A Rep Reading

Books, Authors, Publishers, Booksellers, Reps and the Industry

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Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Publisher’s Weekly:

Gregory Maguire Delivers Another Wicked Fairy Tale

It’s been seven years since Gregory Maguire has been to BEA, he thinks, but he’s looking forward to it, comparing the show to the most festive New Year’s Eve celebration. “If you ever want to see a room in which you get a model of shaken-up champagne, it’s the Javits Center during BEA. Everyone is bubbly and bumping and fizzing about everything they see,” he says. “I really like it.” Maguire is at this year’s BEA to promote his latest fractured fairy tale, Egg & Spoon (Candlewick, September 2014.)

Egg & Spoon, Maguire says, is a take on Mark Twain’s Prince and the Pauper, set in the waning days of czarist Russia, about a decade before the 1917 Russian Revolution. When a train carrying a noble family on its way to visit Czar Nicholas II in St. Petersburg makes a stop in an impoverished village, two girls—one a peasant, the other a child of privilege—accidentally switch places. The case of mistaken identity sets in motion a series of improbable events, with characters that include a monk trapped in a tower, a prince traveling incognito, and Baba Yaga, the legendary witch of Russian folklore, who previously played a role in Maguire’s 1983 middle-grade novel, The Dream Stealer.

Baba Yaga is “so attractive—she’s a witch from central casting,” says Maguire. “She has iron teeth and lives in a house perched on chicken legs” Pointing out that anyone who lives in a house with chicken legs would probably intend their home to be mobile, the author discloses that in Egg & Spoon, Baba Yaga’s house “goes on its own walkabout and has its own story line,” because, he adds, “the house has its own ambitions.”

Best known for his bestselling 1995 novel for adults, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (which was made into a popular Broadway musical that has packed theaters for more than a decade), Maguire laughs as he admits that he’s obsessed with witches. He suspects that his fascination with “powerful women who live a little off the beaten track and don’t care about conforming to anybody else’s sense of style, or beauty” extends back to his childhood in Albany, N.Y., when he attended a Catholic elementary school. He greatly admired the nuns who were his teachers there, he says. “They were omnipresent, swathed in black, and possessed a sense of justice that was hard to understand, but impossible to argue with.” — Publishers Weekly, BEA issue, Claire Kirch, May 29, 2014

Ivan Bilibin’s illustration to a
Russian fairy tale about the Firebird, 1899.

KIRKUS ★ review:
Two girls switch identities while colliding with Baba Yaga and the Firebird in Czarist Russia.

Elena, a child of rural Russian poverty in the town of Miersk, is desperate to help her ailing mother and to recover her older brothers, Alexei, at work for another family, and Luka, conscripted into the czar’s army. Her determined journey finds her life suddenly swapped with that of Ekaterina, also 13, a daughter of privilege. Plot details include a pilgrimage to Saint Petersburg to meet the czar and his godson, Prince Anton, a Fabergé egg, a Firebird’s egg, a legacy of matryoshka dolls, and the powerful presence and proclamations of Baba Yaga. Maguire, a veteran writer of reimagined traditional tales for a new world, jauntily explores themes no less profound than hunger and satiety, class and influence, and the sharing of resources in a world wracked by climate change. While not without flaws—a bit protracted, cluttered, overly grand and infused with some metafictive moments that occasionally take the reader out of the story—this is an epic rich with references, aphorisms and advice.

An ambitious, Scheherazade-ian novel, rather like a nesting-doll set of stories, that succeeds in capturing some of the complexities of both Russia and life itself. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

Baba Yaga as depicted by Ivan Bilibin, 1902.

My review:
A richly woven fable that was thoroughly enjoyable on many levels. The language was exquisite, the storytelling expert, with echoes of history, faraway lands, magical creatures, and folk legends balanced against the realities of human experience. Gregory Maguire makes an exotic Russian setting immediately accessible, funny and poignant. A fabulous read, Egg & Spoon is delightful for readers of all ages. Highly recommended.

Favorite sentence: “Then a steam whistle, which can sound like a piccolo being tortured unto death.”

