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Second Annual Children’s Festival of Reading June 3

University of Tennessee Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature sponsors children’s authors

Beware the escaped rhino! He’s disguising himself as a Florida tourist, but we think you may be able to help find him. Knox County Public Library is pleased to host rhinos on the lam plus a whole slew of children’s writers, storytellers, magicians, puppets, musicians and more in the 2nd annual Children’s Festival of Reading on Saturday, June 3rd in World’s Fair Park. The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Noted children’s and young adult author, Jack Gantos, along with 12 other writers and illustrators will be on hand for book signings and meet and greets. A special roaming puppet show from Wood And Strings Theatre will present their Walkabout Puppets in “Escape from the Zoo.” Circle Modern Dance will perform excerpts from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and over 45 community groups and food vendors will keep kids of all ages dazzled and amused.

The Festival is the kick off celebration for the Summer Library Club, which provides over 150 programs throughout the summer and rewards for reaching reading goals. The children’s award pack includes admission to area attractions, one month free karate lessons, swimming at the YMCA, ice cream, hamburgers, a book pack and much more! The total value of the children’s pack is over $200. New this year, the Library is introducing an ADULT READING CHALLENGE. Adults who read or listen to 4 or more books will receive a special KCPL coffee mug and a pack of coffee. Signup for these programs plus Imagination Library will happen at the Festival.

The theme of this year’s Festival and summer library club is JUNGLE TALES, HISS, RUMBLE, AND ROAR! From silly rhinos, monkeys and alligators trying to elude their zookeeper to real life animals presented by the Knoxville Zoo – the World’s Fair Site will be roaring with fun.

“We are really excited about this year’s Festival. Last year was such a great success, we’re upping the ante. With Jack Gantos and the Walkabout Puppets, we may have actually outdone ourselves,” noted Knox County Library Director, Larry Frank. “We couldn’t do this kind of Festival without the incredible support of our sponsors.”

UT’s Center for Children’s and Young Adult Literature is sponsoring the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Tent. They are bringing in 13 writers for book signings including Jack Gantos, Doris Gove, Susan Vaught, Ronda Friend, Jeri Landers, Rick Yancey, Wilmoth Foreman, Alan Gratz, Kerry Madden, Helen Hemphill, Larsen Jay, Allan Wolf, Lynne Berry.

The Children’s Festival of Reading is made possible by the generous support of Books-A-Million, Downtown Knoxville, Friends of the Knox County Public Library, Park Med Urgent Care, Knoxville News Sentinel, WBIR-TV-10, B97.5, Lamar Advertising, City of Knoxville, UT’s Center for Children’s And Young Adult Literature, and the East Tennessee Foundation.

For more information about the Children’s Festival of Reading, please call 215-8783 or email

Children’s Festival Featured Authors:

Jack Gantos has been writing since he was a young boy growing up in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. As an adolescent, Gantos found solace in an abandoned book mobile, where he spent all his extra time reading. The seeds were planted for Gantos’ future writing career during his sixth grade year when he discovered his sister’s diary and decided he could write better than her! Gantos incorporates many childhood antidotes from his childhood into his Rotten Ralph, Joey Pigza and Jack Henry books. For more information about Jack Gantos and his books, check out

Lynne Berry has published numerous poems for young children; Duck Skates is her first book for young readers. Berry lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband, five dogs, a cat, and assorted fish. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, peanut butter sandwiches, and trips to the park with the dogs.

Ronda Friend from Franklin, Tennessee is a master storyteller and has captivated the hearts and minds of young and old alike. She worked for nine years as a professional for Scholastic Book Fairs and now is author of a new short chapter series, which centers around her life as a farmer’s daughter growing up “Down On Friendly Acres” in the 50s and 60s. This nostalgic, character-based series takes a humorous approach to addressing such traits as kindness, patience, forgiveness and determination. For more information visit

Knoxvillian Doris Gove has written six books for children and three hiking guides. Since she is a biologist and an environmentalist, all of the books deal with natural history: lifestyles of snakes and salamanders, how to talk to trees, and what special features and creatures to look for on hiking trails. Her most recent book, The Smokies Yukky Book describes some pretty weird, creepy characters that live right here in our own national park.

Wilmoth Foreman’s first novel, Summer of the Skunks, is on the 2005-2006 Volunteer State (TN) Book Award Master Reading List; was selected as a 2004 Book of Note by the Tri-State Young Adult Review Committee of PA, DE, and NJ; and is a 2006-2007 Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Master List Nominee. Wilmoth received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She is a teaching artist in Tennessee’s Artists in Residence program and a Teacher Consultant of West TN writing Project [a site of the National Writing Project].

