Francis X. Hegarty Elementary students meet living authors


Students, parents and school staff gathered at Francis X. Hegarty Elementary in Island Park for a living book fair on March 1. More than 20 authors and illustrators were in attendance as part of the Long Island Children’s Writers and Illustrators organization, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the pursuit of writing and illustrating children’s literature with a goal to create quality works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry that educate, entertain and inspire children of all ages.

The gymnasium and cafeteria were packed with students and their families, eager to participate and enjoy grade level activities and literacy games. Parents and students were in-tune participating in the creative activities provided by the authors, illustrators and school staff.

“I really wanted to buy a book and see the author,” said Myles Layton, a first grader who was waiting in line with his friends and family.

Hegarty principal Adam Frankel recommended students to read, “on the days that they breathed” he said to incentivize the children to continue reading even on their days off. Additionally, the Parent Teacher Association provided the raffle prize of the night, a $100 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.

“My son was so excited to come, not only to see his friends but to tell me about the books he liked from school and even get an autograph from the author,” said Myles’s mother, Samantha Layton.

“This is great, we have the whole community together promoting literacy,” said Paul Golombek, long-term per diem substitute teacher for kindergarten, first grade and special education at Hegarty.

“Meeting new authors, making bookmarks and doing all these great things after a time where we couldn’t do anything together makes this really special,” he said.

“I started out as a teacher and so I know how kids speak,” said JoAnn Vergona-Krapp, in regard to her experience being an author of children’s literature. Vergona-Krapp wrote articles on children’s literature and has since appeared in numerous periodicals, including School Library Journal and School Library Media Activities Monthly. “I started writing literature and I decided I would write about places I’ve actually traveled to,” said Vergona-Krapp.

Vergona-Krapp has been a part of children’s writers organization for more than 20 years, going to schools all over the island promoting literacy with other authors and illustrators.

“I love writing for children, they are my best audience,” said Antoinette Truglio Martin, author of, “Famous Seaweed Soup” which will be reissued in May 2023 with Purple Butterfly Press. This new edition will feature new illustrations by Penny Weber and updated content. “Island Park has a really great literacy program,” said Martin of participating in the event at the Hegarty school.

The attending authors and illustrators received no remuneration other than a welcoming buffet dinner provided by the PTA and the pleasure of sharing an evening with children who enjoy their books.