Author visit to bring coming-of-age tale to life

March 22, 2006
By Ben Beagle
Daily News Lifestyles Editor

BATAVIA , Author Jennifer Donnelly will use a bit of late-20th century technology to tell her turn-of-the-last-century tale during visits to Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties that begin Thursday.
Donnelly’s novel, A Northern Light, is the featured book in this year’s ‘A Tale for Three Counties’ community reading project. Set in the Adirondacks in 1906, the novel is the coming of age story of teen-ager Mattie Gokey, a young woman who dreams of becoming a writer.
Donnelly will use PowerPoint, a slide show presentation program, at each of her four talks to illustrate the time period in which her novel is set and talk about inspiration for her book, including the family stories she heard as a child and letters from Grace Brown, the young woman whose real-life murder provides a backdrop to events in A Northern Light.
‘History is very much a character in this story,’ Donnelly said in a recent telephone interview from her Brooklyn home.
The presentation, she said, will reveal how Mattie developed and allow readers to ‘see, hear and bring a bygone era to life.’
Her talks will include the ‘airy-fairy inspiration kind of way and then also the nuts and bolts research sort of way,’ Donnelly said.
Since January, readers in the three counties have been reading A Northern Light, and discussing the story at library-organized events, in independent book clubs, at area schools and among family and friends.
‘One of the most refreshing parts of ‘A Tale for Three Counties’ is the new readers we attract every year,’ said Peggy Parker, director of Perry Public Library.
Talks and book signings are scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd.; 7 p.m. Thursday at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St.; 7 p.m. Friday at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina; and 2 p.m. Saturday in the Perry Elementary/Middle School auditorium, 50 Olin Ave., Perry, a program organized by the Wyoming County libraries.
Copies of A Northern Light and a limited number of copies of Donnelly’s first novel, The Tea Rose, will be available for purchase at each venue.
‘There has been a lot more talk around town this year, a lot of young folks and other book groups have read A Northern Light,’ said Mary Zangerle, director of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library.
Zangerle said her library will provide refreshments, including switchel, a drink mentioned in the book that was served to thirsty farmers at hay harvest time, during Donnelly’s visit. (Switchel, also called haymaker’s punch, is made of molasses mixed with water and seasoned with vinegar and ginger.)
Mattie Gokey narrates A Northern Light. She works at a hotel on Big Moose Lake to earn money for a train ticket that will take her to college in New York City in the fall. But she is torn between her dreams and responsibilities to her siblings and father at home. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of the infamous murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette.
‘We’ve had a really good response with lots of readers,’ said Leslie DeLooze, the reference and community services librarian at Richmond who has led the project from its beginning four years ago.
Readers have been drawn to the novel, not only by the stories of Mattie or Grace, but also by its Adirondack setting. Other readers have noted a contemporary relevance to a story that played out 100 years ago.
Sue Chiddy, a reading instructor at GCC, has used characters and events from the book to illustrate points about relationships in her human relations course.
Donnelly’s book is also the selection for ‘North Country Reads,’ a new community reading project in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties. Donnelly will visit that area next month for readings, talks and booksignings.
‘It means a lot to me that it’s been selected in New York State twice,’ Donnelly said. ‘I was born and bred here, still live here, love the state and adore the Adirondacks so it’s kind of a pat on the back; people from your own state telling you you got it right.’
She attended a kick-off party for the first-year program in January, where she also made a PowerPoint presentation.
‘She’s very engaging, very humble,’ said Maxine Quigg, co-chairwoman of ‘North Country Reads.’ ‘When she read as the Mattie character, she just sounded similar to her in so many ways. You’ll be more than happy with Jennifer.’
Twenty libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties organized ‘A Tale for Three Counties.’ Sponsors include The Daily News, Genesee Community College, the Bank of Castile, Wal-Mart, the Arts Council for Wyoming County and GO ART!. Additional contributions were provided by Friends groups at participating libraries, the Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services School Library System, and the Nioga and Pioneer library systems.
