Reading for Renn Total!!! and Lititz Book Festival Fun! :D


Today I get to announce the total amount I collected for my Reading For Renn Challenge. First I want to thank every single person who supported my challenge by spreading the word, cheering me on and donating money, time and/or talents to help me out. The good news is that Renn has gone through his surgeries. The doctors have removed the part of his brain they think is causing the seizures. He is still in the hospital (he went in on October 28th) but it looks like he may get out soon. So far things are looking good for him. Mrs. Telles explains it all (much better than I can) at The Brain of A Jedi blog (click HERE to read more). He still has a long way to go, but he has his big smile back!


Master Jedi Renn

When I started this I was hoping that I would be able to raise at least $500.00 to help the Telles family with all the bills they are getting due to Renn’s surgeries and the fact they have to live away from home while he gets all his treatments. The fact is that the kid-lit community that I blog about is the most kind and generous part of the world out there. I was able to raise $1,552.00 BUT WAIT, it gets better. The kind people at NY Media Works offered to match any amount that I raised. I am SO happy to say that in total we are sending Renn and his family $3,104.00 to help pay for his medical expenses! It is really appropriate that this is happening right now because November is Nationalย Epilepsy Awareness Monthย and before I met Renn I was never AWARE how bad epilepsy can be. I am asking the Telles family that if they have anything left over from the donation to donate the rest in Renn’s name to the Epilepsy Foundation, an organization that helps tries to find a cure for epilepsy and raise ย awareness of it.


Thank you all – YOU ARE ALL AWESOME!!!

And now for something COMPLETELY unrelated…

Since many of you asked to see pictures from the Lititz Kid-Lit festival…

First if you’ve never been to Aaron’s Books in Lititz PA you should! Lititz is a very nice town and Aaron’s Books is an awesome independent book store! Click HERE to check out their website. Miss Sam (one of the owners of Aaron’s books, and Aaron’s mom ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) told me that the book festival grows and grows each year. I can understand why! What is really cool about this festival is that kids like me get to take classes taught by some of our favorite authors and illustrators! Plus, the authors and illustrators interact with all of us. Also, this year was extra fun because my friend Neighbor Girl from the Stanley and Katrina gang met us at the festival! ๐Ÿ™‚


Neighbor Girl and I ๐Ÿ™‚

It is a great experience! Take a look at who I got to talk to!

Amy Ignatow! Ms. Ignatow taught a really fun illustration class. We talked about rattlesnakes sneezing out unicorns! ๐Ÿ˜‰ (and no that is not a typo). I read Ms. Ignatow’s latest book “Love and Other Fiascos – Book 6 of The Popularity Papers” on my way home from the book festival and I thought it was GREAT! I love The Popularity Papers!



Me and Neighbor Girl taking Ms. Ignatow’s class

Matt Phelan! I got to hear an amazing talk that Mr. Phelan gave on his book Bluffton and how it relates to the silent-movie actor Buster Keaton (who I really didn’t know who he was).


Mr. Phelan talked about his illustration process and also told us about really cool research he did into the life of Buster Keaton and the actor’s colony that was in Bluffton, Michigan. Besides being a wonderful book, I now have a new love for the story in it. I also watched my first Buster Keaton movie (The General). My sister watched it with me and both of us want to watch more Buster Keaton movies because we almost “busted” a gut watching them! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Mr. Phelan said his book is a success if he gets at least one kid to watch a Buster Keaton movie. Well he got the two kids in our house to do it! ๐Ÿ™‚


Plus, Mr. Phelan and I also had a good conversation about hats and how cool they can be and how more people should wear them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Debbie Dadey! Ms. Dadey gave an exciting presentation entitled “Monsters and Mermaids” where she talked about her books and how she published her first book “Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots.” I learned a lot about the writing process from her talk. Plus she’s a super nice person and very fun to talk to!


David Wiesner! Mr. Wiesner gave a fascinating talk about his illustration process and how his books “Tuesday” and “Mr. Wuffles” came about.


