The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College




- Past Conferences -

ASTAL Events - Fall 2003-Spring 2004

21-22 May 2004 - Gary Paulsen Headlines 2004 Under the Spell of Books Conference

Gary Paulsen at NCTE

Gary Paulsen, author of Hatchet and other award-winning works for young people, spoke the main session for young people at the Friday session of the 2004 Under the Spell of Books Conference, May 21, 2004. The veteran of two Iditarod races in Alaska and numerous other adventures on land and sea, Paulsen is a master storyteller whose books reflect his experiences. His talk was followed by a series of activity sessions for participants.

Paulsen also gave the keynote address on Saturday morning, May 22, at part two of the conference which was designed for teachers and librarians. Part two also included a panel discussion and breakout sessions. Janet Tashjian, author of The Gospel According to Larry was the luncheon speaker.

Under the Spell of Gary Paulsen
May 21-22, 2004 - Under the Spell of Books Conference

Dr. Bob Rude introduces Gary Paulsen on Friday night.

Gary once caught a fish "this big!"

Gary's Friday night presentation to over 340 excited participants.

Gary Paulsen with esteemed ASTAL Committee members Judy Schoenfeld, the dejected Peter Silva, and the ever-haughty Rich Denningham.

After a tall glass of lemonade, Peter Silva poses with author Gary Paulsen and the glowing Jennifer Basile.

Student performers entertain Gary Paulsen.

Author Gary Paulsen and his agent, the lovely Jennifer Flannery.

Janet Tashijian, Luncheon Speaker

Moderator Robin Kall (rear) with panelists (l-r) Jennifer Flannery, Peter Campbell, and Kimberly Newton Fusco.

Dr. Mary Lee Griffin Presents the ASTAL Award for Outstanding Contribution to Literature for Young People to Dr. Joan I. Glazer, Professor Emerita at Rhode Island College.

Author Gary Paulsen receives the 2004 ASTAL Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Literature for Young People from Dr. Joan Glazer.

The ASTAL Crew (l-r): Montie Ciarlo, the glowing Jennifer Basile, Ryan Anas, Peter Silva, Joseph Morra, Karyn Beaudry, Beth Guadagni, and Rich Denningham.

Award-winning author Gary Paulsen with RIC's own Dr. Jean Brown.

25 March 2004 - Rita Williams-Garcia Speaks at RIC
Rita Williams-Garcia at NCTE

Considered to be one of the most “powerful new voices in young adult literature, Rita Williams-Garcia was the Christopher-Gordon/ASTAL speaker on March 25 at the RIC Faculty Center. She has previously received the Pen/Norma Klein Award as well as numerous other awards, including a Coretta Scott Honor Book. Her novels are provocative and moving stories of today’s young people and the challenges they face.

Her books include: Blue Tights, Fast Talk on a Slow Track, Every Time a Rainbow Dies, Like Sisters on the Homefront, and No Laughter Here.

3 March 2004 - Gary Salvner: Christopher-Gordon/ASTAL Lecturer

Gary Salvner, speaking at RICDr. Gary Salvner, Executive Director of ALAN (Assembly on Adolescent Literature of the National Council of Teachers of English) and chairperson of the English Department at Youngtown State University, delivered the inaugural Christopher-Gordon/ASTAL Lecture, “Do Stories Matter?” on March 3, 2004 at 5pm in the RIC Faculty Center.

Professor Salvner is a respected leader in the field of adolescent literature whose expertise is documented through his editorship of professional journals including his term as co-editor of The ALAN Review. Additionally, he has published numerous articles, book chapters, and books, including a highly regarded critical biography of author Gary Paulsen. (See the abbreviated list of his publications in the box.) He is a founding member Youngstown State University’s English Festival and continues to be a major force in its success. For the past 25 years, the annual Festival has connected young people from that region with books and authors.

We appreciate the sponsorship of Christopher-Gordon Publishers of Norwood, MA for sponsoring this lecture and allowing us to bring an acknowledged scholar in the field of adolescent literature to Rhode Island College. We plan to make the Christopher-Gordon/ASTAL Lecture an annual event. Christopher-Gordon also provides the funding for ASTAL to bring outstanding authors of adolescent literature to Rhode Island College.

