Tammy Conner, a paraeducator from Hugger Elementary School, created some art for the school in preparation for the 2021 Authors in April program, which focuses on graphic novels and takes place in May this year.

Tammy Conner, a paraeducator from Hugger Elementary School, created some art for the school in preparation for the 2021 Authors in April program, which focuses on graphic novels and takes place in May this year.

Photo provided by Authors in April


‘Authors in April’ celebrates graphic novel authors and illustrators this May

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 6, 2021

 This year’s authors will come to town May 24-28.

This year’s authors will come to town May 24-28.

Photo provided by Authors in April

 Author Kirby Larson speaks with fourth and fifth grade students during a 2019 Authors in April visit.

Author Kirby Larson speaks with fourth and fifth grade students during a 2019 Authors in April visit.

Photo provided by Authors in April

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ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Through the magic of books, the Rochester-based Authors in April program has been connecting children with famous authors and illustrators for over 38 years — even if this year it’s taking place in May.

Founded in 1984 by a small group of local community leaders, Authors in April Inc. coordinates the Rochester-area Authors in April program — which is now a yearlong effort on the part of Rochester Community Schools, private school parents and educators, and the Rochester Hills Public Library to bring highly regarded children’s authors to the community’s elementary and middle school students.

“We are really promoting literacy,” said Jenny DeCuir, the president of the Authors in April board. “We believe that it’s a magical experience when the students meet the authors and illustrators, and we’re very much into keeping that love of creative writing and books and reading — which, I think, is something that you never grow out of and something that’s so needed.”

Organizers and students have been busy preparing for the author and illustrator visits all year.

“I’m really proud of our organization for coming up with some creative ways to bring our authors to town and to still provide an amazing program to our community. It just looks a little different this year,” said Lisa Wattai, a member of the Authors in April executive board.

The public is invited to kick off this year’s program — which celebrates graphic novels — by participating in a free community scavenger hunt May 12-16 in downtown Rochester.

“I know so many kids this year have created their own graphic novels,” Wattai said. “I keep hearing from parents that say, ‘Every spare minute my kid has, he or she is making a graphic novel or creating comics.’ It’s thrilling to have an entire year dedicated to graphic novels.”

The scavenger hunt will begin at the Rochester Hills Public Library, where families can access a clue booklet, or they can scan a QR code at participating stores for a new online option, that will lead them to various businesses downtown. In the storefront windows of participating businesses, families will find answers in books to questions about various Authors in April books and authors that they can record on their handout or submit online via the QR code link. Upon completion of the hunt, kids will be given a prize at the library.

Library Youth Services Manager Becky Raczkowski sits on the Authors in April board, which selects the authors to participate in the program each year, and provides the library’s input as to which authors will best captivate students each year. Once authors are selected by the board, the library purchases multiple copies of each of the book titles for the community to check out and enjoy at their leisure.

This year’s authors will come to town May 24-28 to visit schools, give presentations to students and sign books. Author Beth Ferry will visit kindergarten and first grade students, Jennifer L. Holm will meet with second and third grade students, and Jeffrey Brown will visit fourth and fifth grade students in person in Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township. Author Victoria Jamieson will meet with local middle school students virtually.

To help subsidize program costs, the authors will attend an ‘Evening With the Authors Benefit’ May 24 at The Rochester Community House, with a limited capacity. Adult attendees have the option of purchasing tickets to view live author presentations virtually for $20, add attendance at an in-person open house book sale and signing event for $30, or attend a private, in-person meet and greet with the authors and watch live presentations by the authors at The Community House for $50. For more ticket information, visit www.authorsinapril.org.

The public can participate in an online auction beginning at 6 p.m. May 17 and ending at 8 p.m. May 23.

“Chris Grabenstein, author of ‘Mr. Lemoncello’s Library’ and a bazillion other books, has offered a name in one of his books for the highest bidder,” DeCuir said. “That’s really fun.”

The public can also attend a free Authors in April Autograph Party 4-6 p.m. May 26 in the parking lot of the Rochester Hills Public Library to meet the authors, purchase books on-site and have their books autographed. The event is free, and registration is not needed.

To learn more about Authors in April, visit www.authorsinapril.org.

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