UP!–The 2015 PRINCETON BOOK FESTIVAL!

PROGRAM headerI honestly don’t think I can adequately express just how beside myself I was when I first got a gander at the stellar line-up of KidLit “stars” who’d be attending the Princeton Book Festival this year. Seriously—Cloud 9 became my footstool. In fact, it still feels a bit cushiony under my feet 😀

Since I began attending this event in 2013, it has been AMAZING, last year’s festival being the first I could blog about. This was my third year so I knew what to expect—so I thought! lol. Rather than the attendees building in number through the morning, the tents were overflowing before the event opened! Not kidding, people, this IS the “Disney World” of KidLit! There are many more “attractions” (103 authors and illustrators!) than there is time to get to them all, and way more books than the budget allows (multiple books per guest!), so I had to approach it in the same way.

Being the nerdy planner and relative “maniac” kidlitter that I am 🙄 I was forced to pick the must-see “exhibits,” map out where they were in which “lands” (table numbers in 4 color-coded tents), decide which “souvenirs” I had to have and who I wanted to see and take pics of simply because. Narrowing things down was NOT easy! Even with all this planning, did I accomplish it all? Not quite! I was able to get said books signed, but not all the pics 😳

My plans & name tag

I also made a name tag with my Writer Side UP! avatar on it since many people I know online don’t know what I look like, whether they be authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians or avid readers. It helped AND I got to meet two online pals in person! (Hi, Anne and Lisa!) 😀

Upon arriving with my shoulder bag plus a box strapped to a little hand truck, when I first entered the library and headed straight for the bathroom, the first author I ran into was Jarrett J. Krosoczka. I recognized his face immediately and he was as friendly as could be 🙂 Later on, when I saw him at his table, I couldn’t resist getting one of his famous Lunch Lady books, and his signature was added to my copy of Comics Squad Recess! purchased last year at which time three of the ten author/illustrators signed it. Yay!…

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Tad Hills, author of the “Rocket” books. That puppy is just SO cute and lucky me, I have a signed copy of Duck and Goose!…

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After gathering and purchasing my bounty of books, I sat myself on a large concrete block (used to weigh down the tents) to sort them in the order of how I would work my way through the tables to get them signed. Joanne, a JaZams* bookseller, approached me and asked if I was the woman she’d spoken to on the phone the week prior. I am still amazed at how, out of hundreds of people milling about, she was able to ascertain that, but she was right! She then told me, in addition to what I’d already purchased, the one book I had to buy was the one directly behind me, saying it was one of her favorite books of the year—so far. I turned to see the cover of Marvelous Cornelius at the first table in the Red tent. Trusting her expert opinion, I rose to the table and met its author, Phil Bildner, and illustrator John Parra. Great guys! (Phil had left the table by the time I took the photo.)…

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David Ezra Stein, author/illustrator of many books, including his Caldecott Honor book Interrupting Chicken. Here I caught him shaking hands with none other than Rocco Staino of KidLit TV!…

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Jerry Pinkney is one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. I first met him in March at the Grand Re-Opening of the Bankstreet Book Store, having helped him out with his stacks of books to sign. Here I got to chat with him again. Lucky me! He’s had published an impressive amount of stunning children’s books including his Caldecott Winner Lion and Mouse (the one I picked up this year 😀 ) And check out his shirt 😎 . You can get one here if you want!…

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One of my NJ SCBWI pals, Audrey Vernick, a prolific author of award-winning books like her recent release First Grade Dropout, was as bubbly as ever 🙂 She shared her table with Ammi-Joan Paquette  not just an author of picture books and novels, but an agent for the esteemed Erin Murphy Literary Agency

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My good friend, Robin Newman (also through the our NJ SCBWI chapter), author of her debut early reader The Mystery of the Missing Carrot Cake (my daughter-in-law and I are proud owners of signed copies of this outstanding early reader!) enjoyed her first experience on the author’s side of the table. It was exciting and very special to witness! 😀 …

Robin Newman

It’s been a year since I first met Lauren Castillo in person and I was so happy to see her again! Her new short hair cut really suits her 🙂 She has illustrated many beautiful picture books which, as it is with ALL the festival authors and illustrators, makes it SO difficult to pick JUST ONE! Last year I chose City Cat and this year I simply had to come home with her Caldecott Honor book Nana in the City * clicks heels *…

