Monday, March 28, 2011

Citywide Reads Nook Drawing

Last week the Santa Monica Citywide Reads nook drawing winner was selected. Those who attended a discussion of Wench were eligible to win.

And the winner is... Robbie Jones of Santa Monica. Congratulations Robbie! And a big thanks to all those who took park in Citywide Reads 2011.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Final Week of Citywide Reads!

Citywide Reads wraps up this Saturday, March 12, but not to worry -- there are still a couple of events remaining.

This year's Citywide Reads pick, Wench, a tale of four slave mistresses taken by their masters to a resort in free territory in pre-Civil War America, has inspired strong feelings in our readers, who have attended Citywide Reads book discussions this year in higher numbers than ever. There is still one more Wench discussion planned, for Saturday, March 12 at 1 p.m. in the Main Library's Multipurpose Room. Please join us!

Those interested in African American history won't want to miss "The Clayton Collections Alive," also happening on Saturday, March 12, at 3 p.m. in the Main Library's Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium. Join Larry Earl, Jr. from the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum in Culver City as he takes us back in time to meet African American poet Phillis Wheatley, and to learn about the struggle for civil rights from the collections housed within this amazing local resource.

About the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum: In the early 1960s, Librarian Mayme A. Clayton, Ph.D., began collecting documents, books, photographs, films and memorabilia chronicling the experience of Americans of African descent. Dr. Clayton collected everything from rare books, to movies, to handwritten slave records. In 2006, the MCLM found a permanent home in Culver City, where researchers may accessand study its rich resources.

Join us for these events on Saturday, and thank you for helping to make Citywide Reads a success!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell from the Sky: Book Discussion and Author Event

A Citywide Reads volunteer wrote the following summary of her experience at the special discussion of Heidi Durrow's The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, as well as the lecture by the author which followed the discussion:

On March 2, a group of adults and teens attended a special Citywide Reads discussion at the Main Library to talk about the novel, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow.

The thought provoking discussion filled more than an hour of exchanges and engaging commentary, with the discussion often centered on the teenage protagonist and her emerging identity. Questions flew back and forth about various characters and the unfolding mystery that wove through the story. Broader issues surfaced like how do we come to know ourselves and how long does the journey take - all of which brought us back to Ms. Durrow's novel and the burning question: when will Rachel know herself? For that question, we later asked the author if there is a sequel forthcoming; she replied that she is currently working on other projects. The group viewed clips from three films that explored themes of identity: Persepolis, The Secret Life of Bees, and The Namesake.

Later in the evening Ms. Durrow gave a reading from her book that moved the audience to another level of understanding identity, as her voice lifted the prose from the page and we wrapped our hearts around the words.

Several people spoke highly of the Citywide Reads program and how much they loved the variety of books chosen over the years. They enjoyed the books on so many levels - reading the novels, discussing the issues, and hearing the authors' perspectives. Check out the Santa Monica Citywide Reads events and discussions through March 12, and join other readers who are talking about issues that rise off the pages of novels and engage us in conversations with one another.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reminder: Dolen Perkins-Valdez Event This Saturday!

Join us this Saturday, February 26, for a special Citywide Reads author event. The program begins promptly at 2:00 p.m. in the Main Library's MLK Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd. Writer Dolen Perkins-Valdez will present an engaging reading and discussion her novel Wench. Seating is on first arrival basis. Tickets are free and available at 1:00 p.m. the day of the event. One ticket per person, and you must be present to receive a ticket.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Highlights from our Roots panel

As those of you who've been following us know, we followed up our special Citywide Reads screening series of Alex Haley's Roots with a cast panel discussion, featuring original cast members from that landmark miniseries. Cast members who joined us were (l to r) Beverly Todd (who played the adult Fanta), Lynne Moody (who played Irene), and surprise guest Georg Stanford Brown (who played Tom).

Entertainment journalist Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn did a fantastic job interviewing the panel and moderating audience questions. Cast members discussed their experience with Roots, how they came to the project and how it impacted their lives and careers both in the immediate timeframe at which it aired and from the longview over 30+ years later.

