Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Keene State College Children's Literature Festival 2007

Grace Lin, Anna Alter, and I had a great time at the Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival last weekend. I enjoy going up to Keene, which is located in the lovely Monadnock area of New Hampshire. I see familiar faces there. There are always children’s authors and illustrators who attend the conference. In addition to Grace and Anna, other children’s book creators who were there included Alissa Imre Geis, Donna Berger, Liz Goulet Dubois, Cheryl Harness, Beth Krommes, and Melissa Stewart.

Alissa Imre Geis, Anna Alter, & Melissa Stewart

Here’s the list of Featured Speakers for the 2007 Festival: Michael Dooling, Kathy Mallat, Richard Peck, Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, and Chris Soentpiet.

Kathy Mallat, an author and illustrator of picture books and a part-time art teacher, was a last minute fill-in for Raymond Bial. Kathy did a great job! I don’t know how she was able to put together such a polished presentation in just a few days. Like me, Kathy also serves as a member of the Festival Advisory Board.

Kathy Mallat & Dr. David White
Natalie Kinsey-Warnock strode to the front of the auditorium playing the bagpipes. She made a great presentation—and brought several of the beautiful handmade quilts her grandmother had sewn. Natalie lives out in the country in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. She has a whole menagerie of pets. She rescues animals that have been mistreated or abused.

Natalie Kinsey-Warnock Playing the Bagpipes

Richard Peck received a standing ovation for his eloquent—and outrageously funny—presentation. I jotted down some of his most memorable lines. (I hope I wrote them down correctly.)
  • The only way you can write is by the light of the bridges burning behind you.
  • You learn most from the experiences you would have avoided if you could.
  • Puberty is the death of childhood…not the birth of reason.
  • Fiction had better be about the reader—not the writer.
  • Fiction is a metaphor for a reader’s life.
  • We read fiction to find family.
  • Schools don’t build foundations; they build upon foundations.
  • Humor is anger that was sent to finishing school.
  • Quoting Cicero: Not to know what happened before you were born means to remain always a child.

Grace, Anna, Alissa, and I visited the Festival Gallery Collection. We saw the owls that Anna and Alissa had created for the Festival Owl Project. Abigail Marble contributed OWL #87 to the collection. That means that Dr. David White, Festival Director, needs just 13 more owls to reach his goal of 100 owls for the Centennial Celebration of Keene State College in 2008-2009. Grace has decided that it’s time to start work on her “Keene” owl.

Grace, Elaine, Anna, & Alissa

Three Really "Keene" OwlsEric Carle's Owl

Anna Alter's Owl

Alissa Imre Geis's Owl

After the conclusion of the festival, the featured speakers, members of the festival advisory board, student volunteers, artists who had donated an owl in the past year, and David and some close friends joined together for a sumptuous dinner of prime rib, bake stuffed shrimp, stuffed portabella mushrooms, rice pilaf, fresh vegetable medley, and individual almond tortes served with fresh strawberries, balsamic vinegar, and whipped cream.

Donna Berger, Chris Soentpiet, & Eric DuboisAnna, Alissa, & Grace

We capped off a wonderful day with a visit to David & Ken's Irish cottage.

I can’t wait for the 2008 Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival. I bet you’d like to know who the speakers will be, wouldn’t you? Here’s the lineup: Steven Kellogg, Andrew Glass, Eric A. Kimmel, Polly Horvath, and Jerry Pinkney!


Cheryl said...

I love the Richard Peck comments! Thanks for sharing them. They're thoughtful, inspiring, intriguing. I love hearing quotes like that from other children's writers.

ChatRabbit said...

Great to meet you at the fest Elaine.
Thanks for posting your notes!

I put up a Keene blog post, too:


Anna Alter said...

Great write-up Elaine! We should make this festival a tradition!

Elaine Magliaro said...


Richard Peck was great! Many of us may not have agreed with everything he said--but his words were meant to get us thinking...and probably talking.


You took some great photos at the Festival! I'm glad I had the opportunity to meet another blogger in the flesh.


A tradition it is! I'll drive again next year.

Cheryl said...

Elaine, that makes sense to me. Of course we always have our own opinions and don't agree with everything--but if it made us think about it, it can be a good thing.