Story by Kristina Hoti
On Sat., Oct 6, the seventh annual Warwick Children’s Book Festival took place on Railroad Ave. and the Railroad Green. The event was sponsored by the Albert Wisner Public Library (AWPL), the Village of Warwick and funded primarily by Warwick residents Glenn P. and Susan D. Dickes. Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe was the bookseller for the event, and the festival organizer was Lisa Laico. There were roughly 1,500 attendees, and 33 teen volunteers and many adult volunteers were tasked with its execution.
The Dickes’ were present as the event got underway and posed for a picture near an AWPL therapy dog sign.
“Cool and damp weather failed to dampen spirits for this year’s Children’s Book Festival. Parents and kids were out in full force, a credit to the effort of everyone at Albert Wisner Public Library,” said Glenn P. Dickes.
Thanks to their support, authors were provided with lunch vouchers for Caffe a la Mode, and the event was furnished with tents, promotional materials, and the entertainment of the Uncle Brothers Band, who kept children enthralled and parents chuckling, with a free concert.
With about 10 additional authors at this year’s event, the total reached close to 70 according to AWPL Director Rosemary Cooper. Under the tents that stretched up and down Railroad Ave., authors displayed their books and provided signed copies to parents and children, who browsed the multitude of selections.
Dianne Aimone, the teen advisor at AWPL, was in charge of the teen volunteers, who were a driving force in the execution of the event. Teens who wish to earn community service hours and become involved in the book fair can sign up at the library. The teens put together hand-made gift bags for the authors, and also got together the night before the event to bake cookies to give to the authors.
Additionally, they were in charge of the craft table, which for this event was a bookmark-making station. The teens came up with the craft idea, organized, and manned the craft tent. Children were able to color, stamp, and decorate bookmarks to take home, which featured the artwork of Judy Pedersen, one of the event organizers. They assisted children with crafting, providing creative ideas and working with them one on one. They also assisted whenever asked throughout the event.
Recognizable in their “Warwick Children’s Book Festival” T-shirts, they could be seen doing anything from moving bales of hay to running sandwich wraps from the Cafe to all of the authors at lunch time.
To prepare for the book festival, this special group of teens met once a week all summer long and many of them learned sign language, under the instruction of Ferne Lurie, in order to sign the readings of two selected books for the event. This was the second year that the book reading and signing was done.
Authors Jordan Novak, a Warwick resident, and Nick Bruel were asked to present readings of their children’s books, Be a Tree and Bad Kitty, respectively. Lurie worked closely with the teens, rehearsing in advance of the reading, and telling those who had started to gather and ask her for a photo.
“This is just a rehearsal. This is not about me; it is very much about them,” said Lurie.
The volunteer signers stood in a line behind the authors, each one signing line by line, in rotation. After the first book reading by Novak, Lurie wiped a tear from her eye, saying, “I’m so proud of them; I can’t stand it.”
After presenting her book, Novak entertained children at her station with a horse marionette puppet. She moved to Warwick about three years ago with her husband. This is her second year participating in the Children’s Book Festival.
When asked what drew her to Warwick, Novak said, “I literally googled ‘the perfect place to live.’ My husband and I both work from home so we were looking for a town with a nice community, good schools, and close to a great city. We looked all over the country.”