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Children's Literature Celebrated At The DNA LitFest

Next week marks the return of the Reading Reptile’s annual literature festival, the DNA LitFest.Six children’s authors and illustrators travel to Kansas City to discuss the creative process and storytelling.For our series called “Artists in their Own Words,” KCUR’s Laura Spencer spoke to Jerry Pinkney (The Lion and the Mouse), David Shannon (No, David!), and Patricia MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall) about their favorite children’s stories, inspirations, and advice for aspiring writers/illustrators.

Favorite Authors

"I love Dr. Seuss," says David Shannon. "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins influenced me in ways I didn't realize until recently. That story starts out really small and things continue to get out of hand. And that seems to be sort of a dynamic that a lot of my stories follow."

Love of Books

"My father once said, 'Read a book and find out who you are,'" recalls Patricia MacLachlan."I remember many books...I lived near a library. When I got older and could ride on my bicycle, I went to that library every day and read every single children's book. And then I started over again."

Advice for Writing/Illustrating as a Career

"To write as much as possible, to read as much as possible, and for budding artists, make sure you keep a sketchbook and draw daily," Jerry Pinkney says he tells children and adults interested in pursuing a career in children's books. "Be curious. And I think that will feed into the projects that you're working on."

The Reading Reptile’s DNA LitFest takes place Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31, 2012.

Friday: Kids Day, 9:15 am - 2:15 pm. Grades 1 - 6 at Rockhurst University (sold out). Also on Friday, Paul Mesner Puppets presents an original shadow puppet production of Jerry Pinkney’s The Lion and the Mouse, and selections from David Shannon’s No, David! stories, 5:00 pm, and book signing, 5:30 - 7:00 pm, at the Reading Reptile.

Saturday: Conference Day, 8:30 am - 3:00 pm, at the Plaza Library.

Check the Reading Reptile website for more information, or call 816-753-0441.

The “Artists in Their Own Words” series is supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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