(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / June 17, 2021) – Children and teens in Payne County have the opportunity to visit with NYT best-selling authors William Ritter and Liesl Shurtliff next week as a part of the Stillwater Public Library’s “NEA Virtual Summer Reading: Tails and Tales.” The children’s program with Shurtliff takes place on Tuesday, June 22, and the teen program with Ritter will be on Wednesday, June 23. Both start at 2 p.m.


For children in grades 1-5, Shurtliff, author of fairytale twists such as “Rump,” will talk about fairytales, their origins and how she uses them to spin her own unique tales. Participants can also ask questions.


Shurtliff’s interest in fairytales started as a young girl when she received a copy of “Grimms’ Fairytales” as a gift from her grandmother.


“I devoured them,” Shurtliff said. “She also introduced me to Shelley Duvall’s ‘Faerie Tale Theatre’ television series, and I couldn’t get enough.”


Shurtliff believes that fairytales are embedded in culture and that it is important to learn about these stories and understand where they come from and what they mean.  She also thinks it is important for people to evaluate them to see if their messages still resonate. 


“Whether we’re aware of it or not, they [fairytales] have influenced our thinking about identity, society and relationships,” Shurtliff said.


This line of thinking influenced her own twists on these stories in her books “Rump,” “Jack,” “Red” and “Grump,” which are reimagined takes on “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.”


Children’s Librarian Elizabeth Murray is thrilled to provide this opportunity to children and families that are fans of Shurtliff’s books and fairytales in general.


“Author visits are always fun, and this one, in particular, is sure to be well-loved because of Shurtliff’s focus on fairytales in her writing. Who doesn’t love fairytales?” Murray said.


Teens in grades 6-12 will find out more about young adult and middle-grade author William Ritter, who is releasing his third book in “The Oddmire” series. He will discuss his new book along with titles from his other popular series, “Jackaby.”


Ritter loves to talk about the process of writing with young people and share why his books are so important to him.


“These books are dear to my heart,” Ritter said. “Their emotional core is built around my own children and important themes of family, belonging and self-discovery.”


Though he is a New York Times Bestselling author, Ritter is still an English teacher, so promoting enthusiasm for reading and writing has long been central to his life.


“I love engaging audiences in open discussion,” Ritter said. “But I make a point of encouraging my groups to read what they love, to seek out and support diverse voices and to tell their own stories in the ways that only they can.”


He will also answer any questions participants have about writing, publishing and illustrating during his visit.


Teen Librarian Jessica Howe says that the library and community are fortunate with the timing of Ritter’s visit.


“It’s rare to have such a popular author visit our Library so near a book launch,” Howe said. “We’re lucky to be having this program only one day after Ritter’s new book ‘Deepest, Darkest’ in ‘The Oddmire’ series is released!”


Space is limited for both programs, and registration is required so attendees can receive the Zoom link to participate live and have time to pick up a writing kit at the Library. Sign-up for the programs and learn more about the Library’s Summer Reading Program, including a full schedule of virtual summer fun at http://library.stillwater.org/summer_@_your_library.php.


Individuals who cannot attend live can watch a recorded version of the programs via the Library’s YouTube page for one week after the event. Attendees will also receive a secret code to enter into BookPoints, the Library’s online reading platform, for a raffle drawing prize entry.


Those interested in learning more about Ritter and Shurtliff can visit their websites at https://rwillritter.wordpress.com and https://lieslshurtliff.com or come to the Library to borrow one of their books, which are currently on display.


This project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). To find out more about how NEA grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov


The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.