Monday, April 15, 2019

Two schools and the Kutztown Children’s Literature Conference in PA

I spent three days with students, educators, and ghosts in Pennsylvania, though I saw only one of the three groups. 

On 4/11/19, I had the pleasure of being the 90th author (!) to visit Newtown Elementary in Newtown. Librarian Liz Dobuski has been at it for a quarter-century and has a stunning wall to prove it.




Among the dizzying array of sanctioned graffiti were a bunch of friends who’d blazed a trail there before me.






And I was especially excited to see one of my childhood favorites, José Aruego, illustrator of the immortal 1971 picture book Leo the Late Bloomer. I had never heard of him doing school visits. He died in 2012 (on his 80th birthday).


Liz’s students prepared for my visit in part by building a precious fairy garden.


Ive come across my share of Boys of Steel postcards, but Liz had one I dont recall seeing before.


A day later and 40 minutes down the road, I had a blast at J. M. Grasse Elementary in Sellersville. Librarian Kim Mulloy recruited a chatty group of students of all grades to join me for lunch, and they were so much fun to play around with. On her desk was a photo of her family in this frame:


Turns out the superintendent of her school district had gifted that frame to every employee. What a meaningful gesture in support of life-work balance.

On 4/13, I was honored to be one of four author keynotes at the 21st annual Kutztown Children’s Literature Conference on the campus of Kutztown University. The other three: Duncan Tonatiuh, Andrea Warren, and Brendan Wenzel, none of whom I had met before. The audience was engaged and humbling.


The other authors and I stayed in the charming Main Street Inn, which was probably also haunted. The only surface in my room suitable for a laptop was the vanity…in the bathroom.


And those ghosts? I believe I was the only guest at the Temperance House in Newtown and was hoping one would join me, but if s/he did, I didn’t notice. I did, however, take this photo…look closely behind me. Maybe you notice…?

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