Wednesday, March 23, 2016

FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, Tucson, Arizona

Festival of Books, Tucson, AZ
I spent the weekend of March 12-13 as a participant in the fabulous Festival of Books in Tucson, Arizona, a literary extravaganza held on the campus of the University of Arizona and attended by more than 100,000 people. This was my first time at the festival and I was amazed at the sea of white tents spread across the campus with books, food, activities for kids, storytellers, entertainment, science projects and more plus dozens of talks and author panels held in adjacent auditoriums and classrooms.
With Jill Wadsworth, host and moderator of my Illustrator Studio workshop
All of my official events were on Sunday and were in the children’s area near the Education Building. I participated in two panels, conducted an illustrator’s workshop and did a book signing. I also had the opportunity to read to children on the Story Blanket. Throughout the day I was accompanied by my wonderful guide and host Jill Wadsworth, who made sure that I was in the right place at the right time and who moderated my art workshop.
With Tom Uhlman and Mary Kay Carson
My first panel was a discussion called Desert Science and Scientists, with author/photographer team Mary Kay Carson and Tom Uhlman, creators of many Scientist in the Field books, including books about bat scientists and national park scientists. We talked about the challenges of doing research and different approaches to writing for different age groups. It was moderated with good questions from Morgan Apicella.
Art project: putting stripes on the zebra
My next event was Illustrator Studio: Cut Paper Art Brings Animals to Life. After viewing a power point presentation of my technique the participants created their own cut paper art using my zebra template. Typically I do this project with kids, and I was surprised at the variations produced by a mostly adult audience. One person cut her zebra in half and another made a plaid zebra with orange stripes!
After my story blanket time I had a some time to wander around the festival on my own, which was a good opportunity to take a closer look at some of the children’s books and to listen to Sandy Ogelsby, a storyteller with wonderfully dramatic Native American animal tales.
With Cheryl Blackford and Glenda Armand
My last event was a panel, Publishing Do’s and Don'ts with fellow nonfiction authors Glenda Armand and Cheryl Blackford moderated by author Michelle Parker Rock. The room was full of aspiring children’s book authors who were eager to hear about our paths to publication.
The festival also included opportunities to meet and socialize with other authors, including a reception on Saturday evening at Gentle Ben’s restaurant followed by a dinner for the children’s book authors at Pastiche. The vast array of children’s programs was coordinated by Kathy Short and ran smoothly with the help of an army of cheerful and helpful volunteers. The executive director of the festival is Marcy Euler. It was a pleasure to be invited as one of the authors featured in this amazing event.
At the signing table in the book tent

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