Orion Children's Authors & Illustrators Festival Delights

Parents, children, staff and even the authors and illustrators themselves called it a perfect, magical day for all.

Submitted to Patch by the organizers and staff of the 2013 Orion Children's Authors and Illustrators Festival.

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Orion Elementary School celebrated its 11th Annual Children's Authors and Illustrators Festival on Saturday.

Always a fun day, this one was extra special because one of the authors, Katherine Applegate, had won the Newbery Award (the "Oscar" of Children's Literature) five days before the Festival. This was her first official appearance since winning the award.

The Festival is a school-wide effort. Every classroom "adopts" an author or illustrator and then studies that person's work in depth. In January, the Art in Action docents help the students design and create a banner that reflects their author's work. These banners hang behind the presenters at their signing tables and at the end of the Festival, the authors and illustrators are very excited to bring these student-created banners home with them.

"Fantastic event. We all loved it, loved it. I can't tell you how much we loved it," one parent e-mailed after the event. "How refreshing that the authors didn't simply do a 'reading' of their work. So entertaining and educational and enlightening. Even waiting in the queue for the book signings was a joy, as we had great chats with everybody around us."

Here is what this year's authors and illustrators had to say:

Joanne Rocklin: "It was one of the most well-attended, organized and enthusiastic book fairs I've ever participated in! The kids were incredibly familiar with our books and couldn't wait to own them. They were proud of their artwork welcoming all of us, and the helpful assigned student docents had received special training sessions! The buzz of the day was "We love reading!" I was proud to be a part of it."

Sue Fliess:  "I was so thrilled to be part of the Orion Festival this year. The kids were bright and inquisitive, the parents thoughtful and patient, and the event organizers were attentive and professional. Any chance to put reading and books in the forefront of children's minds - even just for one day - is a gift. Every school should have a festival like this!"

Jeri Chase Ferris:  "The Orion Authors’ Fair, held annually in February, is a truly outstanding venue for authors and illustrators. The entire community turns out - almost the entire Bay Area, or so it seems - to listen to and to interact with those of us lucky enough to be 'the chosen ones' to speak. Parents, children, teachers, librarians, book-lovers of all ages, soak up the authors’ words, laugh in all the right places, applaud, and go forth to buy more books. Bravo to Sharon Levin for her leadership all these years! Bravo to Orion School and its whole staff for such a delightful day!"

Katherine Applegate: "The Orion festival was absolutely one of my all-time favorite book events. I came home with warm memories of the dedicated parents and staff and the delightful, enthusiastic children. And - oh, yeah - a giant stuffed gorilla. Thank you for the perfect ending to a crazy week!"

The giant gorilla, yes - that's a story. There was a giant stuffed gorilla in the Orion Library; it had been bought years ago by one of the teachers. She was ready to part with it, but it had to go to just the right home. When told that Katherine Applegate (author of the Newbery award-winning book The One and Only Ivan) would like to name him Ivan and bring him home with her, longtime Orion teacher, Nina LaPick, glowed and said, "What a perfect place for him!! Of course she may have him!"

At the end of the day, Ivan was carried on the shoulders of the fifth-graders (Katherine Applegate's class) chanting "Ivan! Ivan!" and then safely buckled into Katherine's front passenger seat for a safe journey to his new home. It was the perfect close to a lovely, magical day.

Did you attend the festival? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below.

Did you snap some great pictures at the event? Share them! Click on "Upload Photos and Video" above to add your photos.

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