By Bill Swayze
One of Morristown’s biggest annual events comes to town this weekend, and it’s a real page-turner.
The Morristown Festival of Books features talks and book signings by more than 40 popular authors–including the man who inspired the Broadway smash Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist, and the Queen of Kindie Rock.
This is the festival’s fourth year and Karen Gruenberg, co-chair of the event’s marketing committee, said it has become the premiere festival of its kind in New Jersey.
Some 2,000 people attended sessions that first year, when 30 authors joined them.
Organizers counted 6,500 session attendees at last year’s festival, which featured 41 top authors, including Sebastian Junger, National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead, and Pulitzer Prize winners Bill Dedman, Gilbert M. Gaul, Amy Ellis Nutt, and Stacy Schiff.
Best-selling children’s book authors R.L. Stine and Dan Gutman were among nine writers spotlighted at the Festival’s inaugural KidFest, which drew capacity crowds totaling 1,800 people, organizers said.
This year, the writer who inspired the hit musical Hamilton, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow is the headliner.
Chernow will deliver the keynote talk at the Mayo Performing Arts Center on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. He’s expected to talk about his newest biography, of Ulysses S. Grant, the Civil War hero whose presidency was rocked by scandals. The event is sold out.
Lectures by other authors on Saturday are free to the public, with one exception.
Sixteen-year-old Olympic gymnast Laurie Hernandez, who won gold at the Rio games, will discuss her book, I Got This: To Gold and Beyond, at 3:45 pm in the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer on South Street.
Nicknamed “the Human Emoji” for her facial expressions, the gymnast from Old Bridge won a gold medal in the team event and a silver on the balance beam–and then won the 2016 Dancing With the Stars competition. The $25 admission price includes an autographed copy of the book.
All told, there will be more than 40 authors–of non-fiction, fiction and children’s books–scheduled to speak at downtown venues including Redeemer, the Presbyterian Church, the Morristown & Township Library, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen.
And KidFest is back this year, showcasing 15 popular children’s writers.
Laurie Berkner, the “Queen of Kindie Rock,” will bring her guitar and her new illustrated book, We Are the Dinosaurs, to the Presbyterian Parish House at 11:15 am. She’ll also read from her soon-to-be-released next book, Pillowland.
And Kate DiCamillo (Flora & Ulysses, The Tale of Despereaux) is the featured KidsFest speaker. She’s scheduled for 12:30 pm at the Presbyterian Parish House. This session is free, but seating is limited and first come, first served. You also can pre-order DiCammillo’s upcoming book, La, La, La.