He talked about how the stories started as ideas years and years before and that they really changed over time. He really stressed that you should “go where the story takes you” and not get stuck on what you think the story should be but rather what it wants to be. For example, “Mr. Wuffles” started out as a picture book called “Greetings” and there was no cat in it. He also said he is as surprised as anyone that he wrote a book called “Mr. Wuffles.” ๐Ÿ™‚


I was very inspired by his talk. I learned a lot.

Chris Grabenstein! I read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library in October as part of my Reading For Renn Challenge and I LOVED it! I was very excited to see that the author, Chris Grabenstein was giving a talk at Lititz. On the drive out to Lititz I brought a book I am reading to review called “I Funny” (I got an ARC of the sequel to this book, “I Funnier” to review and wanted to read the first book in the series, too). When I looked at the authors of the book I saw James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Cool! I think I am officially a fan of Mr. Grabentein’s writing style. ๐Ÿ™‚ Mr. Grabenstein gave a talk about writing his books and read a bit from Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. His talk was just awesome. He had everyone laughing . Plus he seems like a really nice person (as a kid and a huge reader, I think it is great when you see that the author that writes the books you read and love is a reallyย nice person).


Me and Neighbor Girl with Mr. Grabenstein (I’ll let you figure out who’s who ๐Ÿ™‚ )

A.S. King! A.S. King is the perfect example of how cool kid-lit writers are. I have never read any of her books because she is a YA author and I am a MG reader (although “Everybody Sees the Ants” and her new book “Reality Boy” (my mom just read that one and said “it kept me up all night because I wanted to finish it”) are on my TBR in the future list ๐Ÿ˜‰ย  ) but she is happy to talk to me about books and writing. We had a great talk about Reality Boy and Honey Boo Boo and how weird reality TV is (just FYI – I never saw Honey Boo Boo, but I know who she is) and how the protagonist in her new book was forced by his parents to be in a reality TV show when he was very young and now he is all messed up (great plot for a book!).ย amy&me-cropped

I met a mother and daughter who co-wrote a book called CinderSkella.ย Amie Borst and Bethanie Borst! Bethanie helped her mom Amie write Cinderskella when she was only 11 (she’s now 13). Stay tuned for more on this because Bethanie agreed to do a Creative Kid interview with me and I will be reviewing her book!


Well that’s all for now. Have a great Tuesday! Happy Reading! ๐Ÿ˜€

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60 replies

  1. Your Reading for Renn project was so wonderful and I can’t say enough how awesome you are for doing it. The amount raised and matched is impressive.

  2. Wow! My head is spinning from all the awesome people you met at the Festival. And HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your Read for Renn total. Very impressive — you are a force for good in the world. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Whoo-hoo! Great news about Renn! And your Festival pictures are giving me the itch to go to another myself. There’s a big writers’ conference here in the spring that I haven’t been to in a few years. I think it might be time.

  4. Erik, Wonderful post! Awesome news re Renn and major kudos for all your hard work to help your friend. Very inspiring.

  5. So impressed with what you did for Renn. You are a fine example to your peers and adults alike! Thanks for the shout out – Bethanie’s looking forward to the interview ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Very awesome, man. Super congrats.

  7. Congrats on your fabulous total and thanks so much for organising this Erik, you are a star! And how fantastic to meet and get tips from all those illustrators. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  8. WOW! You raised a very impressive amount of money for Renn and his family! They are going to be thrilled.

    The Lititz Festival sounds awesome. So glad you got to have such a fabulous experience.

  9. This Reading for Renn project of yours is so RAD and you’re so RAD! You make me feel RAD just because I cyber know you. WOWEEE!!!!!!!!!!!! You did such a great thing here. I’m proud of you. I love these pics of the festival. Thanks Erik! For all you do.

    P.S. The pics are RAD too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Wow! Congratulations on a hugely successful Reading For Renn event! Not only did you think up a great idea and put in all the work to pull it off, you’ve done something wonderful for a deserving family and to raise awareness of epilepsy for other families. You’re an inspiring person, Erik! And the book event sounds like it was fantastic! How cool that you got to meet and talk to David Wiesner and A.S. King (whose books I love!) and all the others and what a great opportunity for kids!

