December 2008 Archives

'Dewey' author gets new cat

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A New Dewey
Vicki Myron and Page. (AP)

Vicki Myron, author of the best-seller Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (Grand Central, $19.99), didn't plan on getting a new pet right away, but a little orange and white tabby changed her mind. "I fell in love instantly," Myron says of the kitten that was found by the side of a road. Myron, who retired after 20 years as director of the Spencer Public Library in Iowa, has named the kitten Page.

dewey Read the Sun-Times review of Dewey.

Marx goes manga

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Just in time for Christmas, Karl Marx is finding a new audience among Japanese comic book fans.

The manga edition of his masterpiece, Das Kapital, hit Japanese bookstores this month and sold about 6,000 copies in its first few days, said Yusuke Maruo of EastPress Co.

"I think people are looking to Marx for answers to the problems with the capitalist society," Maruo said. "Obviously, the recent global crisis suggests that the system isn't working properly."

Maruo said he hoped the comic version would provide an enjoyable introduction to the German socialist's original work, written in 1867. The targeted readers are office workers in their 30s. Christmas and New Years are a prime time for publishers, as many people have vacations and more time to read.

Japan Marx Comic
The cover sheet of a manga edition of Karl Marx's Das Kapital (AP)

The fictionalized Vol. 1 of Das Kapital chronicles a cheese factory run by protagonist Robin, who rebels against his father's socialist principles and becomes a slave driver after teaming up with a cold-blooded capitalist investor. But Robin struggles between his capitalist ambitions and his sense of guilt over the exploitation of his workers.

Maruo said the comic Das Kapital had been planned earlier this year after a revival hit of the 1929 communist novel The Crab Factory Ship, which portrays a ship's crew forced into harsh labor under a sadistic captain.

The book is being translated into English, Korean and Chinese for its upcoming manga debut in the U.S., Asia and Europe. Comic editions of the subsequent volumes are also under way.

Manga, a name used for Japanese-syle comic books, often combine complex stories with drawing styles that differ from their Western superhero counterparts, particularly in their frequent emphasis on cuteness.

Mari Yamaguchi/AP

You haven't seen the last of 'Edgar Sawtelle'

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It would seem that David Wroblewski is taking a cue from the film industry. After seeing such wild success with his debut novel, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, the author plans to write a prequel. A third installment also is planned, which will make the story of the mute boy and his dog a trilogy.

Books Winfrey
Oprah declared The Story of Edgar
the "best novel I've read in
a long, long, long time" when she
announced it would be her book club
selection last September.
Productions, Inc., George Burns)

First there was buzz all over the industry last fall, which brought on heaps of praise from reviewers. Then Oprah laid her golden "O" on the cover when she chose it for her book club, and it's been on the best seller list ever since.

Wroblewski issued a statement through his publisher Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins: "My fascination with the Sawtelles and the Sawtelle dogs is far from over. This new novel is a chance to look more deeply into their story, and a tremendously exciting project to me."

No publication date has been set.

If celebs say it, will we buy?

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A host of celebrities have put out a public service announcement of sorts: "Books make great gifts" (

The video was produced by Random House but features authors from several publishing houses. Of course, all of the celebrities involved are authors themselves and certainly could gain financially if their message is able to boost sales. That said, I happen to agree with the overall message. Books are certainly a way to get some maximum bang for you buck when it comes to entertainment in these tough economic times.

Frank McCourt says books are great because you can reach for one after making love. Jon Stewart says books are a "good way to kill time while your Web site is buffering." Deidre Imus has perhaps my favorite reason why books are great: they're like movies playing in your head.

Also featured on the video are Martha Stewart, Maya Angelou, Nora Ephron,
Julie Andrews, Dean Koontz, Mary Higgins Clark, Elmo, Kathie Lee Gifford, Christopher Paolini, Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Alec Baldwin, Judy Blume, Rachael Ray and many others.

Check it out:

ALA launches award for YA novels

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Five novels for teens are finalists for the American Library Association's first-ever William C. Morris YA Debut Award.

The prize is given for books that "illuminate the teen experience and enrich the lives of its readers through its excellence."

The nominees are:

A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth Bunce
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne
Madapple by Christina Meldrum
Me, the Missing and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

The winner will be announced Jan. 26.


Attention Harry Potter fans!

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Kids everywhere will be rejoicing this holiday season -- J.K. Rowling's long-awaited The Tales of Beedle the Bard is finally on store shelves. Parents will rejoice, too. The standard copy costs a mere $12.99.

The book -- a collection of five fables mentioned in Rowling's Harry Potter series of books -- launched in 20 countries with a global print run of about 8 million. (I did not get a copy in the book room, but then again, Rowling doesn't really need the help of newspaper reviews to make sales.)

The author celebrated by attending a tea party with 200 schoolchildren in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she lives.

Britain Rowling
Author JK Rowling reads passages from her new
book to schoolchildren at a tea party in the
Parliament Hall Edinburgh.
(David Cheskin/AP)

"We expect it to come straight in at No. 1 and is very likely to be our No. 1 book this Christmas," Jon Howells of Britain's Waterstone's book store chain told the Associated Press. "It's in with a fighting chance of being the best-selling book of the year, even though there are only a few weeks to go.

"This is J.K. Rowling. None of the usual rules apply."

Rowling is donating her royalties to the Children's High Level Group, which helps institutionalized children in Eastern Europe.

Great little gift for under $10

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Often I get books sent to me that I glance at and say, "Who is the audience for this book?" or "Who would buy this?" I almost said that about The Order of Things: Hierarchies, Structures, and Pecking Orders (Workman Publishing, 615 pages, $9.95) by Barbara Ann Kipfer. But I had to stop myself.

The Order of Things

This little stocking-stuffer -- it measures 4-by-6 inches and is an inch and a half thick -- is full of great information for people in my profession (editors and writers), so I intend to leave it on my desk, next to my dictionary. But I may go out and buy a few more -- one for my 11-year-old nephew, perhaps, who loves lists. He'll have a field day, learning not only the names of the British monarchy, in order, but also the rulers of many other countries. Plus, he can learn about Braille, sign language and Morse code.

It'll also tell you what birthstone corresponds with each month; the order of winning poker hands; military rankings, tornado and hurricane scales and much more.

A random opening of the book shows me a diagram of how a proper place setting should look, plus a dozen different types of glassware. Another random opening gives me the Twelve Days of Christmas, in order. I'd like to say that I shall never mix up days 9-12 again, but alas, the entry implies that days 10 and 12 are interchangeable. No wonder I get confused. So, it's either 12 drummers drumming and 10 lords a leaping; or vice-versa.

In any case, happy holidays, enjoy the book.