Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 2, 2010

Hudson Children’s Book Festival

I had a wonderful time at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival in New York, and if you missed it, mark your calendar for May 7 of next year. The intrepid planners are already back to work, though I hope they slept well!

I was one of over seventy authors and illustrators chatting with children and grownups who stopped at our tables to look through books. We got to see adorable faces, some painted, strollers filled with books where a baby used to be, the occasional princess or ballerina, moms wearing saris, dads explaining the alphabet and much more. I enjoyed some quick catching-up moments with old friends and met some new authors and illustrators whose work I’d admired.

Here’s Loree Griffin Burns lgburns with her new book, The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe. Reading the book made me crave honey, but as one of the scientists Loree interviewed reminds us, the crisis of disappearing bees is not so much about honey as it is about losing the beings who pollinate trees and plants, and whose absence could mean a shortage of fruits and vegetables. Loree follows some ways scientists are trying to solve the dilemma, offering a lot of information about insects and scientists in addition to this arc.

We learn about bee bodies, who’s who inside the hive, and extra facts about the scientists she highlights: besides learning where they research, we find out about how many times they were stung, their worst stings, and favorite bee. Loree’s passion for the subject comes through everywhere, but we can see how hard it is for her to leave her subject in the Appendix Bee, which is filled with fascinating facts she couldn’t fit into the other eighty or so pages. I will be picking up this gorgeously illustrated book again.

It was fun to meet a sister author at Henry Holt, Ann Haywood Leal, whose debut novel, Also Known as Harper, came out to much acclaim last year, and whose second novel, A Finders-Keepers Place, will be published this fall.

Also Known as Harper tells the story of an aspiring poet named after her mother’s favorite writer, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, “which Mama could probably spout out from the middle of her heart.” Harper’s father has left them and little brother Hemingway, and while Mama struggles to make ends meet, eleven year old Harper dreams of winning a poetry contest. Well, she does more than dream. In this first person story, Harper refers to the way her mother’s words “always traveled right across the paper and made a bright picture in my mind.” This novel is filled with such bright pictures.

At the festival, we met some wonderful young writers. I led a workshop called Writing Poetry Together, expecting mostly mother-daughter pairs, but open to whoever chose to join. Here’s a poet who revised intensely, putting her monkey-head eraser to good work, at which point in the process her little sister joined her to draw my portrait.



  1. Also Known As Harper sounds good. Thanks!

  2. I savored BORROWED NAMES over breakfast this morning. So delicious…
    I don’t want to leave spoilers here, of course, but someday over tea, I’d love to discuss the lovely section in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s poem regarding early childhood memories.

  3. How wonderful!

  4. I need to get a monkey-head eraser!
    I’m reading BORROWED NAMES right now, Jeannine. It’s incredible.

  5. I hope you like it, Barbara. There’s a writing mom and writing daughter: what’s not to love?

  6. Melodye, it’s a great picture in my mind to think of you reading the poems with your breakfast. And we have so much to discuss, I hope one day over real tea.

  7. Kelly, behind Loree’s elbow you can see Jen and Jo chatting! I wish I’d gotten more pictures, but I’m glad they’re at least in the background.
    I look forward to writing with you soon!

  8. Now that you mention it, I think I need a monkey-head eraser, too!
    And I’m so happy you like Borrowed Names, Tracy.

  9. 🙂
    I just closed your book, all poems devoured. All kitties in this household are purring contentedly. 🙂

  10. Jeannine–
    I love being your Holt sister. Thank you so much for your kind words about Harper! BORROWED NAMES is a treasure!
    Ann Haywood Leal

  11. Was great to see you again!

  12. Thank you for this, Jeannine! You are so kind, and I am thrilled you liked the book.
    (Somehow I went the whole day with my camera in hand and took only a single not-so-postable picture. What is up with that?)
    Hope to see you soon at the NE conference …

  13. Oops. This Anonymous post is me!

  14. Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all. I love it when people share these sorts of things. Thank you.

  15. Thanks, Ann. I really enjoyed meeting you, as well as reading your book. I look forward to reading your next novel!

  16. It was good to see you, too. I put off buying the Secret Year until I could get it signed, knowing my spring was so packed I would enjoy the reading more in summer. Looking forward to it, after hearing so many great things.

  17. Loree, the book has already changed my little life, opened my eyes to bee business. I will be at a book festival in Albany on Saturday, so only at the NE conference on Sunday: hope to see you then!

  18. Thanks for reading, Susan. I agree it’s fun to get peeks at activities on the various coasts, and perhaps a bit less often, in between.

  19. so, never let it be said that my husband doesn’t read my blog! He just came home with a package of monkey head erasers. I’m happy to share if you want to write to me at jeanatkins at aol dot com. Although maybe I’ve passed such a hundred times but needed an intent ten year old poet revising with one to see its charms. The package was found in a huge store name after those thin metal clips that hold papers together. One such may be near you. xo

  20. Ooh, thanks for the lead on this, Jeannine. I know just the place!

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