Fuddles at the OC Children’s Book Festival!

The Orange County RegisterThe Orange County Children’s Book Festival goes virtual for 2020

By PETER LARSEN | plarsen@scng.com | Orange County Register

PUBLISHED: September 1, 2020 at 8:45 a.m. | UPDATED: September 1, 2020 at 2:17 p.m.

The Orange County Children’s Book Festival normally gives kids and families a chance to meet authors in person for stories, signings, and selfies.

But as you may have noticed, things are different in 2020.

And so for the 17th annual event, the festival is going virtual when it opens Monday, Sept. 13 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 25th.

Author and poet Jason Reynolds will participate in a special panel on race during the virtual version of the Orange County Children’s Book Festival. (Photo by Kia Chenelle)

Authors this year come from a wide range of backgrounds, including kid lit superstar Jeff Kinney, creator of the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series, Library of Congress national ambassador for young people’s literature Jason Reynolds, and actress Kristen Bell, best known for TV series such as “The Good Place” and “Veronica Mars” and as the voice of Anna in the “Frozen” films.

David Shannon, whose “No David!” won a Caldecott Honor Book award, is part of the program this year. Kwame Alexander, whose novel-in-verse “The Crossover” won a Newbery Medal, is on the lineup, too.

The festival is structured in two parts. “Story & Activity Time” kicks this off on Monday, Sept. 14 with five new videos each day in which authors and illustrators share their work with viewers.

This part of the festival will also include two special panels on Saturday, Sept. 19 to discuss the twin concerns — the COVID-19 pandemic and racism — of 2020.

“Good Grief!” will focus on the feelings such as sadness that have flourished in the wake of the pandemic and shutdown and especially the necessary social distancing that it requires. Authors Anastasia Higginbotham, Patrice Karst, and Maggie Grinnell will talk with social worker Melissa Fisher Goldman about the ways in which storytelling can help and heal and offer resources for this strange new school year.

“Be the Change” will consider ways to talk about race with children, to address racial differences in positive ways, and to explore story as a tool for action and awareness. Panelists include Kwame Alexander, author-poet Jason Reynolds, and U.S. Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine.

“Red Carpet Time,” held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 24-25, features the best-known authors of the festival in virtual programs.


On Saturday, Chef Gino Campagna will host a virtual cooking class, David Shannon will discuss “Roy Digs Dirt,” Joy Cho will present her “Be Curious,” Frans Vischer will hold a session titled “Learn how to draw Olaf,” and Olaf’s friend Anna — also known as Bell — will appear with her collaborator Benjamin Hart to talk about her debut book, “The World Needs More Purple People.”

The following day the festival wraps up with Bell back again to talk about her book in a session that also features Adam Grant and his “Leif and the Fall,” Sarah Mlynowski shows up with “Whatever After Special Edition: Abby in Oz,” animator Frans Vischer does an encore drawing session featuring his cat character Fuddles, Chef Maria Loi teaches a virtual cooking class, and Kinney talks about “Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure,” a new twist on the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

For all the information and details on times and registrations, go to www.kidsbookfestival.com.


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