Great City | Great Read – Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: September – November 2015
No other product of Victorian literature has enjoyed as long and boisterous a life as Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a story written for one young girl that became an enduring, worldwide classic—adored by young and old. The Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library joined families, friends, and neighbors in a citywide celebration of this beloved book in September, October, and November 2015.
The libraries' Great City | Great Read initiative celebrates 150 years of Alice in literature and pop culture. This collaborative program offers numerous opportunities to engage in Alice's whimsical, sly, and sometimes satirical text through lectures and other special events, youth programs, book discussions, film screenings, and a special art exhibit — all free. Readers will be able to connect with Alice through a wide range of free public events, programs, and book discussions.
Exhibit: A genre-crossing exhibit exploring Alice's fictional aesthetic
Sponsors, Partners, and Supporters
The Great City | Great Read celebration of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is co-presented by the Kansas City Public Library and Mid-Continent Public Library.
Made possible by a generous contribution from Polsinelli and its National Real Estate Practice.
With additional support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
Penguin Random House for donating copies of the 2015 Puffin Chalk edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Other than the Bible and Shakespeare's plays and poems, perhaps no literary work is more quoted, translated, and adapted than Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This year marks the sesquicentennial of the 1865 publication of the tale of a precocious young girl who falls through a rabbit hole into a world full of curious characters.
Kicking off a citywide celebration of the book, Mark Burstein—former president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America—discusses the impact that Carroll's story and characters have had on literary and popular culture. And he examines the life of their enigmatic creator.
Beginning with a silent, eight-minute short released in 1903, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland—and its theme of a strange girl cast into a stranger land—has intrigued both filmmakers and viewers. Lewis Carroll's 150-year-old book has spawned close to two dozen movie and television adaptations.
Mitch Brian, an associate teaching professor in the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Communication/Film Studies Department, surveys the story's on-screen history. Using clips, he explores how the character of Alice has evolved on film through the ages.
Revamped, revised, reworked, and reimagined fairy tale characters and stories have seen an explosion in contemporary media from graphic novels to television to movies. These ancient tales have held perennial appeal for fans young and old. Children's literature expert Naphtali Faris discusses the enduring fascination with fairy tales, myth, legends, and folklore and how old stories are getting inventive twists for a modern audience.
Internationally recognized Kansas City artist Peregrine Honig fixes her creative gaze on Lewis Carroll's classic work of children's literature, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and curates an exhibit that invites viewers to experience a sense of psychedelic discovery and bewilderment akin to Alice's dreams and conflicts while wandering the Wonderlandscape. Honig has assembled an acclaimed collective of award-winning artists and fashion designers for her exhibit Intimate Riot, on display from October 10 through January 17 at the Central Library. In this talk, Honig addresses the fascination Alice holds for artists and the many ways they find inspiration in Alice's dark journey through and strange encounters with the characters who inhabit Wonderland.
Kansas City jazz legend Angela Hagenbach leads a diverse ensemble cast in an original and unique retelling of the Lewis Carroll classic. In this version, Alice explores Wonderland while accompanied by the music of John Coltrane (with original lyrics written by Hagenbach).
Hagenbach presents a perfect pairing, matching the unexpected wonders of Carroll's imagination with the improvisational magic of Coltrane's bebop sax for a performance that will delight and entertain audiences of all ages.
Known for interpretations of material by Duke Ellington and Henry Mancini, Hagenbach has performed at the Kennedy Center and toured 17 countries as a cultural jazz ambassador for the U.S. State Department. Since her debut album Come Fly with Me, she has earned critical praise for her mainstream jazz sensibilities from JazzTimes, L.A. Jazz Scene, and National Public Radio.
Great War | Great Read: August – October 2014
The Kansas City Public Library and the National World War I Museum present Great War | Great Read — a commemoration of the centennial of World War I, including a community-wide reading and discussion of two classic books.
A Taste of Victorian Literature is a unique book group experience focused on four enduring authors of the Victorian era from February – May 2011 at the Plaza Branch.
About the Program:
A Taste of Victorian Literature is a unique book group experience focused on great works and enduring authors associated with Victorian literature: Jane Austen, author of Mansfield Park, her most ambitious and most underrated novel; Charlotte Brontë, author of Jane Eyre, a seemingly innocuous gothic romance; George Eliot, author of The Mill on the Floss, a tragic story of siblings whose antagonism is washed away amid a flood; and D.H. Lawrence, author of The Rainbow, a nuanced and controversial family saga. The Plaza Branch will host participants for conversations about these featured books with the guidance of expert discussion leaders and a small cadre of like-minded readers; these discussions will take always take place on Wednesday evenings every month at 6:30 p.m. from February through May 2011.
What is Victorian Literature?
A broad definition of Victorian literature includes any work published during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901) of England. It is during this timeframe that the literary world first welcomed women into its fold, as both serious fictional subjects and serious authors on equal footing with (if not a step above) their male peers. Victorian literary voices are distinctly different from those of contemporary authors, but these voices proved integral in shaping the attitude and narrative approach of contemporary literature.
