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'Stand Tall'

[JAN. 29, 2003]  "Stand Tall," by Joan Bauer. G.P. Putnamís Sons, 2002, 182 pages,

Sam is 12 years old and stands 6 feet, 3Ĺ inches tall. He is the tallest seventh-grader in the history of his middle school and the tallest 12-year-old his hometown of Ripley has ever seen. At his middle school he is one of the "non-athletic nobodies" who is unable to shoot a basket, even with his height. These are some of the reasons people gave him the nickname of Tree.


Sam is not comfortable with his size, so the nickname just continues to rub this in. Even the people that love and care about him, like his family, call him Tree.

His size and nickname are not the only things that worry Tree. His parents have recently divorced, and he desperately wants things to be the way they used to be. He is the youngest of three boys, but his older brothers are in college, so he is the only one the custody arrangement applies to. Even the school gives him grief over the co-custody arrangement. His father kept the house, and his mother took a small apartment in town. His mother tries very hard to make her new home a home for Tree, but it just isnít home.

One of the bright spots in his life is his grandfather, a Vietnam vet who lives with Tree and his dad. During the war, the grandfather was shot in the leg. He continued to have trouble with it, and the leg has just recently been amputated right below the knee. The way his grandfather deals with this situation is a great inspiration to Tree. His grandfather also compares a lot of things in life to war and being a soldier, as he tells Tree, "Weíre all fighting a war whether we know it or not -- a war for our minds and souls and what we believe in."


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Another bright spot is a new girl at school named Sophie. She has been shuffled from one school to the other for most of her life, and now she and her mother are living with her Aunt Peach. The first time Tree became aware of her, the popular girls were treating her very badly. Tree was very impressed by the way she handled the situation, and they became friends. She encourages Tree to be proud of his height and is always telling him to "stand tall."

The story has a dramatic conclusion with a flood that nearly destroys the town of Ripley. The town rallies together in the face of disaster, and it is at this time that Tree discovers that he has a purpose in life. He also learns a lot about loss and healing.

Joan Bauer is the Newberry Honor author of "Hope Was Here" and numerous other books for young people. Bauer writes about themes that are serious but with her own special kind of humor and wisdom. In "Stand Tall" we also learn about small towns that "stand tall" and about their veterans who fought bravely in a war that even they didnít understand.

This book is recommended for grades six and up. For more information about this book and others, please visit the library at 725 Pekin St. or call (217) 732-5732.

[Linda Harmon, Lincoln Public Library District]


Concert will feature winners of concerto-aria contest

[JAN. 29, 2003]  NORMAL -- Five Illinois State University School of Music students won the school's concerto-aria competition Jan. 22 and will be featured performers in a March 5 concert at 8 p.m. in the Center for the Performing Arts

Jurors in the competition were Roger Garrett and Linda Farquahson of Illinois Wesleyan University.

This year's winners are junior trumpeter Ryan Elliot of Saginaw, Mich., representing the brass area; master's degree student and pianist Kristof Kovacs of Budapest, Hungary, representing the keyboard area; Ying Wang, a master's degree student and cellist from Beijing, China, representing the string area; senior baritone vocalist Kevin Prina of Washington, representing the voice area; and piccolo player Megan Lomonof, a senior from Oak Lawn, representing the woodwind area.

Earning honorable mentions in the competition were violist Colleen Kuraszek, a freshman from Lake in the Hills, and flutist Elizabet Varga, a master's degree student from Bloomington.

The concert March 5 will spotlight the five winners. They will perform individually with the Illinois State University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Glenn Block, director of orchestras. The orchestra also will play Bernstein's overture to "Candide."

[News release]

'Epic Proportions'

[JAN. 8, 2003]  DECATUR -- Theatre 7 - Decatur's Community Theatre will present the comedy "Epic Proportions" in February at the Decatur Civic Center Theatre. Tickets for the production go on sale to the general public beginning Monday, Jan. 13, at the Decatur Civic Center Box Office.

"Epic Proportions" is set in the 1930s, when brothers Benny and Phil find themselves in the Arizona desert as extras in a huge historical epic film. Before they know it, Phil is directing the movie and Benny is starring in it. To complicate matters, they both fall in love with Louise, the assistant director of extras.

The Theatre 7 production is directed by Jayson Albright.

Cast members are Jayson Albright, Shawn Becker, Doug Bishop, Peter Churukian, Amy Hoak, Tim Haworth, Alison Logan and Matt Tucker.

Performance dates and times are Feb. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 9 and 16 at 2 p.m. For ticket information, call the box office, (217) 422-6161.

For more information, visit

[Theatre 7 press release]

LCT 2003 season

[DEC. 9, 2002]  Lincoln Community Theatre is pleased to announce three productions selected for the summer of 2003.

Kicking off the 32nd season of live theater for the Lincoln community will be the hilarious musical "Nuncrackers." This fun-filled show is a continuation of the antics of the dauntless, darling nuns of Mount St. Helen's Convent who delighted Lincoln audiences in the "Nunsense" series several summers ago. Audience participation, one-liners, a rum-soaked fruitcake, dueling sugar plum fairies and dear Sister Amnesia will definitely start the summer theatrical season with humor and fun.

The July production, "Steel Magnolias," is one of our best ensemble productions. The familiar, bittersweet story touches all the emotional peaks and valleys of life in a small Southern community. From wise-cracking Truvy to unsure Annelle, the characters in this poignant play promise to touch everyone with both laughter and tears.


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Ending the season on a patriotic note, LCT's final production of the summer will be "1776," a stirring, yet humorous musical featuring a large cast representing our founding fathers. Humor abounds with fast-paced dialogue involving Ben Franklin, Henry Lee and other early congressional characters, along with catchy, patriotic music.

To kick off the holiday season, Lincoln Community Theatre is offering holiday gift certificates for season memberships for the summer 2003 season. Certificates can be mailed directly to the receiver or to the gift giver. Certificates for adult memberships are $20 each, and those for children through eighth grade are $12 each. Requests for gift certificates may be sent to LCT, Box 374, Lincoln, IL 62656. Further information is available at (217) 732-7542 or by visiting the LCT website,

[Judy Rader, LCT publicity chairman]

Lincoln Community Theatre information

Lincoln Community Theatre's box office, phone 735-2614,  is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday for the summer season. The office is located in the lobby of the Johnston Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Lincoln College.

Performances of "Dearly Departed" are scheduled for July 12-20, and "The King and I" will be presented Aug. 2-10. Show times are 2 p.m. on Sundays and 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The LCT mailing address is Lincoln Community Theatre, P.O. Box 374, Lincoln, IL  62656; e-mail:

Visit the LDC website at Pictures from past productions are included.

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