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Inaugural Capital Book Festival opens in downtown Sacramento

Derek Taylor Kent, who writes a series of books called Scary School as “Derek the Ghost” talks with Owen Osborn, 10, left, and his brother, Oliver Osborn, 6, Saturday at the California Capitol Book Festival at the Sacramento Convention Center. The series is aimed at children 7-12.  The festival, which is free to the public, will be open again on Sunday, October 26 from 11am-5pm.
Derek Taylor Kent, who writes a series of books called Scary School as “Derek the Ghost” talks with Owen Osborn, 10, left, and his brother, Oliver Osborn, 6, Saturday at the California Capitol Book Festival at the Sacramento Convention Center. The series is aimed at children 7-12. The festival, which is free to the public, will be open again on Sunday, October 26 from 11am-5pm. apayne@sacbee.com

The first California Capital Book Festival got underway Saturday, drawing a modest crowd of book lovers to the Sacramento Convention Center.

The festival, which kicked off with a 4-mile fundraising walk from Oak Park to the downtown convention center, is the first large book festival held in the city since the 1990s.

By the time the festival ends Sunday afternoon, a slate of 100 authors will have read or presented on stages and panels, as well as greeted the public directly from booths.

Festival organizers booked a range of authors to capture the interests of a wide audience, said co-founder Fred Palmer. The list includes noted mystery writer Cara Black, poet Lawrence Dinkins and comic book writer Eben Burgoon. Also included were a slate of sports authors, such as Monarchs basketball star Ruthie Bolton and baseball novelist Ken White.

On Saturday, the attendees skewed female. Palmer said that roughly 5,000 people were expected over the two days.

“This festival is sorely needed,” said Black, who recently sent the manuscript of her 15th Aimée Leduc Mystery Thriller Series novel “Murder on the Champ de Mars,” to her publisher.

“There are many people in Sacramento who are book readers,” she said. “Why has there not been a book festival in Sacramento?”

On Saturday, Black appeared on a mystery-writing panel with fellow mystery authors Rhys Bowen and Terry Shames. Their talk was about the writing craft. Elsewhere at the festival were stages that offered sports and food presentations.

“We tried to make this festival available to all ages,” Palmer said.

In an effort to captivate young readers, the festival enlisted local cartoonist Burgoon, co-creator of “Eben07: Covert Custodian,” an espionage-humor webcomic, and the recent effort “B-Squad: Soldiers of Misfortune.”

Burgoon developed a passion for reading from comic books – and he’s keen on spreading that passion to today’s children. His presentation was a how-to on comic book writing and production.

“If you go back to your first reading experience, it was usually comic books,” said Burgoon. “It might have been Tintin, or maybe it was Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes.”

Although comic books are marketed to a young demographic, the form has drawn a wide audience, he said.

“Grandmas are starting to latch on to our comic book series now,” Burgoon said.

Fair Oaks resident Judy Flora was one of several hundred people that participated in the literacy walk Saturday morning and the festival thereafter.

Her interest was mostly a professional one. Flora is a writing teacher for Visions in Education, an alternative charter school program. She said she came to the festival to hunt for new curriculum ideas.

Although such ideas were foremost in Flora’s mind, she confessed she was also quite interested in some of the unusual offerings booked at the festival, such as a presentation on how to plan a “paleo diet” – based on foods eaten during the Paleolithic era – for canines.

“I think this festival is very important as it promotes a whole love of literacy,” Flora said. “They should do it again.”

Call The Bee’s Edward Ortiz, (916) 321-1071. Follow him on Twitter @edwardortiz.

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