Friday, May 31, 2013

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Coming to London West End!

Look what's coming to the London stage!

Have a look at the trailer teaser at the bottom of the post.

Get ready to sing with Oompa Loompas, fight for golden tickets, and eat a lot of chocolate! A musical adaptation of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory is currently playing preview shows in London.

Award-winning actor Douglas Hodge stars as the genius, eccentric, confectioner Willy Wonka. The play officially opens on June 25, 2013. We’ve embedded the show’s trailer above–what do you think? Here’s more from the UK production’s official site:
Roald Dahl‘s deliciously dark tale of young Charlie Bucket and the mysterious confectioner Willy Wonka comes to life in a brand new West End musical directed by Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes…the wonder of the original story that has captivated the world for almost 50 years is brought to life with music by Marc Shaiman, and lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (Grammy® winners for Hairspray; Smash), a book by award-winning playwright and adaptor David Greig (The Bacchae; Tintin In Tibet.
If you're in London after June 25 and have the opportunity, see it!  There is nothing like a blockbuster west end production.  They do it so well!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Newly Discovered Pearl S. Buck Novel to be Published

A 40-year-old unpublished Pearl S. Buck manuscript was recently discovered in storage.  The people who found the book sent it back to the Buck family, and now the world will enjoy it. Open Road Integrated Media and InkWell Management will team up to publish the book.

Pearl S. Buck
The Eternal Wonder will be published on October 22, bringing the Pulitzer & Nobel Prize-winning author’s newly discovered work as a digital book and paperback. Open Road already publishes 28 backlist books by Buck, including The Big Wave and The Good Earth. Here’s more about the book, from the release:
The Eternal Wonder  is a personal and passionate fictional exploration of the themes that meant so much to Buck in her life. It tells the coming-of-age story of Randolph Colfax, an extraordinarily gifted young man whose search for meaning and purpose leads him to New York, England, Paris, a mission patrolling the demilitarized zone in Korea that will change his life forever—and, ultimately, to love.
Buck’s son Edgar S. Walsh, who is also in charge of her literary estate, said her family is baffled as to how the manuscript made its way to Texas.
“After my mother died in Vermont, her personal possessions were not carefully controlled,” he told the New York Times. “The family didn’t have access. Various things were stolen. Somebody in Vermont ran off with this thing, and it eventually ended up in Texas.”

 So who was this woman?  Alas, not much is known today about her, only her name in a rather oblique way.  Let me say a bit about her.  Pearl S. Buck  was born Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker on June 26, 1892, in Hillsboro, West Virginia. Her parents, both Presbyterian missionaries, decided to go back to the Chinese village of Chinkiang with 5-month-old Pearl in tow.  She lived there for 20 years before returning to the US permanently.  “The Good Earth” was published in 1931.

She was the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, securing the award in 1938. In addition, her novel “The Good Earth” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1938.  She died in 1973. An amazing force in American Letters, Pearl S. Buck was a role model for so many people on so many levels.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

J.K. Rowling Sets Record with Sale of Harry Potter First Edition--All for Charity

For fans of the boy wizard, this could be the most coveted copy of all the Harry Potter books in the world.

This first edition copy of <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone</i>, with scribbles from the author, sold at auction.A first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone that contains author JK Rowling's notes and 22 original illustrations fetched STG150,000 ($A234,815) at a London auction recently. - a new record for a printed book by the author.

Sotheby's said the work, offered as part of a charity book sale jointly organized with the English PEN writers' association, was sold to an anonymous bidder by telephone.  Two bidders ratcheted up the price for the book before the hammer finally came down, triggering a round of applause at the Sotheby's auction house.
Rowling wrote many personal annotations, including editorial decisions, comments on the process of writing and a note on how she came to create the game of Quidditch.  She also drew about two dozen illustrations in the copy, including a sleeping baby Harry on a door step and an Albus Dumbledore Chocolate Frog card.

