Children's Poet Laureate, Mary Ann Hoberman, can now claim that she's been photographed with President Barack Obama......... AND with Sagezilla and Du-Jay. She read from her poetry compilation, "The Llama Who Had No Pajama" and led the children in a marching game. She's grandmotherly, photogenic, and was as charming in person as her prolific writing. This is her supportive and equally adorable husband and sometimes illustrator. The kids were thrilled to have her sign their books and proudly sported their red Hoberman hats.
Zilla and Du were also excited to meet the faces behind some of their favorite stories. They saved up their own money to buy books at Lit Fest, and eagerly waited in line to get them signed. Carolyn Crimi, author of "Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies" was a hoot. After her reading, she had the kids "walk the plank" blindfolded by bandannas, to earn a pirate tattoo. She signed two of her awesome books for us.
We also had books signed by Judy Schachner, author of "Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones". She was also hilarious. At the signing, she drew pictures and channeled her characters to write a personal message to the kids, claiming "I never know what they're going to say." Then she had the kids make their best pirate "Aaaaarrrrrrggggg" with her for the first photo.
I'm so happy to have kids who think of children's book authors as the celebrities they ought to be. They couldn't care less about the sports heavy hitters, but were all starry eyed at the Lit Fest. When I told Du, he could grow up to do that, he replied matter of factly, "I'm already an author and an illustrator, Mom!" Indeed he is.
Shedd Aquarium brought a live, Blue Tongued Skink, and another enormous black and white lizard out for a Q and A. The kids were entranced. We all came away with increased knowledge about reptiles. Can't beat that for free.
I was unsure whether my two were too "mature" for Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players, since their target market is the toddler set. But they danced along and had fun. We actually saw a hand puppet cover AC/DC Back in Black. Even I'm not too old for that yet! I'm also just old enough to get a laugh out of ".....I'll stop the world and melt down with you."
I was also sad to realize that at 6 & 8, my kids' days of getting excited about big furry characters are numbered. For this year, at least, they still joyously recognized and posed with The Berenstain Bears. Brother and Sister bear are long time literary favs in our family. We have oodles of their adventures and Du and Zilla went through a several year phase where they would do elaborate roll playing games where they called each other Brother and Sister.
We ran into 6 parents and 7 children we know, and had a great time browsing the aisles till the rain came and caused all the book sellers to scramble for their tarps. Just before we left, I caught a glimpse of Lynda Barry signing her new book. I've read her cartoons for years and appreciate her wacky wit and style.
Despite the rain and chilly weather, we had an excellent and educational time at
The Printers Row Lit Fest 2009 And we've even got 4 new children's books to enjoy on the next rainy day. Preferably inside, this time.