This past November I volunteered at the Rochester Children’s Book Festival. I have never volunteered at a book festival before, and thought it would be fun. Plus, James Howe was going to be there, and I wanted to meet him.
I manned the greeting table at the entrance with four other volunteers, welcoming visitors, handing out maps/session information, and answering any questions. Many little girls came in clutching Fancy Nancy books – Jane O’Connor was one of the featured authors. She also did a packed-to-capacity-with-people-standing-in-the-hallway storytime.
The festival was compact, but there was a lot to do. There was a book-based arts and crafts room, the first stop for many families, three conference rooms that were set up for sessions and storytimes, and of course, the main event – a huge room where visitors could meet authors and buy their books. I wasn’t able to attend any of the sessions, but there were many that looked interesting, such as the “Chinese Dragon Drawing Workshop” by Yangsook Choi and “Finding the Story in History: Three Graphic Novels” by Matt Phelan. However, I did get a chance to see some of the authors.
Two authors in particular, James Howe and Linda Sue Park, were on my “must meet” list. James Howe because Bunnicula was the first chapter book I ever read – aged 8, in the car while traveling somewhere in the Nevada desert. I still have the copy of the book I read back then. He graciously signed it for me.
And Linda Sue Park because Bee-bim Bop! is my best friend’s daughter’s favorite book (mailed to me from Virginia expressly to have it signed). When her daughter found out that I was going to have the chance to meet Linda Sue Park, she was beyond ecstatic, asking me to take a picture as proof.
I met other authors as well. Putting faces to books helps a lot, especially when there were multiple authors there whose books I’ve read (such as Evil Librarian) or are currently on my “to read” list (such as Frogged and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place).