“You can find magic wherever you look.  Sit back and relax all you need is a book!” – Dr. Seuss

From an early age, reading gives the gift of lifelong learning, an avenue for personal growth, and a medium of entertainment. The Fox Cities Book Festival provides a unique opportunity for festival-goers to not only indulge their current literary interests and discover new tastes they may not yet have explored, but it also provides an avenue to return to their reading roots. From picture books, to Young Adult, to biographical nostalgia, the 2019 line-up is set to remind us to slow down, listen to a story, and take the time to reflect.

Family and children-friendly events are peppered throughout the valley from October 7th through the 12th. Come join the fun, and celebrate your literary inner-child.


“Writers don’t write writing. They write reading.” – Sage writing advice from Avi, in a 2013 interview for his official website.

In addition to visiting and speaking at six area school districts during the week of the Fox Cities Book Festival, award-winning children’s author, Avi, will have a book signing and meet and greet on October 11th, at 4:30pm at the Elisha D. Smith Public Library in Menasha (Click here for the event on Facebook).

Avi, 2013 [photo by Katherine Warde]

Avi is part of a family of writers extending back into the 19th century. Born in 1937 and raised in New York City, Avi was educated in local schools, before going to the Midwest and then back to NYC to complete his education. Starting out as a playwright—while working for many years as a librarian—he began writing books for young people when the first of his kids came along.

His first book was Things That Sometimes Happen, published in 1970, recently reissued. Since then he has published seventy books. Winner of many awards, including the 2003 Newbery award for Crispin: the Cross of Lead (Hyperion), two Newbery Honors, two Horn Book awards, and an O’Dell award, as well as many children’s choice awards, Avi frequently travels to schools around the country to talk to his readers.

Among his most popular books are Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing But the Truth, the Poppy books, Midnight Magic, and The Fighting Ground. His most recent books are Old Wolf, The Most Important Thing: Stories about Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers, and School of the Dead. Learn more at avi-writer.com, where you can read his weekly blog, Word Craft. Follow Avi on Facebook, where he shares an inside look at his writing process facebook.com/avi.writer and on Twitter @avi3writer.

Avi lives in Clark, Colorado, with his wife.

Richard Ratay

“Are we there yet?” No other words inspire as much nostalgia for sibling bickering, kitschy roadside attractions, and endless stretches of cornfield-lined, two-lane highways. If you’ve ever packed the kids into the family hatchback and taken to the open roads (or perhaps endured the same childhood right of roadside passage from a backseat vantage) then Richard Ratay’s Don’t make me pull over! An Informal History of the Family Road Trip (2018)  will resonate with your inner-child, and take you back to the Golden Era of family road trips.

“A rousing Ratay family ride-along, Don’t Make Me Pull Over! reveals how the family road trip came to be, how its evolution mirrored the country’s, and why those magical journeys that once brought families together – for better and worse – have largely disappeared.

Part pop history and part whimsical memoir in the spirit of National Lampoon’s Vacation – Don’t Make Me Pull Over! is a nostalgic look at the golden age of family road trips – a halcyon era that culminated in the latter part of the twentieth century, before portable DVD players, iPods, and Google Maps.”

In the days before cheap air travel, families didn’t so much take vacations as survive them. Between home and destination lay thousands of miles and dozens of annoyances, and with his family Richard Ratay experienced all of them – from being crowded into the backseat with noogie-happy older brothers, to picking out a souvenir only to find that a better one might have been had at the next attraction, to dealing with a dad who didn’t believe in bathroom breaks.”

Ratay is the author of the book “Don’t Make Me Pull This Thing Over! An Informal History of the Family Trip.” He will be presenting at Kaukauna Public Library on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at 6:30pm and at the Appleton Public Library on Wednesday, October 9th, at 9:30am. Join Ratay, commiserate with fellow passengers, and enjoy the ride on a trip down memory-lane.



Pamela Cameron

Humans have been seafaring for tens of thousands of years. And we haven’t been alone on our seaworthy vessels. Animals – semi-domesticated and semi-independent – have accompanied people on their nautical expeditions since the time the first sailor took the helm.

