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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Books Books Books

I love them! My life can literally revolve around books and I would be happy. This is not to say I don't also enjoy living. I do. But there is something unique and special about getting lost in a story totally unrelated to your own.

I wanted to talk a little more about the Children's Literature Festival I just attended with Gabriel in Warrensburg, MO. It was so much fun; you should be jealous of me. Gabriel's teacher recommended the festival to me at the beginning of the school year. She saw his talent and dedication to writing and knew this would be perfect for him.

A couple of times she reminded me of the festival, but never gave the exact dates or name, just some generic information and the fact that I must take him. There was no question that he would enjoy himself.

A couple weeks ago, I realized I still didn't receive the information and thought maybe I should check it out myself. It was God's timing! I missed the deadline to preregister by 4 days! 4 stinkin' days! I was so upset I couldn't sleep that night. The next day I talked with the program director and as it was just me and my son attending, she said it would be no problem at all for us to show up. The authors would be chosen on a first come first serve basis and since we didn't register early we would run the risk of not having room for us. Not once were we turned away. Every single author we wanted to see, we got to see, and we got to see them when we wanted to see them.

I am so thankful to God that we didn't miss the conference. His timing is always flawless. If I had waited one more week, we would have been out of luck. This is something we had been talking about doing for over 6 months! Imagine how sad we would have been to find out it wasn't possible to attend.

Children's literature festivalThis festival was celebrating its 44th year! I can't wait to go next year for the 45th. That will be amazing. Some of the authors we met have been attending the conference for 15 or 20 years. They all said the same thing too. This is their favorite place to speak.

Here's how the conference works. The day takes place on a university campus. 34 authors showed up to speak and sign autographs. Our time was broken into 1 hour segments starting at 9am going to 3pm. Each hour you can choose a different author to see. All the authors will speak to you for around 40 minutes, and then sign autographs for the last 20 until the next session starts. Since this took place on a large campus there wasn't always time for autographs as we were running across campus to find our next speaker.

We met such wonderful individuals! I learned so much about writing and illustrating. I could literally write for hours on all that I learned, but I won't bore you with those details, yet.

Our first illustrator we listened to was Brad Sneed. He was my favorite speaker. I hung on every word. Mind you everything was directed at kids, and I seemed to fit in quite nicely. I don't know what that says about me.

Brad Sneed
June Rae Wood was there! Can you believe it? It was so exciting to meet her and spend a few minutes talking. If you aren't familiar with her name, maybe you've read the book The Man Who Loved Clowns? It's a children's book about a young girl, Delrita, who has an uncle, Punky, with Down syndrome. It will have you crying and laughing at the same time.

June Rae Wood
The book is based on the author herself as a young girl. She grew up in a family of 12, one of them being her brother, Richard, who was born with Down syndrome. Multiple times during her session I was in tears. I loved every moment of it. We spent 40 minutes getting to hear about and know the real man behind the book, her brother.

This author was specifically mentioned to me by Gabe's teacher and talked very highly of. In fact, June Rae Wood has dedicated one of her books, When Pigs Fly, to Mrs. Heil my son's 2nd grade teacher. It was fun to tell her that Gabriel is a student of Mrs. Heil.

The festival is full of school students ranging from 4th grade to 10th grade. Buses fill the parking lots and children fill the streets. Most schools will choose one of the two days to attend. Since we were attending by ourselves, we chose to stay for both days. The registration fee is good for Monday and Tuesday, so we figured we might as well take advantage of it. It's very inexpensive to attend! $15 for an adult, and only $8 for a student.

We found a hotel in a nearby city and learned to rely heavily on God. If you've talked to me personally about the trip, you totally understand my meaning. The hotel was a trip to the end of the world, and back. We survived!

The next morning we were fortunate to see Mary Casanova. She is currently an author for American Girl. If you remember a movie that came out awhile back, Chrissa Stands Strong that was based on a book series authored by her. It was about bullying in the schools. I believe every school age girl should watch it. I'm an adult and I fell in love with it. It has such a great message to it. No child should feel the way Chrissa does and I'm glad there is someone out there talking about it.

Mary Casanova is currently writing the McKenna books, the newest American girl doll that came out. In fact, she told us that this coming summer, they will be coming out with a new movie based on McKenna. I'm so excited! We have all four of the other American girl movies. I can't help it that I'm a young girl at heart. I grew up on American girl, and interestingly enough I haven't yet felt that I've outgrown it all.

The festival was amazing! I don't have enough time to share about all the wonderful things we did and learned from all the wonderful authors.

As this week has been Spring break for my kids, I couldn't help but plan a day at the library. Before we left we made a gigantic list full of books from all the authors Gabe and I met. We were able to find something from each one. Next year when we have more time, we'll try to research our authors a little better. That way we can read their books ahead of time in order to have something to discuss, rather than after the initial meeting where we must take their word for it.

I know I've mentioned many times how I love our library's bag day book sale, but I also wanted to mention you can find used books at Goodwill. We turned our library day into a book day. We didn't want our fun to end. Everyone was given the chance to choose a book to take home for keeps too. All children's books at Goodwill are only $0.59.

I ended my book day working on a gorgeous book inspired craft. I found the idea on YouTube and had to have one for myself. The entire craft cost me around $4, and was well worth it. I already have found myself walking by it several times just to stare at it. I love it!

wreath made pages of book wall hanging
If you can't tell from the photo, it's made out of the pages from an old book. I found In His Steps by Charles Sheldon, at Goodwill for only $0.59. I already own a copy of this book. As a book lover it makes you cringe a little to open the spine of a book. I would say, as difficult as it was, I still would do it again. The book has just taken a new form, it's not destroyed. I made sure to roll each page with the title showing at the top. I also looked for key words and made sure to have them on display. I've only had the wreath on my wall for one day, and I've stopped to read it multiple times already.

I love that it has meaning behind it. In His Steps. We all should be walking in the steps of Jesus. This wreath is going to be a beautiful reminder to me to constantly be asking myself What Would Jesus Do?

I'm very excited to be finishing up my special week of authors, illustrators, books, and reading, by having my book club night with my girl friends. Every month we choose a new book to read, and then we try to watch the corresponding movie. This month is one of my favorites, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I get lost in the language and find myself on pins and needles waiting for Elizabeth to put away her prejudice toward Mr. Darcy. It's a love story that gets to me every time. I can't wait!

"You don't have to read every day;
Just on the days that you eat!"

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