If you missed it, we're sorry you did, and we hope you'll remind yourself not to miss any of our future Santa Monica Citywide Reads special events. Coming up this Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 2:00 p.m., Wench author Dolen Perkins-Valdez will be joining us to share and discuss the book we're all reading together this year. It promises to be a fantastic event, and it's sure to be a full house. The program is free and tickets for auditorium seating will be released at 1:00 p.m. the day of the event. Seating is first come, first served. We hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Roots Panel Special Guests Announced

Santa Monica Citywide Reads has now officially begun. It's day two of our four-week program, and 2011 is shaping up to be a banner year for Santa Monica's community reading program. In case you've not been paying attention, this year's featured book is the NAACP Image Award nominee, Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Wench is the story of four slave mistresses in the years prior to the Civil War. Piggybacking on the theme of slavery, we decided to look back at Alex Haley's landmark portrait of Americans of African descent, Roots. We started a six-day screening of the full miniseries yesterday, and that series continues through this Saturday afternoon. Following the final episode screening on Saturday, Feburary 19th, at 3:00 p.m., we're also hosting a very special discussion panel on Roots with original cast members from that landmark television event. The panel was originally planned to include LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett, Jr., but due to schedule changes that took them out of town on the date we had planned, both Mr. Burton and Mr. Gossett had to bow out. We'll miss them, for sure, but we've still got two cast members who will celebrate the legacy of Roots with us. And, appropriately enough, given that Wench is a story of four women, written by a female author, it turns out that our panel will be headlined by women.

The panel will be moderated by entertainment journalist Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, and panelists will include actresses Lynne Moody and Beverly Todd. Other cast members may join us, but we won't know until the day of the program.

If you're interested in joining us for this panel, the program is free and open to the public. Tickets are required for the cast discussion and will be released at noon on Saturday, February 19th in the Main Library's north lobby. One ticket per guest, and guest must be present to receive a ticket. No prior reservations are available. The screening of episode 6 will begin at 1:00 p.m. in our Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium. Ticket holders may enjoy this episode's screening, or join us later for the panel. Following the conclusion of the episode 6 screening, at 3:00 p.m., the cast panel discussion will take place in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium as well. Remember: tickets are required for Auditorium seating for the cast panel, so be sure to stop by early and pick up a ticket before they're gone. Seating is first come, first served, until seating capacity has been reached.

The Main Santa Monica Public Library is at 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401. If you need to reach us by phone, call (310) 458-8600, or you can find us on the web at

Friday, February 11, 2011

Citywide Reads begins February 14th!

We're right up to the start of Citywide Reads and looking forward to meeting all of you and discussing Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez in the coming weeks. Citywide Reads officially begins on Monday, February 14th, and our first discussion will be held Wednesday, February 16th, at 7:00 p.m. at our Montana Branch Library, 1704 Montana Avenue.

For those of you who are looking for a small taste of what you're in for, we hope you'll enjoy this brief excerpt from Wench.

Drayle did something that astounded his wife. Tired of sleeping on the storeroom floor with his new lover, he moved her into the guest bedroom across from his own. That was when Fran began to pinch Lizzie.

The pinches were hard enough to bruise. Fran did it secretly--in the kitchen, on the stairs, in the hallway, in the yard. She searched for new places, beginning with Lizzie's cheek. Then an arm. Thigh. Side. Shoulder. She seemed to relish discovering each new point of hurt. Sometimes Lizzie even caught the woman examining her body, as if searching for a new place. Lizzie tried to stay out of her way. Tried to bypass her in the familiar layout of rooms.

At night, Drayle came to her, but Lizzie didn't tell him about Fran's game. Instead, she made excuses for the bruises. She told him that colored people bruise easier than whites. This explanation seemed to satisfy him and he took care not to touch her in those places.

After two weeks, Fran grew tired of her pinches and left Lizzie alone. Lizzie was grateful and went out of her way to make Fran pleased. She cleaned the woman's room without being asked, ironed her clothes, and put extra sausage on the breakfast trays delivered to Fran in the morning.

The house slaves had accepted Lizzie as Drayle's woman, and they now looked to her to convince him of favors. If someone was sick down in the quarters, they asked Lizzie to whisper the news to him so the person would be granted a reprieve. Another time, Lizzie convinced Drayle to let the slaves have extra rations of meat. Each time Lizzie was able to redeem a request, the field slaves accepted her position a bit more.

Wench is copyright © 2010 Dolen Perkins-Valdez. All rights reserved. It is published by Amistad, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.