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March Into Reading children's book festival is March 29

NEWPORT, R.I. – The 11th annual March Into Reading festival that brings together local families and authors in a celebration of children’s books, will be held Saturday, March 29 at Salve Regina University.

Free and open to children of all ages and their families, the annual event has become an Aquidneck Island tradition featuring readings, workshops, book signings, children’s discovery rooms and a book sale. No reservations are required to attend the event, which will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at O’Hare Academic Center on Ochre Point Avenue.

Presented by the Aquidneck Collaborative for Education and Salve Regina University, this year’s reading festival will feature participation from eight local authors, including: Alan Katz, Tony Abbott, Aaron Becker, Toni Buzzeo, Erica Perl, Susan Stockdale, Maryann Cocca Leffler and Laura Backman.

At 10 a.m. Saturday, Alan Katz, known as the Silly Dilly Man, will discuss his diverse career, which has been dedicated to making kids and their parents laugh and learn. In addition to having written more than 30 books for kids, he is a six-time Emmy nominee for his work as a TV writer/producer (talk shows, game shows, awards shows, animated series), and he has created many notable advertising campaigns, comic books, and trading card sets. Immediately following his presentation at 11 a.m., Katz will meet with families and sign his books.

A selection of books by the featured authors & illustrators will be on sale during the festivities – courtesy of Island Books. The other participating authors and illustrators will meet with families and host book signings at the following times on Saturday:

Laura Backman (10-10:45 a.m.). Backman will be joined by the real Lemon, the main character in her book, “Lemon the Duck.” Backman, accompanied by Lemon, will read the book at 9:30 a.m.

Toni Buzzeo (10-10:45 a.m.). Buzzeo has published 19 picture books thus far, with four more currently under contract. In 2013, she won a Caldecott Honor award for her New York Times best-selling book “One Cool Friend.” Among other awards, “Just Like My Papa,” “Stay Close to Mama,” and “Dawdle Duckling” have all been Children’s Book of the Month Club selections.

Susan Stockdale (10-10:45 a.m.). Stockdale writes and illustrates picture books about nature, such as “Stripes of All Types,” “Bring on the Birds” and “Fabulous Fishes.” Her books have won awards from the American Library Association, Parents’ Choice, the National Science Teachers Association, and Bank Street College of Education. To see a Voice of America video that shows how she creates her illustrations go to her website

Aaron Becker (11-11:45 a.m.). Becker’s debut picture book, “Journey,” was named one of the New York Times’ Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2013. He illustrated a special cover for the children’s issue of the New York Times Book Review. “Journey” has been awarded the 2013 platinum “Best Book Award” by the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, and was nominated for Best Picture Book in the Goodreads Choice Awards. His website includes videos on “The Making of Journey” and a book trailer.

Erica Perl (11-11:45 a.m.). Perl’s picture books and novels keep kids and adults laughing. She has received many recognitions and awards for her books including one from Rhode Island. Her novel, “When Life Gives You O.J.,” was a Rhode Island State Book Award Finalist. In addition to writing books, she works at First Book, the groundbreaking non-profit organization that has provided over 100 million brand new books to children in need.

Tony Abbott (12-12:45 p.m.). Abbott has written more than 95 books, selling 12 million worldwide. Several of his books were named Children’s Book-of-the-Month Club selections and Junior Library Guild books. “Firegirl” won the Golden Kite Award for Fiction presented by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. “The Postcard” was honored with the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery in the juvenile category. His newest work, “The Copernicus Legacy,” is an epic six-volume adventure series for young audiences.

Maryann Cocca Leffler (12-12:45 p.m.). Leffler has authored and illustrated 50 books for young children. She has brought one of her most popular book characters, Princess Kim, to stage in “Princess Kim the Musical” and won first place in the Ronald Ruble National New Play Festival at the Caryl Crane Children’s Theatre in Huron, Ohio.

March Into Reading is made possible by grants from Hamilton Family Foundation, Peoples Credit Union, Newport Public Education Foundation, Portsmouth Public Education Foundation and RI Partnership for Success. Also supported by the Pennfield School, Newport Daily News, Newport Hotel Group, United Way of RI, Island Books and Viking Tours.

The Aquidneck Collaborative for Education (ACE) is a unique partnership of educational institutions spearheaded and coordinated by Salve Regina’s department of education. It is a non-profit association of Aquidneck Island educational institutions that was incorporated in 1993 and includes early childhood centers, independent, parochial, private and public elementary and secondary schools, the James L. Maher Center, Salve Regina University, Newport Campus of the Community College of Rhode Island and the U.S. Naval War College.

The ACE mission is to strengthen existing relations among the educational institutions, to promote education as a community value, to provide opportunities for professional development and instructional advancement, to share facilities and resources and to foster communication among the educational institutions and within the community.

For more information, call (401) 341-3157 or visit