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The Big Read – A month-long series of programs is unveiled, focusing on Jack London and The Call of the Wild

January 26th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

This fall, as part of a nationwide program to promote reading and literacy, the Huntington Library is hosting a month-long “Big Read” of Jack London’s classic adventure novel, The Call of the Wild.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  Designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture, the Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.   The Huntington is one of 208 grantees across the country presenting programs that celebrate one of 23 selections from American and world literature.

The Huntington is a natural choice to host such a celebration:  the Library is the repository of the largest archive of Jack London materials in the world, numbering more than 60,000 items (including the 1903 first edition of The Call of the Wild), and is a leading center for research on the author’s life and work.

Beginning with a kickoff event on Sept. 27 and continuing through Nov. 2, The Huntington will offer a series of programs designed to engage readers in London’s thrilling tale of the sled dog, Buck, in Canada’s frozen Yukon territory during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s.   Book discussion groups, performances of period music, lectures, a sled team demonstration, a “Blog of the Wild,” and other activities will make the reading experience even more rewarding.  Additional events, from film screenings to book discussions in Spanish, will be presented by The Huntington’s Big Read partners, which include schools, public libraries, bookstores, and community organizations throughout the greater Los Angeles area.

“Jack London is an ideal author, and The Call of the Wild an ideal book, with which to reach reluctant readers,” says Sara “Sue” Hodson, curator of literary manuscripts at The Huntington and the institution’s project director for the Big Read.  “London serves as an inspiring model for those of any age who are disaffected by formal education or simply unaware of the joy of reading for sheer pleasure and fulfillment.”

Programs scheduled at The Huntington during the Big Read are listed below.  For a complete list of events offered at all participating venues, visit www.huntington.org/thebigread.        Photographs by Terry Miller

The Big Read Kickoff

Sept. 27 (Saturday)   10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Enjoy Klondike music by the Humbugs trio, a one-man Jack London performance by actor Michael Oakes, a visit by a dog-sled team for a presentation about sledding, and more as we kick off the month-long Big Read.  Opening remarks by Sara S. (“Sue”) Hodson will give an overview of the  Big Read program and provide an introduction to the Jack London collection at The Huntington.  After the program, visitors can stop by the booths of all the Big Read partner organizations for information about related events and activities.   All activities during the kickoff event will be held in Friends’ Hall.  Free.

Exhibition from the Jack London Collection

Sept. 27–Nov. 2

Rare Jack London material from The Huntington’s collections will be on view in a special exhibition, open during public hours and preceding evening Big Read events at The Huntington.  Trustees’ Room

“The Trail of the Wild” Scavenger Hunt

Sept. 27–Nov. 2

Follow the trail of clues to answer questions about Jack London for a chance to win tickets to San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.  Pick up a game form in the Entrance Pavilion.  The prize drawing will be held at the closing event on Nov. 2.  Winners need not be present.  Ages 7–12.

The Blog of the Wild

Join the ongoing conversation about The Call of the Wild and related topics.  Check out postings by Big Read blogger Devin Jones, a freshman at Pasadena City College, and add your own comments at  www.huntington.org/thebigread/blog.htm .

Book Discussion Groups

Oct. 4, 8, or  25

Join one of several lively discussions about The Call of the Wild.  Facilitators: Carolyn Garner-Reagan, Arcadia Public Library (Saturday, Oct. 4, 10 a.m.–noon); Erika Koss, NEA (Wednesday, Oct. 8, 4–6 p.m.); Jody Steffanson, Polytechnic School (Saturday, Oct. 25, 10 a.m.–noon).  Participants should read the book prior to meeting.  Free; advanced registration required.  626-405-2128.  Note: All three events take place at The Huntington.

The Call of the Wild as a Slave Narrative

Oct. 8 (Wednesday)  7:30 p.m.

