Stacy McAnulty appears Saturday at the Bookmarks Festival, for the Children’s Author Pancake Breakfast at 8 a.m., Space Storytime at 11 a.m. and Footnote Middle School Stinks at 1:45 p.m. She also has book signings at 11:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. Jon Sundell performs on the Family Stage Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 12 p.m.
Creating children’s entertainment, as both author Stacy McAnulty and musician Jon Sundell (pictured above) know well, requires being able to communicate and keep the attention of audiences much younger than themselves. Jon Sundell musicalizes folktales and educational stories, while McAnulty authors books for middle schoolers and new readers alike.
“Let’s be honest,” Stacy
McAnulty says. “[Kids] have better imaginations than we do.”
McAnulty, who has authored more
than a dozen children’s books, has ventured through a field of hypotheticals,
requiring her to look at things from a more childlike perspective. It’s fitting
that her latest book, The World Ends in April, began as a dinnertime
conversation with her three kids.
“We just asked each other:
‘If you knew the world was going to end in six months or a year, what would you
do?’” She says. “What would you want to knock off your bucket list in those six
months or a year?”
At the Bookmarks Festival,
she hopes to engage with her audience, and meet other creators over a pancake
breakfast. With writing aimed from children to middle schoolers, McAnulty pulls
from both silly jokes and NPR podcasts to build the “what if’s” that spark her
stories. She credits her background as an engineer for what she does after the
“You start with an idea,”
she explains. “You perhaps do some research on that idea. And then you make
that draft. And then you reevaluate that idea. And then you make that draft
“And that’s what we did in
While Stacy McAnulty writes
stories, Jon Sundell knows how to share them.
At the North Carolina Folk
Festival, he will perform on the Family Stage, singing out tales from Southern
folklore, English myths and picture books alike.
“I’m what you call an
edu-tainer,” Sundell says.
The hybrid word meshes
together Sundell’s two performance priorities: educating young audiences and
entertainment. He spins folk tales into songs, twisting in interactive
movements, questions and choruses like a Winston-Salem-based bard.
As much as Sundell employs
acoustic instruments and plot, he saves a slot in his musical toolbox for
balloons animals to keep smaller children engaged. One work involves Sundell
building a balloon dog as Daniel Boone superglues a halved dog back together.
He makes the children count to five as Boone holds the pieces together, and
then he proclaims the dog’s all fixed.
“‘Well, almost,’ I tell
them. ‘Daniel made just a little mistake, he was in such a hurry.’”
“And then I take the back
end of the balloons and I twist them so the back legs are upside down.”
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