OUR OPINION: Tupelo Reads selects Morris classic for 2013 program

By NEMS Daily Journal

Mayor Jack Reed Jr.’s Task Force on Education has turned to one of Mississippi’s most famous and best-liked writers, the late Willie Morris, for its 2013 Tupelo Reads summer book selection.
The committee, headed by the mayor’s wife, Lisa Reed, announced Monday that it has chosen “My Dog Skip,” a powerfully evocative story of Morris and his childhood canine companion.
The book, which was first published in 1995, became a best seller and was made into a film starring Kevin Bacon that was released in 2000. Morris, who possessed a compelling literary range, died in 1999.
The short book, easily read even by children in a few hours, is set in 1940s Mississippi, when Morris was growing up in Yazoo City.
The reminiscence of those special times with his dog, and the companionship that developed between them, is familiar and classic.
Lisa Reed said the book was not on the original list for consideration for the third annual Tupelo Reads event, but multiple committee conversations brought it into the top position, in part in contrast to the somewhat somber themes of the first two selections, “Tuesdays With Morrie” and “Gilead.”
Reed said the volume still is widely read, describing it as a “sweet, precious book” about a “young boy with his dog.”
The Monday announcement of the selection will be followed by encouragement from the committee, the Lee County Library and many other supporters, for people to read the book during the summer school recess, then come together as a community to share experiences and hear more about Morris and the book’s creation during September in a series of free, public events.
The movie will be shown at a free Movie Night on the civic commons lawn in Fairpark at a date to be set soon, and former Gov. William Winter, a longtime friend and former neighbor of Morris’ in Jackson, will speak at a Sept. 25 Lunching With Books gathering at Lee County Library.
An estimated 2,000 people, an impressive number, attended the events during the first two years of the program.
Tupeloans are encouraged to follow news of Tupelo Reads on Twitter, Facebook, in the Daily Journal, and on the city’s website, www.tupeloms.gov.