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Hernando County Reading Festival attracts hundreds

BROOKSVILLE — "Do you have any frogs like this?" children's author Bruce Hale asked a group of youngsters Saturday at the Hernando County Reading Festival. He was reading from his new picture book, Snoring Beauty.

Young audience members shook their heads. No. Frogs that wear purple capes do not live in Hernando County.

"They live in fairy tale land," Hale said, adding that he was sharing the true story of what really happened to Sleeping Beauty. The one who snores, that is.

More than 700 visitors descended on Nature Coast Technical High School for the annual festival.

The youngest author on hand was first-grader Quint Paxton of St. Petersburg. He wrote Quint's Cat Manual as part of a community service project for school.

On Saturday, he signed and sold 38 copies of his book. He has raised nearly $600 for the SPCA through the sales of his book, which includes many important rules for young cat owners.

Don't carry your cat with your hands on her stomach, the author advises, and give your cat lots of love.

Pet lovers stopped by to share stories of their adopted pets, and waited patiently while Quint signed their books. His mother, Michelle Paxton, helped with tricky spellings.

Nearby, Quint's 5-year-old brother, Roman, was happy to get a light saber balloon from Tony the Balloon Guy.

Even Andre Johnson, 3, waited patiently for his chance to choose a balloon. He opted for a red sword and pretended to joust a blue fabric scrap on the ground.

Local writer Debra E. McCaffrey was signing her first book, Fly … Ball, which was illustrated by her nephew's second-grade class at Mohansic Elementary School in New York.

Her rhyming book tells the tale of a baseball traveling around the United States. She is working on her second book, a story about her niece.

"I've always wanted to write a children's book," McCaffrey said.

"Now I'm in my 50s, and I finally wrote it."

Third-grader Alyssa Kemper, who also likes to write, was impressed with Hale's fairy tale, Snoring Beauty.

"The dragon part was funny," she said. "I'm good at fiction, but not that good."

It was Hale's first visit to the Tampa Bay area. He had heard about Weeki Wachee and was hoping to catch the mermaid show and maybe see a manatee.

You never know where you'll find a fairy tale.

By the numbers

Hernando County Reading Festival

Visitors to the festival: 700

Youngest author: Quint Paxton of St. Petersburg, 7

Hernando County Reading Festival attracts hundreds 03/01/09 [Last modified: Sunday, March 1, 2009 8:20pm]
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