Friday, May 30, 2014

New Douglas Adams May Put New Spin on Beloved Material

When Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams died much too young at 49 in May of 2001, he left a lot of stories untold. At least, that’s what his fans have always suspected. Thanks to his new biographer, JL Roberts, those fans will soon be proven correct. From The Guardian:
There is "an enormous amount of material out there that has never been seen before," said Roberts. As well as Life, the Universe and Everything, the biography will feature an alternative original pitch for Hitchhiker, a lost rough script for the second television series, and further scraps of unused material, with names like Baggy the Runch and The Assumption of Saint Zalabad.
The Life, the Universe and Everything draft, Roberts said, has "whole chapters where the characters are doing different things – different ideas he never got round to using, [such as] chapters written from Arthur Dent's point of view". 
But "none of this stuff is finished," he added. "It's very important to contextualise this material properly … and I understand people thinking that this is raw material and he didn't want it to be seen. I spend part of the book asking what Douglas would have wanted … but there are so many great Douglas Adams jokes which have been completely air-sealed for the last 20 years. [And] I think it's wonderful that we finally get to read some of this stuff."
We agree! You can read more about Roberts’ fascinating journey of Adams’ discovery here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Just In… The Phoenix Year by David L. Blond

“...from out of the fire, would rise a new order, like the legend of the phoenix. There would emerge a new world, a new super economy...” 
So begins a sequence of events destined to rock world economies to their core.

On the 50th anniversary of their induction into the Society of the Phoenix, a group of billionaires is about to change the world dramatically, with devastating effect. Overseen by the reclusive Heinrich Von Kleise, the Society has hatched an audacious plan to subvert world economies by using and abusing some of the world’s wealthiest businessmen and their families; in some cases, holding them literally to ransom, or worse.

Michael Ross, an economic advisor to the US President, Ben Masters, a disgraced property tycoon, Natalya Avramowitz, a Russian economist and spy, and “Kim,” a CIA agent, find themselves at the center of this plot, involving inside trading, sex slavery and political corruption.

As the world careens towards financial Armageddon, can Michael, Natalya and Kim prevent global disintegration, or are the world’s financial institutions fated to implode?

The Phoenix Year by David L. Blond is a gripping novel, encompassing many of the financial crises that have hit the headlines in the past decade. The author has skillfully woven these together to create an action-packed conspiracy thriller that smacks of reality and future possibility.

You can order The Phoenix Year here. Visit author David L. Blond on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Dropping American Texts Enrages Brits

A decision to drop classic American texts from British classrooms has critics and the Internet in an uproar. Education secretary, Michael Gove, has been taking serious heat for dropping To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men and Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible and other works. From The Guardian:
Although a statement from the Department for Education insisted that it was not banning anything, Paul Dodd of OCR attributed the change directly to the education secretary. "Of Mice and Men, which Michael Gove really dislikes, will not be included. It was studied by 90% of teenagers taking English literature GCSE in the past. Michael Gove said that was a really disappointing statistic," he told the Sunday Times. 
Christopher Bigsby, professor of American studies at the University of East Anglia, and the biographer of Arthur Miller, said the "union jack of culture" was now fluttering over Gove's department.
"These works are to be rejected in the name of a more nationally centred syllabus, and this from a confessed admirer of rap. As the home secretary does her best to patrol our borders to keep out international students, who she regards as immigrants, so the GCSE syllabus is to be kept for the English for fear that Romanian novels might move in next door."
The move provoked a furious reaction on Twitter, with the hashtag Mockingbird trending. The actor Mark Gatiss, co-creator of the BBC drama Sherlock, tweeted: "Since when was the wretched Michael Gove allowed to dictate what children read? This man is a dangerous philistine."
In fairness, though, this is hardly book burning. No one is being prevented from reading those American classics. But is it really so heinous for a country to support its literature strongly? So shocking that there is a faction who want British kids to read British novels? There is way more great literature out there than can be assigned in a single academic lifetime. And how do you choose what should be included? Of all the ways that literature in education can be selected, this does not seem to me to be the worst.

