Story by Kristina Hoti
The Warwick Children’s Book Festival kicked off their sixth annual event on Sat., Oct. 7 on Railroad Ave. and Railroad Green in Warwick. The event celebrates children, families and literacy in Warwick with a tremendous outpouring of donated time, resources, products, and financial backing from within the community. Sixty-two authors were in attendance autographing their books, the Uncle Brother’s Band provided snappy children’s music, and children made free finger puppets, with the help of teen volunteers.
The Festival was presented by the Albert Wisner Public Library and sponsored primarily by Warwick residents Glenn P. and Susan D. Dickes, who funded such event necessities as the tents, promotional materials, hiring the band, and lunch vouchers at Caffe a la Mode for the authors.
“The event is a win for everybody. It’s a win for the children, a win for the parents, a win for literacy, for the local merchants and restauranteurs…we love this event for all of these reasons,” said Glenn P. Dickes. Additional support for the event was provided by Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe, the Village of Warwick, ShopRite of Warwick, and the Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market.
The main event organizers were Kate Eicher, Lisa Laico and Judy Pedersen, who lined up the authors and determined, by consensus, which books and how many should be ordered for the event. Ye Olde Book Shoppe owner Tom Roberts managed the ordering, storage, delivery of the books to the festival, and the sales of the books, contributing 25% of the gross sales to the Library Foundation. ShopRite provided snacks and beverages for the authors and the Village of Warwick provided the use of the Railroad Green and the electricity necessary to power the event.
Warwick Valley Telephone donated Internet service, cables, the connection needed to support the check-out process, as well as staff member Justin Trone, who was on hand to ensure the smooth operation of the check-out process.
Event organizer Lisa Laico said, “WVT has donated hours and hours of time testing equipment. We relied on WiFi in the past, which was slow due to the amount of traffic. Without hesitation, WVT jumped in and Justin has been fabulous.”
The event was executed by staff of Ye Olde Warwick Book Shoppe, the Friends of the Library, and a large group of teen volunteers. Many of the teens have been volunteering their time throughout the summer. They created hand-made gifts for each of the authors for the gift bags they were given and even learned sign language to assist with book readings which were also presented in sign language.
Warwick Valley High School senior Ryan Richards said, “Originally, I needed volunteer hours for school, and now I have enough, but I just decided to come back because I enjoy it.”
Teen volunteers could be seen throughout the event wearing their bright green “Warwick Children’s Book Festival” T-shirts, manning the check-out registers, helping with event operation and working with small children at the finger puppet table.
Author Susan Jaramillo was one of the 62 authors at the event, representing independent publisher Canticos, with her collection of accordion-style books which tell Latin American nursery rhymes in both Spanish and English. “Two families came together, since they felt there were not enough board books to celebrate our culture,” Jaramillo said. “They are interpreted in a way that rhymes in English, so they roll off your tongue.” Each book has a corresponding app, where parents and children can learn the song associated with each nursery rhyme, making story time an interactive, fun and bilingual experience.
Children and parents alike browsed through the many tables of books, interacting with authors, and had the opportunity to take home autographed copies of their works. The creators of the “Ladybug Girl” collection books not only signed books with a personalized note from author David Soman, but illustrator Jacky Davis drew a small sketch of the child wearing ladybug wings. Weather cooperated perfectly, with the sun shining and temperatures quite warm for the season, as this bountiful display of community support and happy parents and children cultivating their love of books, blossomed on Railroad Avenue.