Plan a family outing to this year’s fantastic Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB), including Science City, taking over the University of Arizona mall on Saturday and Sunday, March 4 and 5.
Hundreds of top authors and illustrators will be there, signing their books, speaking on panels, on stage sharing their works and their love of reading, writing and creativity with guests young and old! Most of the fun happens in open-air tents where more than 100,000 guests will be. Lots of authors, bookstores like Bookmans and publishing companies will have books that will soon become your favorites. Boomer and the Bear Essential News tent will be at the entrance to the Children’s Area, which has an entertainment stage, a book giveaway tent, a reading corner and dozens of activity booths.
Kids and teens will enjoy an eye-opening lineup of authors and illustrators. The Newbery Award is the top award given each year for “the most DISTINGUISHED contributions to American Literature for children.” Three NEWBERY AWARD-winners are coming—Donna Barba Higuera for “The Last Cuentista,” two-time winner Lois Lowry for “Number the Stars” and “The Giver,” and Katherine Applegate for “The One and Only Ivan.” Applegate will be talking about her poetry book, “Odder,” and also wrote the hit series Animorphs. The three will be on a Newbery panel on Saturday in the Education Building Kiva 211 (Children’s Area) from 2:30 to 3:30.
You also can meet amazing Arizona authors and illustrators. Adam Rex, who writes and illustrates, is a fan favorite with books like “Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich” and “Gladys the Magic Chicken.” Rex will be reading on the Children’s Stage on Sunday from 1–1:30. But his big TFOB event is hosting a quick-draw competition between his artist friends. You can catch “On Your Mark, Get Set, Draw” in the Education Kiva 211 on Sunday at 4 p.m. While TFOB is free, some of these more popular panels take reservations at TucsonFestivalOfBooks.org.
Your family can buy tasty food or pack a picnic to enjoy! The food tent and teen stage will have live music and performances. For those who dig STEM (see the pullout section) there’s Science City at the east end of the UofA Mall. Our friends from the Arizona SciTech Festival will be there, along with dozens of booths with hands-on fun for kids! TFOB kicks off at 9 on both days and runs through 5 p.m. Parking is free at the campus garages, but arrive early because they fill up fast.
River Turtle Hatchlings Put On a Stunning Show!
Hundreds of thousands of baby giant South American river turtles recently emerged from their nests before gathering along the sand banks and dispersing into the water. This annual nesting and hatching event is the largest single gathering of turtles on Earth!
In September, about 80,000 adult female turtles gathered on beaches along the Guaporé/Inténez River, along the border of Brazil and Bolivia. The turtles then hatched between December and January.
According to the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the giant South American river turtle is the largest freshwater turtle in Latin America. It can grow up to three and a half feet long and weigh up to 200 pounds! Not only are turtles cool to see, they actually play an important role in their habitat as well. WCS’s conservation partner, Ecovale, captured the recent turtle gathering on video, and WCS released footage of the hatchlings so the public can watch this amazing event while allowing the turtles a safe space.
“The annual nesting and hatching of the giant South American river turtle is one of Earth’s great natural SPECTACLES,” said Camila Ferrara, Aquatic Turtle Specialist for the WCS Brazil Program. “It is visually stunning but also extremely important ecologically to the western Amazon ecosystem.”
Ferrara said the greatest threat to the turtles is illegal trafficking—when people remove the turtles from their home. She hopes that turtles will see more protection in the future and thinks this will involve Bolivia and Brazil working together. Currently, only Bolivia offers a protected area. Brazil and the river itself are not protected areas for the turtles.
WCS is just one of the organizations working to protect the turtle population, and the groups are trying multiple strategies to ASSIST these large reptiles. They attempt to protect the eggs themselves, survey the beaches to count nesting females, use drones to count populations, and gather other data to help prepare a conservation plan for the turtles.