Though Bookmans has been a part of Tucson Festival of Books from the beginning, this Bookmans Flag Events Liaison and proud bibliophile embarked on my first ever TFOB this past weekend. Not only did I get to check out TFOB events and vendors like Science City, Mr. Nature’s Music Garden and of course our Bookmans booth, I also attended the Author Dinner, the ultimate kick off to the festival where I saw the side of R.L. Stine’s face! A few other cool bookish dreams came to life as well.

2016 TFOB Recap: Author Dinner

2016 TFOB Author Dinner Table Decorations

The TFOB Author Dinner is an opportunity for festival sponsors to rub elbows with featured authors and celebrate our mutual love of reading. The evening began with a cocktail hour that allows everyone to mingle–authors and fans of authors. It was at this point that I saw the creator of Goosebumps and Full. On. Fangirled. Tears and a modest amount of wine helped combat the hyperventilating and hysteria.

Dinner followed the cocktail hour and included the Founders Award presentation and keynote address. Bookmans hosted Chris Pavone, whose new novel The Travelers is hot off the press. Mystery novelist powerhouse, Arizona native, “First Lady” of TFOB and a Bookmans favorite, J.A. Jance, received the prestigious Founders Award.

2016 TFOB Recap: Author Dinner

Bookmans Web Editor Rebecca Ballenger with Author Chris Pavone

Sonia Manzano, who played Maria on the beloved children’s television show Sesame Street, delivered the keynote. It was on that show that Sonia began her long career as a writer and became an important role model for young girls and the Latino community. Manzano has written numerous children’s books including First Book and No Dogs Allowed as well as her most recent release Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx. Some of Sonia’s most important work is as a writer for Sesame Street. Through her writing Sonia ensured that her character, Maria, was an accurate and positive reflection of her own Puerto Rican upbringing growing up in the South Bronx. For more than 30 years, Manzano helped shape Sesame Street into an educational and culturally diverse American television classic.

2016 TFOB Recap: Author Dinner

Tucson Festival of Books is a bookish wonderland and attending the author dinner is an ideal introduction to this Tucson tradition. Bookmans sincerely thanks Arizona Daily Star, University of Arizona and all the other sponsors for supporting this endeavor and an even bigger thank you to all the volunteers. It’s our honor to participate in the Tucson Festival of Books each year.

We hope to upload more coverage of the 2016 TFOB. For now, check out the post by 1317 member, George Ballenger, on The Art of The Book Review.