Festival Brings Young Readers Together

Young Readers Will Find Many Quality Events at 2014 Festival

Sonia Manzano

By Anna Wempe

This year’s South Dakota Festival of Books focuses heavily on the theme of literature for children and young adults. Kicking off the 2014 Festival is the inaugural South Dakota Festival of Books for Young Readers, which features events in both Sioux Falls and Brookings. This new event starts in Brookings Thursday, Sept. 25 at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota in Brookings.

The Young Readers Festival is primarily geared toward younger audiences, with workshops, demonstrations, and presentations from many renowned authors, such as Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo. At 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Thursday, current artist and author of the beloved “Hagar the Horrible” comic strip, Chris Browne, will read selections from and answer questions about his new book The Monster that Ate the State, a children’s book set in South Dakota. At 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Marilyn Kratz will read Umpire in a Skirt, which tells the true story of America’s first female paid umpire. This empowering story covers gender stereotypes, history, and will keep readers and listeners alike enthralled.

Kate DiCamillo

The featured books are not, however, restricted to fiction or historical narratives. Four science authors will read and discuss their books in Classroom 202 of the Children’s Museum, starting at 10 a.m. and continuing through 2:20 p.m. with a short break for lunch. Rebecca L. Johnson will address the question that may be on children’s minds: Are Zombies Real? at 10 a.m. in Classroom 202. She will be followed by Jean Patrick discussing her book Could You Carve the Mountain?, which tells the story of how and why Gutzon Borglum carved Mount Rushmore. In the same room at 12:30 p.m., Johnson reveals “What Lives Deep in the Sea?” from her book, Journey into the Deep, which discusses sea creatures from up to 82 countries and those that live near the shore to the very deepest canyons of the oceans.

Children who are interested in drawing will want to see Harry Bliss, successful illustrator and cartoonist for The New Yorker and several children’s books. Bliss will show audiences how “Mistakes Are Good” (10 a.m., Art Studio) and how to use them to create interesting and unique drawings. For a combination of art and a more thorough understanding of culture, “Illustrating with Authenticity: Views of Native American Art” with S.D. Nelson will take place after the Harry Bliss demonstration. Those are just a sampling of the museum events; for a full list check out our online schedule.

The day culminates in a Young Readers Keynote Celebration at 4 p.m. with author Kate DiCamillo and cultural ambassador Kevin Locke explaining the effect of stories, not only with words but with music and dancing as well. DiCamillo has won multiple awards including two Newbery Medals. Her works include The Tale of Despereaux and Because of Winn Dixie, both of which became popular feature films, and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kevin Locke performs hoop dancing, traditional Native American flute, storytelling, and more. He has produced thirteen albums combining stories and music.

If you are interested in children’s literature but not a child yourself, many authors discuss the bricks and mortar of their stories on Saturday in Sioux Falls. These story-architects share their ideas and processes. Joseph Bruchac shares on “Writing Books for Reluctant Readers” and Sonia Manzano (“Maria” of Sesame Street) discusses “Turning Real Life into Fiction.” Saturday’s events, which will be held at the Washington Pavilion and Siouxland Libraries, cover many subjects and include numerous children’s authors. Visit our website for a complete schedule of events.

Or pick up a South Dakota Festival of Books guide, available at a variety of locations including the Children’s Museum of South Dakota.

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