For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development

2008 Philadelphia Book Festival Blends Books, Music, High-Tech Games, Barbara Walters Tops List of Celebrity Authors

PHILADELPHIA, April 22, 2008 - More than 60 of the nation’s top writers, including celebrity author Barbara Walters, will gather in Philadelphia for the second Philadelphia Book Festival, the Free Library’s annual celebration of reading and literacy. The festival--held Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, at the Parkway Central Library, 19th and Vine Streets--offers two days of award-winning authors and poets in a lively atmosphere that combines stimulating book talks with an eclectic blend of music, children’s entertainment, and a new gaming gallery for all ages to enjoy. The festival is a free, public event that connects booklovers throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

“On behalf of the Free Library, I would like to thank all of the Philadelphia Book Festival’s sponsors--in particular, lead sponsor the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation--for their generous support,” said Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation CEO Linda E. Johnson. “Boasting an incredible lineup of authors and other talents, and drawing 25,000 attendees in its first year, the Book Festival is an excellent example of a new Philadelphia tradition that is helping to invigorate and transform civic life on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.”

Additional 2008 Philadelphia Book Festival sponsors include Toyota, Target, Citibank, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, the Fairmount Park Commission, 6abc, KYW Newsradio, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Whole Foods.

The spirit of the weekend-long Philadelphia Book Festival is showcased in its kick-off event, a parade of storybook characters who engage and entertain the Library’s most important patrons, children. The Berenstain Bears, Winnie the Pooh, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Pat the Bunny, Maisy, Lilly, Toot & Puddle, monsters from Where the Wild Things Are, and a cast of life-sized Star Wars figures will lead participants in a lively march down Vine Street to salute the stories that children treasure, both classics and contemporary works of fiction.

This 2008 Philadelphia Book Festival will present a weekend packed with readings from bestselling works of fiction and nonfiction written by some of the nation’s most popular writers. Legendary ABC news anchor and host Barbara Walters headlines the list of renowned authors with her new book, Audition: A Memoir. Other internationally recognized writers appearing at the festival include Gregory Maguire (Wicked), Eric Jerome Dickey (Pleasure), Food Network host Ellie Krieger (The Food You Crave), Amy Goodman (Standing Up to the Madness); Roscoe Orman (Sesame Street’s “Gordon”), James McBride (Song Yet Sung), Michael Scheuer (Marching Toward Hell), and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham (Sea Change).

“I am thrilled to be participating in the second annual Book Festival, and am so impressed with the depth of talent the Free Library has been able to attract,” said bestselling novelist and Philadelphian, Jennifer Weiner. “From big-name bestsellers to debut novelists, from poetry to memoirs and children’s authors--the Book Festival gives readers a unique opportunity to hear from their favorites, discover new books and new talents, and get a preview of the exciting new changes in store at the Parkway Central Library.”

Streets around the Library will also be bustling with a Street Fair of more than 70 literary exhibitors--including publishers, bookstores, nonprofit organizations, and independent authors--selling books, sharing their stories, and presenting in-booth talks and author signings. Another highlight of the festival for up-and-coming poets and spoken word artists is an open mic where they can try out their works in progress.

Gaming at the Library?

Who says libraries have to be quiet all the time? Libraries across the country are being transformed and enlivened by new technologies and interactive media. Opportunities to surf the net on any of the Library’s 700 computers, free wireless internet access at Parkway Central and the branches, and the ability to check email while sipping a latte at the new H.O.M.E. Page Café are all signs that the Library is well positioned in the information age. New to the Book Festival this year, Parkway Central will feature a Gaming Gallery where learning and fun go hand in hand. The young and young-at-heart will love testing their skills with the latest video and virtual reality games for Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Sony’s PlayStation. Gaming activities will include popular titles such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution.

Live Music at the Book Festival

The driving rhythms of World music will thrill music and booklovers alike. The artists performing on the Music Stage will be an eclectic mix of performers from around the United States and abroad, including: Cantare´ (Carribean and South American Music), Guy Davis (American Blues), Benoit Bourque (Traditional Québecois Dance), Rani Arbo & Daisy Mayhem (Blues, Swing and Appalachian Fiddle), Ljova and the Kontraband (Chamber-Jam), Alô Brasil (Brazilian Music and Dance), Catherine Russell (American Jazz and Blues), the Marta Gomez Quintet (South American Folk), and Emeline Michel, the reigning Queen of Haitian song.

Original Artwork Created for the 2008 Philadelphia Book Festival by Local Author & Illustrator Brian Biggs

Brian Biggs studied design at Parsons School of Design in New York City. His accolades include Harvey and Eisner Award nominations, a Christopher Award, and recognition as the 2001 Student of the Year at the Acme Accordion School in Westmont, New Jersey (really). He is the illustrator of several books released by major publishers and has created illustrations for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, U.S. News & World Report, SmartMoney, and Philadelphia Weekly. He has also done design projects for Dunkin Donuts and the Museum of Modern Art, and works with animation and other multimedia, in addition to being an avid photographer. Mr. Biggs’ 2008 Philadelphia Book Festival artwork and poster image will be visible throughout the city, and will also be available for purchase on commemorative posters and stylish canvas tote bags, which the artist will be signing during the Book Festival. 

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Central Library on the Parkway, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850