As part of the fundraising event, Rowling and dozens of other best-selling author were asked to "scribble second thoughts, marginalia or drawings" on a first-edition copy of one of their books. 

J.K. Rrowling
A copy of Roald Dahl's best-selling children's book Matilda containing new drawings by illustrator Quentin Blake fetched STG30,000 pounds, while an annotated copy of Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed novel The Remains of the Day was sold for STG18,000 pounds.  Other participating authors in the charity sale included Ian McEwan, Seamus Heaney, Lionel Shriver and Yann Martel.

In all, the sale raised a total of STG439,200 pounds.  Certainly a good day in the charity business!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beware of the White's Journey to Publication by Kai Strand

I am so delighted to have as my guest today, Kai Strand, a friend, colleague and fellow author at Guardian Angel Publishing.  Welcome, Kai.  I know the readers will enjoy your post!

At the beginning of my tour – on Mayra Calvani’s blog  – I explained the inspiration behind BEWARE OF THE WHITE. But that was only a small part of the story. This book has taken a long and arduous NINE years to make it to publication. Here’s why.

BotW was the first novel I wrote. The inspiration and the story flowed out quickly, but most unfortunately not very cleanly! The first draft of the book topped out over 85K words! After some research I learned that first time authors don’t have a lot of luck selling middle grade works with such high word counts. Every single one of those words was a masterpiece in and of itself, but alas, I had to cut. And cut. And cut.

After I thought I’d whittled and tweaked enough, I started querying. And querying. And querying. Nothing. This was back in the day when I had to print the cover letter and first chapter or ten pages or whatever the publisher or agent requested and physically mail it and then wait. And wait. And wait. I submitted to agents first, but didn’t see any interest and then I submitted direct to publishers and was encouraged by at least some positive feedback and the occasional request for more. However, I didn’t find any takers and eventually I tucked the manuscript in for a long rest.

A really long rest, actually. Years long rest. The interesting thing is, as I toured my other books, hosts often asked about my other works-in-progress and I often bragged about this book. I loved this adventure and knew that I needed to wake it up and rework it. And you know what? This time around, after having written more books and after having gone through the editing process with a couple publishers, I came at it with a more experienced eye and I could see what wasn’t quite working. So I worked really hard on a very major rewrite.

By this point, I had developed a dramatic love/hate relationship with the story. As much as I loved the story, I hated the amount of work it was. The rework was probably the hardest I’ve ever worked as a writer and I was feeling like a big hater, but I had a publisher in mind and that helped to keep me focused. After I finished with the extensive edits, I read the book out loud to the kids and when I finished reading, I was back in love. Thank goodness. So with a big deep breath and while blowing kisses I hit the send button on my submission. THREE days later I got an email of acceptance.

You know those stories of ‘overnight sensation’? That’s what it felt like. After all those years and all that hard work, it felt like it happened overnight. At that point, I was truly in love with my story.

If you’d like to know how my relationship with my book faired through edits, be sure to join me when I visit the Pen & Ink blog on June 3rd My complete tour schedule can be found here.


As is tradition, Terra learns on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday that she is a Natures Spirit. It is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe…that part breaks tradition.

The Trepidus are the death janitors of the Underworld, responsible for delivering fatalities with a smile and cleaning up after themselves until Blanco, recent leader of the Trepidus, decides the day of reckoning for his species is coming. He begins organizing the creatures and leads them toward an uprising. The prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.

With Spirit of Security, Frank, protecting her, Terra attempts to complete her training and discover her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation to learn how to defeat Blanco. In the end, it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord is at stake. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new Spirit earn back the peace of the city?


As if the big book related prize packages giveaway wasn’t enough, I’m going to choose one lucky reader to win this beautiful bookmark made by my amazing friends at Broken Top Digitizing & Stitching. Just leave a comment telling Nancy and me the hardest work you’ve ever done (physical, mental, boring, exciting – there are no wrong answers here) and include your email address. I’ll choose one random name from comments left BEFORE May 25.