It’s possible, though, that I’m in the minority as the outcry against dropping these American texts from British curriculum continues to grow and more than 50,000 names have already been collected in an online protest. From the petition page:
Michael Gove says he hasn't "banned" any books. But by telling teachers we have to teach Romantic Poets, a 19th century novel, a Shakespeare play and a British text, he is narrowing the curriculum and taking choice away from teachers. With all the other demands on us, it will be hard for any teacher to teach more than these set texts and we simply don’t believe these choices are the right ones for all students. We love literature and want to share that love. This syllabus risks building resentment and dislike of our literary heritage.
Even so, Gove does have some defenders, among them Alan Taylor who, in the Herald Scotland, writes:
But what is this obsession with American literature? As one who reads it constantly, I nevertheless find it odd that educationists would rather drum it into young minds than that of their own culture. It goes without saying that no-one in their right mind would advocate children reading narrowly.
As soon as Taylor asks the question, he answers it.
Readers don't think along nationalist lines. They want to rove without a compass, following whichever tracks take their fancy. The more they read, the better, be it Flaubert or Faulkner, Beckett or Bellow, Kafka or Flannery O'Connor. Indeed, I would argue that looking constantly westward has made us myopic. We need to read more of world literature and more in translation than in the past. 
We need to open up minds rather than close them. Canons and syllabuses may have a practical, scholastic use but they are in essence locked rooms which deny access to other ways of seeing, other ways of imagining and telling stories.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou’s 10 Most Beautiful Quotes

Today literature lost one of its most powerful and beautiful voices when Maya Angelou passed away at age 86.

A celebrated writer, Tony Award-winning actress, grammy nominated musician and professional dancer, Angelou died at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The recipient of over 30 honorary doctorates, Angelou was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie (1971) and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Her first book, the memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1969 and has since frequently been among the American Library Association’s most banned and challenged books.

While the whole world grieves at the loss of this important and splendid voice, we thought to attempt to find the very best of the quotes attributed to her. It was as difficult a task as it was subjective. It will surprise no one at all to read that we could have listed the best 100 and still not have scratched the surface.

1. “Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ”

2. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

3. “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”

4. “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

5. “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

6. “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

7. “Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.”

8. “Life is pure adventure, and the sooner we realize that, the quicker we will be able to treat life as art.”

9. “Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.”

10. “I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Monday, May 19, 2014

Mary Stewart Dead at 97

British novelist Mary Stewart, credited with creating the romantic suspense genre, died on May 9th at her home on the west coast of Scotland. She was 97.

Most popular in the 1960s through 1980s, Stewart is credited as one of the pioneers of the romantic suspense genre. Best known for her Merlin series, Stewart wrote more than 20 novels over her long career. From the New York Times:
“Mary Stewart sprinkled intelligence around like stardust,” the columnist Melanie Reid wrote in the Glasgow newspaper The Herald in 2004. “Every chapter was headed with a quote from Marvell or Shakespeare or Browning. The fineness of her mind shone through.”
Ms. Stewart was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1968, received the Frederick Niven Literary Award from the Scottish chapter of International PEN for “The Crystal Cave” and in 2006 was given a lifetime achievement award by the Scottish Parliament.


This Just In… Under My Skin by Orville Lloyd Douglas

Under My Skin asks a variety of questions, such as: Why are young black gay men invisible in Canada’s queer and black communities? Do their lives really matter? How do young black men deal with the daily challenges of dealing with multiple oppressions in relation to our race and gender? Is Canada truly a multicultural nation? Why are the brothers dying due to gun violence on the streets of Toronto?

Under My Skin is a raw and passionate exploration of desire, power and difference in the Canadian landscape. Douglas’ poetry is visceral and emotionally compelling. The work embodies a profound yearning for love, tenderness and ethical recognition.” -- Sheila L. Cavanagh, York University professor and author of Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality and the Hygienic Imagination.

You can order Under My Skin here. ◊


Patricia Highsmith: Art and Inspiration

With the recent film release of The Two Faces of January (no relation), yet another powerful vehicle of film comes to the screen based on the work of Patricia Highsmith.

The movie, starring Viggo Mortenson and Kirsten Dunst and directed by screenwriter Hossein Amini, is based on Highsmith’s 1964 thriller of the same name. The Two Face of January is not, of course, the first film to be based on Highsmith’s work. Alfred Hitchcock (Strangers on a Train), Wim Wenders (The American Friend), Claude Chabrol (The Cry of the Owl) and others have all adapted Highsmith’s work for the screen.

Other films inspired by Highsmith’s work are coming and there are many novelists who aim props in the author’s direction. As a result of all this art and inspiration, on The Guardian blog, associate media editor John Dugdale asks, “How did Highsmith become so hip?”
In cinema, the main factors seem to be a new awareness of the diversity of her work beyond the Ripley series, and the latterly acquired potential for period nostalgia – although her writing is spare, post-Hitchcock film adaptations have been visually gorgeous, juxtaposing nasty people with lovely backdrops, such as The Two Faces of January's 1960s Athens. For would-be female crime writers today, part of her appeal is that her protagonists are civilians, in contrast to other potential role models, from PD James and Ruth Rendell onwards, who staged a takeover of the police detective novel (although Rendell later developed a cop-free Highsmith-esque sideline as Barbara Vine). These are contemporary, urban characters, making them more "relatable", at least for grownups, than Du Maurier's heroines, who usually live either in the past or in rural mansions.
Today's proliferating psychological thrillers, however, tend to combine Highsmithian modern setups with Du Maurier's first-person narrative technique in Rebecca, a fusion probably pioneered by Nicci French in a bestselling series starting in the late 90s and now widely adopted as bookshops are inundated with tales of stalker nightmares, sociopathic ex-husbands or bosses and evil best friends.
You can see the full piece here.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Grammatical Gaffes in Public Places

In honor of the Bad Grammar Awards, The Guardian newspaper asked readers to send in “examples of grammatical gaffes by institutions or people who should know better.”

The selection they published indicates they had more than a few to choose from. One is published at left. The rest (and there are quite a lot of them) can be seen here.

Got one you'd like to share? We'd love to see it! Send it to or go ahead and pop it on our Facebook page.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

New in Paperback: Blue Plate Special by Kate Christensen

PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author, Kate Christensen, delivers a stirring ands sometimes heartbreaking read in Blue Plate Special (Anchor).

Ostensibly a memoir about “the transformative nature of food,” Christensen’s first work of non-fiction is so much more than that. Despite the addition of a decent helping of interesting recipes, Blue Plate Special delves deeply into the psyche of a brilliant and complicated author. Perhaps even more deeply than Christensen initially intended or planned.

Christensen deals with her father’s violence, her own abuse by a high school teacher and her subsequent sexual confusion that was the result. Though this material is so moving -- and brilliantly handled -- it’s difficult to see beyond it when you look back, there truly is so much more, much of it viewed through an interesting lens of food.

The author was born in 1962, and so we travel with her through the 1970s, 80s and beyond, indulging, experiencing and even weeping with her through glorious meals and all types of experience.

Christensen demonstrates that she is not only a writer with a great deal to say, she says it so beautifully we don’t want the journey to end, even when it’s difficult to watch.

A note: there was an elegant postscript to the book in Elle magazine earlier this year where the author shares the resolution to the story of her sexual abuse. It’s a resolution that occurred after and because of the publication of the book. If you’re wondering if Blue Plate Special is a book you’d like to read, that article will convince you. As always, Christensen is stunning. ◊

Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of several books.

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This Just In… Descent Into Darkness, Part 1: Victory Tower by Jarrett D. Smith

Welcome to Shadownia, a futuristic nation that opted to use newfound magic instead of technology. Once known as a utopia, it has been thrown into chaos since dictator Wolfgang Sanchos took the reigns of power. Follow renowned assassin Dimitri Dionus as he fights against Wolfgang's forces on his quest to save the nation:

In Descent Into Darkness, Part 1 Dimitri has only just finished a successful assassination, when a request from Amsolot Shadonus, a warrior long thought dead, sends him on a mission to rescue a fallen ally.

At first a task like any other, it soon becomes a personal mission when Wolfgang’s minions capture a close friend and confidant. Dimitri must venture to the Victory Tower, not only to complete his newest mission, but also to find answers about his friend’s whereabouts.

You can order Descent Into Darkness here. Visit author Jarrett D. Smith on the web here. ◊

This Just In... is a column that shares basic information on selected titles. Titles are included at the editor’s discretion and on a first come, first served basis or for a small fee. Want to see your new book included? Ordering details are here.


Friday, May 09, 2014

Non-Fiction: Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America by Kevin Cook

(Editor’s note: This review comes from New York writer Steven Nester, the host of Poets of the Tabloid Murder, a weekly Internet radio show heard on the Public Radio Exchange [PRX]. Nester is also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Rap Sheet, Mystery Scene and Firsts Magazine.)

For the last 50 years, the March 13, 1964, rape and murder of bar manager Kitty Genovese outside her Kew Gardens, Queens, apartment was as durable and persistent an urban legend as they come. The young woman’s grisly death -- witnessed by 38 of her neighbors, who turned a deaf ear to her screams as her killer took more than 30 minutes to dispatch her, as The New York Times belatedly averred -- resounded in the world of social science, and focused scrutiny on the perceived callousness of inner-city culture.

Kevin Cook’s new book, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America (Norton), reveals that while some of the facts of the case are indisputable, most of them aren’t. Much of the myth-building was the result of yellow journalism. Pundits blamed the lack of response to this woman’s brutal slaying on urban alienation, and called it a kind of irresponsible complacency on the part of a stressed and apathetic public that was becoming overwhelmed by political assassination, the Vietnam War, race relations and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Now, after half a century, Cook has come along as a myth-buster to set the record straight.

It could be said that the murder of 28-year-old Kitty Genovese was more the product of a typewriter than a knife. Barely mentioned at first in the New York dailies, Kitty Genovese was dead and buried for a fortnight by the time the Times’ newly promoted metropolitan editor, Abe Rosenthal, heard the story from his city’s recently appointed police commissioner, Michael Murphy. Murphy related some specious information about the tragedy, that it had been witnessed by 38 neighbors who had chosen to do nothing. The ambitious Rosenthal, who knew good copy when he saw it, sent a reporter to Kew Gardens to flesh out the story. The Times ran its piece on the front page; and while it was riddled with errors, it was accepted as the truth.

Cook reports differently.

As he explains, it took killer Winston Moseley, then a 29-year-old machine operator, a full half-hour to do away with Kitty Genovese. While many people heard her desperate cries for help, most of them thought some kind of domestic dispute was in progress, and ignored it. Moseley actually left the scene once to move his car in order to avoid detection, after a neighbor yelled for the attack to stop. He returned to find that Kitty had staggered to her apartment entrance. He then attempted to rape her. There were no 38 witnesses, as the Times reported. There was only one indisputable eyewitness, a craven alcoholic who opened his door and looked down to witness the rape in progress. This is a far cry from the Times’ assertion that it took a village to commit a murder.

Cook goes to great pains and uses much detail to describe a nation undergoing change, and not for the better. He’s equally meticulous in setting the scene of Kew Gardens, which -- though only minutes away from Times Square and the center of the universe -- is at heart a small American town with neighbors who know each other, leave their doors unlocked and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. It was the type of place where people looked out for each other. But then the snake entered the garden and, in a way, the homicide became a teachable moment for the nation, one that persists to this day.

The tale of 38 witnesses persisted, too, even among responsible scientists. Using this false premise, socials scientists devised the “Genovese syndrome,” also known as the “bystander syndrome,” a condition wherein the larger the number of witnesses present at a crime, the fewer the chances that anyone will intervene. Personal culpability, in effect, is diluted in a crowd.

