SMS to hear from state authors

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Irene Lathan, shown here, and Roger Reid will be at SMS this week . | Courtesy photo

Two Alabama authors will make an appearance this week at Straughn Middle School – Irene Lathan and Roger Reid.

SMS librarian Alison Thomasson said seventh grade students have been reading the works of Alabama authors – Lathan and Reid – specifically.

“And I thought it would be a great idea if they could meet them, hear them talk about their work,” she said. “Believe it or not, it was very easy to get Ms. Lathan. I emailed her straight from her website, and she called me within a few minutes.”

Lathan will be the first to visit SMS today from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. A Birmingham resident, Lathan will be on hand to discuss her Newberry-nominated novel, Leaving Gee’s Bend.

Set in Alabama in 1932, it is the story of Ludelphia Bennett, a 10-year-black girl, who travels “beyond the log cabins, orange dirt and cotton fields of her small sharecropping community” to discover a world she could never have imagined when she sets off on a 40-mile journey to find a doctor for her sick mother.

As she travels, she preserves her experiences through the making of a quilt, much like those made famous by Gee’s Bend residents.

“This is the way Ludelphia tells her story, of seeing white people for the first time, of encountering kindness and hate, and it is also the way Latham pays homage to the community spirit that historically fostered a heritage of artisan quilt-makers,” the book is described. “This is a story that is comforting and warm, just like the quilts that make Gee’s Bend famous.”

There will be limited copies of Latham’s books for sale at the event, Thomasson said.

During the day, students will have three opportunities for discussions with the author; however, the general public is invited for today’s meet and greet from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. in the SMS media center.

Next to visit SMS, will be Roger Reid, producer for APT’s Discovering Alabama series and author of three fictional works featuring various locations throughout Alabama, including the Conecuh National Forest.

Thomasson said copies of each of Reid’s books – Longleaf, Space, and Time – will be available for purchase.

“(Reid’s) programs are a lively combination of readings from his books, discussions about the writing process and an interactive presentation about the history and environmental significances of the longleaf pine ecosystem, like that’s found in Longleaf, astronomic facts and background on rocket science as featured in Space, and paleontology, like in Time,” she said.

Reid will be at SMS on Fri., April 29, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. The public is also invited to this event.

Representatives from the Longleaf Alliance will also be visiting to give away seedlings.

Leaving Gee’s Bend and Longleaf are both available at the Andalusia and Opp public libraries.