From Mrs. Chippy, the arctic-exploring, ironically-named tom of “Endurance,” to Sinbad, the scrappy pup of the WWII, USCG Campbell, to Chesty XV, English Bulldog, and the modern day, Marine Corps mascot, pets have been centuries-long, trusted companions for maritime explorers.

Pamela Cameron, children’s author, elementary and middle school librarian, and public librarian in both Wisconsin and Michigan, has brought to life the story of one such iconic sea-going animal.

In Sport – Ship Dog of the Great Lakes Cameron tells the true story of a puppy rescued in Milwaukee by the crew of the lighthouse tender the Hyacinth in 1914. “Sport” spent the following twelve years as a ship dog traveling on Lake Michigan. His work and adventures as a ship dog are told in a voice appealing to both young and old alike. Using a written story with a picture book illustrated by Renée Graef, Sport’s story has become immortalized alongside scores of other maritime pets.

Cameron is a member of the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History, the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, and the Great Lakes Historical Society. In her own words: “The path to getting Sport: Ship Dog of the Great Lakes published has been long and zig-zaggy! I’ve enjoyed meeting so many people who have shared Great Lakes history. The many visits I’ve taken to maritime and other historical sites have been fun, and sometimes harrowing. More about the beautiful, bumpy and washed out road to Crisp Point in future blogs.”

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

The Great Lakes – Ontario, Erie, Huran, Michigan, and Superior – comprise the largest body of fresh water on earth. The lakes’ 9,500 miles of shoreline border eight US states (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Minnesota, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) and one Canadian province (Ontario): more mileage then the combined east and west coasts of the continental United States.

Renee Graef is an award-winning illustrator of more than eighty books for children, including the Kirsten series for American Girl, B is for Badger, and many of the My First Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Cameron will be presenting “History not Forgotten- Sport- Ship Dog of the Great Lakes” on Friday, October 11th, at 10:00am to 11:00am, at the Elisha D. Smith Public Library in Menasha. During her presentation, Cameron will explore details and stories about Sport to convey why Sport was known all around Lake Michigan. Geographical and nautical language will be used and explored to support the captain of the Hyacinth, Captain Maynard’s, statement, “Sport was just a dog, but he was always a good dog and a good shipmate, a friend to everybody and everybody’s friend.” Exploration of the reasons for lighthouses, technological changes and Lake Michigan navigation will be included in the program. All ages are welcome!

Miranda Paul

“Miranda Paul is a award-winning children’s author of One Plastic Bag and Water is Water, both named Junior Library Guild selections. Her titles have received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly in addition to being named to several recommended and “best of” reading lists. 10 Little Ninjas also was named an Amazon Best Book of the Month (August 2016). Miranda makes regular appearances at schools, libraries, and bookstores, and has been a guest presenter at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center along with environmental activist Isatou Ceesay. Miranda also serves as Mentorship chair for We Need Diverse Books™ (www.diversebooks.org), volunteers for Books for Africa, and is a regional advisor for the Society of Children’s Book Writers (Wisconsin Chapter). She believes in working hard, having fun, and being kind. Learn more about her current and forthcoming titles at www.mirandapaul.com.”

Since 2015, Paul has been recognized through many awards and honors. Some of her many recognitions include the 2016 Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People (for One Plastic Bag), two Minnesota Star of the North Book Awards in both 2017 and 2018, and the August 2016 Amazon Best Book of the Month – Ages 3-5, among many more.

Come enjoy “Storytime with Miranda Paul” on Tuesday, October 8th at 9:00am to 10:00am at the Kaukauna Public Library. This storytime is perfect for friends ages three and up! Miranda Paul has been an avid recycler since elementary school, when she won a contest by transforming a discarded cereal box into a beautiful holiday ornament. She still loves rummaging for treasures but now spends most of her time teaching and writing books for children. Over the past decade, Miranda has traveled to the Gambia as a volunteer teacher, a fair‐trade and literacy advocate, a freelance journalist—which led her to the subject of her new book, One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia. The book has garnered a starred review from School Library Journal and was named a Junior Library Guild selection. Miranda lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with one husband, two kids, ten bookcases, and a hundred new ideas.