28 February 2004 - ASTAL honors Rhode Island Authors by Montie Ciarlo

Do you have any idea how many award winning authors live in the Ocean State? Neither do I, but I know I had lunch with seven of them on Saturday, February 28 when ASTAL (Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature) honored Rhode Island authors.

Following heartfelt greetings by Dr. Dan King, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Dr. Marguerite Brown, Vice President for Development and College Relations, a sell-out crowd filled the faculty dining room listening to the author at their table talk about, well, anything the author wanted to talk about!

At dessert, Kimberly Newton Fusco (Tending to Grace), Janet Taylor Lisle (The Crying Rocks), Lucinda Landon (Meg Mackintosh and the Mystery on Main Street), Naomi Zucker (Benno’s Bear), Natalie Babbit (Tuck Everlasting), Kelly Easton (Life History of a Star and the soon to be released Walking on Air), and Peter A. Campbell (Old-Time Baseball 1903 and the First Modern World Series) changed tables and shared bonhomie and brownies before reading excerpts from their latest works.

Dr. Jean Brown then invited everyone to grab their copies of our Rhode Island author’s books for autographs. No one (including the authors) wanted to go home. It was a great day of good food, good fellowship, and memorable experiences.

RI Authors Speak at RIC
Kimberly Newton Fusco, Dr. Joan Dagle, Chair of the English
Department, Dr. Jean Brown, Natalie Babbitt (front row, l to r)
Naomi Zucker, Peter A. Campbell, Kelly Easton, Lucinda Landon,
Janet Taylor Lisle (back row l to r)

RI Authors Speak at RIC
Kimberly Newton Fusco, Jennifer Basile, Sheila Grace, Lucinda
Landon (front row l to r), Kerri Arnold, Naomi Zucker, Grace
Osediacz, Peter A. Campbell, Kelly Easton (introducer Peter
Silva missing), Janet Taylor Lisle, Don Carrara, Natalie
Babbitt, and Mary Guilmette (back row l to r)

RI Authors Speak at RIC
Jennifer Basile, Madalyn Tundis, Constance Tundis, and Kimberly Newton Fusco

Rodman Philbrick - Christopher-Gordon/ASTAL Speaker - Fall, 2003

On October 27, 2003, ASTAL will welcome student-favorite Rodman Philbrick to Rhode Island College. Philbrick is the author of a number of highly-respected books, including The Last Book in the Universe, Freak the Mighty, REM World, Max The Mighty, The Journal of Douglas Allen Deeds : The Donner Party Expedition, 1846 (My Name Is America), The Fire Pony, Werewolf Chronicles, Books 1-3 written with his wife, Lynn Harnett. His next book The Lobster Boy will be published next February.

October 27, 2003 - Rodman Philbrick

In an article published in the ALAN Review, Rod Philbrick talked about the impact of the transition from writing for adults to writing for young people:

Bonnie Verburg, the young editor who bought Freak The Mighty, told me that writing for kids would change my life. I chuckled and said, 'oh sure', but didn't believe it for a second. Books and stories had given me a life, for which I was grateful, but it seemed impossible that one particular story could change my life. At the time I hadn't the faintest idea of what it meant to publish a book for kids. It certainly never occurred to me that kids would want to write to the author, and talk to him. Philbrick, Rodman. (2001) "Listening to Kids In America." The ALAN Review, Volume 28, Number 2, p. 13.

The interest of his readers has never waned. On October 27, they will have the opportunity to meet and talk with him at RIC at 5 pm in the Faculty Center. His appearance is open to the public without charge.

ASTAL Honors Janet Taylor Lisle

On September 18, 2003, Rhode Island College was the site of a reception where Janet Taylor Lisle’s book, The Crying Rocks was launched. The reception, a part of RIC’s Sesquicentennial Celebration, was hosted by Dr. Peg Brown, Vice President for Development and Community Relations. Over 100 people from young readers to parents and teachers joined the ASTAL celebration of the latest offering from the frequently honored Rhode Island author. The book, set here in Rhode Island, will be released to bookstores in October.

