Tucson, AZ--- A very special event just for families will take place at the Fox Tucson Theatre on July 10th.  The Monsoon Literacy Celebration offers an afternoon of special events that celebrate the Sonoran Desert and seasonal monsoons, includes a showing of the Academy Award nominated movie The Gruffalo, and highlights the works of the late beloved children’s book author Byrd Baylor. Baylor passed away last summer at the age of 97. From the early 1960s through the 1990s, Baylor wrote 30 books that celebrated the Southwest's charms and Native American culture, its desert plants and wildlife. She was a recipient of the prestigious Caldecott Medal given to artists who create the most distinguished American picture books for children.


Kids aged 4-10 and their families are welcome to attend the free event which begins at 2pm in various areas of the theatre. All guests must register at https://foxtucson.com/event/lit-event-2022/ .


Jordan Wiley-Hill, Fox Outreach & Education Manager is so pleased with the way this event has come together, “The Fox’s summer literacy program now in its fifth year, is a fun, accessible way to bring literacy to kids in our community to help to stave off summer learning loss. The combination of reading, learning about our unique summer monsoons and all the wonder of the Sonoran Desert is the perfect blend.  We are particularly thrilled to connect local families with Byrd Baylor’s beautiful writings about our beloved home in Southern Arizona.”


Monsoon Literacy Celebration Schedule of Events


Main lobby: Hands-on literacy related activities will be offered by Literacy Connects, the Pima County Library, and Bear Essential News.

Downstairs lounge: Make Way for Books (an early literacy nonprofit whose mission is to give all children a chance to read and succeed) will present storytelling, featuring readings from books written by Byrd Baylor and Julia Donaldson (best known for her popular rhyming stories for children including The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, etc).


Stratford Lounge on the upper level: Hands-on activities blending the Sonoran Desert and literacy will be offered by community partners, including the Clean Air Program of the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ), the Children’s Museum, and the Watershed Management Group, A limited number of EcoKids Activity Kits— including coloring books that blend literacy and Sonoran Desert information from the writings of Byrd Baylor— will be given away by PDEQ, as well as books provided by the AZ Sonora Desert Museum.


In the theatre:

Thomas Wiewandt’s award-winning movie “Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert” will be featured on the big screen from 2-3pm. An immersive multimedia experience with no narration, this creative blend of HD video footage, time-lapse imagery, stills, natural sounds, is backed by "organic music" performed by world-class musician Gary Stroutsos. This pictorial and musical chronicle of 5 seasons in Sonoran Desert lowlands of the American Southwest and northwestern Mexico showcases weather phenomena and 182 species of plants and animals.   Lights will be dimmed so kids and families can enter to watch as they like. The filmmaker will be available for meet and greet in the lobby during the airing of his film and at the end of the main event.



The second hour takes place in the theatre.  The opening segment will feature recordings of Byrd Baylor reading from her books accompanied by clips from “Desert Dreams”. Several videos from Stories That Soar- taken from the writings of local Tucson students about nature and the desert will follow. Next, to get everyone up and moving, KIT the Fox and Boomer the Bear (Bear Essentials mascot) will engage the audience in a sing and dance- along break.


The main event: Based on the classic storybook by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the 30-minute, animated film “The Gruffalo” is a delightful rhyming tale about a clever little mouse and a monster. When mouse goes for a walk in a dangerous forest, he invents tales of a fantastic creature called a Gruffalo to scare off his enemies. All goes well until he meets a real Gruffalo!   The film will lay the foundation for a live musical theatre performance of “The Gruffalo” in January. It will be performed by the highly acclaimed London theatre company, Tall Stories, and presented by the Fox Theatre in January as part of the 2022-23 School Show Series.



As kids exit the theatre each child will receive a free book from the Pima County Library.


Community Partners

PDEQ Public Outreach director Skye Siegel is pleased the agency is part of this program. “The Pima County Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) and PDEQ’s Clean Air Program welcomes this opportunity to sponsor the Monsoon Literacy Celebration to honor Byrd Baylor. The Fox, Byrd and PDEQ are kindred spirits dedicated to creatively inspiring youth and families to nurture Sonoran Desert life.”  Her sentiment is shared by the other partners in the event including Bear Essentials News, Pima County Library, Friends of the Pima County Library, Stories that Soar, Literacy Connects, Make Way for Books, Children’s Museum, Wild Horizons Publishing, Watershed Management Group, and the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. This event is sponsored by the PDEQ’s Clean Air Program, and it is part of the Fox’s Family and Youth series, which is sponsored by Bear Essential News.

The Crown Jewel of Tucson. We make Memories. We make Connections. We make Tucson Proud


The Fox Tucson Theatre enlivens Tucson, fostering community growth and connections by shaping exceptional, live arts experiences in a celebrated setting. The “Crown Jewel of Downtown” makes memories, makes connections, and makes Tucson proud. Programming includes exciting year-round live entertainment from the top entertainers in the US, as well as community produced events, classic movies, family programming, and more. Beautifully restored, the historic 1930’s Art Deco theatre Fox has become an important symbol of the resurgence of a thriving city center and continues to contribute to the economic growth in the region. The Fox Tucson Theatre is located at 17 W Congress. For additional information and Covid protocol requirements please visit www.foxtucson.com or call the Box Office at 520-547-3030.