Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Wordcraft – Big D Reads: the diary of a young life cut short

“On Friday, June 12th, I woke up at six o’clock and no wonder; it was my birthday,” begins the diary a 13-year-old girl named Anne Frank began in 1942. Although eager to open her birthday presents, she had to wait an hour for her parents to get up before she could open the gifts, including the diary (actually an autograph book she had requested after seeing it in a bookstore near her home in Amsterdam). “The first (gift) to greet me was you, possibly the nicest of all …we’re going to be great pals!” she tells the diary, which she would soon name “Kitty.”

Anne had only three more years to live. A few months after receiving her diary, she, her family and business associates of her father and their family members – eight people in all – went into hiding in the sealed off upper rooms of her father’s company’s building.

After the family was discovered in 1944 and deported to Nazi concentration camps, loose pages of Anne’s diary were rescued and returned to her father Otto after the war. He was the only one of the eight people in those upper rooms to survive.

Anne’s diary, translated in English as Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, would remain as the record of one life lost too soon in the concentration camps of World War II.

Fittingly in a year more than usually marked by racism and religious intolerance, by war and persecutions and refugees left in the wake of war, Big D Reads, a community service project that every April immerses Dallas in a shared reading experience, has chosen Anne Frank’s diary as its book for 2016.
Special events inspired by the book opened with readings April 1 at the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance. Other events include age-appropriate readings, interactive programs exploring Anne’s life an introduction to creating diaries, movie screenings, and more designed to explore the themes of diversity and tolerance. For a complete list, see the Big D Reads site here.
For younger children, Big D Reads suggests Dr. Seuss’s similarly themed The Skeetches and Other Stories. For teens and adults wanting more information about the period, suggested books are Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, and In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson.  
In addition to Big D Reads, other local April literary events include:
April 9 – North Texas Book Festival, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts, 400 E. Hickory St., Denton. Meet and buy from more than 60 Texas and Oklahoma authors. Free, except for all the books you buy!
April 23 – North Texas Teen Book Festival in the Irving Convention Center, 500 W. Las Colinas Blvd. Free. Last year this event was so packed, I had to park miles away. This year, I’ll take DART.
April 23 – North Texas Book Reviewers Preview, Dallas Library Central Branch, 1515 Young St., Dallas. Meet more than 30 local book reviewers at this free event, starting at 1 p.m.
April 23-24 – DFW Writers Conference , Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St., Fort Worth. See the site for details and registration. Or consider pre-conference workshops on April 22.

April 30 – Dallas Book Festival, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Central Dallas branch, 1515 Young St., Dallas. After a couple of admittedly lackluster years, the lineup for the 2016 festival looks amazing, with nine speakers, including Pulitzer Prize winning Lawrence Wright. (Personally, I’m looking forward to hearing Joshua Hammer, author of The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu.) At least two dozen additional authors will be on hand to sign and sell books.

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