Today I am going to tell you about a great experience I had at the annual Lititz Literature festival but first I have a small announcement.
I have been selected as a 2015-2016 Scholastic News Kid Reporter! WOO!
For those of you who know me, journalism is one of my interests and I am very excited and humbled by this opportunity. To check out all the awesome kids reporters for this year, visit the Scholastic Kid Reporter’s Notebook HERE!
Now on to why you are all really here – LITERATURE FESTIVAL!!!
NOTE* This article is NOT a Scholastic News report – it’s just me doing my thing. 🙂
For the past five years, I’ve convinced my mom and dad to drive me the two and a half hours (each way) to attend the annual Lititz Kid Literature festival. Each year the festival is organized and presented by Aaron’s Books, a fantastic book store in the heart of Lititz. Side note – if you’ve never been to Lititz, the town is worth the drive. It’s very cool. Every year the festival has an awesome line up of authors and great workshops for kids. The workshop topics range from writing to illustrations to research and best of all, they are taught by authors and illustrators! This year the event was especially wonderful because of a new venue. Aaron’s Books bookstore partnered with the Warwick Education Foundation and through this partnership the festival was held in the Lititz Elementary school.
I had a chance to interview Mr. Kurt Gardner, who is a board member of the Warwick Education Foundation and was the Literature Festival’s chair. Mr. Gardner said that Aaron’s Books approached the Foundation, and asked to partner with them. The Foundation agreed, as they saw it would coincide with their mission to advance education. They also thought that it would help the festival get more visitors and visibility. Well, it worked! Todd Dickinson, owner of Aaron’s books told me that this year’s festival drew over 600 people. “In past years it was difficult to reach 200,” Dickinson said.
Although there were triple the people at the festival this year, I thought the festival ran as smoothly as past years and all of the workshops and lectures did not disappoint.
Gordon Korman was the featured author at the event. During his festival-opening talk, he said that he started writing in 7th grade, when his gym teacher had to take over English Class (and he was NOT equipped to do so). He pretty much had half a school year to do one project, and he decided to write a book. I need to thank his ex-gym/English teacher because the book he wrote is one of my favorites – “This can’t be happening at Macdonald hall” (plus it’s pretty cool his 7th grade project got published).
I really liked the part of his talk where he compared fingerprints to character’s dialogue. He pointed out how dialogue can be very unique and how you have a character say something gives them a unique identity. I personally never thought about it like that, but am going to now!
Mr. Korman said that “What if…” is the most important question to ask yourself, and that he had gotten many ideas from that “question.” After his talk I was able to ask Mr. Korman a few questions of my own. I asked if he got any story ideas being in the small rural town of Lititz PA. He told me that being in Lancaster county, with Amish communities alongside cities and towns, had already given him a few scenes/ideas for books.
I asked him if his kids realized how cool their dad really is, to which he laughed and said that his kids read his books, but they usually went through a phase. “It’s usually around 5th grade” he said, and explained that his older kids didn’t really read his books anymore, unless if it’s on their summer reading list. 😉
Mr. Korman has finished the second Masterminds book, and is waiting for it to get published (see my review of the first in the Mastermind series HERE). He has also written a stand-alone novel to come out in the summer of 2016, called “Slacker”. He is also coming out with a holiday follow-up of the popular Swindle series (an awesome series) called “Jingle,” set to release in the fall-winter of 2016.
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM LITITZ –
I got to hang out with some literary titans – the Pokey Little Puppy and Corduroy – and I got to pretend to be Olivia.
I kicked off the workshop sessions by attending a writing workshop instructed by Corey Ann Haydu, author of Rules for Stealing Stars. I always love the writing workshops at this festival. I learn so much.
I sat in on A.S. King’s Teen Talk workshop on what books teens read, why they read and how they see themselves portrayed in books. A.S. King is a constant supporter of the Lititz festival and I always look forward to hearing her speak and just saying Hi to her. She insists I keep getting taller – I think she’s getting shorter. 😉
One of my favorite sessions was the Reading Adventure Panel – A discussion about writing exciting books for reluctant readers. The panel included (from left to right in the picture) Matt London, David Potter, Gordon Korman and Mark Tatulli.
I loved that the authors said that they don’t like the term reluctant readers and that adventure books don’t always just appeal to boys.
I picked up Mr. Potter’s book The Left Behinds: The iPhone that Saved George Washington at the festival. I don’t know how this one got past my radar. It’s right up my alley – dystopian historical fiction! Oh yeah! That is definitely on my TBR list. He said there’s another coming out early next year.
Another series I can’t believe I missed is the 8th Continent by Matt London (one of the panelists).
It is a series about two kids who want to transform the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into an eighth continent so they can live there with their family under their own rules. Sounds like an awesome premise to me. I get a chance to catch up on the series (there are 3 books so far) before the final book in the series is released early next year.
Of course I was geeking out that I got to hear Mark Tatulli, author of one of my favorite comic characters – Lio. I missed Mr. Tatulli’s workshop on making stories come alive because we had to leave before he did it. 😦 Hope he comes back again. He has a new Desmond Pucket book coming out in February 2016 that I’ve added to my need to have list. It’s Desmond Pucket and the Cloverfield Junior High Carnival of Horrors –
Some other highlights were –
Getting a signed copy of Wolfie the Bunny – meeting Ame Dyckman and getting an awesome squishy carrot from her. 🙂
Seeing Lititz perennial favorite Courtney Sheinmel and getting her fantastic new middle grade book Zacktastic! Ms. Sheinmel is the author of the Stella Batts series and has penned this new book with a boy main character because her nephew Zack wanted a boy main character – now that’s service! Zack (the character not the nephew) just found out he is a genie and has to go on his first assignment without any training. I added this one to my TBR list!
I also picked up a copy of Click Clack Ho! Ho! Ho! to review in December and was able to meet and get it signed by illustrator Betsy Lewin. I know, I know, I am 13 but I still LOVE picture books. 😉
In addition to the workshops, lectures and book signings, there were crafts, read-alouds, a local author corner and therapy dogs you could relax and read with. 🙂
There was so much to do and it is such a great time at this festival. There were more authors at the event that I just didn’t get a chance to get to, but would have love to hear speak. I think I will have to work on that cloning project for next year. My recommendation – just go ahead and mark your calendars for next year and make the trek out to Lititz – it’s worth it!