Charlotte S. Huck saw the benefits of bringing people and books together.
This year, the annual Children’s Literature Festival she founded decades ago celebrates its 22nd anniversary March 2-3 at the University of Redlands, 1200 E. Colton Ave.
The festival is one-of-a-kind in California, organizers say, bringing some of the industry’s top children’s book creators together in one place over the course of two days. The event follows Huck’s lead and pays homage to the educator’s work to turn children into lifelong readers.
Typically, the festival draws educators, librarians, parents and students.
The festival “is really a terrific jewel that exists here in Redlands,” said Char Burgess, U of R vice president for external affairs and dean emerita. Burgess is also Huck’s niece.
“Every year we try and think of ways to get more and people people aware of it (the festival),” Burgess said. “That’s our biggest challenge.”
Authors participating — all of whom Burgess described as “world class” — include Lesa Cline-Ransome, Marc Tyler Nobleman, James E. Ransom and Kathi Appelt.
Illustrator R. W. Alley, responsible for providing artwork for several popular published works, including Michael Bond’s “Paddington” series, also will make an appearance.
Alley’s visit comes as Paddington celebrates his 60th birthday, and the longtime illustrator said he is excited to meet with fellow book lovers at the festival.
For this particular festival, Alley plans to focus on his work on the Paddington series, particularly because of the anniversary and Bond’s death last summer.
“And I just completed the last Paddington picture book he wrote. So, there’s a lot to talk about,” Alley said. “Paddington is a character, a person, a bear who navigates the world in such an optimistic and generous way that he’s the perfect model for some of the behavior we need to revisit in our society today.
“Michael Bond was extra generous in sharing Paddington’s world with me,” he said. “I could never write the story, nor the voice of Paddington quite like he could.”
Sy Montgomery, a naturalist, author and scriptwriter, has confirmed her attendance and will lead the annual Town & Gown Author’s reception on March 2, which is open to the public. Montgomery will give a lecture on her works and guests will have a chance to meet her and other participating festival authors.
Registration information and a full schedule of festival events is available at www.redlands.edu/charlottehuckfestival. Registration costs for the festival vary from $100 to $200; tickets for the Town & Gown reception only is $30 for Town & Gown members and $35 for nonmembers. Registration is due Feb. 21. Discounts are available for groups until Feb. 15.