"How do you like to go up in a swing, up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing ever a child can do!"
The first book I remember reading as a child is The Child's Garden of Verses, an anthology of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson. Imagine my delight when Orchard Park artist Heather Lynn Harris turned up at Buffalo Heritage Press several years ago with an exquisite version of The Swing from that very anthology! She had re-illustrated this classic poem for contemporary children, and I was honored to publish it. Her remarkable board book Clover and the Shooting Star is helping families across the nation with toddlers cope with loss. Now Harris has retold and illustrated another lost 19th century tale. Five Hungry Mice is due off the press this week. It is stunning!
And very timely. The WNY Children's Book Expo will take place on November 11th, during National Picture Book Month, an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book. Harris will join more than 40 national and local children's book authors and illustrators at this fun, free event. Authors will be reading their books aloud, there are book give-aways, games and activities, and there are more than a dozen EXPLORE Breakout sessions, from EXPLORE Imagination through Pretend Play, to EXPLORE the history of the world in 25 minutes! Click here for the full schedule of events.
As amazing as the Children's Book Expo itself is, this endeavor is actually much, much larger. This week is KidsLit Week (November 4 - 11) in Buffalo, culminating on Saturday at the Expo. More than two dozen of the participating children's book authors will be visiting 60 area schools, and 20 author presentations/story-readings/signings will take place at libraries, community centers and museums throughout the community. All are free of charge, most are open to the public.
Getting the authors and their books to where the children are is very significant - and no small feat. In fact, it's a massive endeavor that involves recruiting authors, inviting organizations to host them, scheduling around a myriad of factors, and transporting authors to and from dozens of venues. Who would be crazy enough to undertake such a venture?
Meet Kim Krug, owner of Monkey See, Monkey Do, a delightful little bookstore on Main Street in Clarence. She saw a need, got a grant, recruited her mother and a stalwart all-volunteer team of children's book lovers and three years ago launched the first WNY Children's Book Expo. The event has now outgrown the Mary Seaton Room at Kleinhans and will take place at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, with KidsLit Week taking it to every corner of the community. I was honored this year to be asked to join the team, and it has been a pleasure to pitch in.
Curling up with a child and a beautifully illustrated story to share is an experience every child should have every day. My children reveled in Goodnight Moon - my son memorized that lyrical book and could "read" it to me when he was just two years old. Maurice Sendak may be my favorite children's book author. Roaring along with Max and my kids while reading Where the Wild Things Are is something we all remember fondly to this day.
Children are actually the toughest audience to write for, and picture books are the hardest, most expensive books to publish. Finding the right artist to tell an author's tale graphically in ways that enhance the story and keep kids engaged is a pretty tall order. I am proud to have published nearly a dozen beautiful picture books, including the brand new Five Hungry Mice, by Heather Lynn Harris, My Little Light by Cathy Lang, and the hyperlocal picture book by Mark Goldman, Max Meets the Mayor. And I am currently shepherding five more of these challenging books to press for release in 2018.
It's National Picture Book Month. You may not have a child, but you were once one and surely you know several. Give yourself and your favorite little one a treat. Stop by the WNY Children's Book Expo on Saturday, November 11 and check out the many award-winning, nationally acclaimed participating authors and their books. Look for our very own Heather Lynn Harris, who will be signing all three of her exquisite children's books, including Five Hungry Mice, which will not be officially released until November 15! And Elizabeth Leader will be happy to sign a copy of Max Meets the Mayor or Buffalo Snow for your favorite child. Other notable local authors include Virginia Batchelor, Dave Bauer, Judy Bradbury, Marilynn Capellino, Rachel DiNunzio, and Dee Romito.
There’s simply nothing like the physical page turn of a beautifully crafted picture book. What is your favorite children's book?