Many of Jim Aylesworth's children's books follow a critter on an adventure.
The Columbia County Library is bringing those animal characters Saturday to the second annual Books Alive! celebration.
"The author, his books are animal-themed," said Stacie Adkins, Columbia County Community Events manager. "So that's why we're trying to gear a lot of it around animal-type stuff."
The festival runs 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the amphitheater and Memorial Gardens behind the Columbia County Library.
In honor of Aylesworth's creature characters, there will be a petting zoo and special animal guests, as well as children's games and activities, inflatables and a book signing and story times, Adkins said. Most events are free, but some food and game vendors will charge, she said.
Aylesworth will lead story times featuring his books at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. He'll also be signing books from 1-2 p.m., said Mary Lin Maner, county library manager.
Aylesworth, a picture book author, uses lots of sounds, rhythms and rhymes. After 25 years as an elementary school teacher, Aylesworth published his first book, Hush Up!, in 1980. He started writing and visiting schools full time in 1996. He's authored more than 20 books, including Teddy Bear Tears, Naughty Little Monkeys and Little Bitty Mouse.
Adkins said butterflies will be released at 11 a.m. Activities also include performances by the Pride of Ireland School of Irish Dance, magician Chad Crews and Center Stage Dance Co.
A Hot Air Balloon Glow event, complete with tethered balloon rides, is scheduled for 7-8:30 p.m. in the Evans Town Center Park across Ronald Reagan Drive from the library.
"It'll be right at dusk, and when it gets dark you can see them all lit up at night," Adkins said.
Balloon rides cost $5 for children and $10 for adults.
The festival coincides with the library's book fair, which runs today through March 23 in the lobby of the library.
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