The Day - Sound & Country - - FRONT PAGE - By KA­T­RINA T. GATHERS

Tug­boats? Check. Sea crea­tures? Check. Na­tion­ally renowned chil­dren’s book au­thors? Dou­ble-check.

All that’s left is for late July to roll around so that nau­ti­cally in­spired lit­tle peo­ple can take in the sixth an­nual Fish Tales, Tugs and Sails fes­ti­val. All of the ac­tiv­i­ties and vis­it­ing pro­fes­sion­als, in­clud­ing il­lus­tra­tors and sto­ry­tellers, are fo­cused on in­tro­duc­ing chil­dren to the world of lit­er­a­ture and their sur­round­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Among them are Uri Shulevitz and Lynne Cherry, the key­note au­thors. Shulevitz has won sev­eral na­tional awards, and is the au­thor of “Dawn,” “Snow,” and “Rain, Rain Rivers” which fo­cus on the nat­u­ral world.

Cherry is the au­thor/il­lus­tra­tor of more than 30 award-win­ning books. Her best-sell­ing books “The Great Kapok Tree” and “A River RanWild” teach chil­dren to re­spect the earth.

“The au­thors bring a di­ver­sity of writ­ing styles and top­ics to the fes­ti­val, from world trav­els to the trek of a lo­cal spot­ted sala­man­der,” says Cris Staubach, chil­dren’s librarian at the Pub­lic Li­brary of New Lon­don. “Re­gard­less of whether it is a pic­ture book or a book for young adults, they will pro­vide in­sight to our en­vi­ron­ment, the sea and our planet.”

Tracy Tremblay, the pro­mo­tion co­or­di­na­tor for New Lon­don Main Street, the group or­ga­niz­ing the event, says the pro­fes­sional in­ter­ac­tive chil­dren’s per­form­ers will ap­peal to chil­dren of all ages. Along with Cap­tain Papillion, who will ar­rive with the tug­boats Pa­tri­cia Ann and John Paul from Cross Sound Ferry, chil­dren’s en­ter­tainer Steve Elci & Friends, Lana Bur­ton Dance and Geoff Kauf­man and the Shanteens will per­form.

Chil­dren can tour work­ing boats, in­clud­ing the U.S. Coast Guard Cut­ter and the Mys­tic Whaler, or check out the New Lon­don Com­mu­nity Boat­ing’s youth sail­ing pro­gram.

Is your child a bud­ding oceanog­ra­pher? Then be sure to visit the touch tanks pro­vided by Pro­ject Oceanol­ogy’s En­viro-Lab and Mys­tic Aquar­ium.

A new ad­di­tion this year is “The Bo­da­cious Book Show,” spon­sored by the Connecticut Hu­man­i­ties Coun­cil. The au­di­ence be­comes per­form­ers as clas­sic chil­dren’s books are acted out on stage. The “Na­ture Tales” show fea­tures an­i­mal ad­ven­tures, po­etry and sto­ries cel­e­brat­ing the world of na­ture.

At­ten­dees are asked to do­nate a new or gen­tly used chil­dren’s book to the Whale’s Tales Book Bank. Tremblay says the pro­gram pro­vides more than 5,000 books to city chil­dren ev­ery year.

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