About the author:

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.  Beware of the White may be purchased at:

Or look for it on iTunes

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Kids’ Books Help Define Toronto

Seeing Canadians portrayed in books and art helps us understand who they are and why their homeland is important. where and how they live and why these places matter.

The launch for In Lucia's Neighbourhood is at Type Books, 883 Queen St. W., Friday between 6 and 8 p.m.

Two fresh books, In Lucia’s Neighbourhood and ABC of Toronto, are to be released soon.
The former, written by Pat Shewchuk and Marek Colek, and based on their animated film Montrose Avenue, is being launched Friday May 10 at Type Books on Queen St. W.
Who let them in? Two teddy bears and a squirrel inspecting remains at the Royal Ontario Museum.
 It is about a 7-year-old girl, Lucia, who shows readers through her neighborhood in West-end Toronto. The story begins with a quote from urban thinker Jane Jacobs and features scenes that symbolize life in the old city of Toronto, where leafy residential streets lead to main avenues with streetcars rolling along them. It’s very much the Toronto version of Sesame Street.
A moose and a beaver sail across the  skyline.The second book, ABC of Toronto is also from Kids Can Press, which will mark 40 years of publishing with a party at Harbourfront Centre May 16.  ABC of Toronto is an A to Z exploration of the city by Kingston author Per-Henrik Gürth, with a cast of anthropomorphized woodland creatures hanging out at various Toronto destinations.
Visuals in an image from In Lucia’s Neighbourhood — red rocket, hydro poles, streetlights on curved davit arms, and helmeted biker bearing down — are quintessential Toronto.Through the alphabetized pages the reader will discover a moose and calf walking the “B-for-Beach(es)” boardwalk as a beaver jogs by (the author is unwilling to take sides in the great Beach vs. Beaches naming controversy). There are a moose and fox dressed as British Redcoat soldiers firing the cannon at F is for Fort York. There’s an M for Maple Leafs; S is for Streetcar; Y is for Yonge St. lit up at night; and so on.

These books sound charming and will, I hope, do well in the Canadian market as well as abroad!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The 2013 Children’s Choice Book Award Winners!

With Children's Book Week here, the 2013 Children's Choice Book Awards are as well.  Jeff Kinney received the author of the year award, and John Green won the teen book of the year prize.

There are links to all the winners below. How many have you read? Here’s more from the release:
The Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader announced the winners of the sixth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards (CCBAs) at a charity gala benefitting Every Child a Reader in New York City last night.
The announcement is an annual highlight of Children’s Book Week (May 13-19, 2013) as the CCBAs is the only national book awards program where the winning titles are selected by kids and teens. Young readers across the country voted in record numbers for their favorite books, author, and illustrator at bookstores, school libraries, and at, casting more than 1,000,000 votes.

2013 Children’s Choice Book Awards:

Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta, illustrated by Ed Young (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

Bad Kitty for President by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)

Dork Diaries 4: Tales from a Not-So-Graceful Ice Princess by Rachel Renée Russell (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

prgrsvimg BOOK OF THE YEAR
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton/Penguin)

Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid 7: The Third Wheel (Amulet Books/Abrams)

Robin Preiss Glasser for Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet (HarperCollins Children’s Books)  

Have a look at a winner or two.  Think about getting a couple for the kids or grandkids.  How about enriching a life today...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Let's Celebrate Children's Book Week-May 13-19, 2013

Caldecott-winning children's author and illustrator Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) has designed the poster for the 94th Children's Book Week from May 13-19.  But what is it, and how did it begin?

 Children&#39;s Book WeekEstablished in 1919, Children's Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year, commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes -- wherever young readers and books connect.

