It's not like she didn't have anything else to do. Minnesota writer Kate DiCamillo, the Library of Congress Ambassador for Young People's Literature, author of more than a dozen books (with a new novel coming out next year), and in-demand public speaker, has now signed on to be the first National Summer Reading Champion, working with the nonprofit Collaborative Summer Library Program.
DiCamillo will appear in a series of public service announcements, participate in a national media campaign, and appear at events across the country. The aim of the program is to encourage families and children to take part in library summer reading programs--and it dovetails nicely with her work as Ambassador, which is also to promote reading.
Reading--especially families reading together--has long been a passion of DiCamillo's, who grew up with a mother who read to her and indulged her love of books. (Once Kate checked a book out of the library so many times her mother finally went up the librarians and asked if they could buy it. They told her, "You know it doesn't work that way.")
DiCamillo, the author of "Because of Winn-Dixie," "Flora & Ulysses," and many other books, is one of the few writers to be honored twice with the Newbery Medal. She has also won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, the Christopher Medal, and many other honors. She lives and writes in Minneapolis and was honored last month by the Star Tribune, which named her the artist of the year.
The spring season of Club Book--the free writers series that brings nationally known writers to libraries and community centers all over the metro area, mainly outside of the core cities--kicks off on Feb. 12. This season's lineup is diverse and strong, including Quan Barry, Sonia Nazarrio, Jonathan Odell, and Garth Stein. March is particularly busy, with five of the nine events that month.
Here's the lineup:
Peter Heller. 7 p.m. Feb. 12, Stillwater Public Library, 224 3rd St. N., Stillwater. Heller is the author of "The Dog Stars" and "The Painter," and he has written extensively for National Geographic, Outside Magazine, Men's Journal and other magazines. The Star Tribune called "The Dog Stars" "a heart-wrenching and richly written story," comparable to the work of Cormac McCarthy.
Amy Quan Barry. 7 p.m. March 4, Northtown Library, 711 County Road 10 NE, Blaine. Barry is a poet and novelist, winner of the Donald Hall Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker and Ploughshares as well as other journals and magazines, and her new novel, "She Weeps Each Time You're Born," will be published this spring.
Nadia Hashimi. 7 p.m. March 11, Highland Park Community Center, 1974 Ford Parkway, St. Paul. Hashimi is the daughter of Afghan immigrants to the United States, and her novel, "The Pearl that Broke its Shell," is the story of two Afghan women. Hashimi, a pediatrician, is working on her second book, which is about Afghan refugees in Europe.
Jonathan Odell. 7 p.m. March 17, Prior Lake Library, 16210 Eagle Creek Av. SE, Prior Lake. Odell grew up in Mississippi and now lives in Minneapolis. His novel, "The Healing," published in 2012, was a local bestseller and named an Indies Next pick by the American Booksellers Association. His new novel, "Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League," about the relationship between a black woman and a white woman during the American civil rights movement, will be published this month. (It is a reimagining of his first novel, "The View from Delphi.")
Anthony Marra. 6:30 p.m. March 19, Chanhassen Public Library, 7711 Kerber Boulevard, Chanhassen. Marra, winner of a Whiting Writers Award and a Pushcart Prize, is the author of "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena." Set in Chechnya, the book was longlisted for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize for emerging authors.
Marisa de los Santos. 7 p.m. March 31, Roseville Public Library, 2180 Hamline Av. N., Roseville. De los Santos is a poet, young-adult writer, essayist, and the author of three New York Times best-selling novels, including "Falling Together." Her new novel is "The Precious One."
Jon Ronson. 6:30 p.m. April 13, R.H. Stafford Library, 8595 Central Park Place, Woodbury. Ronson is a journalist and the author of "The Men Who Stare at Goats," later made into a movie starring George Clooney. His most recent book is, "So You've Been Publicly Shamed."
Garth Stein. 7 p.m. April 20, Galaxie Library, 14955 Galaxie Av., Apple Valley. Stein is the author of the best-selling "The Art of Racing in the Rain," which was on the New York Times best-seller list for three years. His new novel is a ghost story, "A Sudden Light."
