Thursday, March 22, 2018

University of Central Missouri Children's Literature Festival 2018

From 3/17-20/18, I had the honor of making my third appearance at this beloved UCM festival. (During my second appearance, in 2013, we ghost hunted. Yes, stuff happened.) Though this year was the 50th anniversary, the event felt young and vital. 

It was an especially great/impressive group of authors/people. I already personally knew a handful including Roland Smith, Chris Barton, Phil Bildner, Matt Phelan, John Marciano, Brad Sneed, Kelly Milner Halls, Antony John, Sue Macy, and William Anderson. Alan Gratz and I had been in touch online and finally met in person for the first time. And it was such a pleasure to make new friends including Obert Skye, Raul Gonzalez III, Mike Jung, Fonda Lee, Brandy Colbert, Mary Casanova, Jack Gantos, Beth Vrabel, and Mary Downing Hahn.

We were heavily scheduled (four talks a day) but I had the chance to sit in on parts of three author talks: Matt, John, and Alan. All top notch.

Contending with obstacles including a last-minute cancellation and heavy rain, organizer Maya Kucij tapped skill and summoned grace to oversee 31 authors, a fleet of volunteers, and approximately 4,300 students from around the state. She even kindly showed Batman & Bill the night most authors arrived, and I was touched that Matt, John, William, Raul, Mike, Fonda, and both Marys were among those who attended. 


 Phil Bildner, Chris Barton, me

 John Marciano, me, Matt Phelan

 Brad Sneed, Antony John, me

 Fonda Lee, Raul Gonzalez III, John Marciano, 
E.B. Lewis, Matt Phelan
(looks like a lost '60s British Invasion album cover, no?)

 I was pleasantly surprised to see this book in the 
library's fantastic collection of vintage children's books.
It shows diversity on the cover (and within)...
and it was published in 1969.

 The hotel phone had a direct line to pizza.
(Alas, it didn't work.)

 The hotel also had an apparently dangerous 
laundry chute.

 One rainy, windy afternoon, Matt, John, Raul, Fonda, E.B., and I 
explored downtown Warrensburg, in particular a multi-story
commission mart. The standout booth was a mini bodega. Yes,
someone was selling food at a flea market...

...the moldy bread was only $1.

(Though this horrified the six of us, we vowed to return 
the next time we come to the festival to see if it's still there.
3/18/19 addendum: E.B., Angela Cervantes, Laurel Snyder and I did. 
It wasn't. I reported back to the 2018 crew who were not there.)

Thank you again, Maya and UCM, for putting in such effort to promote literature. Everyone I talked to loved the experience.


Unknown said...

A fantastic time, indeed. So great to see you again, Mark.

And just so you know (and won't be too disappointed), the bread has gone now. I bought it, although the price had risen to $2 on account of all the interest :)

Beth Vrabel said...

Such a joy to meet all of you! I'm hoping I'm lucky enough to be invited back next year--and that I'll arrive without a cold!

Unknown said...

I had a fantastic time and am glad to have met you, Marc! Watching Batman & Bill and seeing The Bread (shudder) were two of the many highlights that I'll always remember.