Saturday, March 21, 2015

2015 Children's Literature Festival, Day 2

Monday, March 16th, 2015

We had a fun and fulfilling day seeing author presentations!

The first presentation we attended was with Deborah Hopkinson. She highlighted all the books she mentioned in her speech the night before along with two other books: her first book she had published, Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt, and another picture book, Stagecoach Sal.

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt is about a slave girl who makes a quilt mapping the Underground Railroad. The book is illustrated by James Ransome. Ransome did research for the story by looking back on his own family history. One of his direct descendants was a slave on a southern plantation.

Stagecoach Sal was based on two true historical characters alive during the California Gold Rush: Delia Haskett Rawson, one of the first female stagecoach drivers, and Charles E. Bolton (aka “Black Bart”), an English gentleman turned criminal.

After Hopkinson, we visited Obert Skye. He presented in Warrensburg last year and we were incredibly impressed by his presentation. We wanted to see him again this year and we were not disappointed!

Skye based his session on highlighting his newest book Witherwood Reform School. The middle-grade series is about two siblings who are left at the gates of a strange boarding school that's located on forested mesa. Going along with his storyline, Skye revealed the five secrets of becoming an author to the five secret floors at Witherwood. These five secret "floors" were to (1)Read, (2)Brainstorm, (3)Write, (4)Revise, and (5)Finish. Skye kept his large audience of elementary and middle grade students anxiously engaged the whole time! That's talent. Awesome job, Bro. Skye!

Next we attended Ard Hoyt's presentation. Ard Hoyt has illustrated many children's books for such authors as Mary Casanova (see my post for One-Dog Sleigh), John Lithgow, Molly Shannon, Michelle Meadows, and Michael Spradlin. In his session he talked about three magic ingredients that can shape you to become an author or illustrator: talent, inspiration, and experiences. Ard talked about how talent can come from anywhere, especially from your ancestors. His talents of being an artist and a cowboy were engrained in his family's history. With inspiration, Ard said that is can come from anything. Growing up, Ard was really inspired by the power of a blank piece of paper. He could be anywhere, do anything, and control the environment all by drawing on a blank piece of paper. With his experiences, they shaped him to love reading, animals, art, and being a cowboy. An uplifting and hilarious program anyone, young or old, would enjoy!

Next we saw our dear friend, Henry Cole. He talked about discovering his love of drawing, learning, nature, and family when he was a child. When Henry was in elementary school he found John James Autobahn’s book, Birds of America, at his library. The experience of looking at Autobahn's book and researching Autobahn's life inspired Henry to write his first chapter book Nest for Celeste. Henry showed students the sketches and manuscripts for Celeste, along with all the edits he went through.

As a treat to students and conference attendees, Henry shared three uproariously funny stories about his pet field mouse, Sammy Shine. Henry is in the works to publish books based on Sammy Shine's adventurous life in the Cole home.

Our final presentation for the day was with Lois Ruby. Ruby discussed the backstory, inspiration, and plots to four of her books: Steal Away Home, Rebel Spirits, The Doll Graveyard, and The Secret of Laurel Oaks. Her middle-grade and young adult books lean more towards paranormal themes during the Civil War time period.

Check out these authors and their work. I'll be putting out reviews for many of their books soon.

Next up, I'll highlight Tuesday's sessions on Monday!

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