Sonia Nazario. 7 p.m. April 27, Southdale Library, 7001 York Av. S., Edina. Nazario is a reporter who has worked for the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. At the Times she won the Pulitzer Prize for her serial narrative "Enrique's Journey," the true story of a young Honduran boy who was attempting to cross the border into the United States to find his mother.
Club Book is funded through the state's 2008 Legacy Amendment. All events are free and open to the public, and since 2014 have been recorded and are available as podcasts on the Club Book website. Doors open 45 minutes before the event, and each event will be followed by book sales and signings by the authors.
On Tuesday evening, the day after her 80th birthday — a wintry, glittering night — St. Paul Poet Laureate Carol Connolly hosted the holiday edition of her monthly reading series at the University Club in St. Paul.
Over the last four years, Connolly’s series has raised $15,000 for Public Art St. Paul’s sidewalk poetry program. On Tuesday night, she announced that beginning in January, donations will go to the St. Paul Almanac, a nonprofit book that publishes the work of established and emerging writers.
One by one, poets approached the podium to read and to wish Connolly a happy birthday. “A wonderful, wonderful lady,” said Cary Waterman. “What would we do without her?” And Connolly piped up from the front row: “Oh, you’d do just fine.”
Tim Nolan read a birthday poem and then seized the opportunity to ask for more time, for just one more poem.
But the evening’s highlight was Dudley Riggs, who approached the podium slowly, with dignity, steadying himself with his cane. He wore a white shirt and a bow tie, and he carried with him poems by the late John Berryman.
“I knew John Berryman somewhat,” Riggs said. “I knew him a little earlier, and a little later. When I knew him earlier, he was neat, clean-shaven, acerbic, anti-war, but he was cool.“When I met him again, he was a burly, bearded bear. Still anti-war. Still cool.”
And then he read two poems — “Dream Song No. 14,” and “Mr. Pou & the Alphabet,” a powerful and poignant poem Berryman had written for his son after a divorce. “N is for now, the best time of all … X is for Xmas where I cannot be.”
It is with great pleasure that we announce the winner of the Star Tribune's search for our third summer serial--Megan Marsnik, St. Paul resident, English teacher at Southwest HIgh, proud daughter of the Iron Range, and a lovely, strong, lyrical writer.
Her first novel (working title: "Underground") will be published in daily installments in the Star Tribune over the course of the summer of 2015. It will also be available as an e-book.
We received more than 100 one-chapter entries, many of which were excellent, and all of which were interesting. We narrowed it down to three finalists, which we read in their entirety. Megan's book is an historical novel, set on the Iron Range during the tumultuous strike of 1916, told through the perspective of a strong young woman who emigrated to the Range from Slovenia to live with her relatives.
"In my early adulthood, I spent three summers working as a researcher at the Iron Range Research Center at Ironworld in Chisholm," Megan said. "My job was to listen to the oral histories of women in politics and transcribe them to paper. These women led amazing lives."
Her research took 18 months and took her not just back to the Range, but to Croatia and Slovenia.
It is very exciting to launch her book into the world, beginning in May.
"Windigo Island," William Kent Krueger's latest novel, is a mystery, yes, but it is also a book that shines a bright light onto a serious problem: the sex trafficking of young Native American girls.
Krueger's best-selling novels always give a glimpse into Native culture. His protagonist, Cork O'Connor, is half Irish and half Indian, a man who walks in both worlds. But "Windigo Island" digs pretty deeply into the issues of poverty, racism and alcoholism, and its mystery centers on two missing Native girls.
Krueger will discuss the issue of sex trafficking on Nov. 19 at Black Bear Crossing cafe in Como Park. All proceeds from book sales that evening will be donated to Ain Dah Yung Center, a St. Paul organization that provides outreach and services to Native American families.
Krueger will be in conversation with Eileen Hudon and Christine Stark, both of whom have worked with the Minnesota Indian Women's Sexual Assault Coalition.
Here's the schedule for the evening:
5:30 p.m.: Welcome, food, and native drumming and solidary shawl project
6 p.m.: Krueger discussion.
7 p.m. Book reading and signing.
Black Bear Crossing is located at 1360 N. Lexington Parkway, in the pavilion of Como Park.
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