First Author, Theme Set for 2009 Literary Festival

Children’s book illustrator and author Brian Pinkney is the first writer announced for the 2009 North Carolina Literary Festival, set for Sept. 10-13.

With the theme “A Celebration of Reading and Writing,” the free public festival at Carolina will include a stage dedicated to programs for children. Pinkney will read from his works, share his illustrations and interact with the audience.

Novelist and illustrator Daniel Wallace ’08, whose 1998 novel Big Fish became a movie, has provided illustrations for the festival’s new Web site, including the new festival logo, and will create other event materials.

“We’re confident that Brian’s energy and creativity will captivate our youngest attendees,” festival director Amy Baldwin said. “And Daniel, who teaches in UNC’s creative writing program, is a wonderful example of a multi-talented North Carolina author. We are so pleased that both are lending their artistic excellence to the festival.”

A complete list of authors and a schedule for the 2009 festival will be released this spring, Baldwin said. The festival will feature more than 125 authors representing all genres of books – local and nationally known authors, North Carolina favorites, well-known Southern writers and emerging artists.

The festival is an educational outreach project designed to promote reading and writing, spotlighting the literature of the American South. The libraries of UNC and N.C. State and Duke universities, with additional support from N.C. Central University, organize and sponsor the festival, whose location rotates biennially among Carolina, N.C. State and Duke. Since the festival began, it has been held in 1998 and 2002 at Carolina, 2004 at N.C. State and 2006 at Duke.

“The fifth North Carolina Literary Festival will include readings, discussions, exhibits, performances, book signings, lectures and book sales,” Baldwin said. “Programs and activities will be designed to attract people of all ages from across North Carolina and beyond.”

More than 100 volunteers will be needed for the festival, Baldwin said. Those interested in helping may register starting March 1.

The festival’s children’s area will cater to those 12 and under. Besides hearing from children’s authors, illustrators and storytellers, kids will be able to join in activities including making book bags, drawing, getting their pictures taken with character mascots and getting autographs from some of the presenters.

Pinkney’s participation in the festival is sponsored by the Susan Steinfirst Memorial Lecture in Children’s Literature in the UNC School of Information and Library Science. Steinfirst taught children’s and young adult literature in the school from 1976 to 1996.

Pinkney has received Caldecott Honors twice, for The Faithful Friend (Simon & Schuster, 1995), written by Robert D. San Souci, and Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra (Hyperion Books, 1997) by Pinkney’s wife, Andrea Davis Pinkney. Annual Caldecott Honors, from the American Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children, recognize illustrators of the most distinguished picture books published in the U.S.

Books Pinkney has written and illustrated include Hush, Little Baby (HarperCollins, 2005), Cosmo and the Robot (Greenwillow, 2000), JoJo’s Flying Side Kick (Simon & Schuster, 1995), and the winner of the 1997 Boston Globe-Hurn Book Award, The Adventures of Sparrowboy (Simon & Schuster, 1997).

Pinkney followed in the brush strokes of his father, Jerry Pinkney, also a children’s book illustrator. Brian Pinkney received the Coretta Scott King Award from the American Library Association, which honors black authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults, and three Coretta Scott King Honor Awards.

Wallace, the J. Ross MacDonald Distinguished Professor of English in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences, played the part of a professor in the 2003 film of Big Fish. Since that book put him on the literary map, he has written three additional novels: Ray in Reverse (Penguin, 2000), The Watermelon King (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2003) and Mr. Sebastian and the Negro Magician (Anchor, 2007).

Wallace’s work has been published in more than two dozen languages, and his illustrations have appeared in publications including The Los Angeles Times and Italian Vanity Fair. He has illustrated books including Pep Talks, Warnings and Screeds: Indispensable Wisdom and Cautionary Advice for Writers, by George Singleton, and Adventures in Pen Land: One Writer’s Journey from Inklings to Ink (UNC Press, 2008), by his UNC creative writing colleague Marianne Gingher.

“This is a dream job, drawing pictures for the North Carolina Literary Festival,” Wallace said. “I’m tempted to leave story writing to the amazingly talented festival participants and just spend my time doodling, but I probably won’t.”

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