For the shorties
|By Bill Castanier|
Book Fest aims to inspire love of reading in youngsters
Pouting fish, mermaid princesses, sheep in jeeps and pesky raccoons will join a runaway garden, errant vowels, a copper turtle and a passel of young adult heroes and heroines at the first-ever Young Folk Book Fest in East Lansing.
But his goal the first year is simple. “I want to see people picking up a book, looking at it and smiling,” Dotto said.
Dotto said MSU Press will use the BookFest to highlight the African Book Collective, which the Press represents in the United States. It features more than 1,000 African children’s and young adult books published in English.
The Library of Michigan will use the BookFest event to announce its selection of a children’s book for the annual Target Michigan Reads! Program, which is “The Pout Pout Fish,” by Grand Ledge author Debbie Diesen. “Pout Pout” is Diesen’s first book, and it has spent time on The New York Times Best Seller List and was selected as a Time Magazine Top 10 Children’s Book of 2008.
Diesen’s inspiration for the book came from her young son and a pouty face he would make that looked like a fish. The book encourages readers to get in the “swim” with the pout-pout fish and chase away the “dreary wearies.”
Diesen, who has made more than 50 appearances since her book was published, said the success of her first book, although exhilarating, has been stressful.
The Target Michigan Reads! program provides more than 5,000 reading kits to public libraries, elementary schools, Head Start and Michigan School Readiness Programs. In addition to a hardcover copy of the book, the kit includes programming ideas and reader’s guides. Diesen will visit 12 libraries in Michigan as part of the program.
Nancy Robertson, state librarian of Michigan, called the selection of “The Pout Pout Fish” a “no brainer.”
In addition to author and illustrator sessions, which begin every half hour starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, and continue beginning at noon on Sunday, Aug. 9, MSU’s Literacy Achievement Research Center will present three, one-hour sessions on multi-cultural literature, poetry and humor and graphic novels. In addition to giving readings, all authors will answer questions and sign books. Barnes & Noble, Curious Book Shop, Archives Book Shop, Riley Books and Everybody Reads Books & Stuff will have books available for sale.
Three illustrators will also hold interactive drawing events for children of all ages. Lansing illustrators Jef Mallet and Ruth McNally Barshaw will be joined by Ann Arbor artist and cartoonist David Coverly. Mallet’s comic strip “Frazz” is especially loved by teachers and middle school students, who identify with his character, a middle-school janitor.
Lansing area writer Jim Hines will read from his fantasy books for young adults and discuss his latest book, “The Mermaid’s Madness,” which puts a little darker spin on the classic princess stories. Hines is one of the hottest fantasy writers in the country.
(Full disclosure: Bill Castanier helped organize and raise funds for the Young Folks BookFest.)
Young Folks BookFest