Be Thankful, Day 1

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Thanksgiving is just ahead for all of us Canadians, and while many of us are thinking about pumpkin pie and turkey dinners that will burst all our zippers, I’m hoping to take a few days to help put you in the “Be Thankful” mode. It doesn’t just include the person making the big meal, or the people coming to your home for the long weekend. Why not say thank you to a few different people?

Today, we should say thank you to the authors who write the books we love. They spend long months or years toiling away on the stories that stay in our hearts, make us laugh or make us weep, and yet, after we finish a book, we rarely think about the person who created the world we immersed ourselves in for that short time. Most authors out there have Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, websites and even Instagram accounts where you can stop by and say thanks. Maybe you’ll post a photo of yourself reading that amazing book they just wrote. (Don’t forget to tag them in the photo!) Or maybe you have time to send off a quick email to say how much their work means to you.  Whatever you do, today is the day.

Take a few minutes to thank an author!

Published in: on October 7, 2014 at 3:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Paying it Forward

Author Eleanor Catton, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2013 for THE LUMINARIES, announced recently while accepting a prize for the New Zealand Post, that she intends to establish a grant that will award writers $3000  to provide “time to read”. 

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There will be no strings attached, except that the author will have to write a short non-fiction article to be published at the end of the three-month period, stating what they read and what they learned from each book. She hopes it will help others understand the need for authors to have time to read, as well as to write, simply because a well-read author will write stronger works as a result.

Published in: on September 4, 2014 at 3:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Yay to Jon Klassen!

The first time I ever read Jon Klassen’s THIS IS NOT MY HAT, I knew I that to read it for storytime. The story made me laugh, the simple illustrations were delightful, and the theme was perfect.  If the kids didn’t like this, they were going to be a tough audience.

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And then I read it to my group.  I chuckled to myself as they talked about the silly hat on the fish. They giggled about the bigger fish chasing the little one, and thought it was pretty funny that the little fish thought he was soooooo clever.  I couldn’t wait for the big reveal at the end. (Don’t worry…..no spoilers here!).  When I turned the page, expecting everyone to laugh………the kids weren’t really sure what happened, although the parents were!  We had lots of discussion as to possible reasons for the ending….none of which even touched on the REAL idea.  I was shocked!  But it was okay.  The kids used their imaginations, and came up with something that was acceptable to them.  It was great!  They surprised ME.

Now, THIS IS NOT MY HAT is one of the books on our Forest of Reading® Blue Spruce™ list, and the kids aren’t saying much. I wonder if they’ll choose this book as their favourite. I know I would.  We’ll have to have a discussion about it on the voting night. It’ll be interesting to hear from older kids.  Maybe 5 year olds just aren’t as sophisticated yet.

The really great thing is that Jon Klassen and his witty humour are really taking center stage. It seems that this book, along with I WANT MY HAT BACK, have together sold one million copies worldwide. That includes translations. Isn’t it amazing? Picture books don’t usually achieve such great heights, so I’m thrilled for this author. He deserves it.

Congratulations!

 

 

Published in: on April 23, 2014 at 3:32 am  Leave a Comment  
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What Happens When They Die?

Recently, I had a chat with a patron about an author who had died…but was still producing books. After looking for a book by Robert Ludlum on the shelves, I realized the book he was looking for was actually written by another author, but carried on the legacy of the original author’s books. This, of course, confused the patron to no end. First, he didn’t know the Ludlum had died, and second, he had no idea why someone else would be writing his books.  Yes, it can be confusing.

In this case, Robert Ludlum was a prolific author of the action packed Bourne Series, along with many others. When he passed away in 2001, he left a huge following, and the publishers were reluctant to leave them hanging. In comes several other authors who picked up the series and have been writing ever since in the style of Ludlum’s originals.  If you drop by Ludlum’s website, it’s interesting to note that there are current entries, updated regularly. Playlists inspired by the series, old interviews and movie trailers, and lots of input from fans. It’s as though Mr. Ludlum is still around and writing.  Amazing!

The wife of author Robert B. Parker recently had this terrible decision to make when he passed away: to let his famous detective Spenser continue on using other writers, or to let him go as well. After much discussion with Parker’s publishing house, they decided to carry on and let Spenser remain. Parker’s latest book WONDERLAND was released earlier this year and will probably become as popular as all of his others. It seems that people don’t mind when another author takes over, as long as the writing remains familiar. There’s a great article here about Parker’s “afterlife”.

There are other authors who have passed away but hadn’t published everything in their catalog yet, such as Michael Crichton. Many times, the publishers will have someone edit the drafts and publish as though the author were still alive, all profits going to the author’s family/spouse/charity of choice etc.  It’s a great way for a company to keep earning off a big author, and a way for fans to feel like they haven’t missed out.

