Turns out the forecast should have been for FUN!
|Miss Frizzle, me and Clifford|
At the Digital Domain baseball stadium, where the event was held, a line of parents with eager kids stretched farther than I could see, waiting for the gates to open.
Sylvia and I set up our table at Authors Alley and spent the next few hours watching and chatting with an endless stream of families, teachers and librarians.
|When there was a break in the crowd, I was able to snap this photo of Authors Alley|
Next to our table was a 22-year-old young man who had written three novels. Across from us were two fourth grade authors and their teacher. The profits from their book went to help the sea turtles. (Yes, Sylvia and I each bought autographed copies.) And there were a bazillion (or maybe fewer) authors/illustrators, including our talented friend, Janeen Mason. Did you see her lovely picture book, GIFT OF THE MAGPIE?
|Here's Janeen with hand-made magpie pins on her collars|
Our dear friend and talented author, Carole Crowe, showed up.
|Author, Carole Crowe|
The stream of kids seemed endless, and we loved it!
Here's a young reader checking out Sylvia's FUNTASTIC picture book, RATTLEBONE ROCK. If you love Halloween and fun rhyme and rhythm, this book is for you!
|Checking out Rattlebone Rock by Sylvia Andrews|
Nate the Great made an appearance, although I'm so dang old I thought he was Encyclopedia Brown.
|Sylvia and Nate the Great|
I got to do some serious sleuthing, too.
|Donna and Nate the Great|
There was so much going on at the festival: author panels, a full day of entertainment onstage by the dynamic duo of Riley Roam and Kenny Mikey of Page Turner Adventures, puppet theater, Scholastic book fair, a FREE book exchange so every child could leave with free books, author signings, character sightings, student performances, a concession stand, Mother Goose corner, giveaways, goodie bags for each child who entered and so much more!
The children who stopped by to chat and tell me about themselves or the books they loved just humbled me. One boy held the book I'd just autographed for him and said, "This is my first book I've ever had signed by an author." The look in his eyes made my day! A woman told me the saddest story of a young friend of hers who was being bullied in fifth grade. She asked me to sign How to Survive Middle School for him because it's a story of being bullied and learning to survive. Coincidentally, her young friend's name was David, just like the main character in my story. I wrote a message of support and hope for the real David. I hope the fictional David helps him.
I got to meet Crystal and her mother. Crystal, looking much more grown up, had posed for this picture during a school visit I did early this year at Manatee Academy.
|Crystal, my author escort, rockin' a pair of red sunglasses.|
I loved chatting with the kids who wanted to be writers and the adults who did, too. It was heartening to see so much community support and so much enthusiasm for books and reading. This festival gave a powerful message to the young people who attended: READING MATTERS TO US!
|Geronimo Stilton surprises a young reader.|
Debbie Remington, President of the St. Lucie County Reading Council, is a wonder. She's the powerhouse behind this amazing festival. I can't thank her enough for inviting me into the fold of this vibrant community!
|Donna and Debbie Remington, Media Specialist at Manatee Academy and Pres. St. Lucie County Reading Council|
And a big thank you to the teachers, librarians and students who volunteered and worked so hard to make this an absolutely FANTABULOUS event!
Turns out the weather was perfect, after all.
See you all next year!