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The two youth books have a similar theme to the adult choice, David Baldacci's novel "Wish You Well."
"Belle Prater's Boy," by Ruth White
"Jack Outwits the Giants," by Paul Brett Johnson
"Wish You Well," by David Baldacci
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Roanoke Valley Reads has selected two Appalachian-themed books for youths as part of this year’s community reading project.
“Jack Outwits the Giants,” a picture book for young children adapted and illustrated by Paul Brett Johnson, and “Belle Prater’s Boy,” a chapter book for young readers by Ruth White, have been added for kids who want to participate in the program.
This year’s primary book, revealed in January, is David Baldacci’s “Wish You Well.”
Roanoke Valley Reads is a valleywide project that encourages citizens to read a common book, then gather for group discussions like a book club for thousands of readers.
This year’s books all feature storylines set in Appalachia. Baldacci’s 2000 bestseller is a coming-of-age story about two children sent to live with family members in the mountains of Southwest Virginia after their parents are involved in a vehicle accident. The children learn the ways of their mountain kinfolk and eventually must act to help save the family farm from a land-grabbing industrial giant.
A film version of “Wish You Well” was partly shot in Giles County last year. The movie’s producer is Sara Elizabeth Timmins, who lives at Smith Mountain Like, where Baldacci also has a home.
The two children’s books are also rooted in Appalachian literary lore. “Jack Outwits the Giants” is one of many “Jack Tales,” Appalachian folklore stories in which the wily Jack must use his smarts to defeat overpowering foes. Think “Jack and the Beanstalk” with a mountain accent.
“Belle Prater’s Boy” is set in the fictional town of Coal Station, Va., where a young girl tries to pry secrets out of Woodrow Prater, whose mother has been missing for a long time.
The books were chosen by a committee of youth librarians and local residents. The publisher of “Jack Outwits the Giants” donated a copy of the book to every school library in the Roanoke Valley.
“People love the family aspects of these stories,” said Meg Carter, one of coordinators of Roanoke Valley Reads. “They are very appropriate for children and they share the themes with the adult book.”
Roanoke Valley Reads public events will run from mid-October through mid-November and will include group discussions, author talks and perhaps a musical concert.
A kickoff celebration that will include Baldacci will be held Oct. 17. Most of the events will be held on Thursday nights at the Taubman Museum of Art, which will also host a children’s book-related event during one of its “Spectacular Saturdays” this fall.
“Wish You Well” is the community reading project’s third book since it started in 2010 as the Big Read, sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts. In 2011, local organizers changed the name to Roanoke Valley Reads and selected “Outcasts United,” Warren St. John’s nonfiction book about soccer-playing refugees.
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