  11. OH. MY. GOSH!!!

    Erik, holy moly!! We are in complete tears!! What an incredible hero you are. Do you even realize the magnitude at which your efforts have done??? My goodness, kiddo. YOU are a blessing!

    Renn came home from the hospital on Saturday, November 9. He is 6 days seizure free! And he is feeling perfectly fine (albeit a bit bored because he has to stay home for a solid two weeks).

    Thank you so very much for EVERYTHING you’ve done!!!

  12. WOW, Erik. What an amazing total! Your READING FOR RENN turned out to be a huge success! Way to go!

  13. Way to go, Erik! You are an excellent reporter (we had a great time joining you), but more importantly, you are a blessing to those who know you. Excellent job with “Reading for Renn.” Thank you for giving us the opportunity to support you. โ™ฅ
    These pets (and human friends) are so proud of you, Erik!

  14. Wow, you’ve met some very cool people… I’m envious ๐Ÿ™‚

    And BIG congrats on that huge Reading for Renn tally! So happy to hear it was a success.

  15. Excellent work! You are an amazing guy!

  16. Erik, I am so proud of your effort to raise so much money for Renn. Now you can add expert fundraiser to your accomplishments. You have such a big heart and have done such a beautiful thing! And, you’re right, the kidlit community is such a giving group of people and deserve a big hand for supporting you!

    Also, I am glad you had such a good time at the Lititz Kid-Lit festival. I enjoyed the pictures and your narrative of the day. Sounds like a great time. And, I couldn’t get over how tall you are becoming.

    Congratulations on such a succesfful reading effort — I hope your school is aware of what you did.


  17. So inspiring Erik – CONGRATULATIONS on your Reading for Renn success! You are amazing!

  18. Congrats on raising so much money for Renn! You did an amazing thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have been swamped- but saw your email and will donate my money tomorrow night when I get home! Awesome work!

    The conference sounds like such fun. Look at all of those amazing books and authors! I think it is fabulous that you got to attend and thanks for sharing the pictures with us!

  19. Yay for Renn! And Yay for Hero Erik! Job well done!

  20. Congratulations of raising a substantial sum for Renn and his family. You are indeed a superkid! The Lititz Book Festival looks like it was a lot of fun.

  21. What a terrific result you got for Renn. Way to read! I like your Festival notes. Wow, to meet so many of the authors you read. Must have been exciting. With all those illustrators, does this mean you know how to draw now? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Brilliant news about your fundraising, Erik. Being a parent with a child currently undergoing cancer treatment I know that Renn ( and especially his parents) would be so grateful for your support. Well done ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. You are an inspiration to many people Erik. Not only Renn and his family but people like meโ€”a seventy-two-year old woman who suffers with focal seizures.
    blessings ~ maxi

  24. Wow, Erik, this is fantastic! Even though you and I emailed I wanted to find the post you did when I had time and since I am blogging break, I do. (never mind I still need to bake and wrap presents ) I am so PROUD of YOU!! And it is more than awesome that it got matched. congrats. I know Bethany Telles is helped by this outpouring of help and support. THANK YOU!

    Merry Christmas! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. I forgot to mention how envious I am of your participation of Kiditz day. The authors you have met are totally cool and I love several of them and admire them a lot. David Weisner!! and then there were others I haven’t heard of but now must go check out their books. I have some of them on my TRP all ready. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. One of my favourite posts, Erik. What a beautiful thing to do for Renn. You have a good heart, young man. I practically swooned when I saw your picture with David Wiesner. We’re hoping we can invite him here in Singapore for the AFCC!

    • I hope we can take a vacation to halfway around the world to be there this year! ๐Ÿ˜€

      • This is actually why I wanted to invite you virtually at least in my graduate class. I have a topic on Reading and Advocacy, so what you did for Renn seems like the perfect example for that. Will email you so that you can consult your parents about the probability of being a ‘virtual-guest’ in a teacher-training institute here in Singapore – probably around March. Will send you the details.

      • I can’t wait (to see if I can participate)! ๐Ÿ˜€


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