Carol Buckley, co-founder and past President/CEO of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, was fired last week after a five-month leave of absence imposed by the organization’s board of directors. Since Buckley’s unexplained termination, a “Supporters of Carol Buckley and The Elephant Sanctuary” Facebook group has been formed—and now it has nearly 3,000 members. Local media has reported that some donors are furious and withholding funds from the Sanctuary, which provides a natural-habitat refuge in the Tennessee hills for endangered African and Asian elephants.
In the midst of this turmoil, we wanted to draw attention to another role Buckley has filled: children’s author. Although many of you are probably familiar with Buckley’s work through the Tarra & Bella video on CBS (and YouTube)—in which Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog eat, play and sleep together—you should also share Just for Elephants, a beautiful picture book released in 2006, with any animal-loving kids.
BookPage reviewer Jennifer Robinson raved about the story, writing:
Upon opening the book, readers will be enchanted by images of elephant skin adorning the endpapers and an oversized eye peering out from the title page. . . There is a genuine sense of setting in Buckley's detailed descriptions of redtail hawks screeching overhead and the herd grazing on river cane and china grass that grows all around.
Do you have a favorite nonfiction book about animals?
It seems that this week has been good to new authors, as two debut novels will make a very exciting debut—on the New York Times’ best-selling Hardcover Fiction list. Danielle Trussoni’s Angelology, which we blogged about a few weeks ago, comes in at #7. Helen Simonson’s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is #14. (The list will be published in print on March 28.)
In BookPage, Linda White described the reaction readers will have to Simonson’s novel, set in an English village: “You’ll laugh, you’ll wipe away a tear or two and you certainly will enjoy time spent with Major Pettigrew.”
In her behind-the-book essay on Angelology, Trussoni described what readers can expect in her debut:
You will enter a secluded convent nestled next to a wide, mirror-dark river; you will climb into a narrow gorge cut deep into the granite of an Eastern European mountain; and you will sit in a shadowy lecture hall filled with students during the Second World War. You will meet a young woman named Evangeline, whose family history has drawn her into a centuries-old hidden society of scholars who practice the ancient discipline of angelology, the theological study of angels. You will become acquainted with nuns; a handsome art historian named Verlaine who rushes into Evangeline’s quiet world and changes her life; and a nefarious group of angels called Nephilim.
Have you read a good debut lately?
We’re running a Bananagrams contest this week on The Book Case, and the author’s name—Joe Edley—sounded familiar.
Then I remembered: Joe Edley is none other than the three-time National Scrabble Champion memorably depicted in Stefan Fatsis’ Word Freak, a delightful memoir and history of Scrabble published in 2001. If you read Word Freak, you might remember that Edley is the guy who memorized the entire Scrabble dictionary. Edley was one of my favorite characters in Word Freak, and it’s nice to know what he’s up to these days—in addition to writing Bananagrams books, he’s also written several books about Scrabble, including The Official Scrabble Puzzle Book. Click here for a review of Word Freak—a must-read for any Scrabble player.
If you're interested in the wacky subculture of competitive puzzles and games, I think you’ll also enjoy Louis Sachar’s forthcoming The Cardturner, about a teen who assists his blind uncle in playing bridge. In addition to hilarious insider info on bridge tournaments (Sachar himself is a competitive player), there are also plenty of details on solving the puzzle of specific hands. In May, keep your eye on BookPage.com for an interview with the author.
Do you have a favorite book about games or puzzles?
Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan
Berkley, April 2010
Kristy Kiernan's third novel follows a contemporary family through some major turmoil. Sixteen years ago, Cora donated an egg to help Ali and Benny conceive a daughter, Letty. Now Ali wants to have a second child—but Benny isn't so sure. And neither is Cora, who has a secret she's not sharing with her very best friend. Kiernan is an insightful writer with a gift for dialogue—especially teen dialogue—that lifts Between Friends above the rest of the crowded women's fiction field.
"I'm not going to discuss having another baby when we can't control the one we already have!"
"She's not a baby!" I yelled back, matching his volume, tired of being on the receiving end. "They grow up, Benny, they grow up and they lie and they test you and they do things that make you crazy. That's what they do. That's not a reason to turn into a dictator, and it's not a reason not to have another one."
"Well, I think it is." He clenched his hands, looking for something to do with them, his face red and mottled.
I should have been terrified for him. He looked like someone about to have a heart attack, or a stroke. But instead, I was terrified of him.
"I'm not going to stay here when you're this angry, and I'm not going to expose Letty to it, either." I said, my voice trembling.
"If you walk out that door, Ali, don't be so sure that it's going to be open when you come back."
I shook all the way to Cora's.
(In the interest of full disclosure: Kristy Kiernan is among the authors who have occasionally written reviews for BookPage.)
