Redefining the Classroom

LSSU to host second annual Superior Book Festival

Posted: October 26th, 2013

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University welcomes two popular Michigan children’s book authors to campus on Saturday, Nov. 2, for its second annual Superior Children’s Book Festival. Johnathan Rand and Nancy Shaw will both speak at the festival, which is free and open to adults and children alike.

The day’s programs run from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. in the Walker Cisler Center’s Superior Room. In addition to Shaw’s presentation at 12:30 p.m. and Rand’s at 2 p.m., the festival will include a Picture Book Party and a “How to Break into Children’s Publishing” panel, both at 11:30 a.m., an “Intro to Steampunk” presentation at 2 p.m., along with plenty of children’s crafts, games, and prizes throughout the day.

Rand is a pen name for Christopher Wright, a Pontiac native who also writes for adults under the name Christopher Knight. He is the author of more than 60 books, and is well known for his Michigan Chillers and American Chillers series, as well as The Adventure Club and Freddie Fernortner, Fearless First Grader. More than four million copies of his books are in print.

Johnathan Rand

Rand is a former radio/television personality and an accomplished voice actor whose lively presentations are fun and kid-friendly. His presentation is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the Cisler Center’s East Superior Room.

Ann Arbor resident Shaw is the author of the children’s classic picture book Sheep in a Jeep and its many follow-up titles, including Sheep on a Ship, Sheep in a Shop, Sheep out to Eat, and more. She is also the author of the multi-cultural picture book Elena’s Story.

Her awards include a Fanfare citation from Horn Book for Sheep in a Jeep, a Best Books citation from School Library Journal for Sheep in a Ship, and a Reading Magic Award from Parenting magazine for Sheep in a Shop. Her presentation is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in the Cisler Center’s East Superior Room.

Nancy Shaw

Numerous Upper Peninsula children’s book authors also will be special guests at the festival, including: Carrie Pearson, author of A Warm Winter Tail and A Cool Summer Tail; Gretchen Preston, author of Valley Cats, The Adventures of Boonie and River and other books in the Valley Cats series; Milly Balzarini, author of A Day with Stanley; Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale, author of parenting self-help books, including Middle School Years Without Tears; and Tim LaJoice, author and illustrator of Woodaline the Beaver. These Upper Peninsula children’s book authors will be signing their books throughout the day.

As part of the festival, local elementary students in third, fourth, and fifth grade have been asked to participate in a Tall Tales Contest. Led by LSSU English and Education Prof. Mary McMyne, college students designed a lesson plan to teach the unit so children could write their own tall tales. The winning entry for each grade level will be announced and first place prizes will be awarded at the festival.

“The purpose of the Superior Children’s Book Festival is to promote books and reading to local children and families in the Upper Peninsula, to serve as a bridge between the LSSU and the local community, and to support Michigan authors,” said festival coordinator Janice Repka, LSSU professor of English and creative writing.

Repka is author of the humorous children’s books The Stupendous Dodgeball Fiasco, a Junior Library Guild selection and a 2008 Nebraska Golden Sower Award Honor Book, and The Clueless Girl’s Guide to being a Genius, a Scholastic Book Club pick. She will also be available to sign books throughout the day.

The Superior Children’s Book Festival is the only children’s book festival held in Michigan’s U.P. It was created last year as a collaborative effort between Bayliss Public Library -- now a member of the Superior District Library-- and LSSU. The second annual festival is being sponsored in part by a grant from the Michigan Center for the Book and a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. It has also been made possible by a grant from the LSSU Cultural Affairs Committee.

For more information, go to the Superior Children’s Book Festival web site. -LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,; Prof. Janice Repka, 635-2448,