City Week

Treasures and Close Encounters

Janni Lee Simner and Jennifer J. Stewart Book Signing
2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12.
Borders, 5870 E. Broadway Blvd.

If you enjoy embarking on adventures through children's literature, then head down to Borders for a book signing by two Arizona authors, Janni Lee Simner and Jennifer J. Stewart.

Stewart will be signing her third book, Close Encounters of a Third-World Kind, which came out in the fall of 2004. The book tells the tale of a girl and her parents who head to Nepal to do volunteer medical work. The idea for the book arose from Stewart's own experience in Nepal; she and her family spent several months in the villages of Nepal with a nonprofit organization, Helping Hands Health Education.

"My family actually did that," said Stewart about medical volunteer work. "I took some of the incidents from real life."

Close Encounters of a Third-World Kind was nominated for the Grand Canyon Reader Award (formerly known as the Arizona Young Reader Award).

Simner, a fellow author and friend of Stewart's, will also be signing her most recent book, Secret of the Three Treasures. The story centers on a young girl in Connecticut who is in search of adventure and hidden treasure in her own town.

Both authors, who met in a critique group, have done several school visits for the promotion of their books. Stewart said that both authors will read from their books if there is a large enough audience, and they will most certainly answer questions about their books.

Stewart hopes that through her newest book, kids will learn that "having an adventure can be fun."

Stewart and Simner will appear for a second signing at the Borders on the northwest side of town (4235 N. Oracle Road) the following day, Sunday, Aug. 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. --B.P.

Live From Fourth Avenue

Monsoon Madness with Al Perry and The Stellas
7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Aug. 11
Winsett Outdoor Performance Center
316 N. Fourth Ave.

As the monsoons continue to roll into Tucson, so do the good times. And a grand old music event is about to flood Fourth Avenue.

The annual Monsoon Madness outdoor music event returns to Tucson Friday, Aug. 11, with a force. Local talents Al Perry and the Stellas will perform on the Winsett Stage beginning at 7 p.m.

"It's music on the avenue," said Kini Wadé, entertainment manager for the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association and drummer for the Stellas.

The festival began in 1996 with Wadé and his sound system as a means to bring good local music to a greater public. "It's kind of like a one-man project," Wadé said about the inception and production of Monsoon Madness. The event took a hiatus in 2002 and 2003, but returned to celebrate Fourth Avenue in the summer months.

"For a city like Tucson, there's not much of a street thing," Wadé said. He thinks that performances of live, local music downtown helps cultivate a fun, city-street environment.

The event, according to Wadé, is a "family-oriented thing," where people can stand or lounge around picnic tables and listen to the two local acts.

Monsoon Madness will occur in two installments: Al Perry and the Stellas will play on Aug. 11, and Leila Lopez and Michael P. will perform two weeks later, on Aug. 25. Both events, said Wadé, are a precursor to an upcoming fall event, "Rendezvous on the Avenue" to welcome back UA students.

The show is free and open to the public, but--ironically for an event called Monsoon Madness--"if it rains, there's no show," said Wadé. --B.P.

Ripped From the Headlines

The Syrian Bride Screening
7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 11
Manuel Pacheco Integrated Learning Center Auditorium (ILC 130), 1500 E. University Blvd.

If news from the Middle East has you a bit downtrodden, The Syrian Bride may offer some uplifting perspectives.

The Syrian Bride, a film by Israeli director Eran Riklis, will be screened by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies on Friday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. It is one of two films chosen for screening this summer by CMES.

The feature film, which takes place in the contested area of Golan Heights, centers around the impending wedding of a Druze family daughter to a Syrian actor. The daughter, upon her marriage, must travel from her home in Israel to Syria to live with her husband. But "if you go into Syria, you can't go back into Israel," said Carrie Brown, outreach coordinator for the CMES.

The film highlights the intricacies of human interactions and familial relations in a region of political conflict and instability. Brown finds that the focus on human life rather than political or social incidences is one of the best qualities of the film. One of the major issues "for a majority of the people is that they're caught in the conflict," she said. "I think what's nice about this movie is that it's about the people."

As the movie occurs in Golan Heights, "there is sort of that political context," said Brown, but the film is "not too heavy."

Brown said that screening of The Syrian Bride was planned prior to the outbreak of violence between Israel and Lebanon, and she does not know how recent news from the region will influence perceptions of the film.

The film contextualizes conflict and illuminates positive aspects of life in the region. "I think at the end, there's sort of a hint that common people can do uncommon things," said Brown.

Anyone interested in learning a bit about the region or who wants to see a fresh foreign film is invited to the free screening. --B.P.

Down by the River

Santa Cruz River Farmers' Market First Birthday Celebration
4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 17
Santa Cruz River Park, Riverside Drive and Ontario Street
622-0525, Ext 242

Tucsonans are invited to mix, mingle and have a good time at the Community Food Bank-sponsored Santa Cruz River Farmers' Market first birthday party on Thursday, Aug. 17.

"Folks who grow local produce come and make (the produce) available to the community," said Varga Garland, the director of Community Food Security Center at the Community Food Bank. Farmers who bring their locally grown products hail from the Tucson area, Arivaca, Willcox and areas just outside of Phoenix.

The event, said Garland, stresses community health and involvement in a fun environment. The upcoming celebration combines health services and education with standard birthday party activities. Free food samples, live music and face painting will be among the happenings.

Garland said nonprofit organizations and other enterprises, such as St. Mary's Hospital, El Rio Health Center and a "variety of community partners" who are interested in health will be present at the celebration. St. Mary's Hospital, she said, has offered diabetes screenings at previous Santa Cruz Farmers' Market events and will most likely do so for the birthday celebration.

There will be food-preparation demonstrations that use nutritious foods; the recipes will also be shared, and Garland hopes that will encourage interaction between Tucsonans and the local farmers. "There's a lot of visiting that goes on between farmers and customers, and customers and customers," said Garland.

The Santa Cruz Farmers' Market happens every Thursday and welcomes all Tucsonans who are interested in health, want to check out local food options or simply want to meet with other Tucsonans. --B.P.

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