Enough breakables exist in my house without my adding resolutions. Instead, I celebrate the New Year by making a reservation. I register on January 1 each year to take advantage of the early bird senior rate for the Children’s Book Festival at the University of Southern Mississippi. This year’s guest list looks particularly outstanding in the current brochure. This will be my twelfth year to attend, and it seems to get better every year. Recent additions to the festival include the Magnolia Children’s Choice Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Awards. I can’t wait to find out who won and meet some of the winners. You can check it out for yourself at www.usm.edu/childrens-book-festival.
Coleen Salley, before her death, added splash to the festival for years as a lovable curmudgeon, children’s literature professor, storyteller, and author of Epossumondas books. My enthusiasm for the festival is similar to hers. She once told a television reporter in an interview, “When my friends go on vacation, they go to Palm Springs or Acapulco. When I go on vacation, I come to the Book Festival.” The story-telling event now bears her name, and I’m thinking she’s looking down with a smile that this year’s winner of the Coleen Salley Storytelling Award has the intriguing name of Trout Fishing in America.
The festival is designed for librarians and teachers with CEUs properly awarded for attendance. I can only think this must be the most fun way in existence to accumulate those necessary units. It is also for those who love books for children and young adults, those interested in how authors and illustrators create their work, and those curious about what librarians do on a holiday. [For the last, I will give a hint. They don’t wear their hair in buns, peer over their glasses, and go, “SHHHH!”]
Three months and two weeks from now, should you decide to come, you can find me and thank me for suggesting such a good substitute for a resolution.