Every year the campus of the University of Central Missouri hosts the Children’s Literature Festival. There are several authors that come and speak. I remember going when I was in sixth grade and meeting Mary Downing Hahn, Vicki Grove and several other authors and illustrators. This year I had the opportunity to attend with my mom’s school group and I was stoked! (Mostly because they were hosting Alan Gratz this year— one of my favorite middle grade/youth authors!! Aaaahhhh!!)
I took a couple of books with me on the off chance they might do some autographs, bought several pre-signed copies, and hoped that some (or all) might offer a chance for a picture!
Our first stop was Beth Vrabel. (Pack of Dorks, A Blind Girls Guide to Stinkville) she spoke of her rough childhood, and being picked on (by others and herself), her inspiration for her books, her path of writing, and how she never gave up On being a novelist. She was wonderful!
While I had the chance for a picture with Vrabel, I booked it outta there with our group to get to Alan Gratz. (Prisoner B-3087, Projekt 1065, Refugee, Ban This Book) He was exceptionally awesome! His “talk” was a choose your own adventure (much like his favorite books growing up). I really loved hearing about him speak about Prisoner and meeting the man whose story it was, and speak about his inspiration for Refugee (a truly astounding piece of work). There were signs up that due to the volume of attendees many of the authors wouldn’t sign books or take pictures, however, Gratz stood down front and signed books and took a zillion selfies with people! I of course took advantage of this. 🙂
We lunches and then headed over to Mary Downing Hahn. We had a few minutes before she started so I walked over and introduced myself. I also pointed out that I had met her once before when I was a sixth grader. (She was impressed.. ) I then asked if I could take a picture with her to share with my students since we for sure read one of her books in my class every year. She agreed! (Score!!) And then I secretly cheered for myself because no one else was allowed to take pictures or get autographs. I felt like superwoman! She spoke of her rough start in the writing industry and what some of her favorite books that she had written were. She took a lot of questions which led to some great insights into her book inspirations and aspirations!
Our last author of the day was Roland Smith. We were the first group to get in the auditorium so I slipped up to the stage and asked Roland (“even though I know you have signs up…”) would he be willing to take a picture with me because my students really enjoy his books. He happily invited me up on the stage for a photo and visited with me for a minute (and then turned others away!!) Once again I was victorious when no one else was!!! He was hilarious and was very interesting to listen to. He had done so much before becoming an author! (Worked in a zoo, biologist, wolf reintegration, wildlife disaster cleanups..) I was impressed!
It was a wonderful day! I had so much fun spending the day with my momma, and meeting several of my favorite children’s authors!!