Reading festival draws all kinds of characters

An author, a self-published local couple and fans of all ages celebrate the written word.

Published March 6, 2007

SPRING HILL - It wasn't your normal Saturday at the West Hernando Branch of the public library.

Hundreds of happy readers were there for the annual Hernando County Reading Festival, meeting authors, playing a few games and rendering fruitless any librarian's attempts at shushing.

Noted children's author Will Hillenbrand was busily autographing copies of his books, trying to keep up with a long line of admiring fans.

Eight-year-old Taylor DeRosa clutched a copy of Hillenbrand's 1999 classic, Down By the Station, and shared a few words with the author.

Afterward, she talked about what it was like to meet a real, live writer.

"It's like meeting a new friend," Taylor said. "He told me to keep reading."

Nearby, local author Doug Seeman was selling copies of his first book, Two for One Nest, an odd-couple tale about a turkey and a hen that took up house together.

He and his wife, Glenda, a Pine Grove Elementary School teacher, self-published the book, which was illustrated by Moton Elementary teacher Carol Marks.

"We learned how to do everything by ourselves, and then we had it printed," Glenda told some youngsters, pointing to a page of the original manuscript. "It took us over 10 years to learn how to do this."

Attendance was perhaps a little off last year's pace, when about 1,200 people showed up, said program manager Stacey Leggett.

But most readers didn't seem to mind. Not with characters like the Cat in the Hat around.

"She's scared," one girl said as her little sister shied away from the big feline with the candy-striped hat.

"Oh, it's just me, the Cat in the Hat," said the cat.

But the toddler demurred.

"Want to go see Clifford?" asked big sister. "C'mon! Run!"

And the uncertain little reader was off to meet another literary hero.

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.