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Book discussion group opens covers and young minds

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

WILBRAHAM The usual book discussion group is made up of adults who talk about either critically acclaimed novels or the latest bestsellers. Cover to Cover breaks that mold.

Cover to Cover, which meets at the Wilbraham Public Library on the second Tuesday of each month from 7 to 8 p.m., is for students in grades four, five and six only. The group was started in 2000, according to assistant children's librarian Cindy Rusczek.

On Aug. 12 the group will be discussing "Hoot" by Carl Hiaasen, which tells the story of Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, and how he becomes involved in another boy's attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site.

The group talks about differences between books and movies ("Hoot" was adapted as a film in 2006), what each reader liked or didn't like about the book and how each child relates a story to his or her own life.

"The kids are really just amazing," Rusczek said. "With their insights, they're usually right on. It's a great group. They're very interested in discussing their opinions."

Rusczek limits Cover to Cover meetings to 15 children and said she usually sees between 10 and 12 show up for the book discussions. In addition to sharing their ideas and opinions, they also share snacks that are somehow tied into the book they read. When the group read "Marley: A Dog Like No Other" by John Grogan, one reader volunteered and brought in cookies that were in the shape of dog treats, Rusczek noted.

She selects books for the discussion group in a variety of ways. Rusczek may get suggestions from other groups, from Web sites or from feedback from the children who visit the library.

"We aim for different genres," Rusczek explained. "The whole idea of this is that while some may like it, you may not like a genre. We bring that to the table."

The selection for September is the first in a series. "The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives," by Michael Buckley, is the first story of sisters Sabrina and Daphne, who are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm. The girls learn they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm, whose famous book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files. The girls are the latest in a long line of fairy-tale detectives, and their new hometown is filled with magical folks some good and some very, very bad. When one sets a giant loose on the town, it's up to the Sisters Grimm to save the day, according to a synopsis from the Barnes & Noble Web site (

"It's about two kids and all kinds of chaos," Rusczek noted.

She ensures there are enough copies of every book for each discussion available at the Wilbraham Public Library by using inter-library loans. The books are placed right next to the sign up sheet for the group discussion in the children's department.

Cover to Cover will discuss "The Fairy-Tale Detectives" during its meeting on Sept. 8. Titles for future month will soon be available at the library.

If there are any questions about the book discussion group, contact Rusczek at the library by calling 596-6141 ext. 4.