Tell me a little about you I am currently the director of the Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival in Seward, NE. Prior to that, I taught first grade for several years. I also teach literacy courses to pre-service teachers at Concordia University, where the festival is based.
How did you become the director of a literary festival? I volunteered with it one year while I was a student at Concordia University. I was so inspired by the speeches from the authors and the children’s excitement, that I became heavily involved the next three years. After I graduated and moved to IL, I came back for the festival each fall. I started a mini version of it at my school in IL, and when the director of Plum Creek retired in 2015, I applied for the job to take over. I got the job and moved back to Nebraska, and couldn’t be happier.
What is easiest part? Getting up and going to work every day – it’s so easy to get up and go to a job you love at a place you love doing what you love.
What is hardest? The hardest part is winnowing down the line up each year! We are a unique festival in that we have a very small number (12-15) authors that we are able to invite each year. I have hundreds on my list who I would love to invite and I know would be such a good fit for the festival, but so many factors go into play- we try to have a balance for all ages, authors, illustrators, author/illustrators, male, female, diversity, and so much more. It’s never an easy task to find just the right line up, but we do our very best!
What do you hope comes from the festival? Children who are inspired to read, write, and draw and follow their dreams.
You have a book coming out soon. How did you become an author too? No books officially for me yet, but I may have some news to share soon. I never imagined I would become an author, or really thought I could do it. I have to give credit to Candace Fleming for getting me started- she saw something I wrote and told me it would make for a good picture book. With the help and guidance of a few other friends, I turned the text into a manuscript. From there, I got my agent, and we have just recently sent my first text out for submission! Now we wait! Stay tuned for news. 🙂
Who are your favorite children’s authors right now? This is a difficult question! There are so many individuals who I respect and admire so much. Though I’ve never met them, I would love to have a cup of coffee with Eve Bunting and Cynthia Rylant- they’ve both been so influential in the field over the years. I have great respect for Brendan Wenzel- he is a fantastic author, illustrator, and just one heck of a human being. I do look up to him, along with Ryan Higgins, Loren Long, Judy Schachner, Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann, Denise Fleming, Julie Fogliano, Matthew Cordell, Evan Turk, Ben Clanton, Ben Hatke… gosh, and so many more, it would be impossible to name them all! Be sure to check out all of their books.
Any favorite children’s books? Another hard question! How about I share a few of my recent favorites- Rabbit Magic by Meg McLaren, Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet by Carmen Agra Deedy.
Friday was Multicultural Children’s Book Day. Why do you think multicultural books matter? Multicultural books matter because it’s so necessary for every child to see themselves, and know that they matter; and to see many people different from themselves, and know that they matter, too.
What advice do you have for kids? Read, write, draw, and be kind. Reading and kindness can lift you up to so many places you never would have imagined possible- and in doing so, you have the opportunity to lift others up with you.