It's really spring! The birds are chirping, tulips are blooming, and cool local children's literature and film events are coming up for central Illinois.
Whenever Candace Fleming comes to town it's a treat and she'll be here this Saturday, April 16, from 2 to 3 pm at the Normal Public Library. Perhaps my favorite book of hers is The Lincolns: A scrapbook look at Abraham and Mary. Others in our house have enjoyed her chapter book The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School and there's a new book about Fifth Graders. One of her most recent is the picture book Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!. We are reading her new book Amelia Lost about Amelia Earhart. After her talk, there will be refreshments and books available for purchase and autographing.
We'll be running over to the TheatresCool in downtown Bloomington shortly after that on Saturday to see the Broadway Workshop Performance: Comedy Tonight! directed by Cristen Susong.
Celebrate El Dia de los Ninos/El Dia de los Libros (Day of the Child/Day of the Book) on Saturday, April 30, at the Bloomington Public Library. The fourth annual event, from 11 am to 1 pm, will feature a local soccer star, Dora the Explorer, an authentic Mexican band, Mexican crafts, and Mexican food. Reading is important in all languages.
Finally, one of the highlights of the year is always going to EbertFest, the film festival at the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana, that celebrates Roger Ebert, films he enjoys, and the people who create them. Even though Ebert's health is not as good as when the festival started, he continues to be an enthusiastic champion for great filmmaking. This year the festival is April 27 - May 1. It's held, once again, at the beautiful Virginia Theater, 203 W. Park Ave., in downtown Champaign.
The experience of watching a film in the Virginia Theater with about 700 film enthusiasts on a beautiful spring afternoon when we all could be outside is always such a treat. The people who go to EbertFest just love films. They applaud, they clap, they laugh, they weep -- their participation as an audience makes the interesting films Ebert chooses even more wonderful to watch. Then afterward, a key person from the film (usually the director or an actor) talks about the film. Yep, right in central Illinois it's Hollywood for a few days.
Also, although festival passes sell out months in advance, we have always had success getting a ticket for specific films. You just wait in line for about 20 to 30 minutes beforehand and you'll get a seat. Maybe not the best seat on the main floor. But we've always had a good seat. Don't miss the opportunity.