The ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival returned to Fairytale Town for its 13th year on Sept. 28 and 29. The popular Land Park family destination was filled with the sights of children, authors, parents and imagination. The two-day event brought families together for readings and presentations from children’s authors and illustrators, many with local roots. Storytelling performances, hands-on literary activities and creative opportunities abounded within the grounds of the only literary-based park serving children of the Sacramento region.
Since 1959, when Fairytale Town was dedicated as a gift to the children of the Central Valley, this beloved park has been the site for numerous special events and educational opportunities. Summer concerts, cultural festivals, art events and literary celebrations have found Fairytale Town to be a welcome host. Nearly 230,000 guests from 30 countries and 100 ZIP codes walk under Humpty Dumpty’s Bridge to enter this land of imagination each year.
Children found craft activities throughout Fairytale Town, all with a literary theme. Various agencies shared information about available resources and provided books, backpacks and other surprises.
Sherri Duskey Rinker saw her first picture book, “Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site,” rise to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list. She said that the interests and energies of her two active boys have inspired her writing and also directed her choice of themes. She presented her latest book, “Steam Train, Dream Train,” on the Mother Goose Stage in full engineer garb.
Fairytale Town has always been a place for young adventurers. The Crooked Mile, King Arthur’s Castle, Farmer Brown’s Barn, the Old Woman in the Shoe and Cinderella’s Coach have been longtime favorites over the generations.
New additions such as the blue Little Engine That Could, as well as the renovated Pirate Ship and reimagined Sherwood Forest, help keep Fairytale Town fresh. Donations and public revenues fund this local institution that’s always looking for ways to invigorate and involve.
Parents and children have always found Fairytale Town to be a special place to bond. Parents share their favorite childhood stories and characters, while the younger members of the family make new discoveries with each visit.
Costumed characters are a beloved tradition at the park. At the ScholarShare Children’s Book Festival, Humpty Dumpty and Clifford brought many smiles to the young as they shared hugs and posed for photos. Despite the huge crowds, there was no shortage of activities and excitement from the many children.
Trevor Wyatt served as the high-energy emcee for the festival. His feats of magic completely involved the young audience, with many of them called to participate in the illusions on the Mother Goose Stage.
Kate David loved being part of this event at her daughter’s favorite park. The Land Park resident had recently published her first book, inspired by and starring her own daughter, Murphy.
Among the other authors at the festival were Jennifer Fosberry, who shared “Isabella: Star of the Story,” Ahmet Zappa (son of legendary musician Frank Zappa) who wrote “Because I’m Your Dad,” Erin Dealey, who shared “Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox” and Angela Dominguez, who presented “Let’s Go, Hugo!” Lori Mortensen presented “Cindy Moo,” Heather Rico shared “My Grateful Day,” Katie D. Stanford read “Duncan Goes to Australia!” and Jane Wattenberg shared her illustrations for “The Duck and the Kangaroo,” written by Edward Lear.
An especially interesting local author was Kim Zarins, who wrote “The Helpful Puppy.” Zarins, a professor at Sacramento State, currently serves as a professor of medieval literature and teaches courses in children’s literary classics. When asked if she’d ever considered connecting the two themes, she smiled and revealed that an upcoming work would do just that.
Michael Katz was a featured storyteller at both the Getty Center and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. During his storytelling performances, he entralled both young and old with his animated and interactive spin of fairy tales from around the world.
The Mother Goose Stage was filled with children during many readings and performances. It was often a challenge for a parent to get their child to leave the stage, as the authors and other performers kept them completely involved.
It was heartwarming to see so many families involved with literature at the event. Between the music, storytelling, games and children climbing on beloved Fairytale Town attractions, one could find parents and children sharing quieter moments.
Books were available for sale from Scholastic Book Fairs and Time Tested Books, the official book store for Fairytale Town. Some agencies offered free books in different languages to engage readers of all ages.
Safe & Super Halloween: A Hobbit Adventure was the next event, filling the weekend of Oct. 25 through 27 with over 17 trick-or-treat stations for little goblins. Gandalf, dwarves, elves, hobbits and Smaug the dragon were on hand bringing a bit of Middle Earth to Land Park. A costume parade and puppet shows further entertained the children at this year’s version of Fairytale Town’s Safe & Super Halloween.