High-profile Authors Converge on Rockhurst for Children’s Lit FestApril 4, 2013

Soon, Rockhurst University will be filled with 1,400 raucous and adoring fans, but it isn’t to see the latest musical acts. On Friday, the University will play host to the 17th annual DNA Literary Festival, which brings nationally and internationally recognized children’s book authors to Kansas City.

This year’s lineup includes: Peter Brown, author of The Curious Garden; Jack Gantos, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Dead End in Norvelt; Daniel Handler, who has penned many books as his literary double Lemony Snicket; Jon Klassen, author and illustrator of the New York Times best-selling I Want My Hat Back; Laura Amy Schlitz, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village; Hervé Tullet, author and illustrator of Press Here, which has spent 85 months on the New York Times best-sellers list.

Pete Cowdin, owner of the Brookside children’s book store, Reading Reptile, said he began this annual event as a way to distinguish his store from the other large book retailers that were popping up around the country.

“It has taken a life of its own and people appreciate it because it brings something different to the community,” Cowdin said. “It has been woven into the fabric of the store and it really sets the tone of the year.”

Area first, second and third graders, their teachers and parents, will have a chance to meet the authors from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. The fourth, fifth and sixth graders will have their chance to listen and meet the authors from noon to 1 p.m.

The cost is $6.50 per child and $10 for adults.

Mary Cary, secretary for Rockhurst University’s Department of Education, has been working with Cowdin to bring the festival to campus for 10 years.

“Throughout the day, there are just kids screaming and yelling with excitement,” Cary said. “Most of them know who these authors are and they are exited to meet who they consider their heroes.”

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