Tag Archives: Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown

Jamieson, an award-winning author, to headline book festival

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The ninth annual Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown is set to take place at Bottle Works—Arts on Third Avenue on April 1 and April 2 this year. 
The purpose of the Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown is to provide children with a free, engaging literary experience that promotes the joy of reading. It is also designed to give parents the tools they need to encourage a lifelong love of reading in their children.

The theme for this year’s festival is “Read, Rock and Roll.”

New York Times best-selling author and Newberry Honor Award winner Victoria Jamieson is headlining the festival. Jamieson’s graphic novel, “Roller Girl,” focuses on friendship, survival, determination and girl power.

“Jamieson’s graphic novel is great for young girls because it’s about empowerment and navigating those confusing pre-teen/teen years,” said Ingrid Kloss, The Learning Lamp’s director of development. “Plus, it’s really funny. This year, we knew we had to continue recruiting top caliber authors to headline the festival, and Jamieson does not disappoint.”

In addition to offering presentations and signing books throughout the weekend, Jamieson is to deliver the keynote address during the festival’s “Saturday Night Author Talk.” 

The talk, scheduled to take place from 6 to 8 p.m., is designed to give both published and aspiring authors/illustrators of children’s literature valuable information and tips for finding success within the publishing industry.

“This talk helps to flesh out what people don’t know, and offers the chance to ask questions in a supportive environment,” Kloss said.

Tickets for the “Saturday Night Author Talk” must be purchased in advance through Eventbrite.com; no tickets will be available at the door. Sales through Eventbrite.com will remain open up to two hours before the talk begins.

To complement Jamieson’s book, “Roller Girl,” the Johnstown Roller Derby Club and Pittsburgh Roller Derby Junior League will be offering demos during both days of the festival.

“A lot of people simply don’t know what roller derby is, so it will be helpful to meet actual derby skaters,” Kloss said.

Author Micha Archer and author/illustrator Stacy Innerst are also participating in this year’s festival.

Archer’s book, “Daniel Finds a Poem,” was chosen as this year’s Pennsylvania “One Book, Every Young Child” program’s selection. “One Book, Every Young Child” highlights the importance of early literacy development, the advantages of reading early and often, and the impact of engaging children in conversations and activities as they relate to the books they read. Archer works with oil, watercolors, pen and ink and collage.

Innerst, meanwhile, has illustrated numerous children’s books, including books about Levi Strauss, Abraham Lincoln and the Beatles. His work has received awards and recognition from American Illustration, the New York Society of Illustrators, Society of Illustrators Traveling Exhibition, Print Magazine Design Annual, a Gold Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Entertainer Mike Zaffruto and storyteller Melinda Falgoust are also participating.

Zaffruto’s “Rock n’ Roll Pet Show” introduces children to an imaginary pet store that comes to life with music, magic, puppets and more. Falgoust’s storytelling skills have been recognized by NY Book Festival Annual Competition, Oshima International Hand-Made Picture Book Competition and Writers Unlimited Annual Literary Competition.

“We’re happy to feature some talented women as part of this year’s festival, as the past two have been male-dominated,” Kloss said. “We got a lot of feedback from young girls wanting female authors.”

During the festival, parents and children can purchase new and used books as part of the book sale. In addition, every child who attends the festival will be invited to select a free, brand-new book of their choice courtesy of First Book.

“First Book is a great organization that enables us to get books for the price of shipping only,” Kloss said. “This means that every kid gets a book, regardless of whether mom or dad or grandma are able to buy one for them. And it’s a new book, so it’s just for that child, which is important.”

Children who are interested in writing and/or illustrating will have the opportunity to participate in workshops once again this year. Due to last year’s positive response, new workshops — including a poetry and a graphic novel workshop — have been added.

“We were overwhelmed to get 30 kids at last year’s writing workshop, and realized the audience for these workshops is here and ready,” Kloss said. “Many showed up with their dedicated personal writing journals and special pens or pencils and were clearly engaged. We heard back that a lot of them wished it had lasted longer.”

Also new this year will be an appearance by Joey Reisberg, this year’s national student poet for the northeast region.

“Through luck of the festival being in April, which is also National Poetry Month, we are able to feature Reisberg,” Kloss said. “He’s a high school student poet who is spending the month of April travelling and sharing his poetry and facilitating workshops for younger students as service to the country. The program is operated through Scholastic in New York.”

