Thursday, December 9, 2021


 Last week I hung out with a group of dedicated literary Christmas angels at the 18th Annual Storybook Holiday hosted by Frostburg State University's Children's Literature Centre. It was truly an inspiring, jolly, and unforgettable experience.

There are many organizations that promote children's literature—and then there is The Children's Literature Centre. They celebrate their 40th anniversary next year. Not only do they do groundbreaking work culturally and academically, they are great supporters of home, school, and the community.  Each year the CLC hosts many events involving books and authors that are fun.  Fun for children! 

In early October I received an invitation from Dr. Bill Bingman, the founder of the Centre, to have my book Santa's Underwear featured at the event! An author visit with the PreK-2nd graders at Beall Elementary (the CLC's adopted school) was scheduled on Friday morning, then a presentation and book signing at the historic Hotel Gunter during the Storybook festivities on Saturday. I was also invited to ride in the town parade—a first for me! I looked forward to the event for the next eight weeks!

Thursday, December 2: My husband and I arrive in Frostburg, Maryland—a beautiful Allegheny Mountain college town. FYI: I am directionally challenged and my kind, tolerant, understanding husband, Paul, usually drives me to out-of-town events. Otherwise, I might be wandering across the countryside for an undisclosed length of time—perhaps forever. My car's GPS voice sounds disdainful—not helpful!

Right away we felt the festivities.  I spied these signs on the street!

We made our way over to City Place where preparations were ongoing. Handmade snowflakes hung from the ceiling!

Three hard-working volunteer angels, Peg Kealey, Majorie Nelson, and Ellen Arnon were making clever crafts for the Frostburg children.

The Director of the Children's Literature Centre, Dr. Sarah O'Neal, revealed the wonderful window painting by talented local art teacher, Marne Troutman.  

Dr. O'Neal is also artistically talented. She designed this window display at the local bookstore Main Street Books. Notice she matched all of Santa's underwear from my book!

It was a pleasure to meet the fabulous Graduate Assistant Elves, Taylor McCarty, Ellie Bolton (Lead Graduate Assistant), and Erica Hill. These hardworking, charming graduate students did brilliant work for Storybook Holiday—and were very helpful to me during this event! Also, thanks also to Kelly Claxton, the Mass Communications Intern.

Friday, December 3: I presented at Beall Elementary School. I must say they were some of the most attentive and well-behaved children I have ever dealt with. And, I signed some generously donated books for them! 

There was excitement in the town all day Friday. Frostburg was alive with Christmas cheer! Even the parking meters were decorated!

Paul with his favorite!

Saturday, December 4: STORYBOOK HOLIDAY TIME!

There was a wonderful time to be had by all.  Here's the schedule of events!

Dr. Bingman and co-founder of CLC, Dr. Barbara Ornstein, were ready to celebrate!
The Elf Olympics with fierce cookie tossing and marshmallow catching, all officiated by the town's own Jack Frost, were exciting!

I felt like a celebrity in the parade. My driver was the very kind and patient husband of Dr. O'Neal— popular 6th grade math teacher, John! The sign bearer, daringly perched on top of the roof of the car, was graduate assistant elf, Erica Hill.

Of course, the man of the hour eventually made his grand and important appearance!

I loved meeting up with Rick Stevenson, aka Jack Frost, who is actually a talented teacher and aspiring children's book writer. And Fred Powell who owns that wonderful Frostburg book store, Main Street Books.

Back at City Place everything was almost ready!

One of the examples of numerous crafts (with instructions) that were made for the children to enjoy!

I visited the police station during the "Cocoa with the Po-Po" event. I was honored to be given the tour by Police Commissioner Kevin Grove.

I'm running out of room. My presentation that afternoon at Hotel Gunter was well-received. Everyone was lovely and the children were adorable.

A Christmas Carol author Charles Dickens once wrote, "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year long!" The folks at the CLC and Frostburg have certainly done both!    

                      MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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