Andrea Broomfield is author of Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History and co-edited the anthology Prose by Victorian Women. She is associate professor of English at Johnson County Community College. Kaite Stover is the Head of Readers’ Services for the Kansas City Public Library, where she serves as the resident expert on book groups. She hosts workshops and presentations nationwide that focus on improved book group experiences. Booklist magazine publishes her side of its regular column “He Reads/She Reads.” She is the lead coordinator for A Taste of Victorian Literature. Melissa Carle is a Reference Librarian and the Weekend Supervisor at the Plaza Branch. Along with her B.A. in English Language and Literature, she nurtured her love of English Literature by studying for a year at Oxford University. Her favorite Victorian novel is Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure.
"Education, after all, is a matter of building bridges." – Ralph Ellison Building Bridges: A Selection of Classic Black Literature is a unique book group experience offering readers the opportunity for immersion in great books by black authors over the course of four monthly discussions from February - May 2011 at the L.H. Bluford Branch.
About the Program:
Building Bridges: A Selection of Classic Black Literature is a unique book group experience focused on enduring works by black American authors: Toni Morrison, author of The Bluest Eye, her debut novel that set the tone for a Nobel Prize-winning legacy; Ralph Ellison, author of Invisible Man, a novel that is an essential part of any conversation about the Great American Novel; James Baldwin, author of The Fire Next Time, an incendiary part-autobiographical essay on American racial tensions in the early 1960s; and Dorothy West, author of The Wedding, a nuanced and controversial family drama. The Bluford Branch will host participants for conversations about these featured books with the guidance of expert discussion leaders and a small cadre of like-minded readers; these discussions will take always take place on Sundays at 3 p.m. from February through May 2011.
Carmaletta Williams is an administrator at Johnson County Community College specializing in black literature and whose academic interests include the works of Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. She has studied at Harvard University and Yale University. Williams will join the discussions of The Bluest Eye and Invisible Man. John Edgar Tidwell is an English professor specializing in black literature at the University of Kansas, where he is researching a book on the poet Sterling Brown. He has served as a visiting fellow at both Harvard University and Yale University. Tidwell will join the discussion of The Wedding. Kaite Stover is the Head of Readers’ Services for the Kansas City Public Library, where she serves as the resident expert on book groups. She hosts workshops and presentations nationwide that focus on improved book group experiences. Booklist magazine publishes her side of its regular column “He Reads/She Reads.” She is the lead coordinator for Building Bridges: A Selection of Classic Black Literature. Bernard Norcott is a technical assistant at the L.H. Bluford Branch, where he also facilitates the ongoing bi-monthly Black Classics Book Group. He holds master’s degrees in Ancient Greek from Loyola University Chicago and in English Literature from Syracuse University. He teaches Greek mythology at Johnson County Community College.
Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War is a scholar-led discussion series that commemorates the sesquicentennial of this conflict with a series of community conversations, informed by great works of fiction and non-fiction as well as words written by civilians and combatants during the Civil War. The Kansas City Public Library will host registered participants for conversations about featured readings with the guidance of UMKC history professor Diane Mutti Burke on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. starting in March 2012 at the Plaza Branch, located at 4801 Main St. In addition to two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors (novelist Geraldine Brooks and historian James McPherson), participants will also read America’s War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries edited by Edward L. Ayers – a collection of first-hand accounts about the war as well as speeches by the likes of Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and Henry David Thoreau that also includes excerpts of works by contemporary historians and authors.
In partnership with the Civil War Round Table of Western Missouri, the Library presents the following series of discussions: “IMAGINING WAR,” on March 12 – featuring discussions of March by Geraldine Brooks and Part One from America’s War. “CHOOSING SIDES,” on April 2 – featuring a discussion of Part Two from America’s War. “MAKING SENSE OF SHILOH,” on April 23 – featuring a discussion of Part Three from America’s War. “THE SHAPE OF WAR,” on May 7 – featuring a discussion of Crossroads of Freedom by James McPherson and Part Four from America’s War. “WAR AND FREEDOM,” on May 21 – featuring a discussion of Part Five from America’s War. Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War, a reading and discussion series, has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.
New Lives in New Worlds: The Global Immigrant Experience is a special book group event focused on the immigrant experience outside of the United States. Interested readers will discuss four diverse novels in October and November of 2012 and January and February of 2013. All discussions will be held at the Waldo Community Library.
