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Friday, April 23, 2010

A Message from Elizabeth Roberts, Lt. Governor

The past few weeks have been challenging for all of us in Rhode Island as we endured historic flooding that shut down roads around the state, closed and flooded businesses and swept through basements and entire houses, displacing some residents.

I visited the Westerly Red Cross shelter the week of the floods, thanking the volunteers and speaking with the more than fifty people who had been forced from their homes by the rising water. It was so stressful for them. But I noticed that many of them were passing the time reading. There were children and adults in the center sitting at the long tables usually used for meals, engrossed in a book.

Right now, readers around the state are participating in the Reading Across Rhode Island. This year’s book is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. An odd title. A delightful book. I began it on the day I visited Westerly. I, too, found myself engrossed in a world far from RI where a community came together to endure hardship—in their case, the five-year Nazi occupation of Guernsey Island in the middle of the English Channel. The literary society of the title arose by accident, when trying to explain a curfew violation to the occupying soldiers, but it became a means for surviving, maintaining a community during a time of privation.

The bonds created by sharing books (each member could choose their own, with often unexpected results) helped many survive and endured well beyond the end of the war. This book, set in 1946, shows how the society and the shared love of reading, whether it was Marcus Aurelius or cookbook recipes, helped define the future of this island community.

It seems a particularly appropriate time for RIers to be sharing the experience of reading. May it bind us together and help us to survive hardship, as it did for those in the Westerly Red Cross shelter as well as for those fictional characters many decades and thousands of miles away.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Annie Barrows talks about Ivy and Bean

Annie Barrows will be in town on May 1st for the Reading Across Rhode Island annual breakfast, and to discuss her part in finishing this year’s RARI selection, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

But she is also the author of the famous children’s series of books about Ivy and Bean. Ms. Barrows has written 6 books about this fabulous pair of young girls, who manage to get into and out of adventures on a regualr basis.

Annie Barrows will talk to her Ivy and Bean fans at the Warwick Public Library on Friday, April 30th at 4:00pm. Barnes and Noble booksellers will be there if you want to purchase any Ivy and Bean books, which Ms Barrows will happily autograph!

Come hear about Annie’s inspiration for her books; how she writes her stories and maybe get a hint of their next adventure!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

RI Author's Corner: Mark Peter Hughes in his own words....

How did you become an author?
I've make up stories all my life. I've written them as long as I've been able to write. My first published novel got the attention of my editor, Stephanie Lane Elliott, at Random House, after I submitted it to the Delacorte Press Young Adult Novel Competition. I've been working with her ever since.

What three books or authors most influenced your style and why?
Jeez, this is a tough one because there are so many that I've loved. Some of my favorites as a child that I still love now are The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald. As a teenager I loved The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, The World According to Garp by John Irving and The Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Leguin. I also love Paul Micou, Barbara O'Connor, Phillip K. Dick, Lewis Carroll and Kurt Vonnegut. There are so many more, but that's more than three, so I'll stop there.

What projects are you working on now? What is your favorite book you have written and why?
I always like the one I'm writing. My first book, I Am the Wallpaper, was special because it was the first one and there never any quarantee it would ever get published. It was just fun to write a story. I wasn't even aware that I was writing a young adult novel until it was mostly finished. I was just writing about a teenager.

My second book, Lemonade Mouth, was a challenge because it's the story of a high school band told from the five different perspectives of the band members. I like to write funny, so that was a fun one to write.

I just finished my third book, A Crack in the Sky, which is the first in a science-fiction series about a future America where global warming has gone to an extreme and everything is so hot and stormy that they've had to put protective domes over all of the cities. Man, that was a tough book to write because it was so different from anything else I've done before, but I'm very happy with it and can't wait until it comes out in the fall. Now I'm writing the second book in the series - which is called The Greenhouse Chronicles. Like I say, whatever I'm writing now is always my favorite.

People are always curious about an author's writing process. How do you approach your work?
I'm a write-at-home dad with three kids so I fit writing in whenever I can. After I get them on the bus I usually get a tall cup of coffee and start typing. I think if you really want to write, then you have to sit down and write. You can't be one of those who say they're going to write someday. Today is that day. If I write today then I'm a writer today. So that's what I do.
[For more information and updates about what Mark is doing now, visit the Mark Peter Hughes website.]

Friday, November 6, 2009

2010 Reading Across Rhode Island Title Chosen

The 2010 Reading Across Rhode Island (RARI) title is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

Shortly after the end of WWII, Juliet Ashton of London receives a letter from a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – only the beginning of a series of letters bridging two islands and chronicling the story of the Guernsey islanders’ indomitable spirit during the German occupation.

Save the Date: The 8th Annual May Breakfast: May 1, 2010 with Keynote, Annie Barrows, co author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Also please watch this blog and the Reading Across Rhode Island website for the date for the January Launch Conference and other activities and resources about our 2010 title.

Ms. Barrows is also the author of the children’s series Ivy and Bean and The Magic Half. Mary Ann Shaffer, a librarian and editor, nurtured the tale about Guernsey for twenty years before committing pen to paper. Unfortunately, Ms. Shaffer passed away in February, 2008 before the final edits to the manuscript were complete. She asked her niece, Annie Barrows, to complete the revisions - and the story is now ours to share with all Rhode Islanders.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let’s Talk about the Short List for Reading Across RI 2010

Have you read any of the titles on our Reading Across RI Short List for 2010? Help the Nominating Committee make the difficult decision with your input on the list of titles they are considering for 2010. Join us in discussing the seven books on the RARI Short List for 2010 by posting your comments about these books (each title has its own post):
  • Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
  • The Lost City of Z by David Grann
  • Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
  • The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Help by Karen Stockett

Summary from Novelist Plus: Limited and persecuted by racial divides in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, three women, including an African-American maid, her sassy and chronically unemployed friend, and a recently graduated white woman, team up for a clandestine project.

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Novelist Plus summary: In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lhari

Summary from Novelist Plus: Exploring the secrets and complexities lying at the heart of family life and relationships, a collection of eight stories includes the title work, about a young mother in a new city whose father tends her garden while hiding a secret love affair.