Even hoodie-and-umbrella weather didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of people who strolled the University of Arizona Mall Saturday during the Tucson Festival of Books.

Adults wearing hats, caps and visors, children bundled up in strollers and even a puppy wearing yellow rain booties braved the damp weather as they went from booth to both, looking at books, meeting authors and getting hands-on with interactive displays.

James Murphy, a first-time festival attendee, ducked into the Culinary Experience tent to escape the rain but stayed to listen to a discussion of Italian cooking, which piqued his interest.

"I thought there would be less people because it's raining," he said. "I'm impressed. It's not just books. It's more diverse, including girls on trapezes, rock and roll music, lots of good food."

Kristi Enger brought her four children - Isaiah, 8, Hannah, 12, Cale, 16, and Seth, 13 - to the festival. Their first stop, Science City, where three of the children hopped on a big, yellow seesaw designed by GLHN Architects & Engineers.

The firm's engineers built the seesaw to demonstrate how the right design allows less force to do the same work. But Isaiah's takeaway was more fundamental: "It's awesome!"

Added Cale: "It's not so books. It's more science."

And a few minutes on the seesaw made Hannah realize "gravity can get really high!"

Kitrina Cooper and her son Joey, 8, came from Phoenix to visit relatives and attend the festival. The "mad scientist" in the children's area captured Joey's attention.

"He's a reader and he's very into science," Cooper said.

Joey's nana, Kathleen Roberts, found plenty to do in the children's area, too. Her tote bag was full of free books and other goodies she picked up for her grandchildren.

Plus, she said, "I had my blood pressure taken. They give you water. They give you candy. They give you (book) bags. Every year there's more and more."

Before stopping to try out some science experiments, Joey had his face painted to look like a lion, he got his photo taken posing as a muscleman and perused mythology posters.

Susan Sharkey was at the tail end of a long line of fans waiting to hear a talk by novelist Jodi Picoult. "Nineteen Minutes," about a school shooting, is one of the first Picoult books Sharkey read. As a teacher, it resonated with her, she said. Another Picoult book, "House Rules," about a boy with Asperger's syndrome, also is a favorite.

"Her books show family relationships and struggles in society and family successes. Her books have a real voice," said Sharkey, who didn't get to hear the author speak. The auditorium filled to capacity just before she got to the front of the line.

On StarNet: To read the e-edition version of the guide for the festival, go to azstarnet.com/festivalguide


Get more book fest details and find websites and apps to help you enjoy the annual event.

If You go

• What: Fifth annual Tucson Festival of Books.

• When: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. today

• Where: University of Arizona campus. Attendance and parking are free.

• What: Authors, book discussions, workshops and literary activities for the entire family.

• Sponsors: The UA and the Arizona Daily Star. The University of Arizona Medical Center is the presenting sponsor. Net proceeds will promote literacy in Southern Arizona through the Tucson Festival of Books Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

• Bookmark it: Go to tucsonfestivalofbooks.org for more information

• Social media: Follow the festival on Facebook at facebook.com/tucsonfestivalofbooks and go to twitter.com/tfob to follow on Twitter.

• Mobile: Apps are available for iPhone, Android devices and Kindle Fire.

• Parking is free. All parking will be open today, though the Second Street Garage will be reserved for authors and moderators.

Today's forecast

No rain is expected in Tucson today, even though the sky will remain partly cloudy, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures will top out in the low to mid-60s.

"I thought there would be less people because it's raining. I'm impressed. It's not just books. It's more diverse, including girls on trapezes, rock 'n' roll music, lots of good food."

James Murphy, a first-time festival attendee

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.