About the Program:
New Lives in New Worlds is a unique book group experience focused on the immigrant experience in countries outside of the United States. Using fiction to tell the stories of immigrants is often a far more emotionally accurate and compelling method for readers to understand what it means to leave one’s homeland and adopt another. Readers will also gain a more personal perspective of political upheaval while reading these four novels written by contemporary authors representing a variety of cultures. Experience the romantic tightrope one woman walks between her strict Bangladeshi heritage and liberating London neighborhood in Brick Lane by Monica Ali. Filmmaker and author David Bezmozgis presents a multigenerational saga of Soviet Jews who slipped through the Iron Curtain to the sunny purgatory of Rome in The Free World. The murder of a young troublemaker allows Amara Lakhous to adopt a Rashomon device to tell the story of the murder and reveal the culturally diverse characters in The Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittoria, a social satire cum murder-mystery. A young woman finds inspiration in the film “The Magnificent Seven” and heads Into the Beautiful North to find her own seven saviors for her Mexican village which is strangely devoid of marriageable men in Luis Urrea’s female-centric adventure story. The Waldo Community Library will host participants for conversations about these featured books with the guidance of Andrea Kempf, professor emeritus from Johnson County Community College and a noted expert in the field of international fiction. Discussions will always take place on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. from October 2012 through February 2013.
What is the Literature of Immigration?
Every year large numbers of people move from their homelands to other parts of the world. In 2006, the International Organization for Migration estimated the number of foreign migrants to be more than 200 million people. In Europe there were approximately 70 million migrants and in North America, 45 million. Telling the stories of immigration in fiction is often a more accurate and more compelling method for readers to learn about what it is like to be a stranger in a new country. Often it is the backstory of the novel that will explain to the reader much of what is going on in various countries that they may only learn from front page headlines.
Brick Lane by Monica Ali | The Free World by David Bezmozgis | Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea | Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous
Andrea Kempf is professor librarian emeritus at Johnson County Community College. She has been reviewing international fiction for Library Journal since 1975 and was named Fiction Book Reviewer of 2000. Andrea also reviews for the Kansas City Jewish Chronicle. Alicia Ahlvers is the Branch Manager for the Waldo Community Library for the Kansas City Public Library. She has chaired the ALA Notable Books Council and is currently the chair of the ALA Reading List Council.
The Dickens You Hardly Know Tuesday, October 30, 2012 6:30 p.m. @ Central Library
Think you know Charles Dickens? Help celebrate the bicentennial of the great Victorian novelist’s birth with a special performance by members of Kansas City’s acting community. In The Dickens You Hardly Know they will perform five scenes from five Dickens books in just 50 minutes.
A Christmas Carol, Reduced Friday, December 7, 2012 6:30 p.m. @ Plaza Branch
Members of the Out Loud Teen Reader's Theatre Group, made up of local adolescents interested in reading and sharing stories out loud, have spent six weeks reading and rehearsing (and having fun) to prepare their own modern twist on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Dickens Sunday, December 9, 2012 2:00 p.m. @ Central Library
British actor Pip Utton performs his one-man show about Charles Dickens, presenting the writer as a supremely contented man now that he has left his wife, taken up with his sister-in-law, and found a second career reading his works to enraptured audiences.
What the Dickens!
Get into the swing of the Charles Dickens bicentennial by joining the book discussions group meeting on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St., and on December 2nd at 2 p.m. at the North-East Branch, 6000 Wilson Road.
Plaza Branch Sessions:
October 23 Great ExpectationsDiscussion Leader: Bob Lunn
November 13 American NotesDiscussion Leader: Dorice Elliott
December 4 The Christmas StoriesDiscussion Leaders: Bob Lunn & Melinda McCrary
North-East Branch Sessions
December 2 David CopperfieldNorth-East Branch Discussion Leader: Angela Carroll
Space is limited. Participants are not required to attend all four discussion sessions, but may register for those particular sessions that either suit their interests and/or availability. Books will be provided. Those who attend the three Plaza sessions will receive a voucher for a discount on a ticket to Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s A Christmas Carol and/or the Unicorn Theatre/Kansas City Actors Theatre production of Inspecting Carol.
Read It / Watch It - Great Expectations (1997) Thursday, November 8, 2012 6:00 p.m. @ Waldo Branch
This modern-dress version starring Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert DeNiro, and Chris Cooper is the centerpiece of a Read It / Watch It discussion group. Leading the discussion is the Library’s Kaite Stover, a “book doctor” on KCUR-FM’s Up to Date show. Participants are encouraged (but not required) to read the source novel before attending the film screening.
A Very Dickens Christmas Film Series Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. @ Central Library With the year finally shifting into holiday mode, it’s a great time to sample the many films inspired by Charles Dickens’ immortal A Christmas Carol.
- December 1: A Christmas Carol (1951) Not Rated
- December 8: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) Rated G
- December 15: A Christmas Carol (2009) Rated PG
- December 22: Scrooged (1988) Rated PG-13
- December 29: Scrooge (1970) Rated G
Admission to these films is free.
Depicting Dickens Saturday, December 1 through Monday, December 31, 2012 @ Waldo Branch This collection of illustrations, photographs, and objects (Doulton figurines, ash trays, teapots) demonstrates the far-flung influences of Dickens’ robust, indelible, and often grotesque characters. What the Dickens! is co-sponsored by Kansas City Repertory Theater, Unicorn Theatre, and Kansas City Actors Theatre.