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This can be wildly debated, however, as we saw in the case of the untimely death of Stieg Larsson and his GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO series. Larsson didn’t leave a will, and was not married to his partner of 32 years, so according to Swedish law, Larsson’s estate was inherited by his father and brother. His common-law partner still has the uncompleted 4th book in the series on a laptop that she has refused to give up, and will only do so if the law allows her full rights to manage the series.  It doesn’t look like this is going to happen any time soon, and so the world will have to wait.

How the new authors are accepted is anyone’s guess. While they are probably hired to continue on in the same style as the author they’re taking over for, I’m sure their own style also appears. Hopefully, readers accept it right away and are just happy the series will continue. Often, I think, readers don’t even notice the change, especially if they aren’t keeping up with the news or looking at an author’s website. That seems to be the case we see most often here. As long as the books keep coming out, people are happy.

Do you follow a series written by an author who has passed away? What are your thoughts on the new authors?

Who Makes the Most?

This week, Forbes Magazine announced the top ten earning authors of 2013. Really, there weren’t too many surprises, from authors who’ve been on the list for ages, and a few newer (although extremely popular) ones. There are books about wimpy kids, books that were too steamy for many, books about a quirky historical researcher and books with an extremely funny detective.

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As Forbes points out, many of these authors publish multiple books each year…as in four or five!  It’s a HUGE number, but it certainly contributes to their overall earnings. The other main factor is that these authors write very commercial books (aside from E.L. James, although one could argue her books have made the genre popular).

So which authors made the the Top Five?

1. E.L. James at $95 million

2. James Patterson at $91 million

3. Suzanne Collins at $55 million

4.  Bill O’Reilly at $28 million

5.  Danielle Steel at $26 million

For the entire list, click on one of the book covers in the photo above.  It’s fascinating!

Published in: on August 20, 2013 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  
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Diversity (or lack of) in Children’s Books

Recently, I was talking with a friend about cultural references in books. Specifically, I was commenting on loving an aspect to a book that related to a certain culture and the references (and lack of references) that were used in the book. The story was great, but I also wanted to know more about the cultural differences, and how it made those characters unique  compared to other books. it got me really thinking about the lack of cultural diversity in children’s books and why there aren’t more authors who write about their heritage through their novels.

I live in a community which is not culturally rich, compared to many other locations.  So, I know when I’m choosing books to add to our collection, I do think about who the audience might be and choose accordingly. Buying tons of books about a remote group of people in say, Iceland, might not go over too well, no matter how interesting the books are.  We just might not have a lot of people who would take the books out, even if they are brilliantly written and captivating stories.  It’s difficult to promote every fantastic children’s book we own, and I have to tailor my budget accordingly.

That’s not a great excuse, I know, but it’s what I have to work with on a daily basis. It did, however, get me thinking about how authors who are not Caucasian feel about adding cultural references to their books, and also how accepted they are in comparison to other authors or books. So, when I came across this enlightening article by Young Adult author, Ellen Oh, who is of Korean descent, I had to share it.  She does some wonderful infographics to show the differences in ethnicities in children’s books which will probably not shock you, but should be some sort of wake-up call to publishers and authors alike.

Oh originally thought that people of colour had been well represented in children’s literature, due to the strong advocacy of librarians and teachers looking for diversity.  She was wrong.

“The percentage of books by and about people of color has hovered around 10% for nearly 20 years. When I first saw this graphic, I was absolutely stunned. I had no idea how little had changed.”

She’s talking about this infographic from Lee & Low Books. 

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(Read their blog. It’s got wonderful suggestions for books with TONS of cultural diversity.  Amazing.  I didn’t even know a lot of these books existed, but I’ll certainly be checking out many of the titles.)

Oh is specifically concerned with YA books now, as that is what she writes. After asking a librarian if she thought there were enough culturally diverse books on the shelves, the librarian thought there were, but “you just have to know how to look for them.”  Oh sees this as part of the problem.  As a librarian, this is really the same problem I think we have trying to promote ANY books in the library.  We’re probably not going to have shelves just for books about Pirates, or teens who want tattoos, or books with a male main character (although maybe some libraries do, I can’t speak for us all), so to separate and promote books that have culturally diverse settings or characters might not be easy either. I think we try to do our best.  If we hear or read about a great book, we promote it; it doesn’t matter what it’s about or where the characters live.  I’d love to see more books about different people, because that’s what makes up our lives in the real world.  We should definitely see that in the book world, too.

Authors, take note.  Get out there and don’t be afraid to write fabulous books. Don’t be afraid to use your cultural backgrounds in the books.  If the books are great, it won’t matter to the reader, and might bring along more readers who can’t wait to read the next book, and so on.

Do you think there is enough diversity in children’s books?

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