Next favorite: “Don’t dare me. I majored in disgusting at Gulag Community College.” ~ Baba Yaya

Map of Saint Petersburg, 1903

Egg & Spoon on the cover of the Candlewick Fall 2014 catalog:

School Library Journal ★ review:
With one brother conscripted into the Tsar’s army and another bound to serve a local landowner, Elena is left alone to care for her widowed and ailing mother in early 20th-century Russia. When an elegant train bearing a noble her age rolls through their barren village, Elena and her counterpart, Cat, accidentally swap places. Twin journeys to restore their former stations in life lead to encounters with murderous kittens, royal families, and even the famed witch Baba Yaga, and the challenges that lie ahead go far beyond a simple mix-up. Maguire marries the traditional “Prince and the Pauper” narrative to the Russian folktale of Baba Yaga with his trademark wit and aplomb. His lyrical descriptions of the drab countryside are equally detailed and moving as the charmed, floating courts of the Romanov dynasty. Each character is well-drawn and fascinating, whether its the prim, terrified governess to young Ekaterina or Baba Yaga herself, a cannibal with a heart of gold constantly cracking wise in her enchanted, walking house. The author weaves a lyrical tale full of magic and promise, yet checkered with the desperation of poverty and the treacherous prospect of a world gone completely awry. Egg and Spoon is a beautiful reminder that fairy tales are at their best when they illuminate the precarious balance between lighthearted childhood and the darkness and danger of adulthood.–Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter’s Prep, Jersey City, NJ

The original matryoshka matryoshka set by
Zvyozdochkin and Malyutin, 1892.

Publishers Weekly ★ review:
An imprisoned monk narrates this fabulist tale from Maguire, which draws inspiration from Russian folklore, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper, while incorporating a modern thread about the threat of climate change. On her way to be presented to the Tsar’s godson, wealthy Ekaterina is marooned in a rural village when a broken bridge stops her train. Peasant Elena approaches the luxurious train to beg, and the two girls take tentative steps toward friendship; when the train starts moving again, the wrong one is aboard. The journey to their eventual reunion brings Ekaterina in contact with legendary witch Baba Yaga. Though the setting is circa 1900, Maguire’s riffs are mostly contemporary: Baba Yaga complains about regifting, owns the original cast recording from Damn Yankees, and bemoans that she’s out of “Granny Yaga’s Frozen Tater Tots, made from real tots.” Like the matryoshka doll Elena carries, there are a lot of layers to Maguire’s story. Rich, descriptive language will reward readers who like to sink their teeth into a meaty story. Ages 12–up.

Set of Matryoshka dolls nested inside each other.

Author Monica Edinger’s Educating Alice blog review, Coming Soon: Gregory McGuire’s Egg & Spoon, “A unique and wonderful read.”

About Gregory Maguire:
New York native Gregory Maguire rose to fame with his best-selling novel WICKED, which has sold millions of copies around the globe and remains a sensation as a Broadway musical. Now the author of an impressive collection of nineteen children’s books, five adult novels, and numerous short stories presents a mesmerizing new novel: WHAT-THE-DICKENS: THE STORY OF A ROGUE TOOTH-FAIRY, a fantasy that is sure to engage children of every age and background.

It was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the author says, that he turned what had been a thirty-page BOSTON GLOBE serial project called “Gangster Teeth” into a longer novel with a much larger bite. “I found a way to expand a light-winged story that would not, I hoped, make light of children’s suffering or the need to believe in the next good thing that might happen,” he says of his latest novel.

Gregory Maguire worked for eight years as a professor and associate director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature before receiving his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University. “Nothing serves a writer better than getting to teach children’s books as literature—as an art form that relies on traditions of narrative shapeliness and verbal pizzazz as well as saucy innovation,” the author says. He also co-founded and currently co-directs Children’s Literature New England (CLNE), a nonprofit educational charity that promotes awareness of the significance of literature in the lives of children. With those aims in mind, Gregory Maguire has served on the juries for the Caldecott Medal, the National Book Award for Children’s Books, and the NEW YORK TIMES Best Illustrated Books of the Year.

