My day at the Savannah Children’s Book Festival was a very interesting and offbeat one. Many fun activities, events and happenings filled the day. There was a little of everything, including crafts, balloon animals, people dressed as story characters, storytellers, drum musicians and more.
I’m getting to the “more” part right now. The event featured many talented writers and illustrators in children’s picture books. The highlight of my day was when I visited Elizabeth Dulemba’s tent at the festival. Dulemba is primarily an illustrator, but has only recently begun illustrating and writing. Out of all the authors I visited, she was the only one who spent a full hour with the children.
Dulemba read from three of her works. The first picture book she read, “Soap, Soap, Soap – Jabon, Jabon, Jabon,” was the first book she wrote and illustrated. Another picture book she read was “Paco and the Giant Chile Plant,” which she only illustrated. During her reading, one of the children said, “Hey, that’s Jack & The Beanstalk.” In which Dulemba said, “Yes, you are right!” Then, after the story, she took volunteer children from the audience and had them do gestures to show the tale moving from place to place and changing, as each culture develops its own version. She also recited the newest picture book that she illustrated, “The Twelve Days of Christmas in Georgia,” and showcased some of the research that went into the story and illustrations.
After each book she read, she followed it up with an illustration done in pastels. At first, she would start out with shapes, and then, she’d add color. She’d joke, in the beginning, and say it didn’t look like she could’ve illustrated those books. But then, she’d use a special weapon – her “magic finger” to bring the colors out in a way that dramatically enhanced the drawings. She’d also get everyone to cheer her on by saying, “ooooh!” and “aaaah!” The best part about the illustrations, though, were that they were to help raise money for children’s programs, she said.
I first met Dulemba, as a member of SCBWI, as I once had dreams of becoming a children’s book author. (I still might like to do that at some point, but it’s not a priority right now.) I was telling her that right now, I just want to write for the enjoyment of it and that my goal is to become a children’s librarian. This brings me to the point of the primary reasons why I came. I came because I’m passionate about children’s literature. Similarly, I want to continue learning and sharing with others who are passionate about providing services to young people.