Young readers snap up books in Collingswood

Author Kim Adlerman (right) and fair volunteer Ian Washstein show off a book to adults and children at the festival. Several blocks of Collingswood's downtown Haddon Avenue area were closed by the event.
Author Kim Adlerman (right) and fair volunteer Ian Washstein show off a book to adults and children at the festival. Several blocks of Collingswood's downtown Haddon Avenue area were closed by the event. (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 07, 2013

Serena Franks' bag was brimming with books, but her children clamored for more.

"Mommy's book bag is full, so no more shopping," Franks, 37, said Saturday at the Collingswood Book Festival, keeping an eye on twin daughters Nyla and Analia, 7, and son Elijah, 6. "They love to read."

And even loaded down with purchases, Analia fretted: "I really wish I got that Dork Diary book!"

The Franks children are pros at this point - Saturday was their fourth time at the festival, now in its 11th year. The event shuts down several blocks of Collingswood's downtown Haddon Avenue area.

The West Berlin family brought their own copy of Skippyjon Jones to be signed by author and illustrator Judy Schachner, and Dan Gutman had signed copies of two of his books, Mrs. Lilly is Silly! and Mayor Hubble is in Trouble! for the children.

"They say to me, 'Mommy, are there any books for adults?' " Franks said, laughing. "And I say, 'Mommy never has time!' "

The brightly colored covers of children's books caught the eye at every turn at the festival, and youngsters were catered to with music, storytelling, and performances.

A few tents down from where a musical duo sang about their love for libraries, retired principal and superintendent Cadmus S. Hull explained his Black History Bowl books.

One, the Mini Quiz Guide Through Black History, is used during the trivia game he created in 1982; the other, a collection of short biographies on 114 historic black figures, is used as a reference for teaching.

"If the children come to school and they weren't taught any African American history, I want the parents and teachers to be able to teach it to them," said Hull, 70, adding that the reference book includes a section on Kwanzaa. "Many African American children do not know enough about their own history."

Joe Sergi's books have also been used in classrooms, he said, but they're not quite the same.

"It's almost educational," he said about Great Zombies in History, which he described as "historically accurate stories with a zombie twist."

Washington, where Sergi lives, was burned down to stop zombies in the War of 1812, he said, adding that there are undead explanations for other historic events, such as how the 300 Spartans fought the Persians at the Battle of Thermopylae.

Sergi also gave out samples of his latest novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, about a girl named DeDe Christopher who suddenly finds herself with superpowers like those of a comic book character, SkyBoy. Then the comic book villains and friends start appearing in real life, Sergi said.

He said the Collingswood festival is smaller than other events he attends, including next week's New York Comic Con, but the South Jersey event has its own character.

One girl who went to his booth said she loved the first book in the series, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, which came out in 2010, Sergi said. Then her mother pulled out her phone and showed him the girl's Sky Girl costume, which she had worn the last two Halloweens.

"I just love it. I just love meeting the people," Sergi said, so he keeps attending. (It helps that this year, Sergi, a lawyer for a federal agency he asked not to be published, has been furloughed during the government shutdown.)

"It's certainly not to make a million dollars, especially at these littler [festivals]," he said of the reason he attends.

"It's fun, people are receptive. . . . People love their books here."


jlai@phillynews.com

856-779-3220

@elaijuh

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