Montclair Literary Festival: Age is but a number
Saturday, March 23
Montclair Public Library, 50 South Fullerton Ave.
Third floor green space, first floor Young Adult room, Third floor storyroom, auditorium
Panels, readings and workshops,
10:15 a.m.-5 p.m.
Montclair Art Museum, 3 South Mountain Ave.
11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., workshops for different age groups.
For details and registration, visit succeed2gether.org.
By GRACE L. WILLIAMS
For Montclair Local
When the third annual Succeed2gether’s Montclair Literary Festival takes place from March 20-24, one thing remains clear ahead of the events: literature has no age requirement. This year, the festival has plenty of events and activities are on hand for the youngest readers and the littlest hands.
In addition to books for young readers, there are also books by young readers.
As part of the nearly 70 events involving 100 authors planned for this year, the festival has devoted a section solely to children’s literature, including young adult books. Young readers’ events will take place on the festival’s main day, Saturday, March 23. Both the Montclair Public Library and the Montclair Art Museum have carved out space for the programming, and authors of all ages will read their works, sign their boo
ks, and share their journeys in the process.
The library will host readings and talks scheduled throughout the day. Children ages 10 to 14 will also have the opportunity to learn about poets Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, and to write their own poetry with author Krystyna Poray Goddu.
The Montclair Art Museum will host to workshops in such things as how to make your own pop-up books and working in graphic arts, beginning at 11 a.m.
“The children’s program has a particular place in my heart. I worked really hard to put it together,” said Catherine Platt, co-director of the festival. “I love the young adult genre, and we will have amazing authors here.”
WRITING FOR FAMILY
Author Stephanie Snyder wrote “Strolling,” a board book that aims to captivate children ages up to 3, collaborating with her husband, Jed Snyder, who illustrated the book. Snyder said their daughter Lucy is the muse behind the book’s character Lucy Littlebit. Stephanie Snyder wrote the book after realizing there was an unmet need for a chunky book that tackles what Strolling does: everyday walks and strolls.
“I grew tired of books about shapes, objects, animals, and colors,” she said. “Of course they are important, but I was looking for something I could relate to, and that could relate to our experiences.”
The Snyders will be reading and autographing their book in the third-floor story room at 10:15 a.m. Participants will also have the opportunity to color pages from the book. Stephanie Snyder, who worked as an educator before having her daughter, has brought her book to conferences and local events, such as stroller fitness classes in her town, but this is the first major author festival she has participated in. “I’m humbled and grateful to be a part of it,” she said.
WRITING FOR PEERS
The youngest author participant, 18-year-old Karuna Savoie, self-published her book, “The Lore of Ramridge,” through Hybrid Age Press last fall. She said that after researching different gateways to getting published, she chose to self-publish because it guarantees total creative control. Her book is a thriller book that involves a corn maze, and the idea first came to her as a short story after visiting a corn maze with her cousins in Ohio. Savoie, who is a senior at Montclair High School, says her interest in authorship began she was around 4 years old. At that time, she remembers working with her mother at that time to create their own “books.”
“I would dictate what the story would be and she would write it down, and I would illustrate it,” she said. “I couldn't’ read or write but I was still telling stories.”
Savoie said that although the idea for “The Lore of Ramridge” sprouted when she was in the Eighth Grade, she caught the book writing bug in middle school at Buzz Aldrin. It also helped when she found a kindred spirit in her English teacher Michele Kinnas. “I would go up to her class at lunch, and we would sit on our laptops and edit [my work,]” she said. I had the drive and was inspired to write on my own behalf, but she very much encouraged me to keep at it.”
As part of the festival, she will read an excerpt of her book from 3:30-4:15 p.m, in the third-floor green space. The book is available in hard copy and e-book format.
Getting involved with the festival was a family affair as well. “My mom had contacted the PTA about my book, and Jacqueline Mroz asked if I would be interested in participating,” she said. “She then connected me with Catherine. I’m super happy to have this opportunity with the festival and can’t wait to see everyone who comes there,” she said.
Platt and Mroz came up with the idea for the festival. Both women are involved with the festival’s sponsor, Succeed2gether. Succeed2gether is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting enthusiasm and passion for literacy and reading skills to all children, so it makes sense that its festival would have programs devoted to children’s literature.
“We want kids to get in and excited about writing and reading and the amazing books out there,” Platt said. “We are excited about the way we support Succeed2gether’s work, and about promoting reading for every child.”
“I can guarantee there something in the program for absolutely everyone,” Platt continued. “It’s a great atmosphere, with a real buzz. The Montclair audience is so engaged and asks great questions.”