The 37th Annual Children’s Literature Festival

"Morris the Artist," written by Lore Segal. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Copyright: 2003. Published by Frances Foster Books
Morris the Artist, written by Lore Segal. Illustrated by Boris Kulikov. Copyright: 2003. Published by Frances Foster Books

Keene State College’s 37th Children’s Literature Festival, founded to promote a love of reading, and to provide an opportunity for people to learn how stories and illustrations are created and published by authors and illustrators, will begin bright and early Saturday morning, October 26. The doors open at 7:30, and the program begins at 9 a.m.

As always, the featured speakers are among the top children’s authors and illustrators. Here’s this year’s lineup:

Brian Lies, of Marshfield, MA, illustrated his first book, Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye, in 1989. Since then, he has illustrated over 25 books. He is now writing and illustrating his own books. Two of these are the New York Times bestsellers Bats at the Beach and Bats at the Library.

Jon J. Muth, who lives in upstate New York, is a comic book artist and a children’s book illustrator. “My work in children’s books really grew out of a desire to explore what I was feeling as a new father,” he stated. Zen Shorts was a Caldecott Honor Book and spent 41 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. He won the Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators in 1999 for his first children’s book Come On, Rain!, written by Karen Hess. Other well-known books he has illustrated are The Three Questions, Gershon’s Monster, and City Dog, Country Frog. An illustration from A Family of Poems, poems complied by Caroline Kennedy, hangs in the Festival Gallery Collection.

Ruth Sanderson, who lives in western Massachusetts, has illustrated books for over 30 years, including The Horse Diaries collection by Alison Hart; Jane Yolen’s Hush, Little Horsie; and Koda by Patricia Hermes. Her first fairy tale was The Sleeping Beauty retold by Jane Yolen. She has also illustrated The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Rose Red and Snow White, Goldilocks, and Cinderella.

Eric Velasquez, born in Spanish Harlem as the son of Afro-Puerto Rican parents, grew up in Harlem and continues to live in New York. His dual heritage and living in two cultures has significantly affected his work. Eric has created over 300 book jackets and interior illustrations. His first picture book was The Piano Man by Debbie Chocolate, and he was awarded the 1999 Coretta-Scott King/John Steptoe award for new talent for this book.

Deborah Wiles was born in Alabama and now lives in Atlanta. Growing up, she spent her summers in a small Mississippi town with extended family. These Southern people populate her Aurora County Trilogy. The first book, Love, Ruby Lavender, has been nominated for 26 state book award reading lists, which are voted on by children. The second book, Each Little Bird that Sings, was a 2005 E. B. White Award winner and a 2005 National Book Award finalist. The concluding book was The Aurora County All-Stars. Countdown, the first book in her The Sixties Trilogy, was published in 2010.

Festival attendees are welcome to visit the Children’s Literature Festival Gallery Collection, featuring several hundred original, one-of-a-kind works from almost 200 artists. The collection includes such works as an original by the English illustrator Kate Greenaway, framed with its original 1898 London bill of sale; cover art of Chris Raschka’s Caldecott Award winning The Hello, Goodbye Window; Frog and Toad art by Arnold Lobel; and an illustration by Trina Schart Hyman from Hershel and the Hannukah Goblins. Tours of the Festival Gallery Collection with trained docents are now available to individuals and groups of all ages.