And what advice would he pass along to aspiring young writers? When he himself was growing up, Gregory Maguire mimicked Harriet the Spy’s investigative route. “Get a spy notebook and spy on everyone,” he suggests. “Try not to get in trouble. Try not to break the law. But pay attention and write it down. That’s the best training a would-be writer can have.”

Gregory Maguire lives with his family outside of Boston, Massachusetts. (from the Candlewick website)

Egg & Spoon
Gregory Maguire
Candlewick Press
Cloth, September 2014

9780763650766, $18.99
Stravinsky’s The Firebird,
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with Robert Shaw
Recommended by Monica Edinger:
"rivting…narrative nonfiction"
--The Horn Book
9780375867828, $18.99

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This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen wins Kate Greenaway Medal!

Huge congratulations to Jon Klassen, Walker Books and Candlewick Press for this unprecedented publishing recognition!

From the Candlewick Press release:

Historic Kate Greenaway Medal win for
Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat

This Is Not My Hat becomes the only book to win both the Kate Greenaway and Randolph Caldecott Medals

June 23, 2014 (Somerville, MA): Candlewick Press is delighted to announce that Jon Klassen has won the 2014 Kate Greenaway Medal for Illustration for his picture book This is Not My Hat.

Published by the Walker Books Group – including Candlewick Press in the US and Walker Books in the UK – Jon Klassen’s This is Not My Hat will go into the history books as the first ever title to win both the UK’s highest illustration honor with the Kate Greenaway Medal, and also win the most prestigious award for children’s book illustration in the US, the Randolph Caldecott Medal, which was awarded in 2013.

In addition, the Greenaway Medal for This Is Not My Hat marks the tenth Greenaway Medal for Walker Books, a feat unmatched by any other publisher, positioning Walker as the home of the very best in illustrative publishing.

Karen Lotz, Group Managing Director of the Walker Books Group said of the win, “Jon Klassen’s cunning hat thief stole our hearts at Walker long ago, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that he has now stolen the hearts of the 2014 Greenaway committee in this historic win. We are particularly proud to be the global publisher of the first creator to win both the Randolph Caldecott Medal and the Kate Greenaway Medal for the same book. What on earth will the extraordinarily talented Mr. Klassen do next? Watch this space!”

On winning the CILIP Kate Greenaway, Jon Klassen said, “Winning this award is hugely encouraging. Making a book, you’re kind of going out on a limb in the belief that what you think of as a satisfying story is the same as what other people think of as a satisfying story. This doesn’t mean everything in the story turns out alright for everybody, but you, as a storyteller, try and make sure it ends the way the story should end. Any audience, children included, take reassurance from that. Storytelling is an act of community, of looking at one another afterward and agreeing that we enjoyed it, or not, whether the story itself portrays happiness or doom. The hope is found when we agree we liked it, and I’m so glad you liked this one.”

“Making picture books with Jon is like sky diving,” says Liz Bicknell, editorial director. “Jon says, ‘Okay, guys, I think this parachute’s gonna open.’ His art director Ann Stott and I look at each other, laugh, and JUMP OUT OF THE PLANE. So far, we’ve been landing very nicely. Thanks, Jon!”

Jon Klassen is the creator of the Greenaway and Caldecott Medal-winning picture book This Is Not My Hat, a New York Times bestseller and a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year. He is also the creator of the #1 New York Times bestseller I Want My Hat Back, which was named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book, a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year.

Jon Klassen is the illustrator of Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole (coming from Candlewick Press in October 2014), both written by Mac Barnett; and House Held Up By Trees by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser (also published by Candlewick Press), which was named a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year, as well as Cats’ Night Out by Caroline Stutson, which won the Governor General’s Award, and The Dark by Lemony Snicket. Jon Klassen has also worked as an illustrator for feature animated films, music videos, and editorial pieces. Originally from Niagara Falls, Ontario, Jon now lives in Los Angeles.