The event originated in the belief that children's books and literacy are life-changers. In 1913, Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, began touring the country to promote higher standards in children's books. He proposed creating a Children's Book Week, which would be supported by all interested groups: publishers, booksellers, and librarians.  In the words of Frederic G. Melcher:

A Great Nation is a Reading Nation

alt textMathiews enlisted two important allies: Frederic G. Melcher, the visionary editor of Publishers Weekly, and Anne Carroll Moore, the Superintendent of Children's Works at the New York Public Library and a major figure in the library world. With the help of Melcher and Moore, in 1916, the American Booksellers Association and the American Library Association sponsored a Good Book Week with the Boy Scouts of America.

In 1944, the newly-established Children's Book Council assumed responsibility for administering Children's Book Week. In 2008, Children’s Book Week moved from November to May. At that time, administration of Children’s Book Week, including planning official events and creating original materials, was transferred to Every Child a Reader, the philanthropic arm of the children’s publishing industry, and the Children's Book Council became a CBW anchor sponsor.

Let's support our young people and their reading endeavors and achievements.  Without the skill of reading, most children will not become all they can be.  Their dreams can be come reality if they have the gift of reading.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Some of the Worst Mothers in Books or How I Love to Hate the Antagonist

Let me begin this post by wishing all of you wonderful mothers out there a Happy Day!   I hope you all have a wonderful time with children and grandchildren.  

I thought, for fun, I'd include this list from Jennifer Gilmore, author of  The Mothers. She has compiled the 10 worst mothers as a counterpoint. I am sharing part of the list. See what you think!

The bad mothers of literature can be spectacularly awful. But still, at the bottom of it, these are women who are suffering. They are suffering from bad marriages; they are trapped by their time, unable to be themselves. Their suffering makes them cruel or it makes them clueless to their children’s needs. Present or absent, a bad mother is fodder for great fiction. And a bad mother never fails to get a reaction from all spectrum of readers. Because being a bad mother is the least acceptable character to be.

Here are ten bad mothers in literature. They are in no particular order but as I write, I realize the worst ones are the selfish ones, who live their lives as if their children are not there. Whatever the case, across the board, all bad mothers are punished.

 Emma Bovary, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert - Motherhood is a grand disappointment to Emma Bovary, just one in a list of many of her dissatisfactions. Initially she pretends to dote on her daughter, as a cover up of her transgressions, but soon her vanity and unstoppable desires lead her away from her daughter. When Emma swallows arsenic, killing herself (who can forget that wretched scene!) Berthe is left with her father. Soon he dies penniless and Berthe is alone and forced to work in a mill.

Queen Gertrude, Hamlet by William Shakespeare - Does Hamlet’s madness spring from the well of neglected love? Queen Gertrude, his mother, isn’t really paying attention. As soon as her husband’s corpse is cold, she marries Hamlet’s uncle, and doesn’t seem to have a lot of guilt about it. He believes he is alone in the world until he meets Ophelia, but of course, that doesn’t go well either.

Charlotte Haze, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov - Like Emma Bovary, Charlotte Haze craves for the finer and more sophisticated things, but she is portrayed as such a cow that she doesn’t even know what those things are. She thinks they are incarnate in Humbert, whom she manipulates into marriage, willfully clueless to his pedophiliac desire for her daughter. Like Emma Bovary and Queen Gertrude, Charlotte Haze (in a haze) pays with a violent death so leaving her unloved daughter vulnerable to the fire of Humbert’s loins.
Sophie Portnoy, Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth - Is constancy a bad thing, given what has happened above? Sophie Portnoy won’t leave her son’s side. She wants to see his bowel movements, control who he dates (no shiksas allowed), and she enables Portnoy to stay in a state of constant adolescence, tending to his every basic need. Has she awoken or thwarted his sexual desires? Sophie Portnoy is a living guilt trip, a constant complainer and perhaps her punishment is the son she has to mother. 
Beth Jarrett, Ordinary People by Judith Guest - There is no denying that Beth Jarrett is suffering. Her eldest son has been killed in a boating accident and her younger son, a survivor of that accident, is not doing so well. But Beth is cold. She is ice. In her attempt to maintain her composure and to keep up appearances, Beth won’t offer comfort to her living son; her dead son seems to be the focus of what little she has of love. Beth’s punishment is to be forced out of the family, leaving out of shock when her husband asks if she can ever really love anyone.

