Last night marked the 2023 iteration of my favorite event of the year: Jammie Night!
Jammie Night, aka Prime Time Reading Night, which takes place at Mallett Elementary School, has ingredients that would be the envy of any event. For example, it is comprised of an actively shared love of reading, widespread community support, partnerships, great authors, a great crowd, amazing decorations, and pajamas.
Here’s how it works: the Mallett community comes back to school at 6:00 in the evening—parents, kids, teachers, librarian, principal—all dressed in pajamas for an evening of read alouds. I produce a children’s book author. The evening starts with that author reading her book to the assembled throng in the gymnasium, which has been lavishly decorated around the book’s theme. Afterwards, families can either go listen to one of five different community readers in five different classrooms, read together in the gym, or purchase a book and have the guest author sign it. The evening ends with the author reading a second book to the whole audience and then concludes with goodnights and more book signing.
The event, which is more than 21 years old, was headlined by an unusual author: Tonya Shevenell who is well known in Maine but not beyond. She is a rare bird, a high caliber traditionally-printed, self-published and self-distributed author, with high production values. Her two picture books, The Maine Birthday Book and Hop Onward Rabbit Rabbit, are both superb. Fun, informative, and beautifully illustrated by Laura Winslow, both books are also kid favorites.
Tonya had never done a school event before. How would she do?
Arriving at the school Meg and I found that the the gym had been decorated in Mallett librarian Arika Galkowski’s trademark jaw-dropping style.
The audience began to arrive.
The audience filed in and soon it was time for me to introduce Tonya.
And hand over the baton.
She enchanted her audience, young and old!
And everyone settled in to hop onward.
Then it was time to sign books.
Tonya brought signing markers in seven colors so that the kids could choose.
Finally it was time to take a photo with Mallett’s amazing librarian Arika Galkowski, who had brought Tonya’s books to life in the gym. With that the gym lights were dimmed on another triumphant Jammie Night.