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Shine a light on literacy

South Boston News
From left, lampshade artists Hayden Martinez and Denise Hudson, lamp builder Adam Smith, and Early Literacy Specialist Miss Sue Brooks.
SoVaNow.com / November 18, 2021

The Halifax County-South Boston Public Library is back this year with its annual art auction to support early literacy, shining a light on the joys of reading.

Literally speaking this time.

Previous auctions have featured the sale of miniature furniture pieces and musical instruments — chairs, tables, guitars and the like — each designed and adorned to evoke cherished works of children’s literature, from Charlotte’s Web to Where The Wild Things Are. This year’s library auction homes in on another household staple — lamps and lampshades.

The fifth annual library art auction, titled “Light on Early Literacy,” is coming up Friday, Dec. 3 from 6-8 p.m. at the South Boston branch on Broad Street. The adults-only event will feature musical entertainment by the Brown Brothers, wines from Hunting Creek Vineyard and hors d’oeuvres provided by Southern Plenty.

A dozen local artists have crafted literary-themed lamp fixtures that will go up for auction Dec. 3. Bidding will start at $75. At a recent meeting of the local library board at the South Boston branch, members got a sneak peak at the lamps and the popular books they honor.

“The lamps were created from a picture and they are phenomenal,” said Sue Brooks, “Miss Sue,” library artist and youth program leader.

The 12 lamps up for auction come with designs based on the popular “Shine-A-Light” series by Usborne Books & More, an independent publisher of non-fiction works for children. Each story contains hidden images which are illuminated whenever they are held up to light. Usborne Publishing is a British family-owned company that produces books with an earth-friendly approach, using low-chemical inks and paper from sustainable sources.

“It was really exciting for me to find this series of books that engages early readers through the secret images,” said Miss Sue.

There are about 15 to 20 books in the Shine-A-Light series, with titles that include “Nibbles: The Book Monster” and “On The Construction Site – Shine-A-Light.” The library system “has ordered almost all of them,” said Library Director Jay Stephens, expressing his excitement for the series.

Each lamp frame was crafted out of 140 wood pieces by Adam Smith, who lives just west of the Halifax-Pittsylvania county line. The lamp frames resemble stick figures and can be bent into different configurations to create a really cool bookstand. Smith and Sue Brooks met years ago through the early literacy program.

“It was a fun project to figure out how to construct these figures, then attach a lamp [shade] on top,” said Smith.

Artists who have handcrafted the decorative lamp shades are Hayden Martinez, Denise Hudson, Ron Miller, Don Bagwell, Celeste Carrington, Jenna Austin, Keith Knapp, Rebecca Mulwee, Danielle Lucas, Brittney Clay, and Carol Wofford.

Tickets to the Dec. 3 auction are available for purchase at both branches of the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System. Tickets cost $10 and your ticket stub will be entered into drawings for valuable door prizes donated by Busy Bean, Franchesca’s Dawn Farm, The Prizery, and The Berry Hill Resort and Conference Center.

The early literacy fundraiser supports the PALS Play and Learn Storytime programs at both local libraries.

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