This year's Children's Literature Conference at Western Washington University features several acclaimed writers and illustrators discussing their work - including the recent winner of the nation's top prize in the genre.
Featured speaker Katherine Applegate recently won the 2013 Newbery Medal for "The One and Only Ivan," a sweet story geared for middle grades about the gorilla that was kept for years at a Tacoma mall. She also is the author of "Home of the Brave," the "Roscoe Riley Rules" series, and the "Animorphs" series - co-written with her husband Michael Grant, who is also a speaker.
WWU professor Nancy J. Johnson, who started the annual Children's Literature Conference 10 years ago, said this will be Applegate's first public appearance since the Newberys were announced Jan. 28 by the American Library Association at its midwinter meeting in Seattle.
"We've had our share of huge names. We were lucky to get her," Johnson said by phone last week from Singapore, where she has been teaching eighth grade reading and language arts at the Singapore American School. "Now it would be really tough to get her."
Also featured at the conference is acclaimed illustrator Brian Pinkney, whose wife Andrea Davis Pinkney just won the 2013 Coretta Scott King Award for "Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America." It's illustrated with Brian Pinkney's powerful ink and watercolor portraits. Brian Pinkney won a 1999 Caldecott Honor with his illustrations for "Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra," which his wife also wrote.
A fourth participant is the prolific nonfiction author Susan Campbell Bartoletti, who won a Newbery Honor, a Siebert Honor and an Orbus Pictus Honor for "Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow."
Registration is $99 for the conference, which is 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the WWU Performing Arts Center Concert Hall. For more information, or to register, go online to wwuclc.com.
Conference board member Sylvia Tag, a librarian and associate professor at WWU who has been coordinating the event in Johnson's absence, said the conference is aimed at teachers, writers and lovers of children's literature. Although it's geared mostly toward adults, Tag said it would be appropriate for older teens, especially those who love children's literature or who plan a career in teaching or library science.
"It's more than just a book signing. It's about the creative process," Tag said. "It's fascinating to hear their stories of what it's really like to be an author, how they find their voice. They show their humanity, discuss how hard it is. It's encouraging for young people who are creative to learn that you can make your dream come true."
She said this year's conference features authors and illustrators who represent a wide range of audiences, from those whose works are aimed at elementary audiences, to young adult works.
"This year we have a lot for everyone," she said.
Suggest your ideas for family-friendly events or day trips to Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or email@example.com.