On April 6 of this year I attended the Directions New Strategies and Applications literary festival sponsored by a Kansas City children’s bookshop, The reading reptile and supported by the Department of Education at Rockhurst University. This year’s illustrators and authors, Peter Brown. Jack Gatos, Daniel Handler AKA Lemony Snicket, Jon Klassen, Laura Amy Schlitz and Herve Tullet, spoke drew, showed slides and otherwise entertained an attentive adult audience for four hours.
The day before was kid’s day with field trips for 1st through 6th grade student to Rockhurst University for a 50-minute talk with two authors and special events at the Reading Reptile bookstore including a play, a reading and a book signing.
Since I already graduated from the sixth grade, I attended the yearly event for adults, which I have attended for the past five or six years. Each has been a celebration of children’s literature offering a rare chance to hear the voices behind the books. The writers and illustrators have been multiple award winners with international reputations.
Attending is fun. Although I rarely write for children, I enjoy the energy and positive vibes of both the presenters and the audience, mostly librarians and teachers. Each writer and illustrator shared the story of how he or she got published. The presenters come from a wide range of backgrounds including engineering, computer science technology, library science and teaching. Their adventures and misadventures of trying to get started in the world of books would make fascination reading.
The writers and illustrators are comfortable performing in front of an audience. The audience is warm and supportive. The combination makes the event a pleasure to attend for the audience and for the presenters.
This year Jon Klassen and Lemony Snicket AKA Daniel Handler made a presentation on their co-written book, The Dark, which t could have been a comedy sketch on late night television. Laura Amy Schlitz danced to illustrate her talk. She said it took her six and one-half years to write a book that came to her conscious mind as a series of images rather than an idea.
What writing events do you recommend?