Fostering literacy in children is an ongoing major issue, especially among parents, educators and librarians.
Fairytale Town will do its share for the cause with its 12th annual ScholarShare Children's Book Festival, described as "the largest early-childhood literacy event in the region."
The free celebration of reading will feature presentations by children's book authors and illustrators, storytelling, hands-on activities, a book fair and information booths staffed by literacy and arts organizations including the Crocker Art Museum, Friends of the Sacramento Library and Magpie Paper Art.
"With our nursery rhyme and fairytale-themed park, Fairytale Town is the perfect place to engage children and encourage reading," said Kathy Fleming, executive director of the theme park, which opened in 1959. "The festival is a great opportunity for children and parents to renew or create a love of reading."
Among the entertainers will be Hazuki Kataoka of Storycard Theater, delivering a storytelling performance featuring traditional Japanese picture cards.
Also, Sacramento-area author Dawn Wynne will present her new illustrated children's book "Earth Remembers When," which promotes protecting the environment.
The festival will be held 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday at Fairytale Town, 3901 Land Park Drive, Sacramento; (916) 808-7462, www.fairytaletown.org. Adults must be accompanied by children.
Going to the noir side ...
Let's consider journalist-author James M. Cain for a moment. He became an instant celebrity with his first novel, "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1934), then added to his stature as a master of noir crime fiction with "Double Indemnity" (1936).
Now segue to Hard Case Crime, which is unique in publishing. It reprints many of the pulp-fiction crime novels of the 1940s and '50s, and publishes new novels written specifically to match the tone of the genre.
It has just published Cain's previously unpublished "lost final novel," "The Cocktail Waitress" ($23.99, 272 pages), a book Cain was trying to finish before his death in 1977.
The story follows widow Joan Medford, who takes a job as a cocktail waitress and meets two very different men. One is a young, handsome "schemer," the other is an older, not-so-handsome fellow, but what he lacks in looks, he makes up for in wealth.
Hmmm. Who will she choose? More to the point, who will be murdered?
You don't have to own dogs to love them, but it helps.
Here's a canine trio:
"Dancing Dogs" by Jon Katz (Ballantine, $24, 256 pages): Veteran storyteller Katz has the knack for connecting people to their pets in this collection of 16 inspirational tales.
"City Girl, Country Vet" by Cathy Woodman (Voice, $15.99, 384 pages): When a London veterinarian agrees to run her friend's rural vet practice for six months, she discovers that the countryside isn't so peaceful after all especially when romance is involved.
"A Dog Named Boo" by Lisa J. Edwards (Harlequin, $21.95, 304 pages): This inspiring true story tells of the woman who rescued a dog that went on to become a therapy dog, helping needful children and the elderly, and especially its new owner.
Story of being a writer
So you think you want to be a writer? First, you might want to read widely published literary-fiction author Joan Frank's collection of essays about the writing life, "Because You Have To" (University of Notre Dame Press, $18, 184 pages).
Frank, who lives in Santa Rosa, reveals the reality of what it's like to be a writer these days, including the complications of "time, money, desire, anxiety and community."
"It's the real inside look at why writers do what they do," she told me in July. "It's part memoir, but also has good advice and some dishing about publishing."
Frank attended high school in Carmichael, majored in English literature at UC Davis, holds a master's degree in creative writing from the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught creative writing at California State University, Sacramento.
Visit her at www.joanfrank.org.
Authors in the area
Upcoming author appearances include:
Tuesday: Cindy Sample for "Dying for a Date" and "Dying for a Dance," 7 p.m. at the Cordova High School library, 2239 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova; (916) 337-0692.
Saturday: Rose Rock for "Mama Rock's Rules: Ten Lessons for Raising a Houseful of Successful Children," 6:30 p.m. at First Covenant Church, 10933 Progress Court, Rancho Cordova; (916) 294-9000 ext. 104570. Rock is the mother of comedian Chris Rock.
Father Gregory Boyle for "Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion," 7 p.m. at Carmichael Presbyterian Church, 5645 Marconi Ave., Carmichael; (916) 486-9081.
James Kilgore for "Prudence Couldn't Swim," 7 p.m. at the Sol Collective, 2574 21st St., Sacramento; (916) 369-5510.
Oct. 11: Bruce Holbert for "Lonesome Animals," 7 p.m. at Time Tested Books, 1114 21st St., Sacramento; (916) 447-5696.
Oct. 18: New York Times best-selling children's book author-illustrator Jan Brett for "Mossy," 5 p.m. at Lakehills Covenant Church, 7000 Rossmoore Lane, El Dorado Hills. Hosted by Face In a Book of Eldorado Hills, (916) 941-9401. LET US KNOW
If you have information on author appearances or other book-related special events, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org at least two weeks before the event. To read the online calendar, go to www.sacbee.com/books. Questions? Call The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128.