Jack London scholar Jeanne Reesman will give a lecture based on new research into London’s family and racial background, his complex racial attitudes, and his use of materials drawn from African American writers.  Free. Friends’ Hall

Jack London Society Symposium

Oct. 10–11 (Friday–Saturday)  8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.

The Jack London Society will hold its biennial symposium, which is open to the public.  $50. ($15 for students.)  Walk-in registration by cash or check payable to the Jack London Society.  Friends’ Hall

The Call of the Wild: Canine Communication

Oct. 12 (Sunday)  2:30 p.m.

Behavioral biologist Fred Bercovitch of the Zoological Society of San Diego will present a talk on how tame and wild dogs communicate, with special focus on the New Guinea Singing Dog.  Free.  Friends’ Hall.

From Call to Calling: A Biographical Odyssey

Oct. 14 (Tuesday)  7:30 p.m.

London biographer Earle Labor will recount his 70-year connection with the author, starting with his discovery of London’s stories as a boy.  His forthcoming book Jack London, Man & Myth: An American Literary Life is scheduled for release in 2009.  Free.  Friends’ Hall

Jack London, Storyteller

Oct. 15 (Wednesday)  7:30 p.m.

Award-winning author Gerald Haslam will explore the skillful use of language that made Jack London one of the literary pioneers of the 20th century in works ranging from adventure stories to journalism to philosophy.  Free.  Friends’ Hall.

From Santa Clara to the Yukon: Following in Buck’s Pawprints

Oct. 29 (Wednesday)  7:30 p.m.

Daniel Dyer will retrace Buck’s epic journey from California to the Klondike in this lecture illustrated with photographs taken at the sites mentioned in The Call of the Wild. 7:30 p.m.  Free.  Friends’ Hall.

Closing Event

Nov. 2 (Sunday)  2:30 p.m.

Award-winning journalist, author, and commentator Patt Morrison will moderate a distinguished panel discussing literacy and Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. The panel discussion will be followed by a prize drawing from the “Trail of the Wild” Scavenger Hunt. Three lucky winners will receive passes to the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park.  (Contestants need not be present to win.)  Free.  Friends’ Hall


Libraries: Arcadia Public Library, Burbank Public Library, Crowell Public Library (San Marino), Glendale Public Library, Huntington Library, Pasadena Public Library, Sierra Madre Public Library, South Pasadena Public Library. Schools: Burbank High School, Burbank Unified School District, Century High School (Alhambra), El Rancho High School (Pico Rivera), Grace Christian Academy (Pasadena), John Burroughs High School (Burbank),  Montebello High School, Pasadena City College, Polytechnic School (Pasadena), San Marino Unified School District Libraries, Schurr High School (Montebello). South Pasadena High School. Community Organizations: Boy Scouts–San Gabriel Valley Council, Joslyn Adult Center (Burbank), Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA, Pasadena YMCA, Zoological Society of San Diego/Conservation and Research Division. Bookstores: Barnes & Noble (Burbank), Border’s (Pico Rivera), Vroman’s Bookstore (Pasadena).  Big Read Blogger: Devin Jones.  Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press.  Teacher training: Michele Parsons (Los Angeles Unified School District).

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.  www.neabigread.org

About The Huntington

The Huntington is a collections-based research and educational institution serving scholars and the general public.  For more information, visit online at www.huntington.org

Visitor information

The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Rd., San Marino, Calif., and is open to the public Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from noon to 4:30 p.m.; and Saturday, Sunday, and Monday holidays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Summer hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day) are 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed Tuesdays and major holidays. Admission on weekdays: $15 adults, $12 seniors (65+), $10 students (ages 12–18 or with full-time student I.D.), $6 youth (ages 5–11), free for children under 5. Group rate $11 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission on weekends and Monday holidays: $20 adults, $15 seniors, $10 students, $6 youth, free for children under 5. Group rate $14 per person for groups of 15 or more. Members are admitted free. Admission is free to all visitors on the first Thursday of each month with advance tickets. Information: 626-405-2100 or www.huntington.org.

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