Lisle introduced her book to the audience and then read several selections from it before answering questions. It was the first time she had read from the book or talked about before an audience. The evening concluded with Lisle signing copies of The Crying Rocks and copies of three other books, all were available at the reception.

Janet Lisle believes that this is her best book to date: “Joelle, my main character resonates in me.” Pre-publication reviews have praised the book. The Crying Rocks has been nominated to the 2004 Best Books for Young Adults list, and it has been selected as one of Richie's Picks. In Under the Spell of Books, the Rhode Island College Journal about Literature for Young People, (2003) Volume 2, #1, the review of The Crying Rocks, expresses that “In fact, Janet Taylor Lisle just keeps getting better and better.”

Joining the celebration were authors Kelly Easton, (whose four novel Walking on Air will be published in April, joining her award-winning Life History of a Star, Trouble at Betts Pets, and Canaries and Criminals: Trouble at Betts Pets), John B. Severance (Braving the Fire, a novel that joins several successful biographies), and Kim Fusco (whose first adolescent novel, Tending To Grace, is being published by Alfred A. Knopf in June 2004.

September 18, 2003 - Janet Taylor Lisle
Author Janet Taylor Lisle launches new book at RIC on Sept. 18

The Crying Rocks tells how an adopted girl from Rhode Island uncovers mysteries of the Narragansett Indians in her search for her own family history…

Providence, RI 9/12/03 -- Renowned writer of adolescent literature and Rhode Island native, Janet Taylor Lisle, will preview her new book, The Crying Rocks, in a meet-the-author reading session and reception at Rhode Island College’s Faculty Center on Thursday, September 18 from 5-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The Crying Rocks will not be released to bookstores until late October at a cover price of $16.95. Those attending the session will be able to purchase this book and others by Lisle at discounted prices.

Set in Rhode Island, The Crying Rocks tells the story of a adopted girl’s search for her true identity and the mysterious discovery of her relationship to the Narragansett Indian tribe.

“Lisle unfolds her story layer by layer with the skillfulness readers have come to expect of her work,” said Jean Brown, professor of English and educational studies at RIC. “She includes excerpts of papers and diaries from the 17th century to provide readers with insights into the Native American fabric of Rhode Island history.”

Lisle lives in Little Compton along the seacoast where she says she can hear “the waves thundering against the rocks while working in my writing loft.” Asked if she puts people she knows in her stories, she said “Never whole. I borrow bits and pieces.” She said as a writer, she likes to be a watcher and stay in the shadows where she can see without being seen. The worst part, she says, is the loneliness. “A writer needs a lot of friends.”

Lisle’s book, The Art of Keeping Cool, set in Rhode Island in World War II, earned her the 2001 Scott O’Dell Award for young adult historical fiction. Another book, Afternoon of the Elves, was the Newbery Honor Book winner in 1990. Lisle has also penned Sirens and Spies, The Great Dimpole Oak, The Gold Dust Letters, Forest, and The Lampfish of Twill, all receiving literary acclaim.

For more information about Lisle’s speaking session at RIC, call Jean Brown at 456-8869 or email

Janet Taylor Lisle (center) with Dr. Peg Brown (right), RIC Vice President for Development and Community Relations and Dr. Jean Brown (left) Christine Reinholt (center) and Ann Siachos (right) join Dr. Peg Brown as she pours sparkling cider to toast Janet Taylor Lisle

Montie Ciarlo (Shea High School) and Denise Vincelette (Cranston Charter School) buying books Janet reading from The Crying Rocks

Cranston teachers at the book signing Janet talking with fellow author John B. Severance and his wife, book designer Sylvia Frezzolini

Janet with “Reading with Robin”, Robin Kall and daughter Emily Attendees waiting for Janet to sign their books

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This web page was last updated on: 21 June 2007

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