Saturday, November 30, 2019

This Is The Only Way You're Going To Spend Any Time At The Connecticut Childen's Book Fair This Year

I've been obsessing about the Connecticut Children's Book Fair this month, because there wasn't one. This is the second time in four years the Fair has been cancelled. It is also the second time this has happened since a new bookstore took over running it. Before that time the Fair was an annual event at the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs for twenty-four years. Hmm.

I've a reputation for being relentlessly optimistic. Annoyingly so, I've been told. I have to admit, this doesn't bode well to me.

Should the Fair disappear, it will be a big loss to the Connecticut children's literature community. This thing brought nationally recognized writers and illustrators into the state. Yes, Storrs is somewhat remote. Nonetheless, many years ago I was told the Fair attracted a couple of thousand people over its weekend. Plus, the eastern part of Connecticut where Storrs is located is the part where people like Meryl Streep don't live. Not many New York City folks have second homes there. This number of children's literature professionals don't show up in that part of the state in a forty-eight hour period, because there aren't towns large enough to support the kinds of bookstores that can bring them in. Actually, I'm not aware of them showing up in those numbers in any part of Connecticut.

Oh, and this is a free event.

Additionally, in the past, the Fair was a fundraiser for UConn's Northeast Children's Literature Collection, the largest children's literature archive in the northeastern United States. I don't know if that's still the case. The Fair website is vague on that subject.

So as part of my obsession with this issue, I've spent the month tweeting links to all my Original Content posts about my visits to the Fair. Following is a round-up of them, so you can enjoy connecting with all these authors with me. If the Fair disappears without a whimper next year, we will have had one last hurrah.


Some Of Those Who Were There  With Susan Hood, Sandra Horning, and Brenna Burns Yu

Steve Light

Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson

Janet Lawler


Alan Katz

Brian Floca

Sandra Horning 

Jane Sutcliffe


My One Hour Tour with Tui T. Sutherland, Jonathan Bean, Aaron Becker, Ann M. Martin, David Johnson, Phoebe Stone


Good Times with Pegi Deitz Shea, P.W. Catanese, Leslea Newman, Mark Tyler Nobleman, Janet Lawler, and me. I ate dinner at a table next to Lois Lowry, by the way.


Suzanne Collins

1999 or so

My first time presenting at the Fair. I think it was 1999. At any rate, it was was pre-Original Content, so no posts about the experience. I know Jean Craighead George and Wendell Minor were there. I heard Minor speak and stood in line forever to have one of George's books signed for my niece.

Earlier Yet!

I attended the Fair even earlier with one of my sons. This was in the days when it was held in a different part of campus and you could walk to the Dairy Barn for ice cream. Which we did. We bought a signed book, too.

I also visited a year when James Howe was there. Whenever that was. Someone else has the signed book I bought then.


Test said...

Sorry the fair was canceled. There are several events in Ohio-- The Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus, Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, and The Virginia Hamilton book festival at Kent State. All seem to have larger bodies behind them-- maybe book stores are no longer strong enough? Will think positive thoughts about its future as well.

Gail Gauthier said...

Over the years that I've been maintaining the Connecticut Children's Literature Calendar, I've seen a decline in the number of childlit author and illustrator appearances in this state. This may be part of that trend.

I think that back in the day, the University of Connecticut library system played a part in organizing the Fair. That may not be happening, anymore, especially if the Fair is no longer a fundraiser for the Northeast Children's Literature Archive, which is part of the library system.