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Arts and Culture (Books)

Connecting communities through King and art

Dr. Martin Luther King’s message will see you through any month of the year, as readers young and old will learn in Love Will See You Through. In it, King’s niece, Angela Farris Watkins, draws six principles the civil rights leader followed as he promoted peace and non-violence.
    Each core belief is explained with an anecdote from his life, making the book both guide and biography. As African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, protested bus segregation 50 years ago, King told his followers to Have Courage. When King led a march against housing discrimination in Chicago, a rock hit him in the head. Knocked down, he stood up and marched on, proving his commitment to Resist Violence.
    Annapolis artist Sally Wern Comport’s exuberant illustrations match the real life drama of King’s mission. She found inspiration for her work in the bold posters of the 1960s.
    “What a great connector art is, and what a great connector Martin Luther King’s words are,” says Comport, speaking of the Annapolis Art District’s book launch March 13. “We wanted to use the book as a reason to connect communities through art. All ages, all neighborhoods are welcome.”
    Comport has a history of making community connections through art. Starting in 2007, she co-chaired ArtWalk, which made Annapolis an outdoor public art gallery.
    Teaching studio ArtFarm and neighboring Compass Rose Theater have arranged a dramatic opening, with music, theater, meditation and art. Comport’s original illustrations pair with collages created by young artists from Girl Scout Troop 1812 and The Annapolis Boys and Girls Club.
    Join the celebration at the ArtFarm Studio, 47 Spa Rd., Annapolis Friday March 13 6:30-9pm. Books also sold at the Annapolis Bookstore.

You can get (most) anything you want — even a good book

If the medium is the message, then there’s more to be learned from Calvert Library’s huge festival of local authors than you’ll read in this week’s feature story, The Writers Next Door.
    Your neighbor may have written just the one for you, I say, introducing 33 authors and their latest (or favorite) books. These are quick introductions, the literary equivalent of speed dating, with a life compressed into one sentence and a plot into another. At the May 31 festival, you’ll meet even more authors from 9:30 am to 4pm.
    All that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
    The submerged message is that Calvert County’s ­public library system is ambitious in a big way to be a place where people connect with ideas and each other.
    You see it in the Prince Frederick library building, built in 2006 to change the way people use their libraries. Twenty-first century libraries will trend that way, using architecture and location to draw people in and interior design to make them feel comfortable, welcome and ready to stay a while.
    Libraries of the future will be community centers — with the visual appeal of bookstores — according to Anne Arundel Public Library director Skip Auld, who’s thinking toward a new Annapolis Public Library that will be state-of-the-art.
    Sending the message that your library is the center of your community is more than putting it in a place people are likely to go. It’s more than a light-filled building with maritime and local allusions, human-sized spaces and comfortable chairs.
    The medium of that message has to be that here, as in Alice’s Restaurant of Arlo Guthrie’s song, you can get anything you want.
    That’s just about true of our 19 libraries, in Anne Arundel as well as in Calvert.
    They’re open when you want to go. This year, Anne Arundel libraries regained the county funding to open every branch from 9am to 9pm four days a week, and until 5pm Fridays and Saturdays, with some Sunday hours in regional centers. Calvert’s libraries have always opened 9am to 9pm four days, with shorter hours Friday (noon-5pm) and Saturday (9am-5pm).
    Along with longer hours, the Anne Arundel library system added 31 new staffers.
    Many of Anne Arundel’s new service are devoted to kids. The libraries’ Early Literacy Initiative runs 144 programs a year for infants through five-year-olds, as well as reaching out to schools and Head Start centers.
    Bay Weekly’s Kids Time at the Libraries lists as many as 50 kids programs each week. Of course kids programs involve grown-ups as well, and often stuffed animals.
    That’s another part of the message: programs for people of all ages. Stories, songs, fingerplays and stuffed-animal sleepovers for kiddies … Legos, homework help and tutors on call for kids … pizza parties and games, both board and electronic, for teens … and for all ages, computers, shelves and shelves of books in print (large and small) and on recording, collections of databases, movies, music and games — and all for free.

Local author shoots for the stars

     Thomas Michael of Edgewater knows exactly what he wants for his recently published, locally set baseball murder mystery novel: a Barry Levinson movie. It’s an ambitious goal, but Levinson has done a baseball movie (The Natural), Baltimore movies like Diner and Liberty Heights, and mysteries like Sleepers. Ambitious, but less probable things happen all the time. 
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Michael Bell’s new book explores life as teacher, artist and parent

     Michael Bell is no stranger to success. The Southern High School arts department chair and celebrity artist has catapulted the school’s art program into the national spotlight over the last 22 years, winning major awards annually and transforming the lives of his students.
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A well-illustrated biography of a well-known horse

       As a young girl, Audrey writes, I was so enamored with the Misty of Chincoteague series that as an adult I named my dog Misty. Marguerite Henry opened up a whole new world to me. I loved how she gave Misty just enough humanizing characteristics to make her relatable while still leaving her a horse.

         So I opened Surfer Dude anticipating the thrill of reading another story about Chincoteague ponies.

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Through his lens and words, Mark Hendricks captures rare moments with elusive creatures

Assateague Island, that 37-mile barrier island where the Atlantic Ocean meets our Eastern Shore, is a place I love to be. Having toddled around Key West in my earliest years, I love ocean, beach and island, and Assateague gives me all three. As a four-season repeat visitor, I thought I knew Assateague fairly well.
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Tips from a local romance novelist

When Cupid flings his arrows next week, will love be in the cards for you? It can be, if you make his arrows your pen and write your own love story.
    Romance novels are hugely popular, according to the Romance Writers of America Association. Certainly for self-publishers that’s true, as 40 percent of the e-book market share on Amazon is romances. Among mass-market paperbacks, romances are top earners.
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Memory is a timeless place

The most important story in the world is one you know best: your own.
    Lifelong Annapolitan Ralph Crosby tells his in Memoirs of a Main Street Boy.
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Take a book, leave a book

The Little Free Library at 9100 Greenwood Ave. in North Beach joins some 36,000 front-yard book-lenders in 70 countries, from Iceland to Tasmania to Australia.
    Library stewards Gary Stevens and Meredith Allen have stocked their Little Free Library with a variety of used books for readers of all ages to take a book and leave a book.
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Are you edging closer to marking this Mother’s Day with your own words?
    Perhaps local writer Janice Lynch Schuster of Edgewater can push you over the edge.
    For her mother, in memory of her grandmothers — and in appreciation of the many acts of motherhood — she has combined 17 quatrains — stanzas of four lines — into a poem-book, What Are Mothers For?
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