Locals selling food are to park their food trucks along Third Avenue. This year’s vendors include HK Hot Dogs, TNT Concessions and Flair of Country Catering. More vendors may be announced.

Children and teens can also plan to participate in a bookmark contest. Winners in each age group receive a basket full of age-appropriate books.

Live entertainment, storytellers, and themed arts and crafts opportunities round out this year’s two-day event.

Kloss and her fellow The Learning Lamp staff members are hoping that this year’s festival is as well-received as last year’s.

“Last year, the festival was a huge hit with the community, spotlighting the importance of reading to over 3,470 children and their families,” Kloss said.

The ninth annual Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown is supported in part by a $10,000 grant from National Endowment for the Arts as part of their “Challenge America” grant program.

“The NEA funding is huge, and I like to talk about it because people read about these crazy, maybe controversial, projects funded by the NEA, which are also important because art is a conversation about the world,” Kloss said. “But also realize that the NEA supports things in our community like the book festival. 

“We also get funding from the state arts agency via (Pennsylvania) Rural Arts Alliance. We’re also grateful to the Grable Foundation in Pittsburgh, and to our many corporate and individual donors of both funding and in-kind contributions.”

Kloss added that the festival’s success is also due in part to the many volunteers who donate their time and talents.

This year’s festival will take place Saturday and Sunday only, with no Friday evening events scheduled this year. Saturday’s hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday’s hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bottle Works—Arts on Third Avenue is located at 411 and 413 Third Ave. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood.

For more information about the 9th Annual Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown, call a Learning Lamp staff member at 814-262-0732 or visit www.thelearninglamp.org and/or facebook.com/CBFJohnstown/ online.

Kloss said she hopes everyone enjoys this year’s festival, as well as the books they take home with them.

“Reading connects you to the world, to new ideas,” she said.

Bottle Works hosting illustrators’ exhibit

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

In conjunction with the eighth annual Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown, which took place the weekend of April 8, Bottle Works Arts on Third Avenue debuted a pop-up illustrators’ exhibit featuring work from local and regional artists.

The exhibit will remain on display through April 23. It features illustrations by Eric Luden, J.D. Donnelly, Marcene Glover, Nora Thompson, Richard Hower, Brian Dumm, Judy Emerick, Judith Lauso, Terese Jungle and Janet Carlisle.

“It is interesting to see how each artist has their own style,” said Angela Rizzo, Bottle Works executive director. “With children’s books, the illustrations are almost as important as the words; they bring the books to life. The exhibit also helps explain to kids the difference between authors and illustrators.”

Rizzo described the exhibit as “whimsical and fun.” All the pieces in the exhibit are for sale.

“The illustrations would be great for a children’s gift, room, or classroom,” Rizzo said. “This is a unique exhibit, especially for kids, because it shows them the possibilities in drawing, painting and creativity in general.”

For more information about the exhibit, contact a Bottle Works staff member at 814-535-2020 or email arizzo@bottleworks.org.

Marc Brown, of Arthur fame, to attend kid’s book festival

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The Learning Lamp is to host the eighth annual Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown at Bottle Works Arts on Third Avenue in Cambria City from April 8-10.

“Bottle Works provides an exciting venue for kids to experience the literary and visual arts,” Bottle Works Executive Director Angela Rizzo said. “All around them at the Bottle Works is creativity, inspiration and energy. It’s a fun environment. If you have children, this is an event you do not want to miss.”

One of this year’s highlights will be readings and book signings by award-winning author and illustrator Marc Brown. Brown created the popular children’s book and PBS television series “Arthur,” which debuted in 1996 and is still on air.

Ingrid Kloss, The Learning Lamp’s director of development, said that she and her co-workers celebrated when they found out that Brown was interested in coming to Johnstown.

“I was on the author search and somehow ended up on the Edinboro University website and saw that it was his alma mater and he was speaking there on April 7,” Kloss said. “So I took the chance and contacted him directly and asked if he’d make the three-hour journey to Johnstown. He replied the next day and said yes! We all high-fived in the office. He is definitely one of the biggest names we’ve had, and his participation has really heightened the interest this year in our festival.”

In addition to Brown, authors Melinda Falgoust and Will Hillenbrand are also scheduled to participate.

