CHAMPAIGN — Authors of books for children and adults will share their enthusiasm for their craft during the University of Illinois College of Education's annual Youth Literature Festival scheduled for Thursday through Saturday.
This year's theme is "Literature at the Heart of Our Lives," and the festival is now in its fifth year.
Saturday is Community Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C. It will feature hands-on activities, performances and author presentations.
This year's participating authors will visit 58 schools and libraries in Champaign-Urbana and surrounding communities on the first two days of the festival, sharing their work and insights through assemblies, book discussions, readings and writing workshops.
Chicago-based author Blue Balliett is among the 16 artists participating in the 2012 festival. Balliett's bestselling books have been translated into more than 35 languages and garnered the Edgar Award and the Chicago Tribune Prize for Young Adult Fiction.
Balliett's fourth and most recent book is "The Danger Box," a mystery set in a tiny town in Michigan with a plot that explores the nature of science and the special capabilities of people with physical disabilities.
Also participating this year:
— Acclaimed photographer and author Nic Bishop, a prolific artist who has more than 60 children's books to his credit but began his career writing and producing photography for natural history books for adults.
— UI alumnus Nnedi Okorafor, a science-fiction/fantasy writer, playwright and essayist, whose works for adults and children explore many themes salient to her ancestral homeland of Nigeria.
— Poets Pat Mora and Greg Neri, three-time Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Bill Odenkirk, storytellers Joseph Bruchac and Dan Keding, and nature writers April Pulley Sayre and Jennifer Ward.
Author biographies and a complete schedule for Community Day are available at http://youthlitfest.education.illinois.edu . Admission and parking will be free.