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ATTENTION CHILDREN AND TEENS ATTENDING THE 2015 NATIONAL BOOK FESTIVAL: Watch Out for Pigs Eating Toast and Kids Flying from Posts!

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The following is a guest post written by Kahîn Mohammad, Program Specialist of the Young Readers Center of the Library of Congress.

MercyPiled high and slathered in delicious butter is the best way to eat toast according to Mercy Watson. Mercy Watson is the beloved fictional character and star of the bestselling book series for early readers by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen, celebrating her 10th birthday in 2015. During the Festival acclaimed performance troupe, The Story Pirates, will present a never-before-seen, improvised, musical and comedic extravaganza that explores themes of unconventional families and unconditional love.

Actors will engage the audience with fun interactive skits in a dramatic show inspired by hilarious hijinks of the series’ “porcine wonder.”  The program will be bookended by a talk by the author.

Her newest book released in August 2015 is Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon, which is the second book in the “Tales from Deckawoo Drive” series, a spinoff from Mercy Watson. DiCamillo is no stranger to The Library of Congress; she is the current National Ambassador for Young People’s literature, and a two-time Newbery Award winner.

Kate DiCamillo, 4th National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
Kate DiCamillo, 4th National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

She will be in the Children’s Pavilion Saturday, September 5 at 10:00 am to 11:10 am and signing her books from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in the author signing area of the Festival.

From a great and fun work of fiction we transcend to something so grand and so magnificent that it sounds like fiction . . . but is not.

Can you juggle daggers while balancing on a rolling globe? Catch someone who’s flying toward you? Flip a dozen back handsprings? The nine teens featured in Cynthia Levinson’s newest nonfiction book, Watch Out for Flying Kids: How Two Circuses, Two Countries, and Nine Kids Confront Conflict and Build Community, perform these astonishing feats and many more. Five are a diverse mix of inner-city and suburban kids who train with Circus Harmony in St. Louis, Missouri. The others are two Israeli Arabs and two Jews with the Galilee Circus in northern Israel. Both troupes are social circuses whose mission is to bring together young people who would otherwise never meet–and to change the world one juggler, tumbler, and contortionist at a time.Front

“The reason I write nonfiction,” Levinson says, “is that I’m better at finding stories than at making them up. Also, there’s power in truth. Things happen in real life that aren’t believable in fiction.” Watch Out for Flying Kids certainly tells one of those remarkable stories that is hard to believe, yet true.

The book takes us on the journey as the teens confront racism in the Midwest and tribalism in the Middle East, and deal with obstacles that are personal, physical, and political. When the two circuses form a partnership, they become a high-flying medley of races, ethnicities, languages, religions, and cultures. During the Festival book talk, scheduled for 10:00-11:10 AM at the Teen Pavilion, we will be treated to unbelievable feats by members of both troupes along with a discussion with the author. Levinson is the author of the award-winning non-fiction book for children We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March. A book signing will follow from 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM.