Friday, November 4, 2011

Kids Books This Holiday--A Tip ( A Warning, Really)

Last weekend I went on an errand for the big guy in the red suit who lives at the North Pole--trying to get a jump on things. It was a book errand, the best kind.

If you are a book person, especially if you are a parent of young book lovers, here is a tip. The tip is mainly to help you keep from making yourself nuts as the big gift-giving event gets closer.

Three books are already looking to be in the lead for titles that kids will be asking for this Christmas. I learned this last weekend, with nearly ten weeks to go. I mention all of this as a public service to parents. All three of these titles are now showing as "back-ordered". This is a book industry term that essentially means that the book's publishers are having a really tough time meeting demand for the books...and in this case, the demand hasn't really heated up yet. You can still find them right now.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (2007). I want to thank my daughter's third grade teacher for recommending this one to me. The book won the 2008 Caldecott Medal. Also, come Thanksgiving, Martin Scorsese's film adaptation (I 've watched the trailer five times already) hits the big screen. Don't think that the book will be easy to find after that. I started reading this book while waiting to have a leaky tire checked out at the car shop. When the guy told me that the tire was okay, I asked him to go back and check the other three. There was nothing wrong with them, I was just really into the story and wanted to keep reading for a bit longer.

The Chronicles of Harris Burdick--14 Amazing Authors Tell the Tells by Chris Van Allsburg. Allsburg is also a Caldecott winner, and author of Jumanji, Zathura, and The Polar Express, among others. The book has an introduction by Lemony Snicket, and includes stories by authors such as Sherman Alexie, Stephen King and Lois Lowry. The book just came out in September. It will go fast. I know for a fact that, as of last weekend, Avid Bookstore in Athens, Georgia had a big stack. Avid is on Prince Avenue, just a block down from The Grit Restaurant. Make an afternoon of it.

Finally, The Legos Idea Book, from DK. It just came out in September. If you or your kids are Lego fanatics, you know what I mean. I know for an absolute fact, that two Christmases ago, I purchased the very last available copy of The Lego Star Wars Visual Dictionary to be found in North Georgia. Come Christmas morning, though, it was worth every mile I drove to find it. And how many toys, books, etc. does a six-year-old use continuosly for two years? And still looks at it regularly.

Enjoy your holidays this year. Don't make yourself crazy. Go get them now. You can read them before the kids. Also, please, no spoilers.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

The National Book Foundation, Lauren Myracle, and Book People in General

Anyone who keeps up with the book world, and especially with young adult books, recalls the enormous media hubbub last month surrounding the nomination--and then, un-nomination--of author Lauren Myracle's book, Shine for the National Book Award. I don't have anything new to add to that story. Ms. Myracle was the absolute picture of grace and class in her response to the whole mess. And the National Book Foundation, who decides the nominees and winners of the award, were justifiably raked over the coals by pretty much every media outlet and book industry publication currently in existence on Earth.

People were pretty angry about the whole thing. My own thinking is that the response had a lot to do with people's general frustration with institutions that seem to feel that "they" know what's best for everybody else, that do as they please no matter how badly they treat people, and etc. People are grumpy, generally speaking, and something like this can really set them off.

Me, for example. I sent a really ornery email to the general email address of the National Book Foundation, telling them that they all ought to take a hike, more or less. I told them that "they" were the reason that there was so much ill will toward New York and its snottiness regarding the book world. Or something along those lines.

In any event, I vented, and felt a little better. Although, again, I sent the email to the organization's general email address. I am no one of any importance, and I certainly didn't expect any kind of response from this bunch of superior know-it-alls.

So, a couple of days later I get an email from the National Book Foundation. The email isn't a form letter. And it's not simply a "Reply" to my email.

Here's the text in full.

"Dear Mr. Suttles,

Thank you for your note. When this mistake occurred, we had good intentions in trying to develop a solution that would benefit everyone concerned but in implementing it, I only made matters worse. We didn't intend to hurt anyone, and I have apologized to Lauren and I apologize to you. Please don't let one unfortunate mistake on our part sour you on an entire organization. We also do good things, and try our best. We made a mistake.


Harold Augenbraum
Executive Director
National Book Foundation"

The Executive Director sent me a response. Imagine sending an email complaint to a large company or, God forbid, an elected official. If you're lucky, you may get a form letter response six months later from the company. Any response from an elected official is likely to be written by an unpaid intern. Also, try to imagine a corporate CEO or elected official coming right out and saying that he or she made a mistake, AND the he or she actually made things worse in trying to correct that mistake. It isn't likely.

As a book person, I'm still sore at the NBF for their goof. Still, in these times when public figures will fight to the death to keep from admitting a mistake of any kind, it's good to see the book people at the NBF stepping up to the plate and at least having the courage to admit that they made an error.

Book People.

Lauren Myracle is a New York Times Bestselling author of numerous young adult titles. She is also the sister of Atlanta author Susan Rebecca White, whose books are well worth a look.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Been A While

The difficult thing about having a blog (or any other social media account) and staying away for a while is that when you return there are all kinds of unfamiliar updates, features, etc. Plus, you have to look around and find where you wrote your password down because you have forgotten it. Don't we have too many numbers, passwords, etc. to remember?

The summer book season is upon us. The spring season for Georgia authors was tremendous!

Anyone care to comment about the complete upending of the book industry during the past six months as a result of ebooks finally finding some real traction, Borders' woes, and the recent bidding war for B&N?

The fishing season is here. I'm looking forward to reading John Geirach's new title, 'No Shortage of Good Days', on the subject.

It's summer in Georgia, so water will be on everyone's minds here, too.

Tomorrow is June 2, speaking of fishing. You all know what that means.

Planning on spending this book and water-filled summer with two budding bibliophiles and merpeople. And with trucks.

First field-trip of the summer: the library. And by request, too. That makes me a lucky dad. The first fishing trip (this past Memorial Day) was a bit too hot, and yielded only a handful of small bream. But, again, the fish aren't always the main reason for going fishing, anyway.

Star Wars and Fart Powder are the topics at the moment. And a rural Georgia farm boy named George Washington Perry.