2014-04-04 / Community

Library Links

Celebrate local authors
By Rachel Davis

In my last column, I talked about Cape Elizabeth’s second annual literacy festival, “Cape Celebrates Literacy,” which began March 12 and ends April 12. I mentioned many of the events happening at the library and Cape Elizabeth’s public schools. At Thomas Memorial Library, we’ve already had authors John Ford and Mark Nickerson speak (what a terrific time that was!) as well as a parent-child story book workshop for preschoolers, and a party celebrating our two therapy reader dogs. Coming up, we have poet David C. Weiss, who will lead a free poetry and meditation workshop for adults on Tuesday, April 8 at 1 p.m. (no registration is required – you can find details on the library’s website). We also have music educator and performer Danny Lion, a.k.a., Dan Flannery, dropping in from New York City for a special free concert for little ones on Saturday, April 5 at 10:30 a.m.

The culminating event of the community-wide festival will be AuthorFest ’14 on Saturday, April 12. More than 35 authors and illustrators from Maine and neighboring states will be on hand to talk to readers and sign books (thanks to local bookstore, Nonesuch Books, for handling the book sales – and for donating a portion of the proceeds to the Cape Elizabeth school department). Many of the authors participating have also generously participated in Skype visits with classes at the elementary, middle and high schools. Authors include Sarah Thomson, Megan Frazer Blakemore, Lynn Plourde, David A. Kelly, Annika and Christopher Denise, Lea Wait, Maria Padian, Ellen Booraem and Charlotte Agell.

There is something almost magical for kids about interacting with real live authors and illustrators. Most every year, Pond Cove School is able to bring in an author or illustrator for a few days to meet with students, and the excitement those visits create is very evident at the public library. I try to stock up in advance on books by the visiting author or illustrator, filling in gaps and updating worn copies, and you can bet that all of our own copies of the author’s books will be gone from the library, usually by the end of the first day of an author’s visit. Last year, the visiting author/illustrator was Scott Nash, known for many picture books, as well as his first chapter book for kids, “The Sky High Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate.” You would have thought he was a rock star, with all the excitement his visit generated. Kids would pass around his books like they were candy, or Pokemon cards, or some highly coveted treat.

Scott Nash, who lives on Peaks Island, just happened to be the illustrator for last summer’s Collaborative Summer Reading Program, which provides artwork, reading records and a program manual for participating public libraries across the country. I had a number of classes visit the library as summer drew near to learn about the reading program. By that time, Nash’s visit was long over, but nevertheless, without fail, as I gave my spiel about the summer reading program, holding up the reading record and materials, I would see a light go on for a student or two, who would immediately hold up their hands, anxiously waiting for me to pause and call on them. Why? He or she would have recognized Nash’s illustration style, and correctly identify Scott Nash as the program illustrator.

This year’s special author visit at Pond Cove School is taking place during the literacy festival, and features author/ illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who is known not only for many picture books, but for his very popular “Lunch Lady” graphic novel series. Kosoczka will be at the school on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 8 and 9, and we are already fielding requests for his books at the library. In fact, we have a large display in the children’s section of the library that features books by Krosoczka and the authors and illustrators who will be visiting the school for AuthorFest. You can find more information about AuthorFest on the festival website: http:// capeauthorfest13.edublogs.org.

Last year’s AuthorFest was packed with lines of excited kids dragging parents behind them to meet their favorite authors and get their books signed. This year, I expect the same. Anyone who thinks that kids today have to have an electronic screen in front of them and can’t get excited about actual, physical books ought to stop by this year’s AuthorFest – which, by the way, you are welcome to do. It will take place at Cape Elizabeth High School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 12. All are welcome!

Rachel Davis is assistant director/ children’s librarian at Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth.

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