Everyone knows how Kitty Genovese was slain, but few know how she died. The implication of all accounts is that Winston Moseley left her to bleed to death and that she perished alone. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The police were called and responded, and Kitty died in the arms of a neighbor who attempted to keep her alive until help could arrive. Kitty Genovese, who suffered horribly in the hands of Winston Moseley, was not handled very gently by The New York Times, either. ◊

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

New Yesterday: The Unwitting by Ellen Feldman

Guggenheim Fellow, Ellen Feldman, wows us with her fifth novel, The Unwitting (Spiegel & Grau).

Set against the tumultuous backdrop of the Cold War as it was experienced in the United States, we join young magazine writer Nell Benjamin on November 22, 1963, as she gets some distressing news. Yes: it is the day President Kennedy was shot, and that’s distressing enough. But what Nell learns impacts her on a much more personal level. Her husband, the hotshot editor of a literary magazine and a man she thought she knew thoroughly, has betrayed her in a very complete way, and not with another woman.

There is a lot going on in The Unwitting. In some ways it is a stylish portrait of love and marriage. In another it reveals an America in the throes of horrible change, still dealing with the fallout of the McCarthy era and preparing to take its place on the international Cold War stage.

The Unwitting is unexpected. Compelling enough to take its place with the best of crime fiction, Feldman’s language is loving, bright and sharp while her storytelling abilities are unquestionable here. The Unwitting cuts us into an interesting time, then ramps things up.

Feldman’s novel, Scottsboro, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Feldman is clearly a writer who is going places, The Unwitting brings that home: it’s a terrific book. ◊

Sienna Powers is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Killing Darlings: Authors Who Wished Books Away

Though authors are often encouraged to kill their darlings, there are times when even those responsible for the work want nothing to do with it. io9 pulls out some terrific examples in “10 Great Authors Who Disowned Their Own Books,” which more or less amounts to the same thing.

Many of these will surprise you as will some of the reasoning behind each author’s desire to wish the book gone. For instance, Ian Fleming tried to delegate James Bond to a more minor role in The Spy Who Loved Me. According to io9 “Fleming said he wanted to make Bond’s misogyny apparent after being shocked to discover that his Bond novels were being taught in schools. This ‘experiment,’ Fleming wrote to his publisher after the book received overwhelmingly negative reviews, had ‘obviously gone very much awry,’ and Fleming attempted to keep the book out of print.”

Those who know much about Franz Kafka won’t be surprised to learn that the writer basically hated almost everything he’d done and would have seen it destroyed.
When, a few years before his death, Kafka asked his good friend Max Brod to destroy all his papers, besides the few short works with which Kafka was satisfied, Brod responded, "If you seriously think me capable of such a thing, let me tell you here and now that I shall not carry out your wishes." Nevertheless, when Kafka died he left Brod a letter asking him to destroy his fiction, diaries, and correspondence. Brod remained true to his word: he proceeded to publish everything he could get his hands on.
Other authors whose works are looked at include Octavia Butler, Jeanette Winterson, Anthony Burgess, Martin Amis, Stephen King and others. The piece is here.


Sunday, May 04, 2014

Patrick Stewart Will Return to Television

Although we’ll probably never stop remembering him best as Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Patrick Stewart has been many people since the last TNG film, Star Trek: Nemesis, in 2002.

Most recently, Stewart has been starring with Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot and No Man’s Land on Broadway. And, of course, he played Charles Xavier in a whole slew of X-Men movies, while American Dad! fans have been digging him deeply as police academy chief Avery Bullock.

Fans will be pleased to note that the STARZ network has just given the order for the first two seasons of Blunt Talk. Stewart will star and co-produce. From
Blunt Talk, set to debut in 2015, will center on Walter Blunt (Stewart), a British import intent on conquering the world of American cable news. Via his nightly L.A.-based interview show, Blunt aims to share his wisdom and guidance as to how Americans should live, think and behave. Meanwhile, he has only his alcoholic manservant, who came over with him from the U.K., to help him contend with a dysfunctional news staff, numerous ex-wives and children of all ages. Each episode, according to a STARZ press release, will follow the fallout from Blunt’s well-intentioned, but mostly misguided decision-making, both on and off the air. 