“Melinda is from New Orleans and came up for the festival last year just to check us out and even sent us four huge boxes of books for our used book sale,” Kloss said. “We loved her energy and are having her back to present her interactive children’s story about hating what’s for dinner, called ‘Lousy Liver.’ Will Hillenbrand is this year’s PA One Book author, so he’s on a whirlwind tour across Pennsylvania to read the book ‘Kite Day’ to kids at schools, preschools, Head Start and in libraries.”

Kloss and her co-workers strive to make the Children’s Book Festival appealing year after year.

“We have something for everyone and try to appeal to all interests, ages, genders and show that reading is the common point of interest,” she said.

Rizzo said that she and her team have also strived to make the festival as successful as possible.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize how fortunate we are for our children and families to have this opportunity in our community and it is free to boot,” Rizzo said. “With that said, I have adjusted our space and schedule so we can complement the festival better. This year, we are hosting a pop-up illustrator exhibit that will include the work of children’s illustrators from Pittsburgh to Johnstown. This will add another exciting dimension to the festival and all the illustrations from originals to prints will be for sale.”

Each day of the festival, families and children can expect a new and used book sale, bookmark contest voting, face painting, local author meet-and-greet tables, craft tables and book giveaways.

“We try to reach everyone, which is certainly mission central at The Learning Lamp, where we’re always trying to make education accessible for all children and their families,” Kloss said. “While some of the authors are for younger audiences, the other activities will hopefully entertain that older sibling who gets ‘dragged along!’”

Rizzo said that the festival allows Bottle Works to uphold its mission as well.

“We see a lot of familiar faces over the three days, but also a lot of new faces,” Rizzo said. “Bottle Works is here for the community and this festival allows us to do that.”

This year, events kick off the evening of April 8 beginning at 6 p.m. Falgoust will read “Lousy Liver,” and children will have the opportunity to read to the dogs involved in the program “Tales with Tails.”

“Tales with Tails” provides a safe, relaxed atmosphere for children to practice reading aloud to dogs.

“Dogs are non-judgmental and provide a calm environment for new readers or readers with difficulties,” Kloss said. “The dogs are all certified Good Citizens and therapy animals and regularly appear for story time at the Cambria County Library and Highland Community Library in Richland.”

The fun is to continue the morning of April 9 beginning at 10 a.m. Brown will offer a presentation and book signing, and storyteller Tim Hartman and puppeteer Adam Schwartz will perform both in the morning and afternoon. That afternoon beginning at 1 p.m., children in grades three through five will be invited to participate in a story-writing workshop with Doug Rosensteel. Brown is also give a second presentation and offer another book signing.

New this year is Saturday Night Author Talk, a special event that will take place the evening of April 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. Authors Hillenbrand and Brown, as well as children’s book editor Karen Boss, will participate in a panel discussion designed to inspire children’s book authors and illustrators.

Brown is to share the details of his journey to becoming an award-winning author/illustrator in a keynote address titled “The Aardvark Was My Warm-Up Act.”

“Marc Brown will talk about how the aardvark, Arthur, was just the beginning for him, as he’s now focusing exclusively on illustration,” Kloss said. “Will Hillenbrand is both an author and illustrator as well, and Karen Boss is coming in from Boston to represent the agent side of book publishing and offer advice to those who are looking to publish via that route.

“We’ve partnered with the Western PA chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, who were very interested in us presenting something more geared towards the creators of the children’s literature. (They) were very helpful in guiding us and in promoting the festival to their members at their annual conference. In addition, many . . . authors will be at the festival with their books at author tables in the ArtWorks building. We have 14 authors attending, and more than half are from SCBWI.”

Doors for the Saturday Night Author Talk are scheduled to open at 5:15 p.m. There will be time for questions and book signings after the formal presentations. Proceeds from the Author Talk, which is sponsored by The Learning Lamp, Bottle Works, PA Council on the Arts and Grable Foundation in collaboration with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Western PA Region, will help to offset costs of the festival.

Tickets are required for this event, and can be purchased at cbfsaturdaynightauthortalk.eventbrite.com.

Also new this year is additional food and snack options; on April 9 and April 10, Tiki’s Tacos and RK Hot Dogs food trucks will be parked outside along Third Avenue.

