Susan Cooper gives lecture and signs books

May 5 at 2 p.m.
Scottish Rite Center
(503) 988-5402
(503) 988-5441 (fax)
[email protected]

“The Dark is Rising.” “The Grey King.” “Over Sea Under Stone.” The titles alone inspire a magical world that can raise the hair on your neck and get the imagination bubbling. These titles hail back to a time when peanut butter sandwiches tasted good and changing into “play” clothes was being responsible. Some people never grow up, never let the imagination die and never quit writing great books. Susan Cooper is one of these authors.

On May 5, she’ll do her best to give your creative juices a jumpstart. The 2001 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture will be held at the Scottish Rite Center. The Multnomah County Library, not only the oldest library west of the Mississippi, but also renowned for distinctive children’s programming, is hosting this lecture from the award-winning children’s author.

Cooper’s best-known work, “The Dark is Rising” novels, draw on themes from Arthurian legend. Beyond the novels, she writes theater, television and creates scripts for The Revels, a national theatrical group. She earned the Newberry Medal in 1976 for “The Grey King.”

Cooper was born in Britain in 1935 and spent her childhood years there during World War II. After receiving her master’s degree at Oxford University, she worked as a reporter for the London Times before moving to the United States in 1963.

“In her books, gifted storyteller Susan Cooper always has something to say, and she does so with eloquence,” said Jan Watkins, chair of the Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Selection Committee. “Her interest in folklore and the oral tradition has informed all of her works and has given her a deep wellspring of inspiration. She calls on the potent imagery of good and evil to portray mythic forces, which disrupt daily life, and the gracious powers that restore harmony. Cooper’s books are widely read and well-loved by children and adults.”

“Multnomah County Library and the Scottish Rite Center are a perfect fit for Susan Cooper,” Jan Watkins continued. “The center features a d퀌�cor that evokes the themes of King Arthur.”

The annual lecture chooses its name in honor of May Hill Arbuthnot. Along with educator William Scott Gray, she created and wrote the Curriculum Foundation Readers; better known as the “Dick and Jane” series. Arbuthnot was born in Mason City, Iowa, and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1922, receiving her master’s degree in 1924 from Columbia University. “Children and Books,” published in 1947, was another important contribution.

The annual speaker may be an author, critic, librarian, historian or teacher of children’s literature, who prepares a paper contributing to the field of children’s literature. Once the name is made public, institutions wishing to host the lecture should apply. A library, school, department of education in college or university, or children’s library system may be considered.

As if hearing Cooper wasn’t enough, there are a few other reasons to be around on May 5. After the lecture she will be happy to sign personal copies or books available for sale. While waiting in line, the audience will find an array of deserts to munch on and plenty of entertainment from the theater group Revels.

From a modest start in Cambridge, Mass. more than two decades ago, Revels has grown into a national, year-round organization providing unique opportunities for celebration. The volunteer chorus of children and adults present the performances of traditional, dance, drama and ritual music. Also, a number of professional actors, musicians, artists and directors are drawn from the community.

Tickets for the lecture are free and may be obtained through Shannon Long, Multnomah County Library. Requests will be accepted by phone, fax, or e-mail: (503) 988-5402 (phone); (503) 988-5441 (fax); [email protected]; or Shannon Long, Central Library, 205 N.E. Russell.