Lesley Kagen

Within the past couple of decades, Young Adult (YA) fiction has been adopted by audiences of all ages – young and old. YA stories have found their way onto many a grown-up’s bookshelf. So too have stories about the transition from childhood into full-fledged adulthood.

Lesley Kagen, national bestselling novelist, comes to the 2019 Fox Cities Book Festival to share coming of age stories with themes of loss, family, mystery, community, siblings, and childhood. Her first book, Whistling in the Dark (2007), set in her hometown of a Milwaukee neighborhood, made the New York Times Best Seller list.

As a child, Nancy Drew and Carolyn Keene were big influences in Kagen’s life. Favorite books of hers are To Kill a Mockingbird and A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas.

More on Kagen, in her own words:

“I was born and raised in Milwaukee in a couple of blue-collar neighborhoods much like the ones where Whistling in the Dark, Good Graces, and The Mutual Admiration Society are set.

“Although I’ve been writing from a very early age—copious usage of the Almighty’s name insured an easy win in St. Sebastian’s all-school poetry contest—it wasn’t until my children flew the coop that I found the time to take a run at my first novel—Whistling in the Dark—again, a story unto itself. Hard to believe that here I am almost ten years later with the release of my eighth book, The Mutual Admiration Society, looming on the horizon.

“When I’m not writing, there’s nothing I love more than spending time with the loves of my life, my daughter, Casey, my son-in-law, John-Michael, and my magical g-babies, Charlie and Hadley. Also enjoy hiking in the woods and on Lake Michigan beaches with my pup, The Amazin’ Gracie, riding my bike around my adorable town, reading, of course, committing random acts of kindness—fun!—advocating for better and more available mental health care, meditating, going to the movies, birding—red-tail hawks make me weep—and eating out with pals—I am an absolutely horrendous cook, but a darn good baker.”

Kagen’s novels are written from the viewpoints of children or young narrators. Join her at the Kaukauna Public Library on Tuesday, October 8th at 1:30pm to 2:30pm for her presentation – “Coming of Age Stories.”

Rae Miles

From Harry Potter to Twighlight, YA fiction has created a significant presence in the fields of literary and creative arts. YA writer, Rae Miles, who started creating characters at the ripe age of nine, finally found her literary voice within that space in 2018 with the release of her debut novel, Successor.

Successor is a YA Fantasy novel about seventeen-year-old Evan. She looks at graduation as a means of freedom. She just never imagined she would find it in another world. She discovers a hidden heritage from her mother, and with it comes magic, power, and responsibility. But claiming her birthright will be dangerous, and could endanger her newfound family and the man she loves.

In a 2018 interview with Tiffany Turner for “The Indie Children’s Authors Connection,” Miles had a few things to say about her writing process, and what writing is to her:

In her own words, “I like writing fantasy because it allows me to make my own rules as to how the world works…I love reading romance and would love to try my hand at it some day…To me, writing is creation in its rawest form, where words alone can create a more vivid universe than any other art form ever could.”

Miles did recently dabble in the Romance genre through narrating her first audiobook, Dangerous Hauntings, by Jo Barrett. It is now available on Audible.

When not writing, Rae’s absorbed in reading, movies, music, and napping. She loves animals of all kinds, and currently lives in Wisconsin with her three quirky cats.

Join Miles on October 10th at the Neenah Public Library from 12:00pm to 1:00pm During her presentation, “From Writer to Author: A Journey,” Miles will reveal the process of taking a manuscript from first draft to a polished, final product suitable for submitting to agents and editors. She will touch on the importance of self-editing, finding critique partners and beta readers, preparing a query package, researching agents and editors to determine the perfect fit for a project, the submission process, and more. She will also go over her own experience of receiving a publishing offer and what happens after signing a contract.