Author Gary Schmidt signs copies of his latest middle-grade novel, “Pay Attention, Carter Jones,” at the Northeat Harbor Library on Oct. 24 for families participating in the IRW Community Book Club. PHOTO COURTESY OF ISLAND READERS & WRITERS

Book club brings families together

MOUNT DESERT — More than 60 kids and parents living on Mount Desert Island, Trenton and Islesford participated in the Island Readers & Writers (IRW) Community Book Club last month.

The program was open to children living on MDI or attending Mount Desert Island Regional School System and their parents or other adults. Each adult/child pair received two copies of “Pay Attention, Carter Jones,” a middle-grade novel by Gary Schmidt, and were encouraged to read the book together and discuss it at home. The school system contributed to the purchase of books.

Book-related activities leading up to an Oct. 24 presentation with Schmidt helped bring the book and its characters to life.

Andrew Simon of the Barn Arts Collective, plays the part of a butler at the Northeast Harbor Library on Oct. 24. He served tea and biscuits to participants of the IRW Community Book Club before a presentation from “Pay Attention, Carter Jones” author Gary Schmidt. PHOTO COURTESY OF ISLAND READERS & WRITERS

The Seal Cove Auto Museum invited book club participants to ride in a vintage Bentley, a car that plays a major role in “Pay Attention, Carter Jones,” and free admission to the museum for the day.

“The easiest way to put a smile on someone’s face is give them a ride in an antique automobile, and we were thrilled to provide that opportunity for book club families by tracking down a 1958 Bentley for them to cruise around in, chauffeur and all,” said Jenna Beaulieu, the museum’s curator of education.

The Southwest Harbor Public Library and Northeast Harbor Library hosted book discussions, in which adults and kids delved into the book’s main characters.

The day of Schmidt’s presentation at the Northeast Harbor Library, a butler — just like the one in “Pay Attention, Carter Jones” — served kids and adults from a silver teapot in porcelain teacups, the way the protagonist Carter Jones is served at home.

One wide-eyed boy was particularly taken with the English butler and the array of “biscuits” (British for cookies). The part of the butler was played by Andrew Simon, artistic director of the Barn Arts Collective.

Schmidt, who lives in Alto, Mich., shared with the audience his path to becoming a writer despite not excelling in school as a youngster, and about his work as a college professor and success teaching writing to incarcerated men. He also discussed the game of cricket, how it is played and why he gave it such an important role in the novel.

Adults and kids were delighted by Schmidt’s humorous and meaningful book, and rapt by his words in person.

“The book was funny to my daughter and me,” said one parent. “It was poignant without being melodramatic. More importantly, Gary Schmidt is a wonderful, funny and engaging speaker. My daughter really enjoyed his presentation.”

“The IRW Community Book Club is about adults and kids sharing their love of reading with one another,” said IRW Executive Director Jan Coates. “We are thrilled that so many families chose to get involved in this shared book experience.”

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