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Whatcom READS!

Snow Falling on Cedars book jacket

RELEASE DATE: January 4, 2013

Contact: Christine Perkins
Bellingham Public Library
(360) 778-7206


For the fifth annual Whatcom READS! program, organizers wanted to offer a varied schedule of activities to fully complement reading this year's featured book, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson. Set on an island in Puget Sound during and after World War II, Snow Falling on Cedars portrays the effects of racism related to the internment of Japanese-Americans.

"This novel is so rich in topics to explore," says Lizz Roberts, Community Relations Director at the Whatcom County Library System, "We’re excited to really delve into some of them and generate a lot of discussion."

That's the whole point of Whatcom READS!, a collaborative project of all the public and academic libraries in Whatcom County, plus Village Books. Whatcom READS! encourages everyone to read and discuss the same book--and culminates with the author visiting Whatcom County February 19 to 21.

"Many readers enjoyed Snow Falling on Cedars when it first came out in 1994, or saw the movie starring Ethan Hawke," explains Bellingham Public Library book discussion leader Suzanne Carlson-Prandini. "This time around people can attend a Whatcom READS! event related to the book -- and learn more about the historical context, Japanese-American culture, even ethics in journalism, all subjects that are raised by the author."

A complete listing of all Whatcom READS! events can be found at Whatcom READS! is funded by grants from the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom County Library Foundation. The Japan Foundation of Los Angeles provided support for the Chadō: the Way of Tea presentation which will take place in February.

Events planned for January include:

The Japanese-American Experience During World War II
Saturday, January 12, 4-6 pm
Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Ave, Bellingham

Get a personal perspective on what it was like to be Japanese-American during and following World War II. Panelists include people whose families were interned, a woman whose father volunteered for the 442nd infantry regiment, and a woman whose father was a camp supervisor.

Reconciling the Past: The History, Literature and Ethics of Japanese Removal
Tuesday, January 22, 7-8 pm
Fairhaven Branch Library, 1117 12th Street, Bellingham, Fireplace Room

As a child during WWII, Robert Keller visited Camp Harmony, a temporary internment camp in Puyallup for Japanese-Americans. In this presentation Dr. Keller asks: How do we come to terms with dark parts of our history? Everyone welcome!

Stories from a Japanese-American Internment Camp
Saturday, January 26, 3-4:30 pm
Everson Library, 104 Kirsch Drive, Everson

90-year-old Mildred Beitzel will tell of her teaching experiences at Camp Amache, an Internment Camp near Granada, Colorado. Relive with her the poignant stories of internees who gracefully and creatively established a sense of community in the midst of adversity.

Responsible Journalism in Snow Falling on Cedars and What It Means Today
Wednesday, January 30, 7-9 pm
Fairhaven Branch Library, 1117 12th Street, Bellingham, Fireplace Room

A panel of local journalists will discuss ethics in the news media as portrayed in Snow Falling on Cedars compared to real life examples around Washington State. Characters in the novel were based on Walt and Milly Woodward, editors of the Bainbridge Review, which was one of the few to come out against the policy of internment.

More events are planned for February, with author David Guterson making several appearances February 19, 20, and 21. Visit for more information, or stop by your local library.



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