Monday, April 29, 2013

Albany Children's Book Festival

This Saturday, I had a lovely time at the Albany Children’s Book Festival at the Albany Girl's Academy.  I shared a table with Jana Laiz, author of Elephants of the Tsunami, a true story about elephants who saved many people who otherwise would have been washed away; and “A 
Free Woman on God’s Earth,” the inspiring story of  Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman who sued for her freedom in a Massachusetts court of law. We swapped stories of Thailand and elephants, in between signing books.

The crowd wasn't as large as it could have been. The 70 degree weather enticed many folks to garden -- which is what I would have been doing -- shoot hoops, play T-ball, or a hundred other things we've been buggy to do since the snow melted. But that gave me time to roam around and meet other writers. I was amazed at how many nonfiction books were there. Maybe it was a conscious decision by the festival board, or maybe nonfiction writers are just braver to step out into the spotlight. I know that several years ago I was usually one of three or four nonfiction writers at a book festival, but this weekend it seemed like every other table celebrated a NF title.

I met Matt Faulkner, author/illustrator of A Taste of Colored Water. Although not a NF book, Matt has illustrated some award winners like You’re on Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt by Judith St. George. But I love A Taste of Colored Water because it looks at the Civil Rights movement from the POV of two innocent, rural white kids who come to town to see this magical rainbow bubbler they've heard about, only to be confronted with the reality of intolerance. It makes you think, which in this day and age we need to do.

I also met author/illustrator Lindsay Barrett George, who created In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?, a book that my kids loved when they were younger. I purchased In the Garden: Who’s Been Here? for two more curious kids, Ryder and River.

Across from my table was a writer I have always wanted to meet because she wrote one of my favorite books called Manfish about Jacques Cousteau. I use Jennifer Berne’s book when I talk about voice in nonfiction because she wrote it with the same breathy lyrical voice of Cousteau himself. When you read it out loud you unwittingly take on a French accent. Jennifer’s newest book, hot off the press, is On a Beam of Light about Albert Einstein, and it, too, is written in that same clean, spare, narrative that I aspire to.

By four o’clock I had sold more books than I bought, so, all in all, a good day.

1 comment:

  1. I cant wait to find "On a Beam of LIght" I have been looking for good children's reads on Einstein and struggled to like any one of them. Having read Manfish, my hopes are up :) Thanks for the great find..