2019 Authors in Schools Literacy Program and the Amelia Island Book Festival


Last Friday I had the extra special treat of visiting Southside Elementary School students in Fernandina Beach, Florida in conjunction with the Amelia Island Book Festival’s Authors in Schools Literacy Program.


Photo courtesy of Southside Elementary School. 

I spoke to 600 plus kids from kindergarten to second grade about how I became a writer and the writing and revision process. The students asked amazing questions. My favorite question of the day (if one can have a favorite) came from a little boy who was curious about how my son convinced me to get three dogs.

Through the extreme generosity of the Amelia Island Book Festival, 27 authors presented to more than 12,000 students at 16 Nassau County public schools, five volunteer pre-kindergarten programs, and one private school. A grand total of 12,300 books were purchased for students.

The following day I attended the book expo where I had the chance to sign books for some of the Southside Elementary School students, answer many, many questions about Phil, Jim, and Harry, and I also learned that Amelia Island is very peacock friendly.

Here are a few photographic highlights:

I’d like to shout out a VERY HUGE THANK YOU to the Amelia Island Book Festival, Southside Elementary School, and to all of the hard working volunteers at the expo. I can hardly wait for next year’s festival.



Amelia Island Book Festival 2018


I wrote this post while on the plane flying back to glorious Newark, New Jersey.

Something doesn’t seem right about leaving Amelia Island’s beautiful sandy beaches, not to mention the 70-80 degree weather, for the snow-covered, flu stricken east coast.



I visited the island for the Amelia Island Book Festival. The festival also runs the Authors-in-Schools Program, whereby authors visit selected public schools and the festival purchases a book for each and every student through sales of ticketed events, generous donations, and sponsorship. This year the festival purchased over 11,000 books for students at 16 public schools across Nassau County.

I spent the day at Hilliard Elementary School speaking with second and third graders. The students had incredible questions, and I could hardly contain my glee when one student came up to me and asked if I was going to talk about figurative language.


Hilliard Elementary Artwork (Love it!) 

One recurring question at 99% of my school visits is: how old are you? Not sure why this is so important, but I used to give the students the answer. Now I make them do the math. And this was one of the best parts of my visit to Hilliard: one of the second graders got the right answer. It was a first!

And speaking of age, the Amelia Island Book Festival happened to fall on my birthday this year. I could not think of a more wonderful way to celebrate it than with books and literary friends.

Here are a few photographic highlights:


Check out the lovely birthday balloon from Nancy Viau! 


And this was the most delicious chocolate cupcake!

Thank you Nancy Viau for making my birthday so special. 


Nancy Viau 


Evelyne Holingue, Jennifer Swanson and Heather Macht


Eileen Meyer


Linda Seymour Carr and me 


Mike Maihack

I’d like to shout out a HUGE thank you to Danna Crump, librarian extraordinaire at Hilliard Elementary School for making me feel so welcome. Hilliard Elementary School is a very special place and I’m thrilled to have had a chance to visit with their students. I’d also like to thank the festival organizers, volunteers, and the terrific group of authors and illustrators that I met. I can hardly wait for next year’s festival.