The scones are cooking, the cattle have been driven down Meridian Street, and the sounds of the Washington State Fair are filling the night air. Puyallup’s September ritual signals with comforting regularity the changing of the seasons and the coming of fall.
To celebrate our 100th anniversary this year, the Puyallup Public Library is introducing an event that hopefully will serve as much of a marker of the coming of fall as does the fair.
On Sept. 27-28, conveniently after the fair concludes, we will hold the inaugural Puyallup Festival of Books, a new annual event that will celebrate authors and the written word.
The festival is going to be the library’s signature event, and a signature cultural event for the City of Puyallup. It will bring nationally known authors of both children’s, young adult and adult books to Puyallup. And with the festival, we will also introduce an annual author lecture, named in honor and memory of Jim Taylor.
Taylor was a beloved English teacher in the Puyallup School District at Rogers High. He influenced generations of Puyallup students and introduced them to books and poems that made a huge impact in their lives.
This year’s festival, with the theme “Where Magic and Legends Come Alive,” hopes to accomplish the same goal. The first Jim Taylor memorial lecture will be delivered by author Susan Cooper, a fantasy writer for young adults and children. Her work has been compared to that of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, which is no wonder, as she attended lectures by both of those legends while she was a student at Oxford.
In the 1970s, Cooper published a five-book fantasy series collectively titled “The Dark is Rising,” which tells a story of the Old Ones, a group of people especially set apart to battle the forces of evil, or, as Susan Cooper calls it, the Dark.
Each of the books involves a quest for items that will aid the forces of the Light in their eternal struggle — six signs, circles quartered by crosses each made from a different element: wood, bronze, iron, water, fire and stone. They also must find a golden harp and a crystal sword.
The images in Cooper’s books are powerful and haunting, like the Lost Land underneath the sea, where the sword lies hidden, or the caves beneath the misty Welsh mountains, where the harp is kept safe. The indelible images take readers instantly into the experience of the characters in the story.
Infused with the legends of King Arthur and the myths of ancient Britain, Cooper’s books make readers feel and learn through feeling.
In her books, the oppressive power of the Dark is like huge, menacing, cold, impenetrable snowdrifts, overcome by the power of the Light, with its knowledge of the words of power and pattern of the “blazing timeless” stars.
We are thrilled to have the Puyallup School District as a partner for this lecture, and we look forward to giving Puyallup students the opportunity to meet Cooper and introduce them to her work.
We hope to carry on Jim Taylor’s legacy of connecting young people with literature. The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Liberty Theater in Puyallup, and it’s open to the public. Tickets are $10 and on sale at www.susancooperlecture.brownpapertickets.com.
Our book festival also will welcome legendary fantasy author Ursula K. LeGuin, who will do a reading and book signing at 2 p.m. Sept. 28 at the library.
There is even more going on, and you can find all the information at the library or at www.puyallupfestivalofbooks.com. We’d love to see you at the lecture, or, even better, read some of the books by our visiting authors.Tim Wadham is the director of the Puyallup Public Library.