Acclaimed children’s writer DiCamillo to speak at Western Washington University

One of the biggest names in children’s literature is headlining the annual Children’s Literature Conference at Western Washington University, which highlights writers and illustrators whose primary audience is young readers.

Kate DiCamillo, author of “Because of Winn-Dixie,” “The Tale of Despereaux” and “Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” is one of only five writers who have won the prestigious Newbery Medal twice since the American Library Association began awarding it in 1922. DiCamillo also has a Newbery Honor, a runner-up to the award that recognizes the best in children’s literature. It is named for 18th-century British publisher John Newbery, who championed publications for children.

Nancy Johnson, a WWU professor of English, language arts and children’s literature, started the conference in 2005, and since then it has gained national prominence and regularly features writers and illustrators who are among the industry’s varsity players — including Katherine Paterson, Lois Lowry and John Green.

In addition to DiCamillo, this year’s conference participants are Matt de la Peña, author of several acclaimed novels for teens, including “Mexican Whiteboy,” which was an ALA Best Book; Yuyi Morales, a winner of three ALA Pura Belpré medals for Latino literature whose art has been compared to muralist Diego Rivera; and Joyce Sidman, a 2011 Newbery Honor winner for “Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.” Sidman also has two Caldecott Honors, awarded by the ALA for picture books.

During the conference, writers and illustrators discuss their craft, offer intimate details about their books and discuss such topics as story and character development. Conference speakers will be available to sign copies of their works, which will be for sale on site.

This year’s conference is from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in the Performing Arts Center concert hall on campus. Early bird registration ends Jan. 15.

Children’s Literature Conference

When: 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28.

Where: WWU Performing Arts Center concert hall.

Registration: Early bird (through Thursday, Jan. 15): is $95 general; $40 for para-educators, retired teachers, or WWU employees; and $30 for full-time college students. Afterward, registration fees are $125, $50 and $40. Groups of three or more can register at $10 off per person (full registration only, ending Jan. 15, through the mail. Registration includes the conference, continental breakfast and lunch.

Details: wwuclc.com or contact Nancy Johnson at 360-650-3227 or nancy.johnson@wwu.edu.


nErDcampbellingham, a free “unconference” based on the national ED Camp model, offers a series of one-hour sessions that expand on the Children’s Literature Conference with a focus on literacy in learning.

It’s organized by Whatcom County teachers and librarians and runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at Whatcom Middle School, 810 Halleck St.

For more information, go online to https://nerdcampbham.wordpress.com.