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Next to her was author Herman Parish, nephew of the well-known author of the Amelia Bedelia books, Peggy Parish

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Folks, I just had to include this picture. I was yapping with Lauren and accidentally snapped this one. I thought it was cool how it framed them :mrgreen:

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Melissa Iwai, talented illustrator of many familiar, fabulous picture books, is pictured here with her husband, author (playwright and composer/lyricist) Denis Markell. He wrote Hush Little Monster which Melissa illustrated! They are a prolific pair with Denis’s debut middle grade novel Click Here to Start (cover reveal on Mr. Schu’s blog!) set to release in July 2016. Such a sweet couple. I really enjoyed talking to them!…

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Matt Phelan’s artwork fills a plethora of graphic novels and picture books, including Marilyn’s Monster by author Michelle Knudsen. She was also at the festival, sitting to his left. I can’t believe I didn’t get a snapshot! I purchased her “raved about” novel Evil Librarian. She was so nice 🙂 (Note: you can spot Tad Hills to the left and Jarrett J. Krosoczka to the right.)…

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Alan Katz has authored all sorts of books guaranteed to make you chuckle. I’m rarely on Facebook, but when I am, I never fail to be entertained by his always witty antics :mrgreen: What a nice guy, pictured here with his son, David. His wife had lost her cell phone, but thankfully, a festival volunteer had found it. Yay!…

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I’m proud to own a First Edition copy of Brian Floca‘s Caldecott Winner Locomotive, one of many books he’s graced with his beautiful artwork…

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I had lots of fun chatting it up with these two guys 😀 . Jeff Campbell‘s (left) nonfiction book Daisy to the Rescue has received high praise, for sure! Scott M. Cohn (right) cracked me up the whole time I was at his table. That humor shines in Daddy Sat on a Duck 😀 …

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Steve Light is such a sweetheart. Have You Seen My Dragon? has been quite the hit, along with his other books, like Trains Go! (both purchased for family members to give their kids and train-loving grandson 😀 ) And yes, those ARE my post-its with each book’s dedication (you thought I was kidding when I told you I’m a planner?! lol) …

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From the moment I met Paulette Bogan, author and illustrator of Virgil & Owen, I just loved her. SO friendly and fun 😀 Here she is doing a sketch for a young reader and fan…

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Florence and Wendell Minor have collaborated on several books together, Florence having written and Wendell illustrating. I purchased his recent beauty Daylight Starlight Wildlife. They were a joy to talk to…

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Emilie Christie Burack, author of The Runaway’s Gold, tried to lean out of the picture, but I got her in anyway 😉 She was the table mate of the AMAZINGLY TALENTED author/illustrator, Aaron Becker! Getting to meet him was a major highlight for me. In my opinion, his wordless picture books Journey and Quest (the first two of a trilogy, the third to be released next year) are some of the best ever published. Aaron’s move from animation to children’s book illustration not only suits him well as a career path, but we have benefited by the transition. Oh, how fortunate we are! His skills were put to good use for his breathtaking book trailers, too. You can see the Journey book trailer and Quest book trailer for yourself 😀 …

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I first met Rachel Vail, the wonderfully talented and very down-to-earth author of many books including her Justin Case series, when she was a guest speaker at our NJ SCBWI annual conference. It’s always such a pleasure to see her…

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I was SO looking forward to seeing my friend, Beth Ferry, BRILLIANT author of her NY Times Best-selling book Stick and Stone and new release Land Shark, signing books at her first (of many, I’m sure!) book festival. She is pictured here with her happy, proud husband, Chris…

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Her very cool promo gift, a shark fin fan! And it really works well, too!…

Beth's shart fin fan

Next to Beth was another brilliant author/illustrator, Jennifer Sattler. It’s very likely you’re familiar with her popular Chick ‘n’ Pug and Pig Kahuna books! You can see Beth and Jennifer became fast buddies 🙂 …

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Another husband/wife team is David Soman and Jacky Davis with their very popular Ladybug Girl series. (Jacky had stepped away before I took this pic :/ )…

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There are certain illustrators that come to mind when I think of “fine art” in children’s book illustration. I have long admired the work of Charles Santore. It’s so gorgeous, it takes my breath away. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw him on the author/illustrator list and was SO excited to meet him! XD I was able to talk with him a bit and experience his genuine warmth. He’s been doing this stunning work for 50 years! I purchased his modern fairy tale William the Curious: Knight of the Water Lilies. A treasure!…

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Tommy Greenwald and his “Charlie Joe Jackson” series. I just love the whole “Guide to” premise of these books 🙂 …

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One of the most prolific and famous author/illustrators at the festival was none other than Rosemary Wells, creator of numerous books, including the famous “Max & Ruby” line which also made its way to TV…

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Bruce Coville is one of those amazingly prolific writers having had published dozens of books! Want to count them?! lol…

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Early chapter books aren’t my focus as a writer/illustrator, so prior to the festival I was not familiar with Tracey West. You would’ve thought I’d be anyway since she’s incredibly successful having written over 200 books, including Pokemon Chapter Books! She was such a delight to talk to! My timing had it that I ended up witnessing a very touching moment when Katie Carella (left) approached, they both screamed and embraced XD. I asked if perhaps they knew each other online and finally met face-to-face. What I learned is that Katie is Tracey’s editor and this was the first time they’d actually met in person. Katie is the Senior Editor of Scholastic Branches Early Chapter Books (looks like she’s edited for Max & Ruby, too! 😉 ) This became an elating experience for me, too. Even now it’s bringing tears to my eyes thinking about!

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Greg Pizzoli has taken the KidLit World by storm (as has Zachariah Ohora at the next table). He’s cranking them out and winning awards in the process. This year he helped me pick which book to buy (I simply couldn’t decide!). When he told me that the stamps on the front cover of Templeton Gets His Wish had personal meaning to him, I was sold! He explains that and more on Julie Danielson‘s wonderful blog here at Seven Imps 😀 …

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Nick Bruel is ridiculously successful in KidLit, his work spanning SO many formats! Bad Kitty is a household name for many. An interesting bit of trivia: he and Robin Newman were good friends since they were kids 😎 (ahem—correction thanks to Robin—since college)…

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The talented Zachariah Ohora is quite the hit in the world of KidLit. He’s illustrated many books including his and Ame Dyckman‘s NY Times best-selling Wolfie the Bunny, and has authored many, too, his most recent being My Cousin Momo. What a great guy!…

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I’ve been fortunate to have made many friends through the NJ SCBWI, three of them pictured here. There is no doubt that Corey Rosen Schwartz has a gift for writing and rhyme! She is a true “writing ninja” with Dan Santat having illustrated two of her very successful books The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood (you bet I have both! * lifts chin smugly *). What About Moose? co-written with Rebecca Gomez, is her newest release. Love them ALL! XD . And, of course, the dynamic duo joined at the KidLit hip, Ame Dyckman of Wolfie the Bunny fame, and Adam Lehraupt with his newest release Please, Open This Book! They have totally conquered the industry with a whopping 17 books sold between the two of them in just a few short years. Remarkable!…

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Back when it was released I had purchased one of my favorite books, The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman, figuring I’d never be able to get it signed. I mean, what were the chances I’d get to meet her? Well, my jaw dropped when I saw her name on the list! From our interaction online, Deborah’s always been very warm and humble, so I fully expected her to be wonderful—and she is! (I had the same feeling and experience with Lauren, too.) Well, not only did I get “Fish and Snail” signed, I now have Blue Chicken!!! 🙂 Also, when I got home and looked at all my pics, I could NOT believe I never took one of Deborah! Yes, I was in that much of a tizzy! This gorgeous pic here of Deborah, Ame and Lauren is posted courtesy of Lauren. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this pic! Don’t they look great?!…

Deborah, Ame & Lauren - Princeton Book Festival 2015

Gail Carson Levine has written a book I’ve intended to read for the longest time! I was enchanted by the movie based on her book Ella Enchanted and now that I have a signed copy, I finally will! She was delightful 😀 …

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Author Sarah Weeks is a multi-talented one, writing in a wide variety of formats, with So B. It being a book that catches my eye on the shelf every time I enter the children’s section at my local Barnes & Noble. Now I own it! And it’s signed! * rubs hands greedily *…

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Webkinz plush BiscuitWhen my boyfriend and I ordered a new Webkinz plush toy in order to keep our account open on their site (so we—mostly I—could play the games in their Arcade, regardless of how rare lol), when we picked out the Golden Retriever, he named it Biscuit. I remarked how it looked like Alyssa Satin Capucilli‘s famous puppy, Biscuit though he’d never heard of the series! Well, now I have a signed copy of one of these adorable books 😀 …

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Doris Ettlinger is another one of my special, talented NJ SCBWI friends and I can’t help but love her beautiful work. I cherish the ones I have of her gorgeous books 🙂 …

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Laurie Calkhoven ALways has a genuinely warm smile whenever you see her and I’m so glad to know her through the NJ SCBWI. Our organization has brought many wonderful people into my life, for sure! She’s written many books including a handful of American Girl novels!…

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Table mates David Potter, author of The Left Behinds series, and Jessica Olien, shown here with her debut picture book Shark Detective, were SO much fun to meet! What a great way to wrap up my book-signings quest!…

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Julie Gribble avatarThen, after nearly all the authors and illustrators had gone off to the “after picnic,” the Princeton Public Library and JaZams bookstore crew were breaking down the show (thank you all SO much for your hard work!) and I thought the fun of the day was done, I made my way to the bathroom before I headed out and got what I’ll call a “parting gift.” I unexpectedly ran into Julie Gribble, the founder of KidLit TV! (They—Rocco, Julie and Katya sporting her cat ears—were there doing interviews.) We got into such an enjoyable conversation I’m sure that, if we both weren’t so tired from a long day and had to get where we were going, we could’ve yapped the night away. You just never know who you’ll meet in a latrine, right? 😕 😀 😎

(*WANT TO EXPERIENCE SOME OF THIS YOURSELF?! KidLit TV FILMED so many GREAT INTERVIEWS AT the Festival which you can see HERE! There are TWO videos, so be sure to watch BOTH! You will LOOOOVE them! 😀 😀 😀 )

I couldn’t ask for a better way to end this extraordinary event 😀 NOT that that’s where the fun ended! No, no! I got to come home to bask and luxuriate in my pile of literary treasure!…

My haul for my 2015 excursion which consists mostly of pre-birthday gifts for me, a few I bought for myself, a few I had, a few gifts for people I love (a few for ones not even born yet!), and purchases I made on the behalf of others…

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These were books others asked me to purchase, a couple of them for a school library 🙂

books for Melissa     books for Cynthia

These are the books I owned already, but NOW THEY’RE SIGNED!!! XD 😀 …

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…and the many new additions to my home library, plus a few gifts for people I love…

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This gives me butterflies 😀 …

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So, I don’t know—do you get the impression that maybe, just maybe—I had a REALLY GOOD TIME?! 😉 Well, you’re right! 😀 XD 😀 This is one of those days I’ll never forget. I’m truly grateful for all the hard work that goes into putting this event together each year and a heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to the authors and illustrators who participate. What I believe we’re witnessing at this point in time is an EXPLOSION in the love and appreciation of what is children’s literature. How glorious! Thanks for sharing this with me 🙂

I’d love to hear about events any of you may have attended. Whichever side of the signing tables, did any of you attend THIS one? Please, share and EXPRESS YOURSELF 😀

:Donna

 

*JaZams is the bookseller for the annual festival. A generous 20% of the profits goes to the Youth Services Department 🙂

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “UP!–The 2015 PRINCETON BOOK FESTIVAL!

  1. Donna, It was wonderful seeing you at the festival. What an AWESOME post! And wow, what an AWESOME festival. Just to clarify Nick and I met when we were bigger kids in college while he was at Haverford and I was at Bryn Mawr. (The schools have a bi-college relationship and you can eat, sleep, and major at either school.) While we were in school he had a super adorable comic strip in the bi-college newspaper featuring Koala Bob and Bernice the Bear.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was amazing! Almost like being there! Oh, wait..I was! Speaking of connections, many years ago I was at college in the same composition class as this willowy blonde from Hampshire. A few years later we ended up both writing songs for the same musical revue. And thanks to Alison and Joanne and Dean I was able to catch up after all these years later with…Sarah Weeks!

    PS. That is one of the nicest photos of Melissa and me ever taken. If we get married again, I might give you a call 😀 (to clarify – we ARE married. I’m being silly)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is SO cool that you and Sarah knew each other from college! I love hearing stories like this AND learning something that’s probably not common knowledge about you both writing songs for the same revue 😀 It feels so serendipitous, doesn’t it?

    So glad you liked the pic. I thought it turned out really good, too! But trust me, I am NOT a good photographer at ALL! lol They’re almost always blurry * sigh * For some reason, though, I’ve never had a problem when taking them at the festival 😉

    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Denis 😀

    Like

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