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APL to kick off 2010 Big Read Feb. 26

Think white picket fences, horehound candy, overalls, and caves – all among the most enduring images of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the book the Andalusia Public Library is using for the 2010 Big Read.

Library director Karin Taylor said the APL will kick off the Big Read with a themed party including many popular items from Tom’s day – horehound candy, birthday cake, lemonade and hot chocolate – and can distribute as many as 200 free copies of the classic book, published in 1876 and set in antebellum days. The party is set for 2:30 p.m. on Thurs., Feb. 26.

The library encourages anyone who receives a free book to participate in a book discussion after reading it, but the participation is not required, Taylor said. Discussions of the book can be held on several different levels, she said. While Tom Sawyer is billed as a children’s book, there are also some decidedly adult themes in the book, she said.

“The suggested questions include looking at American childhood, the treatment of African Americans and Native Americans in the book,” she said.

In addition to the kickoff, the APL has planned several events throughout the year to promote the reading of Tom Sawyer.

In March, the library will show portions of a film about the life and work of Mark Twain that focuses on this book. That event is set for 2:30 p.m. on March 19.

Later in the year, items on loan from the Wiregrass Museum of Art will be part of a library exhibit.

“These will be things that have been handed down and passed along from that simpler time,” Taylor said.

Tom Sawyer also will be a theme during the APL’s summer reading program, Taylor said.

The APL’s annual art contest will have a Tom Sawyer theme, as will the poetry contest for middle school and the photography contest for high school students.

“I’m looking for originality, ties to the plot, something in the book,” she said.

The Big Read is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

It also is affiliated with the Alabama Bureau of Tourism and Travel’s Year of Downtowns and Small Towns.