March is Full of Maltese Falcon Themed Events as Ferndale Catches Big Read Fever

By, Crystal A. Proxmire


A city-wide literacy initiative will connect readers throughout Ferndale for the month of March, as The Big Read showcases The Maltese Falcon, a 1930s detective novel by Dashiell Hammett that features a tough and clever private eye caught up in a mysterious case of murder, love and a missing statue of special value.


The Ferndale Public Library has saturated the city with 400 free copies of the book, with some still available at stores, schools, the library and other public places through March.  There will also be over a dozen Maltese Falcon themed events throughout the community.


Book discussions will be held in a variety of places, including Java Hut (March 15, 7 p.m.), Just 4 Us (March 20, 1 p.m.), Pinwheel Bakery (March 21, 2 p.m.), Affirmations Community Center (March 30, 7 p.m.), and the Kulick Community Center for the seniors (March 23, 9 a.m.).


The Kick Off Party will be Feb 27th from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. at the Ferndale Public Library’s temporary location at 642 E. 9 Mile.  There will be a costume contest, period music and readings from the celebrated book by members of the Ferndale City Council.  Visitors are encouraged to dress up in 1930s costumes to get in the spirit of Hammett’s mysterious story. 


Affirmations is helping to further educate the community by hosting a forum called How to Read and Watch Like a Professor.  “We’re having three professors from Wayne State teach people how to really appreciate the media they’re consuming, not just how to read but how to analyze it and critique it like a professional,” said Darlene Hellenberg, project coordinator for The Big Read.  Hellenberg said this is her first time working with so many groups and businesses, including the LGBT Center.  “They’re such a big part of the community and this is a great way to reach all the people they serve and get them talking about the book.”


Affirmations offers a media center with hundreds of books focusing on and appealing to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. They have offered reading groups in the past and occasionally offer book signings by prominent LGBT authors. Additionally they have teamed up with the Royal Oak Barnes & Noble store to bring nationally-renowned authors to the area.  “While we’ve not partnered with the Library in the past, we hope to find future endeavors on which to collaborate while serving the Ferndale community,” said Affirmations Special Event Manager Carrie Copeland.


The Emory has been warming up Ferndale for the month-long event by hosting monthly Big Read Book Parties at their restaurant/bar at 22700 Woodward.  The book parties have attracted dozens of readers to discuss books like Fight Club, The Tender Bar and Middlesex.  The fourth and final Emory Book Party, discussing The Maltese Falcon, will be held on March 18th at 7:30 p.m.


The Big Read organizers choose The Maltese Falcon based on criteria set forth in the National Endowment for the Arts grant, particularly that the book appeal to young readers and to a male audience, since leisure reading tends to be more popular among women.  Hellenberg said, “This is a nice, easy read that people of any age can enjoy.  We didn’t want to do To Kill a Mockingbird or any of those other books we all have to read at some point.  We wanted something that is a little different from the norm.  This book is classic, but still one that a lot of people haven’t read.”


Other fun Maltese Falcon themed events include improvisational shows at Go! Comedy, 261 E. 9 Mile,  every Thursday night which they call Son of The Maltese Falcon.  There is also a classic film series at the Kulick center, and a discussion by local mystery author Loren D. Estleman at The Ferndale High School, 881 Pinecrest, on March 25, 8 p.m.  For more information on these and other Big Read Events go to



Send us your opinion or question! Your response could be in our FERNDALE VIEWS section next issue!