Minnesota Children’s Book Festival Brings Children's Literature to Life

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Eight of the State’s Most Acclaimed Authors & Illustrators Participate in Anderson Center’s Hybrid Minnesota Children’s Book Festival. Online presentations Sept. 9-12 and distanced activities on-site Sept. 19

The Anderson Center is proud to present the 21st annual Minnesota Children’s Book Festival featuring high-quality online video readings and presentations of new books by eight of the state’s most acclaimed children’s and young adult authors and illustrators. Professionally recorded on-site at Tower View this summer, these engaging multi-camera videos bring children’s literature to life through original images and artifacts, as well as each author’s own words and stories. Each day at 12 p.m. noon September 12 - 19, 2020 a new video will be permanently published on the Anderson Center’s new website (andersoncenter.org/bookfest), YouTube channel, and Facebook page

 Minnesota Children’s Book Festival Brings Children's Literature to Life

Participating authors and illustrators are Daniel Bernstrom, V.T. Bidania, H.M. Bouwman, Cori Doerrfeld, Bao Phi, Caren Stelson, Lauren Stringer and Kao Kalia Yang. Each of the picture books and chapter books showcased in this year’s festival present various narratives of resilience that families can enjoy together. Purchasing titles online through The Anderson Center page on Bookshop supports both independent bookstores and the organization: https://bookshop.org/lists/2020-mn-childrens-book-festival

This series of online children’s book videos is happening in conjunction with free, physically distanced family activities at Tower View on Saturday, September 19, 2020 from noon to 5 p.m. In addition to several on-site scavenger hunts, a Children’s Book Festival family activity booklet will expand on themes and topics covered in the author presentations, while encouraging outdoor movement and exploration. All ages are welcome. Masks for ages 5 & up are encouraged.

During these challenging times, the Minnesota Children’s Book Festival is an ideal opportunity for families to connect, learn, and play. Over the years, the festival has received national acclaim for its efforts to promote literacy among young people.

About the Featured Authors and Illustrators:
Having published two well-received picture books, author Daniel Bernstrom turns his attention to his family’s own history in his new book Big Papa and the Time Machine (HarperCollins, 2020). Big Papa is a tender and whimsical tale about a boy and his grandfather traveling through time, celebrating the moments of bravery that shape our lives and discovering their own African American history. Recommended for kids ages 4 – 8.

Daniel Bernstrom and Big Papa and the Time Machine. From  Minnesota Children’s Book Festival Brings Children's Literature to Life

Rising talent and debut author V.T. Bidania is the author of the Astrid and Apollo chapter book series (Picture Window Books - Capstone, 2020), which kicks off with Astrid and Apollo and the Starry Campout. Astrid and Apollo are fun-loving eight-year-old twins who, along with their Hmong American family, try new things such as camping, fishing, and soccer. Showcasing a warm sibling relationship, as well as themes of exploration and tradition, the Astrid and Apollo series breaks new ground as the first chapter books featuring Hmong American characters as protagonists. Recommended for readers age 5 – 8.

H.M. Bouwman is the author of A Crack in the Sea and its companion book A Tear in the Ocean (G.P. Putnam – Penguin Random House, 2017 & 2019). These wistful and engaging historical fantasy novels reimagine the outcome of tragic events from the past with a magical bent through interwoven coming-of-age stories. Both books masterfully infuse old fairy tales and legends into alternate-universe adventures with moving narratives about family, magic, morality, the power of storytelling, and the cyclical nature of history. Recommended for readers age 10 – 12.

Cori Doerrfeld’s sweet illustrations adorn That’s Life! (Little Brown Books – Hachette Book Group, 2020), a witty send-up of inspirational greeting card wisdom written by Ame Dyckman that reminds readers of life's unpredictability and messiness--and beauty. The Welcome Wagon (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2020) is a charming story both written and illustrated by Doerrfeld featuring a young bear and his friends who learn that even though meeting new people can be scary at first, sometimes it just means you find the best new neighbors ever! Both titles recommended for kids age 3 – 7.

Prolific performance poet Bao Phi’s second picture book My Footprints (Capstone, 2019) is a story is about finding inner courage, rising above bullies, embracing your differences, and the power of a loving family. My Footprints follows Thuy, a young Vietnamese American girl who mimics the footprints of each creature in the snow as she makes her way home to the arms of her two moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage – just like Thuy. Recommended for kids ages 5 – 9.

When Caren Stelson first heard Sachiko Yasui speak, she knew she needed to share her deeply moving story and message of peace with young people. In A Bowl Full of Peace (Carolrhoda Books – Lerner, 2020), a picture-book adaptation of the Sibert Honor book Sachiko: A Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Survivor (Carolrhoda Books – Lerner, 2016), Stelson’s calm, direct tone and the story’s hopeful ending make the difficult, sophisticated topic of nuclear war manageable for older elementary-school and middle-school children. Recommended for kids ages 6 – 11.

The tenderhearted illustrations of Lauren Stringer give Looking for Smile (Beach Lane Books – Simon and Schuster, 2020) a rich visual vocabulary for the journey of Bear, as he wakes one day to find his Smile gone and enlists his friends to help him find it. A life-affirming exploration of sadness and the depressive cycle featuring the light touch and simple language of author Ellen Tarlow, Looking for Smile shows that sometimes a good friend can make all the difference. Recommended for kids ages 0 – 8.

In The Shared Room, beloved Minnesota writer Kao Kalia Yang tenderly, and with refreshing authenticity, tells the story of a Hmong American family living with loss and tremendous love. Bringing a message of comfort and hope to readers young and old, her direct and poignant words are accompanied by the evocative and expressive drawings of Hmong American artist Xee Reiter. Recommended for kids ages 5 – 11.

The Shared Room, by beloved Minnesota writer Kao Kalia Yang. From  Minnesota Children’s Book Festival Brings Children's Literature to Life

The 2020 Minnesota Children’s Book Festival is generously sponsored by the Jones Family Foundation, the John O. & Barbara N. Hanson Family Foundation, Noesen & Associates P.A., Munson Electric, Sturdiwheat, Arnold Orthodontics, Lerner Publishing Group, Merchants Bank, RWC Tech Solutions, Sargent’s Nursery, Smith Schafer & Associates CPAs, Curly’s Welding, Family Fare Supermarket, First State Bank of Red Wing, First Farmers & Merchants Bank, Musty-Barnhart Agency, Siewert’s Towing, and West End Liquor.

This event is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.