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Norman Rockwell meets Tom Sawyer for Community Read 2010
Statesboro library joins with Averitt Center for annual reading event
Lead T.Sawyer paint web
One of the 16 illustrations created by Norman Rockwell for "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" is shown. - photo by Special
Read the book

      Mark Twain's classic novel tells the tale of a 12-year-old boy growing up in St. Petersburg, Missouri. Living with his Aunt Polly, Tom finds adventure and mischief with his friends Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher. Twain, whose real name was Samuel Clemens, based his fictional setting on his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri and many of the characters were compilations of boyhood friends.

      Paperback copies of Tom Sawyer are now on sale at the Statesboro Regional Library for $1 and study guide materials are available at the Averitt Center. On April 8 a community discussion of the novel will be held in the Community Room of the library at 7 p.m. The discussion will be led by Dr. David Dudley, professor and chair of the Literature and Philosophy Department at Georgia Southern University.

      Elaine McDuffie, head of Youth and Family Services at the library, said the community read and discussion are for all ages, from children reading the novel for the first time to adults who may gain a fresh perspective on the classic tale. "Books and art have a way of connecting people through shared experiences," McDuffie said. "We were reminded of that at the library during our One Book, One Community projects in years past. With a book like "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" that appeals to readers from such a wide range of ages and cultures, we are not only connecting people, we are connecting generations."


Create the art

      In conjunction with the Norman Rockwell/Tom Sawyer exhibit, artists of all ages are being asked to submit original works depicting the theme "childhood adventures."

      Lois Roberts, head of public services at the Statesboro Regional Library, said the library is accepting submissions in six student age categories starting with pre-K as well as an adult category. All submissions must depict the theme "childhood adventures" and reflect the Americana style and nostalgic images. Artists may submit up to two entries in different medium. Works must be ready to hang and can be submitted to the library Feb. 1 through 27.

       Winners of the art contest will be recognized during the opening reception for the Norman Rockwell exhibit on March 12 where the winners will be displayed in the third floor gallery of the Averitt Center. Works will then remain on display at the library through April 10. Brochures with full contest details and entry forms are available at the library, the Averitt Center and Bulloch County schools.

      A centerpiece of American culture, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," has inspired imaginations and evoked memories of childhood - or what we wish childhood had been - for more than 100 years. During the next three months, the community will have the opportunity to connect with the classic again, or for the first time, through art, literature and theater.
      The Norman Rockwell Traveling Exhibition: Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn will open at the Averitt Center for the Arts on March 12. The free exhibition will remain on display through May 7. And in conjunction with the exhibition, the Averitt Center and Statesboro Regional Library have planned a slew of events under the heading Community Read 2010 around the classic novel.
      "To be able to bring an exhibit like this is a pretty amazing thing," said Tim Chapman, executive director of the Averitt Center. "Norman Rockwell is probably the most noted illustrator of our time. This exhibit is such a perfect fit for studying the book Tom Sawyer."
      Rockwell is famous for depicting slices of everyday American life. During his prodigious career he produced 322 covers for "The Saturday Evening Post" as well as numerous other publications including "Look Magazine." His Americana style and attention to detail also made him an excellent choice to illustrate two of America's greatest novels.
      In 1935 George Macy, publisher of the Heritage Press and Limited Editions Club books, commissioned Rockwell to create the illustrations for deluxe editions of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
      Rockwell produced eight oil paintings for each book. In preparation, Rockwell traveled to Twain's hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, which was the basis for his fictional setting of St. Petersburg, Missouri. The ensuing works capture the feel of the novels while depicting some of their most famous scenes including Tom tricking his friends into whitewashing a fence.
      The traveling exhibition, which is organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is comprised of 16 signed, limited-edition prints from Rockwell's own collection.
Chapman began working to bring the exhibit to Statesboro after visiting the Rockwell Museum on a family trip two years ago.
      Also, The Averitt Center is partnering with the Statesboro library and a local community theater production company to build a month's artistic and educational activities around Norman Rockwell, Mark Twain and the fictional characters of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, said Melinda Roell, development consultant for the Averitt Center.
      "The Norman Rockwell/Tom Sawyer project emphasizes the connection between literature, fine art, performing art and film," Roell said. "This multi-genre experience will serve to educate and inspire a broad range of participants."
      Activities include a community discussion of the novel Tom Sawyer on April 8 and an art contest on the theme "childhood adventures." In March Tony Phillips will present the play "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and on Sunday, April 11 the Emma Kelly Theater will present a free show of the classic movie version at 2 p.m.
      The programs are supported by several community organizations and businesses: Blount, Burke, Wimberly & Hendricks Insurors, which is sponsoring the Rockwell exhibit, Moogerfeld Internal Medicine, the Pilot Club, Rotary International, the Statesboro Regional Public Library and Friends of the Library.

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