Here’s the E-mail report from award-winning children’s book author/illustrator Brian Lies, who was born and raised in Princeton and whose new children’s book, “Bats on the Beach,” has held steady on the New York Times Children’s Bestseller’s List for nine weeks now. He writes: “My family and I had a heady summer touring New England in our BATSmobile, which will be on the Princeton Public Library Plaza on Saturday, September 16 (for the inaugural Children’s Book Festival), and have been staggered by the response the book has generated!”
The Booklist review of “Bats on the Beach” says: “The trope of a day at the beach is turned on its head with a family of bats that spend a night there, complete with ‘moon-tan lotion.’ Young bats play with ‘the stuff (they) find’ and bury each other in the sand; older ones sing around the campfire and toast ‘bug-mallows.’ Readers will be swept right along until the sun comes up and the bats return home.”
Lies attended the Montgomery Township schools and graduated from Brown University in 1985 with a bachelors in British and American literature. He attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and began doing editorial page illustrations for numerous publications, including the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, and Chicago Tribune. His father, Thomas, who died last summer, had retired from a long career in chemical research at American Cyanamid, and his mother, Betty, is a full-time poet and member of Princeton’s U.S. 1 Poets Collaborative and Cool Women Poets. She works as a poet in schools around New Jersey.
He illustrated his first children’s book, “Flatfoot Fox and the Case of the Missing Eye” (by Eth Clifford) for Houghton Mifflin Company in 1989, and has since illustrated more than 18 others, including “Bats at the Beach,” “Hamlet and the Enormous Chinese Dragon Kite” and “Hamlet and the Magnificent Sandcastle,” which he also wrote. Lies’s illustrations appear regularly in Cricket magazine, as well as Spider, Ladybug, and Babybug.
Lies also visits schools around the country, talking with students about the process of writing and illustrating stories. He and his wife, Laurel, live in Duxbury, MA, with their daughter.
Lies, who will give a reading at 2:30 p.m., is one of 27 authors participating in the book festival — a full afternoon of activities featuring read-alouds and book signings by regional authors, performances, and special events. Herman Parish, author of the renowned “Amelia Bedelia” books, will sign books and is bringing a real-life “Amelia.” Puppeteer Preston Foerder, who has performed internationally for over 20 years, presents “Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimy” at 1 and 4 p.m. Foerder, who performed at the Princeton Public Library’s grand opening in 2004, has been a puppeteer since graduating with a bachelors in drama from Tufts University in 1982. His first show, “Slovenly Peter,” an adult puppet theater piece, received the UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence, the highest award given in the field of puppetry (“Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimy” also was awarded a UNIMA-USA citation), and two other original pieces Foerder has produced were funded in part by Jim Henson Foundation grants.
Children Book Festival, Saturday, September 16, noon to 4 p.m., rain or shine, in tents in the plaza in front of Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street. Free. Cotsen Children Library sponsors an activity table. Brian Lies will read at 2:30 p.m. Other activities include wandering musicians, Otto the ballon man, jugglers, face painting, crafts, and temporary tattoes for kids. For more information on Brian Lies visit www.brianlies.com .609-924-9529 or www.princetonlibrary.org.
Other visiting authors include Danny and Kim Alderman, Pat Brisson, Joan Elstene, Yetti Frenkel, Robin Friedman, Ponder Goembel, Cathy Janson, Irene Kelly, Ana Lomba, Dianne Ochiltree, Doreen Rathmell, Karen Rostoker-Gruber, Pamela Curtis Swallow, Betty Tatham, Iza Trapan, Thomas Yezerski, and Karl Zimmerman.