Saturday, October 28, 2017

Reading in the Redwoods: HUMBOLDT COUNTY CHILDREN’S AUTHOR FESTIVAL, Eureka, CA

Theme art for "Reading in the Redwoods" at the Humboldt County Library, Eureka, CA
I am just home from the bi-annual Humboldt County Children’s Author Festival in Eureka, California, and it was as fabulous as ever. This was my sixth time to participate, and each time it gets better and better. The theme this year was Reading in the Redwoods.
The four day festival (October 18-21)  includes author visits to schools, a gala banquet, book signing at the library, and an exhibition of children’s book art at the Morris Graves Museum of Art. I had two pieces of original art from my book A Day and Night on the Prairie in the exhibit. On the opening day of the festival there is always a welcome reception for the authors and volunteers at the museum, a chance to meet the wonderful volunteers who organize the festival and to mingle with the other authors. This year there were 25 of us!
Artwork by students at Bridgeville School
Thursday and Friday are devoted to author visits in the schools and I had three wonderful school visits. The first was to Bridgeville School, a tiny (26 students grades K-8) school tucked in the hills of Humboldt County. I was greeted by students from the upper grades with a lovely poster and then did two presentations. Librarian Kathy Wolff had done a great job preparing the students. The wall of the library was decorated with student art inspired by my books. 
With librarian Sharron Jones at Hydesville School
I then went down the road to Hydesville School for a delicious lunch with the teachers and then two presentations in the multipurpose room where librarian Sharron Jones had made a lovely display of my books. My driver for the day was Ann Gunderson. (Ann grew up in Eureka and comes back every year to volunteer at the festival. It was great to spend time with her–several years ago I did an author visit at her school in Billings, Montana.)
Thursday evening at the festival is always a potluck dinner (yummy food provided by the many festival volunteers) followed by a Readers Theater performance by students from the arts high school in Arcata, who did a brilliant presentation of Kirby Larson’s book Hattie Big Sky. When they finished there wasn't a dry eye in the room.
Singing the Wiggle and Waggle song with K-2 students at Coastal Grove School
On Friday morning my driver, David Peterson, picked me up to take me to Coastal Grove School in Arcata where I did four presentations followed by lunch. Teacher Jenny Hales coordinated my visit and did a great job.
On Friday evening everyone gathered at Ingomar Club (the historic Carson mansion) for a gala dinner. Entertainment is from the authors–each of us gets three minutes at the podium--a challenge to decide what to say, but everyone manages to be very entertaining and different. In the end I did a reprise of the Wiggle and Waggle song, something I had done ten years ago at my very first banquet. As the second to last speaker I decided a sing-along was a good way to end.
With authors Nancy Coffelt and Linda Bourne at the library book signing
The final event of the Authors Festival is a book signing on Saturday at the beautiful county library. We all wear our festival t-shirts as we chat with visitors and autograph books.
I do many author events but nothing is quite like the Humboldt County festival. I can’t give enough thanks to all the people who put so many hours into planning and coordinating all the different moving parts. (The Festival website has a complete list of these amazing people and much more.) You all do a fantastic job! Thank you for making me a part of this unique and wonderful festival!

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