Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 by

“I wanted to be just like Tom Sawyer as kid, but years later I realized it was Mr. Twain whom I truly wished to emulate.” So says award-winning author Ted Dunagan, whose debut novel A Yellow Watermelon, NewSouth Books published last year.

Not surprisingly, Dunagan’s lyrical, semi-autobiographical account of the friendship between a young white and a young black boy amid the racial segregation of the 1940s has been favorably compared to the works of Twain by librarians and educators alike. Mr. Dunagan is one of two speakers NewSouth Books, publisher of the Alabama Big Read edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, will be sending to talk to Big Read program participants about Twain and his literary legacy and influence.

For programs aimed at young adults, Mr. Dunagan is an especially appropriate presenter.

Respected Twain scholar Dr. Alan Gribben, chair of the English department at Auburn University Montgomery, will also available to present to Big Read audiences. Dr. Gribben is the author of several books on the subject of America’s beloved Mark Twain, including Mark Twain on the Move: A Travel Reader, and contributed the foreword to NewSouth’s edition.

Given Dr. Gribben’s years of experience as a college-level professor and an ever lively enthusiasm for the inimitable Mark Twain, those with Big Read programs across the South could do no better than to recruit Dr. Gribben to participate.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is available from NewSouth Books. For more information about presentations by Ted Dunagan and Dr. Alan Gribben, call NewSouth Books at 334-834-3556 or email Lisa Harrison at info @