The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Children’s Author Festival 

When: Saturday, Nov. 4, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
Where: Strawbery Banke Museum, 14 Hancock St., Portsmouth 
Cost: Free admission 
More info: 433-1100, 
Participating authors 
Joyce Austin
JoAnn Adinolfi
Susan Benedict
Denise Brown
Loni Burchett
Nancy Donavan
Lauren Levine Deranian
Janis Hennessey
Carolyn Hughes
Joyce Shor-Johnson
Shelby June
Maria Kamoulak
David Kelly
Elizabeth Lorayne
Susan Murdoch
Gina Perry
Kim Ridley
Jacqueline Tourville
Tony Viehmann
Teri Weidner
Douglas Wheeler

Books for kids
Festival showcases children’s authors, illustrators

By Angie Sykeny

 What started as a monthly publishing seminar and discussion group for authors at a library has evolved into an annual community event celebrating children’s literature. 

Twenty-one local and regional children’s book authors and illustrators will come together for the Children’s Author Festival presented by Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth on Saturday, Nov. 4. Now in its third year, the event will feature readings, book signings and meet-and-greets with the authors and illustrators, books available for purchase, games, book-related activities and raffle prizes. 
“It’s going to be a great day to explore children’s books and get in touch with local artists and writers,” said JoAnn Adinolfi, a participating author and illustrator and the featured speaker at this year’s festival. “It’s not often that kids get to meet local authors and illustrators; we often work in isolation, so this is a great opportunity for everyone to meet and get to know each other.” 
Adinolfi will kick off the event with a reading from her newest book, The Chilly Adventures of Mr. Small, a drawing demonstration and a talk about the writing and illustrating process. 
The Chilly Adventures of Mr. Small is the second book in Adinolfi’s Mr. Small series, which follows a hamster who escapes his cage and embarks on various adventures in the big world. It was inspired, Adinolfi said, by life in New Hampshire. 
“Mr. Small goes out and has fun adventures in the snow like skiing and a snowball fight and making a snow-hamster,” she said. “The snow has become a big part of my life since I’ve lived in New Hampshire, so I knew I had to write a book about snow.” 
While many of the featured books are widely available at bookstores or can be ordered online, the festival allows people to discover and purchase books by local authors that aren’t necessarily in the national spotlight. 
“It’s an opportunity to see what’s out there locally and to see books that you don’t usually see, usually with some regional interest,” event organizer and participating author Susan Benedict said. 
Kids will receive a bingo card that they can bring around to each author they visit and get that author’s signature. For every set of three signatures, the cardholder earns a ticket for a chance to win one of the many raffle prizes donated by area businesses and nonprofits. 
“It’s a way to help encourage the kids to approach the authors and engage with them,” Benedict said. 
Adinolfi said she’s impressed every year by the kids’ enthusiasm and level of interest in learning more about the books and how they were created. 
“There are some kids that just say ‘Hi’ and hand me their [bingo] card [to sign], but a lot of them actually ask me all kinds of questions like what my books are about, what my favorite book is, how I made a particular illustration, how I ‘draw so good,’ if I like being a writer — things like that,” she said. “It’s a very interactive event.” 
Benedict said the authors and illustrators at the festival are a testament to the idea that anything is possible, and that there are grown-ups who followed their dreams and are doing something they’re passionate about. 
“It allows the kids to see the authors who write these books as real people, just like them,” Benedict said, “and I think it’s extremely helpful for kids who might aspire to do things that seem unattainable and kids who say, ‘I can’t do that,’ to see other people in the process of doing those things.”

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