The sixth annual Savannah Children's Book Festival kicks off on Saturday, and as with years past, will offer up something for the young and the young at heart, bringing a wide array of national and regional talent to spend a day in Forsyth Park.
The SCBF is one of the many great success stories among the myriad free cultural events sponsored largely by the City's Cultural Affairs Department, and has doubled in size since its inception, now drawing nearly 20,000 to the park to meet an impressive array of authors and illustrators.
But don't be fooled by the name, the event isn't just for kids, and with a crowd that big, the event draws everyone - parents, grandparents, curious passersby, and SCAD students interested in gaining first hand insights into the children's book market.
"I enjoy that it's for all ages," says Susan Lee, the Public Relations Coordinator for the Live Oak Public Libaries. "You don't have to be the stereotypical parents, or a soccer mom. Anyone can have a good time there."
This year's event will be a whirlwind of activities, spread out between 13 tents and a main stage. Along with performances from the Savannah Children's Theatre, local storyteller J'miah Nabawi, and a cast of costumed characters, there will also be a slew of special guests, including Laura Numeroff (author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), Bruce Degen (illustrator for the Magic School Bus series), David Biedrzycki (author/illustrator of Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective), and many more.
Lee cites the opportunity to meet such a high caliber of authors and illustrators all at one time, and at a fun event like the SCBF, as one of the best parts for the kids in attendance.
"This is an opportunity to meet the authors and illustrators all at one time," she says. "[Kids] can relate reading and children's books to something fun rather than just ‘I have to read this because it's on my list for school'."
The festival also provides a great opportunity for kids to connect with the people responsible for creating books they know and love.
"As a parent of nine year old who goes every year, he actually gets to see the illustrators work on that, and see that they are people and not just a name on the book," Lee explains.
What makes the growth of the SCBF even more impressive is the level of commitment it takes to produce the festival every year - something that starts with the library staff's commitment to helping kids find a reason to love reading.
"For a festival organized by about a dozen people, and those are all library staff members, so those people also have their full time library jobs," says Lee. "I can't believe we pull it off, but we do, every year."
6th Annual SCBF Schedule
10:00 Poetry Contest Winners read
10:30 Laura Numeroff
12:00 Kids Concoctions: John & Danita Thomas
1:00 Laura Numeroff
2:30 Kids Concoctions: John & Danita Thomas
11:00 Bruce Degen
12:00 Antonio Sacre
2:00 Bruce Degen
3:00 Antonio Sacre
Costumed Book Characters
Savannah Children's Theatre
11:00 Savannah Friends of Music
12:00 David Biedrzycki
2:00 David Biedrzycki
11:00 Michael White
1:00 Charles Smith Jr.
2:00 Michael White
3:00 Charles Smith Jr.
Reading Dogs throughout the day / Poster contest entries display
11:00 Mike Thaler
12:00 Miss Rosa
1:00 Mike Thaler
2:00 Miss Rosa
Tent 9 Georgia Public Broadcasting
1:00 Doc Neil
3:00 Doc Neil
12:00 Elizabeth Dulemba
1:00 Southern Breeze Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers & llustrators, SCBWI (until 4:00)
Tent 11 Georgia Center for the Book & Read it Loud!
10:30 Rotary Savannah South volunteer readers
11:00 Ted Dunagan
12:00 Laurel Snyder
1:00 Rotary Savannah South readers
2:00 Ted Dunagan
3:00 Laurel Snyder
11:00 Jean Feldman
1:00 Jean Feldman
3:00 Elizabeth Dulemba
Tent 13 Teen Scene
11:00 Patrick Jones
12:00 Galaxy Man Kyle Puttkammer
1:00 Patrick Jones
2:00 Galaxy Man Kyle Puttkammer