Mark your calendars. The Rabbit Hill Festival of children's literature takes place March 30-April 1 at the Westport (Connecticut) Public Library and nearby venues. Illustration is this year's focus, and some big names from that world are scheduled to appear, talk, draw, and schmooze. And sign books. Expect to see Cari Best, Bryan Collier, Bruce Degen, Kathy Jakobsen, Loren Long, and Melissa Sweet.
Named in honor of the author-illustrator Robert Lawson, the Rabbit Hill Festival also will also feature a lecture on Munro Leaf's The Story of Ferdinand, which Lawson illustrated. (Both Leaf and Lawson were residents of Westport. Lawson's home and studio were referred to as Rabbit Hill, which was also the name of his 1944 classic book. )
Another highlight should be the tour of Weston Woods Studios, which has turned so many wonderful picture books into wonderful animated films. The facility is now situated in Norwalk, Conn., a very short bus ride from Westport. (For a good article on Weston Woods' founder, Mort Schindel, see School Library Journal.)
All the events, except for a dinner with the illustrators, are free and open to the public, but you must register. (You can still go to the dinner; you just have to pay.) Go to www.rabbithillfestival.com for all the details. I've attended in years past, and this is a fun and impressive literary celebration.