Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Posted by Esther Hershenhorn
This past Saturday’s and Sunday’s Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest continues to be the Midwest’s largest outdoor literary festival.
Think 125,000 book lovers of all ages roaming five city blocks of tented and tabled booksellers, author readings and panels that spanned every genre and format imaginable, signings for authors published traditionally, digitally or any way you can think of, cooking demos, poetry slams, a group read-aloud of Peter Pan to support literacy and the Peter Pan Kid Lit stage that overflowed with storytellers. All on a hot, hot (did I mention it was hot?) early June day without one forgiving breeze from nearby Lake Michigan.
I especially delighted in my workshop’s follow up session: Show, Don’t Tell – Four First-time Chicago-area Children’s Book Authors.
The SRO crowd learned first-hand from the panel of four authors pictured above: from left, Sherri Duskey Rinker, Kate Hannigan Issa, Michele Weber Hurwitz, Allan Woodrow and me. (How nice that Sheri’s husband David is a professional photographer.)
Each author shared a few singular concrete details of his or her particular writer’s journey – the surprises, the thrills, the rewards, the Reality, from which attendees could glean insights, information, and best of all, heart and hope.
Sherri Duskey Rinker’s picture book Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site (Chronicle Press), illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, is the book most editors warn writers they never want to see: a bedtime story written in rhyme! But Sherri knew and held strong to her belief: her young son lived and breathed trucks and there wasn’t one truck story appropriate for a bedtime reading. Sherri wrote the story while working full time as a graphic designer. She did her homework, targeted 14 or so likely publishers, sent off her well-worked manuscript and struck gold with Chronicle. The book appeared on the NY Times Best Sellers List last week; a now-agented Sherri just sold her second rhymed picture book.
The Good Fun! Book, a text about the idea behind the neighborhood help-the-community children’s projects she’d passionately orchestrated with fellow Hyde Parker Karen Duncan.
Lucky me to be out-and-about at the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Lit Fest Saturday to cheer on Sherri, Kate, Michele and Alan as they sailed off to long-awaited applause, their brand-new first-time-ever children’s books held high for all to see.