Children’s Festival of Reading will be an epic adventure

Mary Pom ClaiborneOur Town Readers

This year’s Children’s Festival of Reading is going to be epic! Set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, 2024, in World’s Fair Park, the Knox County Public Library hosts world-class authors and illustrators, storytellers, musicians and more in its annual kickoff to its summer reading program.

The free event, presented by Comcast, features Ashlyn Anstee, author of this year’s One Book Read City selection, “Shelby and Watts: Tide Pool Troubles.” Anstee will be on hand from 10:45-2:30 to sign books and greet readers. She will be joined by acclaimed authors Cozbi Cabrera, Antwan Eady, Gale Galligan, Alan Gratz, Deb Pilutti and more!

Kids meet the Wild Thing (file photo)

At noon, the Parade of Books steps off with 3-year-old Patience Collins as the grand marshal. Collins is the honorary recipient of the 4-millionth book mailed out by Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Knox County since the program’s inception in 2005.

Everyone will want to snap selfies with a pigeon, a monster, a bear and a tiger. Book characters from Where the Wild Things Are, Paddington Bear, and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus will be ready with a hug and a grin. Daniel Tiger will be hanging out in East Tennessee PBS’s tent as well.

If authors, illustrators, storybook characters and a parade weren’t enough, there’s more! Check out the Science and Discovery Tent, Music Stage, Storyteller’s Theatre, One World Circus, Toddler Town, Miss Libby’s Arts and Crafts, the Molar Express, 50 community vendors and the Children’s Entrepreneurs Market which features dozens of young makers and vendors sharing and marketing their goods.

The Festival is the kickoff event for the Summer Library Adventure – Quest for Knowledge. Participants of all ages are encouraged to complete literary missions and earn prizes. Gameboards are available at the festival or at any Knox County Public Library location.

The Children’s Festival of Reading presented by Comcast is also made possible through the generous support of the Thompson Charitable Foundation, The Margaret Dickson Bequest, The Friends of the Knox County Public Library, Tennessee Arts Commission, National Endowment of the Arts, ORNL Federal Credit Union, Downtown Knoxville Alliance, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, United Way of Greater Knoxville, TVA, Dollar General Literacy Foundation, members of city council, Pilot Travel Centers, Sparkgood Walmart #1319 and #3959 / Sams #6572 and #8256, East Tennessee Pediatric Dentistry, WBIR TV 10, WDVX, East Tennessee PBS

About the authors

Ashlyn Anstee: Most Knox County elementary students know Ashlyn from her graphic novel Shelby and Watts: Tide Pool Troubles, the featured title for this year’s One Book Read City program. She published her first book, Are We There, Yeti? in 2015 followed by No, No, Gnome and The Brave Little Puppy. Her picture book, Hedgehog, is a favorite in Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. With a knack for combining humor and heart, Ashlyn’s books have garnered critical acclaim and quite a few fans who like to sing along. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and far too many cats!

Cozbi Cabrera: With beautiful and acclaimed picture books like My Hair Is a Garden and Me and Mama to her credit, Cozbi Cabrera tells stories and shares her cultural heritage in a way that will transport readers of all ages through the pages of her books. It’s no wonder she’s been recognized with the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor and the Ezra Jack Keats Book Award. The talented illustrator and author was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where she developed a passion for drawing and storytelling from an early age. She’s dedicated to nurturing creativity and empowering young artists.

Antwan Eady grew up in Garnett, South Carolina, where he spent most of his days riding four-wheelers, fishing and imagining a world without limitations. Eady is the author of Nigel and the Moon along with upcoming titles, The Last Stand, Poemhood (a young adult poetry anthology), The Gathering Table and Before the Bridge. When he isn’t writing, he’s searching for the best Lowcountry boil in Savannah, Georgia, where he currently resides.

Gale Galligan is a New York Times-bestselling cartoonist and shrimp chip enthusiast who lives in Rockland County, New York. They are the creator of four Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel adaptations (books five through eight!) – and you can spot them in The Claudia Kishi Club, a wonderful short documentary on Netflix! Gale has also written for IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog and contributed to the Marvel Super Stories anthology. Gale holds an MFA in Sequential Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. When they aren’t making comics, Gale enjoys knitting, drumming and spending time with their zoo: Artemis the cat, rabbits Dipper and Penny, Patrick the husband, and Robin the child. Gale is a founding member of the Comics Advocacy Group, a nonprofit dedicated to making careers in comics more accessible and sustainable.

Alan Gratz: Knoxville native Alan Gratz is a time traveler of sorts. Or rather, he takes us on trips through time and space as we explore real-world historical events through stories for young audiences. Some of his notable works include Refugee, Prisoner B-3087, Grenade and Projekt 1065, among others. Gratz has received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to children’s literature, including the Sydney Taylor Book Award, the Parents’ Choice Gold Award, and multiple nominations for the prestigious Edgar Award. His books have been translated into numerous languages and have gained widespread recognition for their thought-provoking narratives and emotional depth.

Deb Pilutti: Everyone knows that Deb Pilutti is not boring! In fact, she’s downright fascinating as she brings to life characters who charm and delight readers of all ages. Knoxville audiences may know Deb from her picture book Old Rock (Is Not Boring!), which has graced our Storybook Trails in the past year and is also an Imagination Library title. Other works include Ten Rules of Being a Superhero, the Secrets of Ninja School, and Bear and Squirrel Are Friends, garnering her awards such as the Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Illustration.

Mary Pom Claiborne is assistant director for marketing, communications and development for Knox County Public Library


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