In December, I braved the crowd to see Ree Drummond—a.k.a. The Pioneer Woman—speak at Davis Kidd Booksellers in Nashville. When I posted about it on this blog, commenters shared stories of driving hours to see Ree on her book tour for The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. One reader even said that reading Ree’s blog has changed her life.
Today I heard some news that will thrill PW fans—not only has Ree signed a deal to publish her romantic memoir Black Heels to Tractor Wheels on Valentine’s Day 2011. (William Morrow is the publisher, but if you can't wait a year for the love story, you can read it Ree's site now.) Columbia Pictures has made a deal to develop a romantic comedy based on the book, and rumor has it that Reese Witherspoon will star as The Pioneer Woman. When Ree mentioned this news on her blog, she received 3,000+ comments.
Will you read this blog-to-book… or see this blog-to-book-to-movie?
This morning, we received word of two major literature awards: Author David Almond (UK) and Illustrator Jutta Bauer (Germany) have won the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Award. The International Board on Books for Young People gives the award every two years to a living author and illustrator whose “complete works have made a lasting contribution to children's literature.”
BookPage has reviewed several of Almond’s books, most recently Raven Summer, which Dean Schneider wrote has undertones of Lord of the Flies and Heart of Darkness. I’m not surprised Almond was honored with this prestigious award, as he’s been called “one of the finest writers in the world of children’s literature, a writer of uncommon vision and elegant prose” in our own pages.
Also today, Sherman Alexie was named the winner of the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Although I was rooting for local writer (and surprise nominee) Lorraine M. López, it’s still a thrill to see Alexie take home the prize for War Dances (Grove Press). In BookPage, reviewer Harvey Freedenberg called the book—short stories—an “edgy and frequently surprising collection.” The PEN/Faulkner judges described War Dances as “a collection of structurally inventive pieces on the themes of love, betrayal, familial relationships, race, and class." To learn more about Alexie, read an interview here.
Dawn of the Dreadfuls, the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the best-selling mashup from Quirk Books, hit shelves today. Author Steve Hockensmith has written a hilarious behind-the-book essay for BookPage, in which he confesses to his life-long dream of writing a "prequel to a best-selling book about English girls who kill zombies with kung-fu." (Okay, maybe it wasn't a life-long dream.)
This is one of the more elaborately staged book trailers I've seen, complete with blood spewing zombies and fight scenes in the English countryside. What would Jane Austen think? What do you think?
And since zombies aren't for everyone, I also want to share the trailer for Peter Bognanni's punk-rock-fueled debut novel The House of Tomorrow, which went on sale a couple weeks ago. As the trailer shows, the book's about music... it's about a geodesic dome... it's about growing up... it's about Iowa... it's about sex! Check it out—and don't miss Sarah E. White's review of the novel.
Arthur Phillips, author of Prague, The Egyptologist and Angelica, had another hit last year with his fourth novel, The Song Is You (read our review here). Out in paperback today, the book was one of our April picks for reading groups—and now it's also on track to be a major motion picture.
According to Deadline New York, Bill Condon and Larry Mark—who worked together on Dreamgirls—have optioned the novel and envision it as a musical. "The chance to tell a story through song is the thing that really turns me on," Condon explains. “The book is a story told through music, but there’s a whole other dimension we can bring through film."
Keep an eye out for more news on this exciting adaptation.
In past months, I’ve blogged about Madeleine L’Engle’s birthday and her granddaughter’s debut novel. This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to hear another item of L’Engle news: A Wrinkle in Time is coming to the big screen! (Read more in The Hollywood Reporter.)
Jeff Stockwell will write the screenplay for Bedrock Studios. Stockwell isn’t a stranger to book adaptations for kids—he wrote the screenplay for Bridge to Terabithia, too. No word yet on when Wrinkle will be released.
I’m somewhat skeptical of adaptations of L’Engle’s books—in 2002, Disney did a made-for-TV movie of A Ring of Endless Light starring Mischa Barton as Vicky Austen. Just about every major theme and character was significantly watered down. Charlotte Voilkis, L’Engle’s granddaughter (not the author), is executive producing Wrinkle, though, which gives me hope—perhaps she’ll be an advocate for keeping faithful to the book.
Who would you cast as Meg Murry, Charles Wallace and Calvin O’Keefe? What's your favorite line from Wrinkle?
Does Nicholas Sparks ever get writer's block? It seems unlikely. Fresh off the release of The Last Song, the popular novelist will publish a 15th book on September 14. Saying Goodbye (Grand Central) is poised to join the rest of the Sparks canon and sounds full of tear-jerking twists.
Like The Notebook, Saying Goodbye centers on the rediscovery of a lost love—and throws in a dying best friend for good measure. But Audrey, who has been diagnosed with cancer, has enough life left in her to revive Renee's memories of the boy she fell in love with during their study abroad trip in Spain more than 20 years ago. Could there be a chance for the two to reconnect? The answers may be predictable, but readers are sure to come along for the ride come September.