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Featured Speakers


Opening Keynote With Bryan Collier

Bryan Collier Headshot

Thursday, March 28, 2019
9:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Grand Ballroom

Bryan Collier grew up in Pocomoke, Maryland, on the lower Eastern Shore of the state, the youngest of six children. His interest in art started early. "At home and at school, I was encouraged to read. I remember the first books with pictures that I read by myself were The Snow Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. I liked the stories, but I really liked the pictures." As a teenager he began to paint the world around him - the bay, ducks, water, and marshland.

His interest in art was always encouraged both at home and at school. He began to develop a unique style of painting that incorporated both watercolors and collage.

"Collage is more than just an art style. Collage is all about bringing different elements together. Once you form a sensibility about connection, how different elements relate to each other, you deepen your understanding of yourself and others."

In 1985 Bryan won first place in a Congressional Competition, and his art was displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Later that year he was awarded a scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York City through their national talent competition. In 1989 Bryan graduated with honors from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

While attending school in New York, Bryan began to volunteer at the Harlem Horizon Studio and Harlem Hospital Center with a program that provides working space and materials for self-taught artists in the community. He went on to become the Program Director, a position he held for 12 years. Bryan still works with the program in Harlem as a volunteer, feeling a deep sense of responsibility to be a positive role model for kids.

"It gives the community, the schools, the kids, and the parents the opportunity to come together for a very positive uplifting cause - the building and re-building of self-esteem, teaching the appreciation of art, and keeping the kids connected and involved and away from negative influences."

Meanwhile, he made the decision to focus his time and attention on illustrating children's books full time. It wasn't easy getting his art published in books; Bryan tried for seven years before he got his break with the publication of his book, Uptown.

Today Bryan spends his time working on his book illustrations, creating his own studio pieces, and going into classrooms to talk with teachers, librarians, and students about books and art. "I get so much from those school visits. With the books I've been doing, I have this amazing opportunity to bring my art and the process of making artwork and books into the classroom. I ask the students to talk to me and talk to each other about how they feel and what their own experiences are. Basically, I ask them to tell their own story. Then I ask them to tell their own story through art.

"The experience of making art is all about making decisions. Once the kids really get that, you see them making the connection. They go from saying, 'That's not about me' to 'Hey. Look at me. This is who I am.'"


Lunch With The Storytellers

The Storytellers

Thursday, March 28, 2019
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.
Grand Ballroom

The Storytellers present concerts, school presentations and workshops throughout the Great Lakes Region. Their performances combine interactive stories, beautiful music, humor, wonderful musical instruments and hands-on fun.

Audrey's animated storytelling style uses multiple voices and uncanny vocal effects to captivate all audiences. Lively Brazilian melodies, familiar American songs, Caribbean music, Australian didgeridoo tunes, West African rhythms, original compositions and much more are featured. The music accompanying their stories is easily enjoyed by all audiences.

Their unique instrumentation includes steel drums, donno, didgeridoo, cuica, m'bwata, berimbau, djembe', m’bira, keyboard, rhumba box, balafone and other musical instruments from all parts of the world.


Spotlight Presentation and Book Signing With Jim MayJim May headshot

Parkhurst Brothers PublishersThursday, March 28, 2019
3:45 - 4:45 p.m.
Grand Ballroom

Sponsored by Parkhurst Brothers Publishers

Professional Storyteller Jim May, the son of a McHenry County, Illinois horse trader, has been recognized as a Circle of Excellence storyteller by his peers in the National Storytelling Network and is a frequent performer at the National Storytelling Festival and scores of other oral-tradition events throughout the English-speaking world. A former educator, May is the author of three books and numerous audio-CDs and DVDs.


Friday Morning Keynote With Chris CrutcherChris Crutcher headshot

Friday, March 29, 2019 
9:00 - 10:00 a.m.
Grand Ballroom

Chris Crutcher is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, an autobiography, and two collections of short stories. Drawing on his experience as a family therapist and child protection specialist, Crutcher writes honestly about real issues facing teenagers today: making it through school, competing in sports, handling rejection and failure, and dealing with parents.

The American Library Association has named eight of his young adult books, to date, “Best Books for Young Adults,” and four of his books appeared on Booklist’s Best 100 Books of the 20th Century, compiled in 2000 – more than any other single author on the list. Crutcher received the ALAN Award in 1993, the NCTE SLATE Intellectual Freedom Award in 1998, the Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000 and Writer Magazine’s Writers Who Make a Difference Award in 2004.

In his personal life, Crutcher enjoys running, swimming, music and basketball. He lectures 30 to 40 times a year at schools, universities and conferences across the country and around the world. He has contributed articles to Voices from the Middle, Family Energy Magazine, The Signal Journal and Spokane Magazine. He has had short stories published in seven anthologies including On the Fringe edited by Donald R. Gallo and Dirty Laundry edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino. He has also written an adult suspense novel, The Deep End, which is currently being adapted as a major motion picture, as are his novels Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, Whale Talk and The Crazy Horse Electric Game.


Closing Keynote With Heather Shumaker

Heather Shumaker Author PhotoFriday, March 29, 2019 
3:10 - 4:10 p.m.
Grand Ballroom

Heather Shumaker is the author of books for children and adults.

Her newest book, The Griffins of Castle Cary, is a charming and slightly spooky read for middle grade readers, ages 8-12, just released March 5, 2019 from Simon & Schuster. The story features three adventurous siblings, a ginormous, drooly Newfoundland dog, and a bit of a ghost problem.

In the parenting and education realm, Heather has two “renegade parenting” books that question conventional practices. With It’s OK Not to Share, and It’s OK to Go Up the Slide, Heather promotes play, conflict mediation skills, emotional competency and no homework for elementary children. Her books have been translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, Korean, Romanian, and Russian.

She’s also the author of Saving Arcadia, a narrative nonfiction book about Great Lakes land conservation that’s been called a “page-turning environmental action thriller.” Saving Arcadia has won state and national awards including: Michigan Notable Book Award, Eric Hoffer Award finalist, and Next Generation Indie Book - Environment Winner.

Heather holds a BA in sociology/ anthropology from Swarthmore College and an MS in land resources from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Heather lives in Traverse City with her family.