BAR HARBOR — Renowned children’s book author and illustrator Ashley Bryan will give the opening address at the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival on Saturday, Oct. 10, at 10 a.m. at the newly restored 1932 Criterion Theatre.
A Fulbright scholar and recipient of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for contributions to children’s literature, Bryan has published more than 40 books and numerous humanitarian works.
“A love of art, love of nature and love of community are resonating themes in Ashley’s work and life. Those themes are perfectly in synch with our community-supported festival where we want kids to celebrate story,” said organizer Carrie Jones, a New York Times bestselling author. “We are thrilled and honored that he agreed to share his vibrant, brilliant, loving vision of the world and of story with our festival.”
After the opening ceremonies, the festival will feature free events at the Jesup Memorial Library, YWCA and Bar Harbor Congregational Church, where children, parents and adult writers can interact with over 40 authors. Writers will give readings, hold workshops and participate in panels and signings.
The event brings over 40 authors and illustrators into Mount Desert Island and Trenton schools on Friday, Oct. 9. Authors will hold free workshops, readings and discussions with the students.
The festival began when Jones and Bar Harbor Police Sgt. Shaun Farrar were inspired by the link between criminal activity and literacy as well as Jones’ father’s own struggles with reading, which kept him from pursuing school past second grade.
“My dad was a brilliant man, but his inability to read held him back. His confidence suffered, and his life suffered,” Jones said.
The duo’s efforts to bring a celebration of story to the island has been supported by the Jesup Memorial Library, Sherman’s Books, Bar Harbor Fire and Police Departments, YWCA of MDI, Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Bar Harbor Rotary Club, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance, MDI YMCA’s Togetherhood Program, Mystery Cove Books, ArtWaves, Tom Wallace Construction, Atlantic Brewing Company, Anchorspace, Bar Harbor Savings and Loan, and other individual businesses and donors.
All of the authors attending the festival are donating their time. The book festival hopes to raise funds to cover authors’ meals, gas to get them to/from the schools and airports, as well as the cost of a book for each child.