The Decatur Book Festival is the largest independent book festival in the nation. Last year I finally managed to not make any plans and freed up my Labor Day weekend. Attending the Book Festival was a new experience for me and I throughly enjoyed it. I got books signed by Kate DiCamillo, Jarret Krosoczka (in the picture to the right quick drawing on demand against Dragon Breath author Ursula Vernon and Secret Science Alliance author Eleanor Davis), local favorite Elizabeth Dulemba and Jon Scieszka. The coolest moment had to be when Little Shop of Stories owner Diane pulled me aside and introduced me to DiCamillo before she went on stage. It was so great having a chance to speak to her about my students' annual reaction to Edward Tulane for a few minutes before her talk.
This year's roster of authors is equally impressive. I'm most excited about Jeanne Birdsall. She's appearing to promote Flora's Very Windy Day, her new picture book illustrated by Matt Phelan. It's my favorite picture book this year. I reviewed here. I'm expecting most of the questions during the session to be Penderwicks related. If I hear anything about the next installment I'll be sure to post it next week.
Also in attendance is Birdsall's fellow 2005 National Book Award nominee Deborah Wiles (Penderwicks won the award. Wiles' Each Little Bird Can Sing was one of the runner ups.) Wiles, who currently resides here in Georgia, released the first part of her sixties trilogy this year. Countdown is a great novel and is garnering plenty of award buzz. I read Countdown this Spring when it was released and had some mixed feelings about it. The more I reflect on the novel though, the more I like the story presented in Countdown. I am a little worried though, about how the story will continue in the two forthcoming novels. I really hope Wiles isn't going to go the Forrest Gump route and hit every cliche moment of the 60s. I really don't want to see Franny marching through Selma or buring draft notices. These were important moments in American history but do we really need our character to find herself in the middle of a History Channel 1960s recap? I'm going to try to get some answers this weekend. Hoping I manage to find the time to read Each Little Bird Can Sing before this weekend. I read Wiles' Love, Ruby Lavender last week and thought it was wonderful.
Ingrid Law will also be at the book festival promoting Scumble, the Savvy sequel. I haven't read it yet but Savvy was a fun read and I look forward to picking up a copy of Scumble this weekend.
I was really excited when I heard that The Strange Case of Origami Yoda author Tom Angleberger was going to attend the festival. Origami Yoda is one of my favorite books of 2010 and I've been recommending it bunches of kids and teachers. I was a little disappointed when I heard that Angleberger was presenting at a "Star Wars Extravaganza" panel. While I love the book, I'm not excited about anything star wars. I was hoping for some news about the chances of a Quikpick Adventure Society sequel but I don't see that happening at a star wars panel. Unfortunately this might have to be a signing line only author.
While The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is my go to 5th grade book recommendation this year, Michael Buckley's N.E.R.D.S is a close second. Thankfully Buckley is presenting here as well. I can't wait to get my hands on the newest volume. Hopefully Hyena gets to actually kill someone in this one. I was so bummed for her at the end of the first book.
Last Summer I was browsing around Little Shop of Stories searching for something new to read. Someone there recommended The Cabinet of Wonders, the begining of a new fantasy series by Marie Rutkoski . I thought the book started a little roughly but had a great second half. Reading The Celestial Globe (the second book in the Kronos Chronicles) this year I had the same feeling. The first 75 pages were not very compelling, but I couldn't but it down while reading final 200 or so pages. I really like the world Rutkoski is building and I'm looking forward to the next installment but I really hope she figures out how to pull me in from the start this time. Would it be rude to mention this while asking her to sign my copies?
I'm going to try my best to wake up early enough Saturday to make it to Bob Shea. I'd love to get a signed copy of Dinosaur vs. Bedtime for my soon to be born nephew.
I tune in next week to get a run down of how things go and for any news I hear.
If you're in the Atlanta area plan on heading over to Decatur for the chance to see some incredible authors. There are a ton of young adult and actual adult authors if you're so inclined. You can also visit booths from rare and used booksellers from all over the south east, and there lots of activities for kids (including a Lady Bug Girl parade on Sunday). You can view the full schedule here: http://www.decaturbookfestival.com/2010/schedule/print-ready.php