Twelve. That’s about how many times I read “Little Women” when I was a kid. Sure, I went on to read “Little Men” and “Jo’s Boys.” But I kept coming back. I just really, really loved that book.
(Plus, I had glasses. I was awkward. My mother made me eat only whole-wheat bread. What else was I going to do but read?)
I expect you’ll find a lot of my soul brothers and sisters at the Montana Festival of the Book in artsy-in-its-own-way Missoula from Sept. 22 to 24.
Organizers anticipate 5,000 visitors from around these parts and as far away as Europe to take in readings, panels, exhibits, demonstrations, signings, entertainment, receptions and other fun stuff.
More than 80 writers will populate the above events, including such award-winners as C.J. Box, Melanie Rae Thon, James Lee Burke, Montana’s poet laureate Sandra Alcosser, William Kittredge, Rick Bass and Spokane’s own Jess Walter.
(A disclaimer here: I know Jess. My husband tried to put a maple tree through his roof once. Turning Tom loose with a chainsaw reveals questionable judgment on Jess’ part, granted, but it doesn’t mean he can’t write.)
Several of the programs will revolve around the 2005 One Book Montana selection, Diane Smith’s “Letters from Yellowstone,” a novel about naturalists and nature at the turn of the last century.
The One Book concept encourages everyone within a community to read the same book and engage in discussions about it. The Festival of the Book Players will even offer a theatrical interpretation of Smith’s writings on Saturday in Caras Park.
The festival also takes a look at blogging, the art of science writing, historical fiction, the memoir, new works about Lewis and Clark, and more. Workshops will cover writing and publishing for children and adults.
Finally, a Montana writers’ cookbook concocted by festival participants and a documentary about Dorothy Johnson – author of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and “A Man Called Horse,” both of which were adapted for the big screen – will debut this year.
“From its inception, the festival has been very much oriented to the general public. We focus on writing about and from the region: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, stuff for children. Ninety percent of everything that happens is for readers,” says Kim Anderson, the festival’s director.
“Our audience has been amazingly consistent and enthusiastic. People plan their vacations around it.”
A gala author reception and silent auction at the Holiday Inn Parkside on Sept. 23 costs $20. Most other events are free.
There’s additional information on the Web at www.bookfest-mt.org. Or you can call (406) 243-6022.
Anyone wanting to learn more about the natural, artistic and cultural heritage of Alaska and the circumpolar north now has twice as much elbow room in which to do it.
The University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks will cut the ribbon on its new wing on Sept. 10, doubling the size of the original facility to 81,000 square feet.
However, the showpiece of the addition, the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery, won’t open until next spring when the museum hauls a good portion of its art collection out of storage and into the light of day.
In the meantime, you can feast your eyes on “Light Motifs: American Impressionist Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” 27 canvases by Mary Cassatt, Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and others. The special exhibit opens Sept. 18.
The museum’s main exhibit area features five regional galleries.
The Southwest Gallery looks at northern fur seals, Aleut basketry and the tens of thousands of seabirds that nest in the Aleutian archipelago. The Western & Arctic Coast Gallery celebrates polar bears, seals, walruses and bowhead whales. A 36,000-year-old mummified Alaska steppe bison holds court in the Interior Gallery, and the Alaska pipeline stars in the Southcentral Gallery with support from the Birds of the Wetlands exhibit. The Southeast Gallery focuses on salmon and Alaska’s geologic history.
Adult admission to the museum runs $5, with discounts for children, seniors and groups.
Find out more at www.uaf.edu/museum or by calling (907) 474-7505.
Butterflies aren’t yet free
The butterflies have not left the building.
Oregon Zoo visitors apparently love the colorful fliers so much, they’ve persuaded 20-some species to stick around until Sept. 18.
The Winged Wonders exhibit lures the creatures to a butterfly garden full of bee balm, black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, red valerian and gayfeather.
General admission to the zoo is $9.50 per adult and Winged Wonders is another $2. Visit www.oregonzoo.com for a complete list of exhibits and hours. Or call (503) 226-1561.
“Harvest bell ceremony, Sept. 8, Walla Walla. Waterbrook Winery launches a new tradition – and follows a European one – by ringing in the vineyard harvest with a specially commissioned bronze bell. A number of historic bells from throughout the region will be on display in the winery’s art gallery and tasting room for the rest of the month. (877-998-4748)
“Children’s Art Festival, Sept. 18, Victoria, B.C. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria will let your kids paint, draw, make paper and put together a collage. Storytellers and comedy shows are part of the bargain – and it’s all free. ( www.aggv.bc.ca, (250) 384-4101)