosoczka, is for ages 7 to 9 years old, as is “Doodle On, Dude” with Karen Romano Young.

“We have limited the drawing workshops to 25 per session, so that each workshop can be effective,” Mr MacDonald said.

Ms Bennison said that they are happy and honored to have the popular writers and illustrators, all of whom are taking part at no cost to the library.

“We have people coming who are so overrequested,” said Mr MacDonald. Some of the authors and illustrators presenting in schools are not able to take part on Saturday, he added, but the committee is grateful for the time these artists have committed to the event.

An ongoing author meet and greet will run from noon to 4 pm.

All events are free, and will take place in either the RIS cafetorium, or in one of several first floor art rooms. The school is at 3 Trades Lane.

For more information, visit www.chboothlibrary.org.

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