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Canadian Children’s Book Week: Read to Remember

Children’s Book Week in Canada commences today, May 3, and runs until the 10th. Authors, illustrators and storytellers across the country will visit schools, libraries, bookstores and community centres in every province and territory.

The theme of the 2014 Canadian Children’s Book Week is “Read to Remember.” It  is meant to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I. “Books can help us to remember WWI, WWII and subsequent wars, books can help us to honour those involved and books can help us to recognize that wars are still happening in other parts of the world today. Our theme guide will focus on books that explore WWI, WWII and subsequent wars Canada has been involved in.”

Read more about Canadian Children’s Book Week and how you can take part in it here.

HarperCollins Romancing Harlequin

Though regulatory approval is still pending, it looks like Toronto’s Torstar will sell the Harlequin division it has owned for 39 years to HarperCollins for $455 million. From the Victoria Times Colonist:
After nearly four decades of romance, Torstar Corp. and book publisher Harlequin are breaking up.
The owner of the Toronto Star newspaper and other publications announced Friday that it is selling its romance novel division, Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., to global media company News Corp. for $455 million in cash. 
"We think we did the right thing in exiting," David Holland, president and CEO of Torstar, said during a conference call to discuss the sale. 
Torstar (TSX:TS.B) said the deal will see Harlequin stay headquartered in Toronto and run as a division of HarperCollins Publishers, also owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. 
"While making the decision to sell was difficult, we are confident that this transaction represents excellent value for Torstar shareholders and importantly further strengthens Torstar's financial position and capital base as we continue in our evolution as a company," Holland told financial analysts. 
Shareholders welcomed the news, as Torstar's stock shot up 22 per cent, or $1.47, to close at $8.15 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Its previous 52-week high was $6.95.
See the full piece here while Quill & Quire chimes in here while the Globe & Mail adds their voice here.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Peter Brown Wins 2014 Bull-Bransom Award

Author and artist Peter Brown has won the 2014 Bull-Bransom Award for his illustrations for Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (Little Brown), which he also wrote.

The panel of judges called the book “an exceptional tribute to the wild and rambunctious energy in all children” praising the way the book “plays around with the idea of ‘wildlife’ in very visual ways.”

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is the story of an anthropomorphic tiger who grows bored with his very proper town life and decides to get in touch with his wild side. Brown said that this is “perhaps my most autobiographical book to date. I was fortunate enough to grow up with easy access to streams and forests and fields and the animals that inhabited those places. But in today’s world, fewer and fewer children have access to the natural world, and therefore, are less likely to feel connected to it. And so I try to tell stories that will pique every child's curiosity and appreciation for nature,” says Brown, who adds that he’s “thrilled and honored” to receive the Bull-Bransom Award and “have my book recognized by such a prestigious institution.”

The National Museum of Wildlife Art named the award for Charles Livingston Bull and Paul Bransom, among the first American artist-illustrators to specialize in wildlife subjects. The winner is presented with a medal and $5,000 cash award.

Also nominated:
  • Cheer Up, Mouse! by Jed Henry (Houghton Mifflin)
  • FROG SONG by Brenda Guiberson (Henry Holt)
  • if you want to see a whale by Julie Fogliano (Roaring Brook Press)
  • I’m the Scariest Thing in the Jungle by David G. Derrick, Jr. (Immedium)


Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Future of the Comma

Is the comma yesterday’s news? In a recent article in Slate, Matthew J.X. Malady comes up with a resounding “Maybe.”
There’s no denying that commas are helpful little flecks of punctuation. They allow us to separate written clauses and do good work when especially numerous or complicated groups of things exist in a single sentence. But do we really need them?
In The Huffington Post, though, Maddie Crum begs to differ. Strongly:
It should go without saying (but puzzlingly doesn't) that language can be made better by including more than what's necessary. There's been a recent push for simplifying language -- the maddening Hemingway app suggests the removal of adverbs, and Spritz, an irritating new speed reading app, flashes words and short phrases on a screen for quick ingestion. But when we use lowest common denominator language, we disallow more complicated thoughts.
It’s a terrific, thoughtful piece, and it’s here.