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.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Citywide Reads Special Event: Alex Haley's Roots

Special events are an important component of our Santa Monica Citywide Reads program, and this year we're really excited about what we have in store for you. Our 2011 selection is Dolen Perkins-Valdez's Wench, the story of four enslaved mistresses in the decade prior to the Civil War. To coincide with the theme of slavery, we turned to what is surely one of the most well-known and high quality depictions of the topic in the past few decades: Alex Haley's Roots.

Beginning February 14, the Main Library will screen the entire miniseries of Roots in a six-day marathon of screenings. Episodes 1 through 5 will screen in our Martin Luther King, Jr. Auditorium at 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, February 14 through 18. The finale, Episode 6, will screen at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 19. Following the final episode screening, at 3:00 p.m., we'll also present a very special discussion on the cultural impact of Roots, moderated by entertainment journalist Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn and original cast members from the miniseries. We're still putting the panel together, so we don't have guest names to announce just yet, but it's sure to be a truly special event, no matter what.

Note: tickets for the cast panel will be required, and are free to the public. Tickets will be released at noon, February 19th in the Main Library lobby. Only one ticket per guest, and guest must be present to receive a ticket. No reservations are available. Seating is first come, first served.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Win a Nook!

Join us at any of the Citywide Reads book discussions of Wench, February 16 through March 12, to enter your name in the drawing to win a Nook Color ebook reader.

Read the flier for official rules and restrictions.

The Library invites you to participate in the following facilitator-led public book discussions:
·Wed, Feb 16 at 7:00 p.m., Montana Branch, 1704 Montana Avenue
·Sat, Feb 19 at 12:30 p.m., First AME Church, 1823 Michigan Avenue
·Tues, Feb 22 at 7:00 p.m., Fairview Branch Library, 2101 Ocean Park Blvd.
·Sat, Feb 26 at 11:00 a.m., CafĂ© Bolivar, 1741 Ocean Park Boulevard
·Mon, Feb 28 at 1:30 p.m., Senior Recreation Center, 1450 Ocean Avenue
·Sat, Mar 5 at 11:00 a.m., Ocean Park Branch Library, 2601 Main Street
·Mon, Mar 7 at 2:00 p.m., Tudor House, 1403 Second Street
·Sat, Mar 12 at 1:00 p.m., Main Library, 601 Santa Monica Boulevard

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hot Off The Presses!

Just a quick entry to congratulate Dolen Perkins-Valdez! We just got word that in the next issue of The New York Times, the trade paperback release of Wench will make its debut at #16 in their best seller list. We hope we had a little bit to do with that. We know lots of you are picking up copies at the library, at your local bookstore, and we're looking forward to reading and discussing it with all of you very soon.