Celebrating the Written Word 2019

One Parish–One Book

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park




Saturday, November 9th at 10:00 a.m. Common Read Celebration

Join us in celebrating this year's Common Read, A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park on Saturday, November 9 from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. The author, Linda Sue Park, will give a presentation on her novel at 10:00 a.m. followed by a complimentary brunch at the Hammond Regional Arts Center. Live music will be provided by the Southeastern Faculty Jazz Trio with Dr. John Madere, Dr. Vasil Cvetkov, and Michael Brothers.

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two 11-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is a two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attacks by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.



John Madere is a Bassist/Composer currentlyJohn Madere residing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He grew up in Gonzales, Louisiana and began his musical studies at the age of ten on the saxophone. At the age of 15, Madere picked up the electric bass and later began studying the double bass with Robert Nash at the age of 17. Madere graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2005 where he studied with Yung-chiao Wei. Upon completion of this degree, he moved to Cincinnati to begin his Master's Degree studies at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. While at CCM, Madere studied with Albert Laszlo. After completing his Master's Degree in 2007, Madere returned to LSU and received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 2011.

Madere maintains a busy schedule of freelance bass playing. He is equally at home in both the jazz and classical idioms and performs both styles frequently. Madere is currently principal bassist of the Baton Rouge Symphony, and has held this position since his return to Louisiana in 2007. Along with regular performances with the Baton Rouge Symphony, he has also performed with the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Acadiana Symphony, and was formerly the principal bassist of the Louisiana Sinfonietta. As a jazz musician, Madere performs locally around the Baton Rouge area with his trio, The John Madere Trio. The trio has performed several times at the Northgate Festival in Baton Rouge and was also invited to perform at the 50th Annual Collegiate Jazz Festival at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.


Vasil Cvetkov was born in Burgas, Bulgaria. He started Vasil Cvetkovplaying piano at the age of 5 and holds a PhD in Music Theory, with a minor in Jazz Study, from Louisiana State University. He earned his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees in Music Education from the Academy of Music and Dance in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and also has a Master's Degree in Music from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana. His major instrument is the piano. Cvetkov has performed in ensembles, orchestras, and bands in Europe and the US, including the 2011 Southeastern Alumni Jazz Ensemble, Southeastern Louisiana University Jazz Band, “Magnolia Band” in Baton Rouge, Jazz Quartet “Horus,” and the “Hot Sands” Band in Burgas, Bulgaria.

He has also performed in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. He has recorded dozens of live concerts for Bulgarian National Television and other TV stations in his home country. Composer as well as performer, Cvetkov has created and arranged many pieces for solo instruments and ensembles. His styles range from classical to jazz, pop, and rock. Cvetkov's academic interests in music theory are as wide as the range of his compositions. His dissertation, "The Chromatic Fantasy Sonata" by Dave Brubeck, examines the interplay of classical and jazz forms in a work by a famous American jazz pianist and composer. 


Mr. Michael Brothers is Instructor of Percussion and Director of Jazz and Percussion Studies at Southeastern Louisiana University. He teaches Applied Percussion to undergraduate and graduate percussion majors, and courses in Percussion Pedagogy, Jazz Arranging, Jazz History, and Jazz Pedagogy. He is Director of the University Jazz Ensemble and the Spirit of the Southland Drumline.

A native of Oakland, California, his nearly forty-year career as a drummer and percussionist spans a wide range of musical experience including performances with big bands, symphony orchestras, recording sessions and Broadway, including over 6,600 performances of the record-breaking Music Box Company tour of the Broadway musical The Phantom of the Opera, the longest continually running Broadway tour in history.




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Linda Sue Park was born in Urbana, Illinois on March 25, 1960, and grew up outside Chicago. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read. This is the first thing she ever published—a haiku in a children's magazine when she was nine years old:

In the green forest 
A sparkling, bright blue pond hides. 
And animals drink.

—Trailblazer magazine, Winter 1969

For this poem she was paid one whole dollar. She gave the check to her dad for Christmas. About a year later the company wrote to her asking her to cash the check! Linda Sue wrote back explaining that it was now framed and hung above her dad's desk and was it okay if he kept it? The magazine said it was fine, and her dad still has that check.

During elementary school and high school, Linda Sue had several more poems published in magazines for children and young people. She went to Stanford University, competed for the gymnastics team, and graduated with a degree in English. Then she took a job as a public-relations writer for a major oil company. This was not exactly the kind of writing she wanted to do, but it did teach her to present her work professionally and that an interested writer can make any subject fascinating (well, almost any subject ...).

In 1983, after two years with the oil company, Linda Sue left her job and moved to Dublin when a handsome Irishman swept her off her feet. She studied literature, moved to London, worked for an advertising agency, married that Irishman, had a baby, taught English as a second language to college students, worked as a food journalist, and had another baby. It was a busy time, and she never even thought about writing children's books.

In 1990, she and her family moved back to the U.S. because of her husband's job. Linda Sue continued teaching English to foreign students. It took her quite a while, but she finally realized that what she really wanted to do was to write books for children. In 1997, she started writing her first book, Seesaw Girl. It was accepted that same year and published in 1999.

Since then, Linda Sue has published many other books for young people, including A Single Shard, which was awarded the 2002 Newbery Medal.

She now lives in western New York with the same Irishman; their son lives nearby, and their daughter lives in Brooklyn. Besides reading and writing, Linda Sue likes to cook, travel, watch movies, and do the New York Times crossword puzzle. She also loves dogs, watching sports on television and playing board and video games. When she grows up, she would like to be an elephant scientist.

Please enjoy photos from last year's Common Read of The Radium Girls by Kate Moore.