Altered States

Not to rag on the hard-working educators who shaped our young, impressionable minds, but if they'd illuminated U.S. History half as amusingly as author Sarah Vowell does, then maybe we wouldn’t have texted through fourth period.

You can bet that we wouldn’t have felt the slightest tinge of excitement had our Peanuts-esque lecturer zoomed in and focused on Hawaii’s path to statehood. But in Vowell’s latest nonfiction book, Unfamiliar Fishes, released in 2011, the bestselling author morphs the seemingly dull topic into casual, engaging entertainment that simply happens to educate. Vowell explores the imperialism explosion that found 1898 America annexing what would become its 50th state as well as Puerto Rico and Guam (not to mention invading the Phillipines and Cuba).

School is in session on Saturday, April 28, when Vowell takes the stage at the Virigina G. Piper Theater at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, for a reading, audience discussion, and book signing.

Sat., April 28, 8 p.m., 2012