Tucson Book Festival serves literary treats

Actors Rob Taylor, left, and Lou Diamond Phillips from the cable series "Longmire" chat during a 2015 Tucson Festival of Books discussion with bestselling author Craig Johnson, whose mysteries are the basis for the show. (Photos courtesy of James S. Wood Photography for the Tucson Festival of Books)

Actors Rob Taylor, left, and Lou Diamond Phillips from the cable series “Longmire” chat during a 2015 Tucson Festival of Books discussion with bestselling author Craig Johnson, whose mysteries are the basis for the show. (Photos courtesy of James S. Wood Photography for the Tucson Festival of Books)

By DAVID PUJOL

The eighth annual Tucson Festival of Books will feature enticing literary exhibits, hundreds of authors and tons of books.

The festival will run March 12-13 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the University of Arizona.

The festival is free and open to the public.

The popular event is the fourth largest book festival in the United States. It is expected to bring an even larger crowd than it did last year, according to a press release.

Showcase features include a Shakespearian circus and an 80,000-square-foot Science City.

Other activities include book signings, meet and greets with authors, author panels, workshops, poetry readings and many opportunities to buy books.

The family-friendly festival has much to offer for blossoming readers.

Kids and their families can expect to see multiple panels comprised of authors, illustrators and literary agents.

Award-winning local author and illustrator Chris Gall will speak at the festival. His children’s book series “Dinotrux” was turned into an animated television series, now available to stream on Netflix.

Other panelists include Pulitzer Prize winners such as Paul Goldberger, David Maraniss, Gregory Pardlo and T.J. Stiles.

PEN award recipients Julie Iromuanya, Viet Than Nguyen and Peter Slevin will also speak.

Even those who aren’t bookworms can expect to see well-known authors.

Many adults and children will recognize panelist R.L. Stine as the man behind their favorite scary books. Stine wrote the widely known “Goosebumps” series that has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide. That also means the children’s series has also caused at least 400 million nightmares worldwide.

For young adults, popular names will include Diana Gabaldon and Terry Brooks. Gabaldon wrote the “Outlander” novels that have since been turned into a TV show on Starz. The “Shannara” series by Brooks was also reimagined for a MTV show.

The festival never fails to attract literary geniuses. Past authors who have presented include Jodi Picoult, Alice Hoffman, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Russo and Jacqueline Woodson.

A March 13 panel will examine military literature.

Military historians will discuss war stories from World War II to more recent developments in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Tucson Festival of Books has almost 300 exhibitors and more than 80 sponsors. Proceeds benefit Southern Arizona literacy programs.

For more information, visit tucsonfestivalofbooks.org.

Jacqueline Woodson speaks during the 2015 Festival of Books (Photo by James S. Wood)

Jacqueline Woodson speaks during the 2015 Festival of Books (Photo by James S. Wood)

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