I should have mentioned this yesterday but vanity got in the way so I showed off my anthology list instead. Anyway, yesterday was the annual Children’s Literature Festival of the Ozarks here. Lots of kids and plenty of gifted writers and illustrators. I always enjoy these opportunities to catch up on news with friends in the business and, of course, to visit with students who come to hear us and ask their questions.
This year’s roster included Obert Skye, Jackson Pearce, Bill Anderson, J.B. Cheaney, Cheryl Harness, Dorinda Nicholson, Kate Klise, Antony John, David Patneaude, and Brad Sneed. How’s that for a lineup? I think I’ve attended every year. It’s always a highlight in my year.
The wonderful committee of dedicated women who create this event year after year should all be crowned. They go about their business quietly, making small miracles happen when children hear someone who has written and/or illustrated a favorite book. Some kids nearly dance from the room with excitement after such meetings. Thank you committee!
Yesterday I was filling out a questionnaire for a promotions manager regarding a book coming out in the spring — a tedious but necessary task to be done now and then. In looking up the address for Maya Kucij, director of the Children’s Literature Festival held annually on the UCMO campus in Warrensburg, MO, I ran across the listings of authors who have donated papers to the university’s archival collection.
Next year will mark the festival’s 50th anniversary. It was started by teacher Phil Sadler and librarian Ophelia Gilbert.
When Phil and Ophelia retired, the festival continued to flourish under the great leadership of Naomi Williamson, and when Naomi retired not long ago, the reins were handed to Maya. We who write or illustrate books for kids count our blessings for this wonderful event and the folks who make it all happen.
You can go to the link provided to see how large the collection of donated manuscripts has grown in the university library over the years. I’m proud to have many of my things in it. They fill three dozen boxes or more. I have a lot more in my basement that I need to place before the humidity ruins them. http://guides.library.ucmo.edu/harrisond1
To show how times have changed, my original donation included over 1,100 letters to and from editors, fans, and others involved in my efforts. Today? Letters? Really?
I look forward to today. Around 2,000 boys and girls will be coming to the Children’s Literature Festival of the Ozarks held on the Missouri State University campus in Springfield. Authors and artists who are here to visit with them include Janet Carey, JB Cheaney, Tara Dairman, Cheryl Harness, David Harrison, David Patneaude, April Henry, Antony John, Ann Ingalls, Susan Keene, Obert Sky, Marie Smith, and Brad Sneed.
We’ll meet and visit with four groups each during the day and return to campus this evening for a program and book signing. On the program for a second time will be BYRON BIGGERS BAND, a musical trio that includes Chris Craig, Gale Clithero, and me. We’ll perform half a dozen of my poems that Chris has set to music. We always have a good time. All in all, it should be a great day.
I’m in the process of reading more than a thousand notes that came in around the time of my surgery. I feel awful about missing so many wonderful thoughts and more than a few queries that have gone unanswered. If you are one who wondered why I never responded, a thousand pardons.
The picture you see warmed my heart when I was here instead of there in Warrensburg with my friends and all those kids. Around this table of smiling faces you are looking at an enormous pool of talent. Some of the finest writers and illustrators in America are lifting a glass to cheer me, and it worked! Thank you, my friends.