Children's authors a new feature at Youthtopia
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Wed., Jun. 1, 2011
It might not have been immediately evident from all the active fun kids were having, but this year’s Youthtopia celebration on May 29 had a more literary bent than usual.
Three local authors of children’s books were among the many businesses, agencies and craftspeople that set up booths at the day-long festival at Veterans’ Memorial Park on Taylor Hill Road.
Groton-based writer Christina Cody, clad in a plumed pirate hat, offered young visitors a peek through her “Pirate Scope,” a giant decorated cardboard tube which contained images from her book of the same name.
“It’s a book about a boy and his imagination,” Cody explained. Her central character turns a paper towel tube into a pirate spyglass, she said. When she discovered the giant cast-off cardboard tube herself, “it was literally one of those ‘aha!’ moments,” she said. She used her own imagination to create the prop for her booth, where she also allowed youngsters to choose a goodie from her “pirate chest.”
Nearby, M.J. Allaire wore a spiky red and black hat, alluding to her series of fantasy books, the “Denicalis Dragon Chronicles.” So far, three of her projected five young-adult novels have been published, she said.
“I’m working on book five…. [but] I’m also working a full-time job,” said the Uncasville writer. “There’s not enough hours in a day to do what I want to do.”
Matthew Goldman of Mystic, who writes under the name Constant Waterman, wasn’t wearing a funny hat – perhaps because, as both author and illustrator, he wears enough hats already. A lifelong writer, he turned from plays and poetry to prose a few years back and started doing children’s books last fall, incorporating his finely-detailed pen and ink drawings.
Literature aside, Youthtopia had plenty to keeps kids of all ages busy and entertained on a hot Sunday afternoon. From face-painting to jewelry-making, bouncy tents to musical performances, to fire and rescue equipment – even a Lifestar helicopter landing – there was lots to see and do.
Local agencies for children and area businesses were giving away trinkets ranging from wrist bands to tote bags. In the midst of carnival food venders hawking snow-cones, fried dough and other sweets, Griswold Dental Associates offered tooth care bags with toothbrushes and toothpaste. It wasn’t a tough sell, they said – they were also offering a chance to win a basket filled with candy, with more tooth care products buried in the middle.
“We like candy as much as anybody else,” said dental hygienist Renee Joslyn. “Just brush your teeth after.”
Griswold Youth Services Director Ryan Aubin said he was grateful for the clear skies and the high participation level, about double that of last year. “We have a lot more crafters this year,” he said. The sponsorship of Bounce-a-rama, which donated use of the inflatables, was a “huge draw,” he said.
Aubin also had high praise for the 20 or so area teens who volunteered their time to staff the event and keep things running smoothly. “It’s great that the kids are helping,” he said. “The summer rec staff and Youth Center members volunteered their time.”