Alan Gratz is the author of Samurai Shortstop (Dial Books, 2006), a young adult novel, which has received raves from the Washington Post, Reading Today, BookSense, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and the ALA’s Booklist, which gave it a starred review. In addition to writing fiction for young readers, Gratz has authored numerous plays and short stories, as well as a handful of episodes of A&E’s City Confidential. Gratz lives just outside Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Wendi and daughter Jo. Samurai Shortstop is his first novel.

Helen Hemphill holds a MA in English literature from Belmont University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. Ms. Hemphill was the recipient of the 2004 Harcourt Post Graduate Scholarship at Vermont and received an honorable mention for the 1999 Martha Whitmore Hickman Award in Fiction by the Tennessee Writers’ Alliance. Booklist called her first novel, Long Gone Daddy (Front Street 2006), a “strong debut…Hemphill strikes a confident balance between deep heartache and sharply irreverent humor.”

Larsen Jay made his first venture into children’s literature with his picture book of visual puns entitled What if Cows Could…? published by Bear Hug Books. Jay is an upstate New York native who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Tennessee where he studied Theatre and Production Management, helping launch a successful career in the entertainment industry.

Jeri Landers has been exhibiting her beautiful and unique artwork across America for over 22 years, but it was her love of turn of the century Children’s book illustration that inspired her to write and illustrate her first Children’s book, Hopalong Jack and the Blue Bunnies. Published in the fall of 2005, this beautiful book has received two book awards and has been embraced by children from 2yrs to 80yrs old! The second book in the series will be released at the end of 2006. Jeri and her husband live on a century old farm in Grainger County surrounded by a menagerie of dogs, cats, sheep and goats.”

Kerry Madden’s critically acclaimed novel Offsides (William Morrow) was selected by the New York Public Library for their 1997 “Books for the Teen Age” list. Her second book, WRITING SMARTS (American Girl Library) helps kids craft their own stories and poetry. Her children’s novel, GENTLE’S HOLLER, (starred Kirkus and Publishers Weekly) is the story of a young songwriter from the Great Smoky Mountains, coming to terms with life in a large family and her desire to create her own adventures beyond the holler. Kerry’s next book, LOUISIANA’S SONG, will be published in 2007 along with the paperback of GENTLE’S HOLLER. The third Maggie Valley book, JESSIE’S MOUNTAIN, will be published in 2008. GENTLE’S HOLLER is now available on Recorded Books. Visit Kerry at

Susan Vaught is a graduate of the University of Mississippi (undergraduate) and Vanderbilt University (graduate). Currently, she works three days a week as a psychologist, writes young adult fiction three days a week, and tends her small farm in Middle Tennessee. Her backlist includes Stormwitch (Bloomsbury, 2005), a YALSA Best Books for Young Adults 2006, an Andre Norton Award finalist, and a Carl Brandon Kindred Award nominee. Additional backlist includes L.O.S.T., Shadowqueen, and Witch Circle, co-written with Debbie Federici and published by Llewellyn Worldwide, and Fat Tuesday (OnStage Publishing, 2004). Her upcoming release is Trigger (Bloomsbury, 2006).

Allan Wolf is an author, poet, performer and educator who lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three kids. After teaching writing at Virginia Tech, Wolf became the Educational Director for Poetry Alive!, a national touring company that presents theatrical poetry shows for all ages. Wolf now writes and presents full time. His books include The Blood-Hungry Spleen and Other Poems About Our Parts (Candlewick Press), and New Found Land: Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery (Candlewick
Press), a novel in verse chosen as a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable. His most recent work is a book about writing poems titled, Immersed In Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life (Lark Books). He is a veteran traveler through all the diverse worlds of verse from poetry slams to public schools, salons to saloons. With literally hundreds of poems committed to memory, Wolf is always ready to spin out a stanza or two. Got rhyme? Http://

Rick Yancey is a former Knoxville resident and author of the memoir Confessions of a Tax Collector, chosen by The Christian Science Monitor and Amazon as one of the best books of 2004. His novels include A Burning in Homeland and The Highly Effective Detective, a mystery due out this summer. Both Highly Effective and his young adult novel, The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, are set in Knoxville, where he lived for ten years. To date, Alfred Kropp has sold to fourteen countries and has been nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Medal. He now lives in Florida with his wife and three sons.

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