On Feb. 8th, the Orion Alternative School in Redwood City, CA put on their fantabulous, annual Children’s Book Author and Illustrator Fair. Charm, gumption and tradition seem to be their key for assembling 8-10 well-known children’s book creators from near and far (as far away as NYC). This year, I was honored to kick off the presentations in a classroom crammed with enthusiastic students and parents. And in the library (turned “break room”), over an outstanding Mexican food buffet, I got to meet the luminaries forming the rest of this year’s line-up: Annie Barrows, George O’Connor, Sandi McCreadie, Erin Garay, Suzanne Wood Fischer, Gianna Marino, Ying Compostine, Elisa Kleven, Obert Skye and Janet Tashjian.
Different grades at the school were “assigned” different authors, meaning each grade focused on the works of at least one author or illustrator and REALLY got to know that creator’s biography and works. They also created rather smashing welcome banners (see below) that tied in thematically (jazz bugs in the case of my banner). They even “assigned” individual students to “their” author in half-hour shifts. It was these students’ job to make sure their author / illustrator had everything they could possibly want at their table between signing loads of books for the public. Big thanks to Zachary, Alexis and the rest of my 3rd grader helpers! When I asked Alexis (pictured below) if she might fetch a bit of fruit salad from the lunch room, she returned in a state of total concentration, balancing the mountain of fruit on a large dinner plate. I definitely didn’t lack for Vitamin C! Thanks also Fleur Uptegraft, volunteer mom extraordinaire, for reading, sharing books and playing my CDs in the weeks leading up to the celebration. The Reading Bug handled book sales at the event, donating a portion of each sale back to the school. Children’s book expert Sharon Levin (whose own daughters attended this unique school) was the ringleader for many years. This year the committee was chaired by current parent Stacie Ciraulo. Tons of work and careful planning evident all around…A belated congratulations to all!