Eleanor Melrose, The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn - Things don’t begin well in this suite of four short novels when Eleanor, an American who has let her family fortune be run into the ground by her gentry husband David, lets her son be raped by his father, her husband David, and chooses to ignore it. Eleanor, who drinks and pops pills constantly, goes through a reform in the second novel, and instead of making amends with her son, allows the rest of her fortune—and what little is left of her motherly love—to a questionable religious organization, led by a conman. Eleanor is punished with a long and hideous sickness that leaves the once attractive woman toothless, with horrible breath, unbearable to her furious son.

I hope you had fun with the list!  You probably have your own.  Antagonists that are supposed to be loving, kind, and honest people and aren't, make for such good writing!

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Most American Parents Believe that Libraries are Important for Their Children

Think that libraries are obsolete in the 21st Century? A whopping 94 percent of American parents agree that “libraries are important for their children.”

Last year, Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project surveyed 2,252 Americans aged 16 or older to find out more about library attitudes in America. Here is more information from the report:

Original Design
Carnegie Library
84% of these parents who say libraries are important say a major reason they want their children to have access to libraries is that libraries help inculcate their children’s love of reading and books. 81% say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries provide their children with information and resources not available at home. 71% also say a major reason libraries are important is that libraries are a safe place for children.
The report also highlighted how many lower income parents would be “very likely” to use library resources like “classes on how to download library e-books” (44 percent), “e-readers already loaded with library content” (40 percent), or a “digital media lab” (40 percent).
Check it out:
In addition, parents in lower-income households are more likely to say it is important for libraries to offer librarians to help people, free access to computers and the internet, quiet study spaces, research resources, jobs and career materials, free events and activities, and free meeting spaces for the community.
This report is good news, indeed, for devotees of the United States Libraries, an institutions since Benjamin Franklin began the first lending library in 1731.  He convinced his friends in Philadelphia to join forces and donate books to the general public.  (The group had been pooling their books for some time to create a private library for friends.)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo, 2013

As many people celebrate Cinco de Mayo this weekend, here is a list of free eBooks about Mexico. These books come from the Internet Archive and include a treasure trove of 18th, 19th and 20th Century writings about Mexico.

See the country through the eyes of explorers, archaeologists, travelers, writers and colonizers in these books. History Channel described the holiday:
It commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867) … Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.
Free Books About Mexico:

Anahuac: or, Mexico and the Mexicans, ancient and modern by Edward Burnett Tylor

Travels of Anna Bishop in Mexico by Anna Rivière Bishop
Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatan (Volume 1) (Volume 2) by John Lloyd Stephens (image embedded above via volume 2)

Border states of Mexico: Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango. With a general sketch of the republic of Mexico, and Lower California, Coahuila, New Leonand Tamaulipas. A complete description of the best regions for the settler, miner and the advance guard of American civilization by Leonidas Le Cenci Hamilton

Down that Pan American Highway by Roger Stephens
Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and republican : a historical, geographical, political, statistical and social account (Volume 1) (Volume 2)

A gringo in manana-land by Harry L. Foster

The Mexican guide by Janvier Thomas Allibone
Through southern Mexico : being an account of the travels of a naturalist by Hans Friedrich Gadow

A Mexican journey by Emil Harry Blichfeldt

Our sister republic: a gala trip through tropical Mexico in 1869-70 … and reminiscences of the empire and its downfall by Albert S Evans

The Mexican guide by Thomas Allibone Janvier

Unknown Mexico, a record of five years’ exploration among the tribes of the western Sierra Madre, in the Tierra Caliente of Tepic and Jalisco, and among the Tarascos of Michoacan by Carl Lumholtz

Enjoy the books and the weekend!