“We’ve applied to the city for a permit to close down Third Avenue for the weekend, first, to make it safer for children to be outside, and second, to allow for the food trucks,” Kloss said. “Adding the food trucks allows us to focus on the event and the children, while also bringing in some tasty treats that we’re not capable of producing ourselves, though The Learning Lamp does own a hot dog cart, popcorn machine and cotton candy machine . . . we like toys!”

The last day of the festival is to begin at noon April 10. Hillenbrand is to offer two presentations and book signings, and Schwartz will return to perform two puppet shows. Children can also enjoy more reading to the dogs involved in “Tales with Tails” and listen to Falgoust read her book.

“This is the perfect collaboration between arts and education,” Rizzo said. “I know I have learned to appreciate the work of the authors and illustrators from working on this project.”
Events are to conclude at 4 p.m. April 10.

Every child who attends the festival is to leave with one free book.

“Research shows that children who are read to, who hear language from birth, are better suited to begin school,” Kloss said. “The number of words a child knows when she enters kindergarten is a definite predictor of success. Likewise, children who read early are much better students. Studies also show that students who read at home do better in school, so having a home library is vital. That’s why, in addition to the book giveaway, we also host a used book sale at the festival where families can purchase used books inexpensively. Books A Million also partners with us and will sell new books by the featured authors plus other popular books for ages birth through 15.

“We want books to seem exciting and interesting to kids rather than a chore. Some kids hate being told to read and we want to help to change that. We give away free books from First Book, and I love it when a little kid will say, ‘I hate reading,’ and I’ll ask, ‘Oh yeah, well do you hate Spiderman? Or Clementine?’ and usually they change their minds pretty fast.”

For more information, call The Learning Lamp at 814-262-0732 or visit thelearninglamp.org.

Hours for the festival are scheduled as follows: April 8 from 6 to 8:30 p.m.; April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and April 10 from noon to 4 p.m.

Renowned authors attending Children’s Book Festival

Learning Lamp

By KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent

The Learning Lamp, in conjunction with Bottle Works Arts on Third, will host the seventh annual Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown from April 10 through April 12. The three-day festival is free and designed for children in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.

This year’s featured authors include Zachariah Ohora, Greg Pizzoli, Dave Roman and Mark Weakland.

Ohora is an award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children’s books. His debut book, “Stop Snoring, Bernard!,” won the 2011 Founders Award of the Society of Illustrators, a Merit Award from the New York Bookbinders Guild and was chosen as the PA One Book for 2012.

Pizzoli is author and illustrator of the 2015 PA One Book “Number One Sam.” His first picture book, “The Watermelon Seed,” won the 2014 ALA Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. He also won two Portfolio Honor Awards from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Roman is the author and illustrator of the popular graphic novel series “Astronaut Academy” and co-author of two New York Times bestselling graphic novels, “X-Men: Misfits” and “The Last Airbender: Zuko’s Story.” Roman previously worked as a comics editor for “Nickelodeon Magazine.”

Weakland is an award-winning author, educator and musician who incorporates science into books about everything from sports to simple machines.

His most popular books are “Zombies and Forces” and “Motion.” Weakland is currently working on sets of “Scooby Doo” books.

“Children love to hear from authors about how they started to write and illustrate books when they were their age,” Lisa Stofko of The Learning Lamp said. “Some authors have showed kids pictures that they drew and saved from when they were in elementary school. Others tell the stories of their books while they draw a favorite character right before children’s eyes. I think these presentations really inspire kids to put their own creativity to the test.”

In addition to Ohora, Pizzoli, Roman and Weakland, other children’s authors, illustrators and storytellers will also participate in the festival.

Events scheduled for this year’s festival include hands-on arts and crafts, live theatrical and musical performances, a new and used book sale, author signings, a bookmark contest and a book giveaway. Each child who attends will be given a free age-appropriate book from First Book to take home.

Last year, the Children’s Book Festival of Johnstown was named one of four “Best of the Best” arts projects by the PA Council on the Arts. Since its inception, the festival has evolved into a premier literacy event, drawing 2,095 people from eight Pennsylvania counties.

“We hope that children and parents or guardians can enjoy reading together,” said Ingrid Kloss, director of development at The Learning Lamp.

The festival, which will take place inside the Bottle Works building on 411 Third Avenue in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood, is scheduled for Friday from 6 to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.