Thursday, May 22, 2008

Book Buddies: Year in Review

It's hard to believe that the first year of the Book Buddies Book Club is over! I love reading great books and having the opportunity to talk about them with other people so I was very excited to start a book club during my first year here in Newport. It's been an exciting year and I thought I'd take a moment to reflect back on the highlights and all that we've accomplished...

We started in November with three very enthusiastic members and the wonderful novel, Olivia Kidney by Ellen Potter. I have loved the Olivia Kidney series since the first one came out in 2003 and I decided right away that this was the one to start with. Olivia is such a fun and quirky character and she meets so many interesting people in her New York City apartment building that I knew the club would enjoy reading it. I was absolutely blown away when Ellen Potter called me after seeing the book on our blog and offered to talk with the club members at our meeting. It was such a thrill to call her and talk with her about the book and about her life as a writer and such a great way to start the year! It's so unusual that an author reaches out to their readers in this way and we were all so grateful for the experience.

Then in December we read The Last Holiday Concert by Andrew Clements and we gained a new member of the club. In January we followed with The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin and another author interview this time by email. At our meeting we brainstormed a list of questions for Ms. Lin and then emailed them to her. She graciously took the time to answer each question thoroughly and thoughtfully and allowed me to post the interview on our blog. We also did a craft project for the first time and made Year of the Dog banners - we had lots of fun with gold glitter!

February brought us Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos and our first book that club members didn't totally embrace which provided us with lots of interesting discussion. We also made another craft - key shaped doorknob hangers. March was all about The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler and for our third craft we made bracelets with sea charms. During this time our numbers continued to grow and we had seven enthusiastic club members.

Then came The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles in April, a book all about baseball and poetry, and another book that club members didn't like as much as some of our other selections. This was surprising to me as it is one of my favorites, but differing opinions always make for a more interesting discussion and I enjoyed hearing everyone's remarks. For our last craft project we made baseball picture frames.

Finally, we've ended the year on another high note with the charming story, The Penderwicks: a Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and A Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall. We gained another new club member, bringing our total to eight(!) and finished up with another author telephone interview. Ms. Birdall was absolutely delightful and took the time to answer all of our questions.

I want to thank Ms. Potter, Ms. Lin and Ms. Birdsall for their time and willingness to be involved with our book club. It is so important to know that authors aren't mysterious and unreachable but normal, wonderful people who are accessible - all you have to do is ask. It meant a lot to me personally and to the book club that they all made themselves available and were so friendly and encouraging. Thank you!

I can't believe the year is over already but I've had such a wonderful time getting to know everyone, working on this blog and reading some great books. Thanks to all the Book Buddies members who came each month with their enthusiasm and excitement. I'm really looking forward to starting up again in September so be sure to keep an eye to the blog and to the Newport Public Library's website for details as we get closer. I also plan to continue the blog over the summer with posts about summer reading and anything book-related that crosses my desk. In the meantime have a great summer, come visit me at the library and keep reading!

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