Candlewick Press is an independent, employee-owned publisher based in Somerville, Massachusetts. For over twenty years, Candlewick has published outstanding children’s books for readers of all ages, including books by award-winning authors and illustrators such as the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, M. T. Anderson, Jon Klassen, and Laura Amy Schlitz; the widely acclaimed Judy Moody, Mercy Watson, and ’Ology series; and favorites such as Guess How Much I Love You, Where’s Waldo?, and Maisy. Candlewick is part of the Walker Books Group, together with Walker Books UK in London and Walker Books Australia, based in Sydney and Auckland. Visit Candlewick online at www.candlewick.com.

The Kate Greenaway Medal was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children. Named after the popular nineteenth century artist known for her beautiful children’s illustrations and designs, the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal is awarded annually for an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people.

CILIP is the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers. CILIP’s vision is a fair and economically prosperous society underpinned by literacy, access to information and the transfer of knowledge. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014. The Youth Libraries Group (YLG) of CILIP works in a ‘pressure group’ role to preserve and influence the provision of quality literature and library services for children and young people, both in public libraries and school library services. Visit www.cilip.org.uk

Media contact: Laura Rivas,
Associate Director of Marketing, Publicity, and Events
Laura.Rivas@candlewick.com / 617-588-4445

Coming in October 2014:

Previous posts on A Rep Reading:
This is Not My Hat Wins Caldecott Medal

Candlewick Bear and This Is Not My Hat photo

Jon Klassen discusses the magic of picture books [video]

Hold on to your hat: This is Not My Hat [book trailer]

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The Last Ship by William Brinkley

Cover of the first edition, Viking Press, 1988

“Nevil Shute wrote a moving book, On the Beach, about the aftermath of a nuclear war… Now William Brinkley has used the same premise to tell and even more fascinating tale.” –Vermont Royster, The Wall Street Journal

I am annoyed and disappointed by the announcement of the new TNT series, The Last Ship, LOOSELY based on the book by William Brinkley. Every time I see a TV trailer, I cringe. This is definitely a case of the book HAS to be better than the TV series. Apparently, the original premise is passe for today (IS NOT!), so the world apocalypse has shifted from a nuclear holocaust to a global pandemic. Pfft.

The Last Ship is one of my personal supreme reading experiences. I first read the book prior to publication by Viking in 1988. It is a post apocalytic nuclear holocaust novel that literally transformed my real world into fantasy, and fiction into an alternate reality.

“An extraordinary novel of men at war, a superb portrait of naval command, The Last Ship is a powerful and exciting novel you will not want to miss.”–Anthony Hyde, author of The Red Fox, The Washington Post

I was so immersed into the world inside the book, that I was nearly having an out of body experience. After all these years, I have a suspicion why. One of the elements of the narrative was irritating to some readers, and introvert that I am, now I understand the book’s appeal to me. The story is revealed through the thought processes of the captain of the nuclear warship. Everything the reader learns is explained through the captain’s analytical mind. I imagine that is frustrating to many extroverts and might be a turn off to the book. Once I gleaned the intricacies of the immense responsibilities of not only a regular Navy captain, but one placed in an unimaginable nightmare such as a nuclear holocaust, the tension in the novel was extraordinary. Each personality, each situation, each plot development was considered thoroughly, adding intensity and power to each layer of circumstance; the ultimate “what if” scenario.

“Beautifully written…as if the narrator has set himself the task of preserving the language,of writing it down lest it be lost forever… Brinkley’s plot contains a series of unexpected reversals and the tale’s conclusion is unforgettably intense… The Last Ship is a magnificent book.”–John R. Alden, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Description from the Penguin website:
The unimaginable has happened. The world has been plunged into all-out nuclear war. Sailing near the Arctic Circle, the U.S.S. Nathan James is relatively unscathed, but the future is grim and Captain Thomas is facing mutiny from the tattered remnants of his crew. With civilization in ruins, he urges those that remain—one-hundred-and-fifty-two men and twenty-six women—to pull together in search of land. Once they reach safety, however, the men and women on board realize that they are earth’s last remaining survivors—and they’ve all been exposed to radiation. When none of the women seems able to conceive, fear sets in. Will this be the end of humankind?

“William Brinkley writes in expert detail about life on the sea… Readers will be engaged by this ambitious tale, which draws on the legacies of Melville and Conrad but is full of its own nuclear-age quandaries and horrors.”–Andrew Postman, The New York Times Book Review

“Brinkley’s tale has humanity, thoughtfulness and one inspired complication: women.” –Donald Morrison, Time

I won’t be watching the series; too torturous. Read the book!

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El Deafo by Cece Bell

UPDATE: 7/16/14 Publishers Weekly *starred* review added.

My review:
An amazingly touching self portrait of a child coping with friendship, family and school after suddenly becoming deaf due to meningitis at age four. CeCe Bell is a normal kid who faces an extraordinary challenge adapting to a new environment of quiet, learning how to understand and communicate with her friends and family after her illness. Honest, intimate, poignant and funny, El Deafo is ultimately a joyous triumph of one’s girl’s determination to navigate her way through the various pitfalls inherent in childhood friendships, first crushes, teachers, classmates, parents and siblings while managing her hearing issues. Her phonic ear, the audio device which enables her to hear more acutely in school, gives her superpower hearing: the ability to hear her teacher wherever she is in the school building, thereby giving her a distinct advantage with her school friends when she reveals its attributes. As a graphic novel memoir, El Deafo is seamlessly engaging and surprisingly helpful, illustrating aspects of the life of a little girl dependent upon visual cues for connections with illustrated diagrams. The illustrations are loving and playful and are the genius behind the book. Cece’s double talent of writing and illustrating bring her childhood experiences to life in ways that every reader can identify. I enjoyed seeing it as much as reading it and as a reader, I was cheering her on along the way. A note from the author explains deafness and the deaf culture in more detail. Kudos, Cece Bell!

Here is a look at the full color illustrations:

Publishers Weekly:
A bout of childhood meningitis left Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) deaf at age four, and she was prescribed a Phonic Ear, with a receiver draped across her chest and a remote microphone her teachers wore. Her graphic memoir records both the indignities of being a deaf child in a hearing community (“IS. THAT. AAAY. HEAR-ING. AAAID?”) and its joys, as when she discovers that the microphone picks up every word her teacher says anywhere in the school. Bell’s earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe (“eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!”), and her invention of an alter ego—the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters (“How can El Deafo free herself from the shackles of this weekly humiliation?” she asks as her mother drags her to another excruciating sign language class)—all combine to make this a standout autobiography. Cece’s predilection for bursting into tears at the wrong time belies a gift for resilience that makes her someone readers will enjoy getting to know. Ages 8–12. — Publishers Weekly starred review, 7/7/2014.

Read as an advance reader copy:

Visit Cece’s website here.

El Deafo
CeCe Bell
Amulet Books a division of ABRAMS Books
September 2014
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The High Line and ABRAMS Dinner at Trestle on Tenth

On Thursday evening, we arrived near the restaurant early, so we could walk a portion of the High Line park. An entrance to the park was conveniently located a block from the restaurant where we were to have the ABRAMS dinner. The park is genius. It was a perfect evening for it. The temperature had dropped twenty degrees the day before, so it was still cool and breezy; perfect walking weather. Every aspect about the experience is lovely, the raised view of the city, the landscaping, the art, the architecture of the city on display. Here are a view scenes from our stroll.


This was a special evening for me since after the morning event, this evening was the proverbial icing on the cake. ABRAMS was gracious to invite all three of us to dinner with a stellar roster of authors, artists and booksellers. One of my own booksellers was in attendance, and I was looking forward to the evening.

Trestle on Tenth:

I didn’t document the evening very well because I was having such a good time BEING at the event! There are many people at ABRAMS that I worked with at the beginning of my sales rep career. Michael Jacobs, CEO, Brenda Marsh, Interim Publisher, Steve Tager, Chief Marketing Officer, Andy Weiner, National Accounts Rep and my colleague Angie Smits and I all worked together at Viking Penguin previously. Author Jon Scieszka, who burst upon the publishing scene when we were all at Viking Penguin with The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and The Stinky Cheese Man, was also in attendence. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is now 25 years old!


I was really looking forward to meeting both authors CeCe Bell and A.G. Howard, whose books are featured above, but I only saw them across the crowded restaurant and from my dinner table. ACK! I wish I had met all the authors in attendance.

