The 2019 One Book, One Community (OBOC) program has chosen to feature “News of the World” by Paulette Giles. The program encourages the community to come together through the power of reading, enhanced by a month-long series of events.
“One Book, One Community is about a lot of things, but to me, it’s about reading,” Dan Shaw, journalism professor, said.
“News of the World” tells the story of Jefferson Kidd, a confederate veteran, delivering a young girl named Johanna, who was kidnapped by Native Americans as a child, across Texas.
The OBOC kickoff included a used book sale, Native American artifacts from the Museum of Monroe, roping demonstrations, and an exclusive presentation from Genot Picor.
Carrie Nartker, Professor of English, was in charge of the committee who planned the event. Inspired by “News of the World,” she wanted to bring the old west to Monroe.
“There’s something for everyone to enjoy. Adults can read the book and participate in the events, and there are companion reads for younger kids and activities for them as well,” Nartker said.
Roping demonstrations were put on the Michigan State University Rodeo Club. The club often reaches out within communities to teach about rodeo and the west.
“A main goal of the club is to promote western heritage and try to educate people about the old west and different things like that because in different parts of the country rodeo is still a huge part of people’s lives, it’s still a huge part of our economy with the beef and agricultultural industry,” Lilly Manning, 2019 Miss Michigan State Rodeo Queen, said.
The evening concluded with a theatrical performance by Picor, an interpretive performer with focuses in folklore.
Picor embodied the character of John Calley, the husband of the main character Johanna in “News of the World.”
With musical performances of “Polly Wolly Doodle” and “Oh Johanna,” a play on the classic “Oh Susana,” the stage was filled with the strums of Picor’s guitar.
Picor also told many Native American tales, employing a method of “hand talking” to tell the story of two brothers in an eternal race, influencing the shifts in the weather.
The audience was encouraged to participate through singing along, learning a San Antonio wedding dance, and voting on the “flirtiest Latina,” with four girls learning the enticing moves used on Jefferson Kidd on his jouneys in the west.
OBOC will continue hosting events, including films, discussions, and lectures for all ages through April 6. Calendars of events can be found throughout campus.