Last week, as my family was still just coming down from the high of my son’s wedding, and with out-of-town relatives still with us, I had the fun of taking them with me to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where I’d been invited to speak at the Adams County Public Library, which had chosen Zebra Forest as a summer reading book.
We all piled into the car and headed up north to Gettysburg, a town which is in the midst of a milestone celebration of its own – the 150th anniversary of the famous battle there, in the first week of July, 1863. When we got there, the town was festooned with banners marking the event.
For anyone interested in Civil War history, Gettysburg is a powerful place to see – one building in town is still pocked with the bullet marks of the battle that took place on the main street of town. Not being one to ever romanticize war, I was more interested in the Gettysburg address (the anniversary of which is coming up this November), both as a fan of Abraham Lincoln and a lover of powerful words. There was plenty to see from that point of view, too. Lincoln was everywhere, or at least plaques about him were. My favorite was this one:
The library itself, though not around during the war, is a majestic old building, a century old, originally built as the town post office. There, I met Nancy Newman, the wonderful children’s librarian who brought me in, and the kids who had all read Zebra Forest. I don’t think I’ll ever stop feeling amazed that people are reading my book. Especially when I meet a group with such insightful questions to ask! After I talked for a few minutes about the origins of the story, we opened the floor to questions. One of my favorites was whether I thought the book would have been different if it had been told from a different point of view. The answer to that was a definite yes. Another great comment came from a girl who talked about the motivations of the characters – specifically why Rew got so mad, and how shame and anger can make you want to reject the truth. To see a bit of my introductory talk, click on this link: http://youtu.be/qGjySJpIfFw
As a child of the East Coast who grew up with a father who loved day trips, I’ve been to Gettysburg before, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a more wonderful trip than this one. Thanks again, Adams County Library!