Library urges residents to read 'Rocket Boys'

DOWNEY - With a proclamation presented at the Sept. 22 Council meeting, the Downey City Council and the Downey City Library announced the city-wide reading project, 'One Book, One Community" for 2009.The title selected for this year is "Rocket Boys: a Memoir" by Homer Hickam Jr. The Friends of the Downey City Library have purchased 50 copies of the book available for checkout at the library. Patrons may also check out copies of the abridged audio book as well as the film "October Sky," based on the book. "Rocket Boys" is the first in the "Coalwood" series of autobiographical works by Hickam. Inspired by Werner von Braun and his Cape Canaveral team, 14-year-old Homer "Sonny" Hickam decided in 1957 to build his own rockets. They were his ticket out of Coalwood, West Virginia, a mining town that everyone knew was dying - everyone except his father, the mine supervisor. "Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn't know my hometown was at war with itself over its children and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives," writes Hickam. Sonny went on to win the National Science Fair in 1960 and become a NASA engineer. "With the local interest in aeronautics history, this book should have great appeal for readers in Downey," said City Librarian Nancy Messineo. "We invite everyone to attend free programs related to the book's theme during Book Week, November 9-14." The library is encouraging residents and community partners, including schools, businesses, community organizations and city departments, to promote, read and discuss the book. "We had a tremendous response to our reading project last year," said Messineo. "We hope even more people will get involved this year. You can start a reading group at church or with your friends. Talk about the book with your neighbors and invite them to attend events at the library." Messineo thanked the Friends of the Downey City Library for supporting the project. "Our 'community read' project has become a reality due to the support and enthusiasm of the Friends," she said. "Because of their help, we have many copies of the book ready for checkout." Upcoming free programs planned around the book's theme include: Wednesday, Oct. 21, 4 p.m.: Teen Read Week event featuring Nathan Charlton, author of "Terra Nova: the Search." Monday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m.: Author and educator Mike Kersjes will discuss "A Smile as Big as the Moon: a Teacher, His Class and Their Unforgettable Journey." Tuesday, Nov. 10, 10:30 a.m.: "Fly Me to the Moon," a special storytime about rockets. Tuesday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m.: Film showing of "October Sky." Thursday, Nov. 12, noon: Book discussion of "Rocket Boys." Thursday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m.: "Rockets and Robots in Space," a family story night event for ages 3-12. For more information on "One Book, One Community" events in Downey, call (562) 904-7360, ext. 132.

********** Published: October 9, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 25