Leader of the Pack

The first time I read The Call of the Wild, by Jack London, I was twelve and on a family visit with friends in New Mexico. The book, an elegant old hardback volume that had belonged to their then-grown son, was on the bookshelf in the room where I stayed, and once I made the error of picking it up, I could not put it down. I ended up stealing the book so I could finish it — not cool — but all I can say now is that I, like Buck the turncoat sled dog, heard the call and couldn’t help but surrender to it. It marked the beginning of my lifelong (and uncharacteristic!) love of Jack London adventure stories; whether they were set in the Yukon or the South Seas, I was held prisoner by his dark and fierce descriptions of fights for pack supremacy and hurricane gales.

Books like this — which appeal to readers of all ages — should never lose their pull, and that’s why I’m glad that the Aurora Public Library chose to highlight it this fall as part of the nationwide community literacy program, The Big Read. Beginning today, an NEA grant will provide funds for an ongoing series of book discussions, panels, presentations, kids’ programs, contests and more, scheduled at libraries throughout the Aurora system. And today at 6 p.m., a free party and talk by Iditarod Teacher on the Trail finalist Laurie Nakauchi-Hawn mushes things off with a bang at the Community College of Aurora student center rotunda, 16000 CentreTech Parkway in Aurora.

Events continue through October 3; for details, go to www.auroralibrary.org or call 303-325-8605.
Sept. 2-Oct. 3, 2008

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd