Mahoney, too, has drawn on real life for inspiration. As a kid, he and his friends wanted to build a clubhouse, but they couldn't decide what kind of clubhouse to build. It's the same dilemma that a horse, pig, dog and bull face in Mahoney's "The Perfect Clubhouse."
Anna Alter, who will travel to Albany for the children's book festival from her home outside of Boston, said she likes to write about kids resolving issues. The book she just had published, "What Can You Do With an Old Red Shoe?" tackles recycling. It offers about a dozen projects kids can try to recycle everyday items, like turning a ripped shower curtain into an apron.
Creativity has been a hallmark of Alter's life. Both her parents were artists, and they always supported her pursuit of the arts, which took her to the Rhode Island School of Design.
"I was lucky they didn't ask any of those questions about how I was going to make a living," she said.
She hopes that she can offer similar inspiration at events like the Children's Book Festival, knowing not everyone grows up with parents as encouraging as hers.
Organizers said they aren't sure just how many kids the event will draw.
"We could have 200, we could have 1,000," said Ann Wendth, the academies' director of external affairs " but if the turnout is good, they'd like to turn this into an annual event.
Mahoney has high hopes, noting that they thought they'd be lucky to get just a few authors.
"I never thought it would turn out like this," he said.
The Children's Book Festival is Friday, April 17, from 3 to 7 p.m. on the West Campus of the Albany Academies, 135 Academy Road in Albany. ""