Reading project turns new page

By Ben Beagle, Daily News Lifestyles Editor
January 16, 2004

BATAVIA — The community reading project “A Tale for Three Counties” is about to begin chapter two with an expanded program that includes a film series and a book review contest.

“With adding some other related programs we are looking for more readers to be involved in the experience,” said Leslie DeLooze, the reference and community services librarian at Richmond Memorial Library who has led the project since its debut last year.

More than a dozen libraries from Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties are involved in the project which encourages everyone in the three counties to read the same book, discuss it and then meet the author. This year’s selection is Howard Frank Mosher’s Northern Borders.

The first book discussion is scheduled for Feb. 2 at Community Free Library, 86 Public Square, Holley. Discussions are scheduled through March 20, just before Mosher visits the area for four programs and book signings March 25 to 27.

Mosher will also participate in a lunch program featuring six winners of a book review contest sponsored by The Daily News.

Northern Borders is Mosher’s nostalgic novel of life in northern Vermont’s fictional Kingdom County, as told by a man remembering his boyhood. Austen Kittredge III was 6 years old when he left his widowed father in 1948 to live with his paternal grandparents — an Egypt-obsessed grandmother and an outdoors-loving, secretive grandfather.

The book recounts escapades at the county fair, goings on at the annual family reunion and Shakespeare performance, and conflicts at the one-room schoolhouse.

“Mosher often writes about rural life, and in Northern Borders family is very important,” DeLooze said. “I think family stories are really important and think that reading some of these books help us think about what’s happening in our own families.”

Copies of the books are available to borrow or purchase at public libraries in each of the three counties.

But this year’s program is about more than books.

Three of Mosher’s stories, including two novels, have been adapted to film. Screenings of A Stranger in the Kingdom (Feb. 19) and the short film High Water (Feb. 28, with a discussion led by local filmmaker Rob LaPointe) are planned for Richmond Memorial Library. Both films will be shown along with Where the Rivers Flow North beginning at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Cordelia A. Greene Library, 11 South Main St., Castile, and starting at 2 p.m. March 13 at Swan Library, 4 North Main St., Albion.

“The movies are a different way to experience the author and his works,” DeLooze said. “They certainly give a flavor of what his writing is about.”

Last year, more than 1,000 people participated in book discussions in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties and came to three presentations by author Leif Enger, whose novel Peace Like a River has remained in wide circulation at the participating libraries.

Sponsors for the second year of “Tale” include The Daily News, The Bank of Castile, Wal-Mart, the Arts Council for Wyoming County, which provided an $825 decentralization grant for the project, Friends of Richmond Memorial Library, Friends of Perry Public Library, Friends of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, Friends of Swan Library, Friends of Corfu Free Library, The Nioga and Pioneer library systems, and the Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services School Library System.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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