Overheard on the Green Fields Country Day School playground: "My mommy has written more New York Times best-sellers than your mommy!"
That's a joke, but the author pedigree of the school's parents is not.
There are enough parent-authors at the school to fill a booth, and the school will do just that at the Tucson Festival of Books Saturday and Sunday.
Joni Wallace ("Blinking Ephemeral Valentine"); Laila Halaby ("Once in the Promised Land: A Novel"); Lydia Millet ("Magnificence: A Novel" all have children at the school, and Alan Armstrong ("Racing the Moon") has two grandchildren there.
"They are all nationally recognized authors, and all four of them are presenters at the festival, meaning they were invited previously," said Laurie Haskett, the Green Fields administrative assistant who organized the booth. "We are honored to sell their books at our booth."
Wallace, a poet, plans to help kids write their own work during her time at the booth. She's bringing along daughter Lucia Iurino, a 9-year-old fourth-grader, who also writes poetry.
"She'll probably be a better poet than I am when she grows up," Wallace said.
The school is using the booth as a recruiting tool. In addition to the rotation of parent-authors stopping by to sign books, students will give dramatic readings to draw attention from passers-by.
"It's such a huge event, but our students are the best ambassadors," Haskett said. "Having them at the festival, as well as our families, is the best way to get our good word out."
Halaby said she wants to do "any little extra thing that might attract attention to the school."
"Any way I can help get it some attention on radar screens - any little bit - helps," she said.
Wallace is happy to help spread the word about Green Fields, which is at 6000 N. Camino de la Tierra.
"There is a strong community at the school, with lots of parental involvement," Wallace said. "I really love the school. ... It's the closest to a school for the arts that I've experienced in Tucson."
Armstrong is happy to make the trek from his Massachusetts home to see his family, encourage youngsters to read and help his grandchildren's school.
"It's just wonderful," Armstrong said of Green Fields. "I'm thrilled to see the enthusiasm of the kids. It's such a very warm, supportive place."
Armstrong said he enjoys talking with young readers at book events because they ask insightful questions.
By email, Millet also said she is happy to participate in the booth to help the school.
"My daughter is so happy there and gets so much attention from the devoted teachers - I'm happy to do whatever I can."
The school commissioned special shirts for students, parents and faculty to wear. Teachers will be at the booth to answer questions from parents curious about the school.
"This is a fabulous event for our families to attend," Haskett said. "As a college preparatory school, we certainly want to reach readers. That's who we are."
If you go
• What: Fifth annual Tucson Festival of Books.
• When: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
• Where: University of Arizona campus. Attendance and parking are free.
• What: About 450 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. You can sign up to follow the festival through email newsletters.
• Mobile: Apps are also available for iPhone, Android devices and Kindle Fire.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org