Writing/Publishing Bits and Bobs

Listen:Quirky Australian author Markus Zusak is interviewed on NPR about his newest novel, The Book Thief. Death narrates the story of a young girl, Liesel Meminger, who steals books in her working class town in Germany and tries to rebuild a world that Hitler’s rhetoric in World War II steals away. Some people are surprised that such a darkly haunting book is marketed to YA readers, but Zusak says he feels that writers all too often underestimate YAers, and that if we give them something to step up to, they’ll surprise us every time.
Ours is a strange world indeed, wherein the world of entertainment goes hand in hand with our …coffee? Yeah, Starbucks, that mecca of, um, dubious taste, is in the movie business. Because children and young adults simply do not have enough marketing shoved down their throats, the chain coffee store is joining the fray and aggressively promoting their spelling bee movie Akeela & the Bee. On the up side, millions of coffee drinkers will be expanding their vocabularies and their spelling skills, according to the company, by learning to spell and define such words as pulchritude and prestidigitation. On the down side, well… it’s still Starbucks.

Coming soon to a theater near you!The Penguin Young Readers Group has just made a lucrative contract with Walden Media LLC. (Walden Media was the company which put The Chronicles of Narnia together with Disney, which was the top grossing domestic film release of the 2005 holiday season.) This deal is intended to get more children’s books to theater, television and to enable older books to be mined for stories suitable for ‘family’ type films. Should be an interesting venture, and hopefully beneficial to writers.
Bet you didn’t know that Communists are to be both unseen and unheard, even outside the U.S.! A Dade County (Florida) school district is yanking books that show Cuban children in Communist youth club uniforms from the library shelves of 33 schools. The book, entitled Vamos a Cuba (A Visit to Cuba) is deemed as offensive… of course, the fact that Cuba itself is a communist country seems to have escaped the notice of those who are offended…
Religious publishing just went really mainstream. Massive publishing conglomerate Penguin Group USA, Inc. (which includes numerous imprints) has just launched Penguin Praise in an effort to capitalize on the trend of blockbuster religious books, movies and music. High on their list of new authors are Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, whose fictional Left Behind series sold a baffling 62 million copies. A first book of LaHaye and Jenkins’ new series will be available in November 2006 from Putnum/Praise, and you can look it up and find out all the buzz about it yourself, if you’re interested. Now, what I’m wondering is how this will mix and meld with the Walden deal. Hmmm…

Anybody who grew up loving the work and busy worlds of Richard Scarry might get a smile out of the fact that, before his death in 1994, he got… a little PC. Check out the differences between his very first book in 1963, and the 1991 update.

And finally, the SCBWI is making some changes to its Golden Kite Awards, to be announced on April 15th. They promise that the award will be increased in visibility and will “rock the publishing world.” We await the reverberations.

2 Replies to “Writing/Publishing Bits and Bobs”

  1. I know! And though I guess that Goodnight Moon thing might’ve been good, some of the changes that Richard Scarry made left me a little confused. Apparently he was really pretty hounded by all kinds of feminist groups to add more “girl” animals. I guess just slapping a bow on a pig made all the difference to some people!

  2. That Richard Scarry link is amazing. I wonder why I never heard about this before. It’s just like when they took the cigarette out of the illustrator’s hand recently for Goodnight Moon.

    – Jay

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