Jan. 14, 2006
By Ben Beagle
Daily News Lifestyles Editor
You know we won’t be able to avoid the cold and snow forever. So as you prepare to settle in for another western New York winter why not grab a copy of Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light.
Murder and romance are woven through the story of a 16-year-old coming of age in the Adirondacks at the turn of the century. The first chapter appears in a special section inside today’s editions of The Daily News.
After reading the book, you can participate in any of the 18 book discussions that begin next month. And, you can enter a book review contest in which up to six winners will gather March 24 for lunch with Donnelly and a discussion of her book and writing. The location of the lunch will be announced later.
This will be the third time the project has included a review contest.
“The contest opens up the experience of reading and makes it more than just a solitary pursuit,” said Leslie DeLooze, the Batavia librarian who has led the “Tale” program since its start four years ago.
“It gives readers a different way to express their opinion about the book. “It helps them organize their thoughts and can help them think about the story more in-depth,” said DeLooze, reference and community services librarian at Richmond Memorial Library.
The community reading project encourages residents of Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties to read the same book and discuss it.
The project culminates at the end of March when Donnelly comes for three days of talks and other programs in the three counties.
Donnelly, who lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and two rescued greyhounds, will be in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties March 23 to 25.
Donnelly will give talks March 23 at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., and in the evening at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., Batavia; March 24 at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina; and March 25 at Perry Elementary Middle School, 50 Olin Ave., Perry, a program sponsored by Perry Public Library.
Local libraries are stocking extra copies of the book for purchase or loan. Copies of the book are also available at area bookstores.
Contest entries are now being accepted at The Daily News, the sponsor of the contest.
Reviews of 150 words or less must be submitted using an official entry form that can be found in The Daily News. Today, it appears in the “A Tale for Three Counties” special section.
Reviews must be received at The Daily News by Feb. 24.
Winners will be chosen by the “Tale” organizing committee. The committee will look for readers’ reaction to the overall book, a theme or character, and how effectively that reaction is written. Tell us what you liked or didn’t like. You don’t need to provide a summary of the story , we’ve already done that for you on page B-1.
Some reviews or excerpts will be published in the Lifestyles/Extra section of The Daily News.
To help you get started on your review, here is some advice:
How to write a review
Writing a review should not be intimidating. This isn’t a homework assignment. It’s supposed to be fun. The contest judges simply want you to express your own feelings toward the book.
Record impressions as you read and note effective passages. When writing your review, describe and evaluate the story. But remember, a description is not a summary of events.
Most of all, the contest judges want to know how you reacted to characters or events in A Northern Light.
Five points to help you organize your thoughts:
, What did you like or not like about the novel?
, Perhaps you reacted strongly to a particular part of the story. Tell us what it was, and why you reacted that way?
, What did you find surprising?
, Are the characters realistic and interesting, or do they seem “flat”? Do they change over the course of the novel?
, What goal or goals do you think the author had in writing this novel? How well does she achieve them?
Some specific questions
, What do you think of the use of Mattie’s words of the day as chapter headings? Did you find parallels between the headings and the actions?
, The story is not told in chronological order. How did this affect you as a reader?
, Do you think Pa is a good father? Why or why not?
, Mattie wonders what would happen if characters in books could change their fates. Are there characters in A Northern Light whose fates you’d like to change? Who? Why?
, What do you think the “light” of the title refers?
On the Net:
Jennifer Donnelly Web site: www.jenniferdonnelly.com
Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation