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Tiny shelves tell great tales

South Boston News / November 30, 2017
Eleven-year-old Francesca Danielle Potenza, a fifth-grade student at South Boston Elementary School, loves to read. One of her favorite novels is “Fire Star,” the third book by children’s fiction author Chris d’Lacey in the series, “The Last Dragon Chronicles.”

Francesca is also quite an artist — she’s one of the featured illustrators in the Classics on a Shelf miniature bookshelf auction taking place Friday at 6 p.m. at the South Boston Public Library.

Picking up where it left off last year with the sale of tiny illustrated wooden chairs, this time the library is auctioning off pint-sized bookshelves, each bearing a literary theme. Proceeds go to support library activities.

Francesca is one of twelve artists who have painted the inside backs of the bookshelves. She said she was very excited to be asked to do an illustration from “Fire Star,” which she has enjoyed reading so much.

A second artist, Rita Powell of Clarksville, chose “Clifford the Big Red Dog” as the inspiration for her bookshelf art.

Powell, a native of New England, worked at Harvard University as a photographer of old Civil War newspapers. After retiring, she left the cold of Boston for the warmer climate of Southside Virginia. Painting is now her passion, she says.

Powell describes herself as “73 years young now” with four children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

The artists are lending their talents on a volunteer basis for the second annual library fund raiser. Along with Potenza and Powell, their ranks include:

Denise Hudson, who has painted a picture for her shelf featuring “Charlotte’s Web;”

Cas Schirra, who chose “James and the Giant Peach” for inspiration;

Sam Knapp, who has a “Harry Potter”-themed piece;

Christina Knapp, who illustrated a shelf with “Where the Wild Things Are”;

Rebecca Mulwee, who chose “The Island of the Blue Dolphins”;

Ray Martin, who illustrated “Uncle Elephant”;

Mary Crumpler who drew the back for “My Mama Says There Aren’t Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Creatures, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins, or Things.”

Matt Stafford, who chose “Witches” for his literary theme;

Carol Anne Beadles, who did a drawing for “The Secret Garden”

Jenna Austin, who drew “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Each of the wooden shelves, made by Clint Johnson of re-purposed barnwood and finished off by Sue Brooks, is accompanied by the children’s classic book that was selected for the illustration. Each shelf contains a small drawer containing a flashlight for late night reading, as well as other items of its interest for bookworms, such as paper and pencil for note taking.

Tickets are on sale at both local library branches and cost $20 for individuals, $30 for pairs. Those attending can place silent bids on the shelves, with the winners announced at the end of the event.

There will also be wine and hard cider served along with catered treats from Windmill Bakery. Six door prizes will be given away, donated by local businesses that include VIR, Joe and a Bow, Southern Plenty, Breezy Oaks Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast, Molasses Grill and Bonnie Brown Jewelry and Glassworks.

Last year’s event attracted a full house of people having lots of fun, while raising nearly $1,200 for the library’s Early Literacy Program.

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