BATAVIA , Author Jennifer Donnelly will use a bit of late-20th century technology to tell her turn-of-the-last-century tale during visits to Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties that begin Thursday.
Donnelly’s novel, A Northern Light, is the featured book in this year’s ‘A Tale for Three Counties’ community reading project. Set in the Adirondacks in 1906, the novel is the coming of age story of teen-ager Mattie Gokey, a young woman who dreams of becoming a writer.
Donnelly will use PowerPoint, a slide show presentation program, at each of her four talks to illustrate the time period in which her novel is set and talk about inspiration for her book, including the family stories she heard as a child and letters from Grace Brown, the young woman whose real-life murder provides a backdrop to events in A Northern Light.
‘History is very much a character in this story,’ Donnelly said in a recent telephone interview from her Brooklyn home.
The presentation, she said, will reveal how Mattie developed and allow readers to ‘see, hear and bring a bygone era to life.’
Her talks will include the ‘airy-fairy inspiration kind of way and then also the nuts and bolts research sort of way,’ Donnelly said.
Since January, readers in the three counties have been reading A Northern Light, and discussing the story at library-organized events, in independent book clubs, at area schools and among family and friends.
‘One of the most refreshing parts of ‘A Tale for Three Counties’ is the new readers we attract every year,’ said Peggy Parker, director of Perry Public Library.
Talks and book signings are scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd.; 7 p.m. Thursday at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St.; 7 p.m. Friday at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina; and 2 p.m. Saturday in the Perry Elementary/Middle School auditorium, 50 Olin Ave., Perry, a program organized by the Wyoming County libraries.
Copies of A Northern Light and a limited number of copies of Donnelly’s first novel, The Tea Rose, will be available for purchase at each venue.
‘There has been a lot more talk around town this year, a lot of young folks and other book groups have read A Northern Light,’ said Mary Zangerle, director of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library.
Zangerle said her library will provide refreshments, including switchel, a drink mentioned in the book that was served to thirsty farmers at hay harvest time, during Donnelly’s visit. (Switchel, also called haymaker’s punch, is made of molasses mixed with water and seasoned with vinegar and ginger.)
Mattie Gokey narrates A Northern Light. She works at a hotel on Big Moose Lake to earn money for a train ticket that will take her to college in New York City in the fall. But she is torn between her dreams and responsibilities to her siblings and father at home. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of the infamous murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gillette.
‘We’ve had a really good response with lots of readers,’ said Leslie DeLooze, the reference and community services librarian at Richmond who has led the project from its beginning four years ago.
Readers have been drawn to the novel, not only by the stories of Mattie or Grace, but also by its Adirondack setting. Other readers have noted a contemporary relevance to a story that played out 100 years ago.
Sue Chiddy, a reading instructor at GCC, has used characters and events from the book to illustrate points about relationships in her human relations course.
Donnelly’s book is also the selection for ‘North Country Reads,’ a new community reading project in Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties. Donnelly will visit that area next month for readings, talks and booksignings.
‘It means a lot to me that it’s been selected in New York State twice,’ Donnelly said. ‘I was born and bred here, still live here, love the state and adore the Adirondacks so it’s kind of a pat on the back; people from your own state telling you you got it right.’
She attended a kick-off party for the first-year program in January, where she also made a PowerPoint presentation.
‘She’s very engaging, very humble,’ said Maxine Quigg, co-chairwoman of ‘North Country Reads.’ ‘When she read as the Mattie character, she just sounded similar to her in so many ways. You’ll be more than happy with Jennifer.’
Twenty libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties organized ‘A Tale for Three Counties.’ Sponsors include The Daily News, Genesee Community College, the Bank of Castile, Wal-Mart, the Arts Council for Wyoming County and GO ART!. Additional contributions were provided by Friends groups at participating libraries, the Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services School Library System, and the Nioga and Pioneer library systems.

Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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