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Bookzilla: Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis to Keynote Book Fest

A rock singer and his artist wife, two parades, opera singers, theatrical performances, a treasure hunt, a literary duel and more than than 300 authors will be featured.

A rock singer and his artist wife, two parades, opera singers, theatrical performances, a treasure hunt, a literary duel and more than than 300 authors will be featured at the sixth annual AJC Decatur Book Festival presented by  on Labor Day weekend.

And this year, you'll be able to bid on having a beer with some of the authors at the Sept. 2 to 4 festival that is expected to attract thousands of book lovers to the historic Decatur Square and surrounding venues.

The nation's fourth largest book festival announced its headliners Thursday at an party packed with Decatur's political and literary dignitaries.

The festival will kick off on Friday, Sept. 2, with a keynote by Colin Meloy, lead singer of the folk rock indie band The Decemberists, and his wife and illustrator Carson Ellis,  who are releasing a new family-friendly book, "Wildwood."

The title will be the first in a three-book fantasy series set in a world that some reviewers are comparing to the "Narnia," of C.S. Lewis. 

Ellis has illustrated such best-sellers as, "The Mysterious Benedict Society," by Trenton Lee Stewart and "The Composer Is Dead," by Lemony Snicket, and designed album covers for The Decemberists.

Book Festival Executive Director Daren Wang said Thursday that the festival will also include an author auction in which fans can bid for the oppportunity to "sit with their favorite author for an hour" at the  

“We have a great combination of established, much-loved DBF traditions as well as exciting, new offerings, ”said Program Director Terra Elan McVoy. She also announced that 2011 author theme tracks will include health and wellness, business and marketing, science, sports, religion and spirituality, and lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender. 

“Innovation has always been a big part of the AJC Decatur Book Festival, and bringing in one of the country’s best-known musicians to launch his first novel will help us fulfill our mission of creating excitement about books among all age groups,” Wang said.

Other featured authors at this year’s festival include: Howard Wasdin ("Seal Team 6"), Hal Needham ("Stuntman! My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life"), Ann and Jeff VanderMeer ("The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities"), Shirley Strawberry ("The Strawberry Letter"), Joshilyn Jackson ("Backseat Saints"), Gregg Hurwitz ("You’re Next"), George Pelecanos ("The Cut"), Robert Olen Butler ("A Small Hotel"), River Jordan ("Praying for Strangers"), Jennifer Haigh ("Faith"), James Swanson ("Bloody Crimes"), Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan ("A Tiger in the Kitchen"), Kim Severson ("Spoon Fed"), Holly Tucker (Blood Work), Tom Perrotta ("The Leftovers"), Mary Kay Andrews ("Summer Rental"), and Karen Russell ("Swamplandia").

Music will be a large part of the festival, including a presentation and performance by famed Southern writer Clyde Edgerton. Edgerton will not only talk about his newest book, "Night Train," but will sing and play the guitar as well.

Decatur-based singer/songwriter Caroline Herring will share her songs inspired by children’s books (including "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," by Beatrix Potter, "The Little House," by Virginia Lee Burton, and "Chicken Soup with Rice," by Maurice Sendak) on the Children’s stage.

The Theatrical Outfit, one of Atlanta’s oldest professional theater companies, will present two separate stage offerings:  Calvin Alexander Ramsey’s world premiere drama "The Green Book," and a first ever workshop of Decatur Book Festival board member Tom Key’s stage adaptation of Eudora Welty’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Optimist’s Daughter."

Caroline Herring and fellow singer/songwriter Kate Campbell will provide a music for this event.

The Atlanta Opera will present a preview of their upcoming children’s opera based on the tales of Brer Rabbit – popularized by Atlanta’s own Joel Chandler Harris.

The festival will feature two children’s parades, a Saturday morning procession led by Skippyjon Jones followed by a presentation by author Judy Schachner ("Skippyjon Jones, Class Action"). The Sunday morning parade will be led by Decatur's own Pete the Cat, followed by James Dean and Eric Litwin sharing their new book ("Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes").

A special storytelling event will recognize the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11— “Persistence of Memory: Stories of Renewal from 9/11.” 

During the two-day festival, there's also going to be an interactive treasure hunt, which will reward players with prizes for finding items at the festival and nearby Decatur hotspots.

The festival will try to get Decatur on the same page by picking a children's book and encouraging families across town to read it together. Called "On the Same Page," the citywide reading event will be sponsored by  the AJC Decatur Book Festival, the Decatur Education Foundation, and the .  Little Shop of Stories will work with schools and libraries, coordinate book groups, lead discussions, and host other book-related events.

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