The evening was truly memorable in many ways, and I am so grateful to ABRAMS’ Michael Jacobs for the kind words he spoke to those assembled with regard to my achievement. I was gobsmacked.

Janet Geddis and Franki Brown of Avid Bookshop in Athens, GA

Janet and Franki were at my table along with my family, Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, his editor, Charlie Kochman, and bookseller, Holly Weinkauf, of the Red Balloon bookstore in St. Paul, Minnesota. During dinner, I pointed to Taylor and told Jeff Kinney that this is what happens to Wimpy Kid early adopters, they grow up! Taylor produced the photo from Jeff’s author event we attended at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA, when Taylor was 12 or 13. Jeff amazed us all by recollecting the color shirt he was wearing before we saw it for ourselves. I was able to learn aspects about Jeff at the dinner that I didn’t know before. He loves karaoke and he has an amazing memory.

These were our place cards at the table. My husband and son got new names! I loved it! The name tags we wore said the same.

I was thrilled to be able to introduce my family to Janet and Franki, two of my favorite booksellers (special mention to Rachel Watkins who wasn’t in NY for BEA— ♥ you, too!!!). My family also met Tom Angleberger, author of many books including the Origami Yoda series, and many of my colleagues who mean so much to my career, Michael, Andy, Brenda, Steve, Mary Wowk, Vice President, Sales and International, Elisa Garcia, Trade Sales Director (♥), and Marty McGrath, Executive Director of Sales. Thank you all for an unforgettable experience.

We were supposed to head off to the Iridium for more music that evening. We had reservations for the 10:30 pm show, but we just couldn’t do it. We didn’t want to rush away from dinner, and dinner had been so glorious that we savored the evening and called it a night. NY is exhausting. :->

Next: Friday, The Enthusiastic Gourmet Tour.

Previous: Book Expo America Breakfast: Publishers Weekly Rep of the Year Award

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Book Expo America Breakfast: Publishers Weekly Rep of the Year Award

On Thursday morning, we got up early to arrive at the Javits Convention Center for the Author Breakfast and Award Ceremony. I headed to the Green Room for pictures and instructions and to wait for the event to begin.

The speakers for the event were Angelica Huston, Tavis Smiley and Lisa Scottolini. The Master of Ceremonies was Neil Patrick Harris. As each celebrity entered the Green Room the excitement grew. They posed for pictures before the start of the event.

Here is Judith Rosen’s report of the morning’s event.

The spirit of Maya Angelou and Martin Luther King Jr., along with a bit of Doogie Howser, hovered over the opening breakfast of BEA, which began with a tribute to Angelou by PW co-editorial director Jim Milliot. He also presented the PW Sales Rep of the Year Award to Teresa Rolfe Kravtin, and gave the PW Bookstore of the Year Award to Pete Mulvihill on behalf of Green Apple Books in San Francisco.

But spirit doesn’t necessarily imply somberness, especially with stage and screen performer Neil Patrick Harris acting as host. He carefully delineated the difference between moderating the BEA breakfast and hosting the Tony Awards (which Harris has done four times) or the Emmys (which he’s hosted twice): no music.

Harris is best known for playing Barney Stinson on TV’s How I Met Your Mother, and as the title character on Doogie Howser, M.D., but his first job was doing bookstore inventory at age 10. That job influenced the format of his memoir, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (Crown, Oct.), which was inspired by his favorite children’s book series. “I wanted there to be that kind of magical quality that draws the reader in,” Harris said.

Before discussing her own memoirs, A Story Lately Told and the forthcoming Watch Me (Scribner), Anjelica Huston read Angelou’s poem “A Brave and Startling Truth.” From there, she segued into her childhood in Ireland and how she went on to become an award-winning actress; hers is the only family with three generations of Oscar winners. She spoke about the influence of her father, director John Huston, and her beloved mother, who died in a car crash when Huston was a teenager, and her on-again, off-again relationship with Jack Nicholson. Huston also discussed a car crash of her own that made her realize that “I’d been marginally wasting my life.” Afterward, she applied herself to her acting career with renewed vigor, and has gone on to appear in more than 70 movies and television series.

Tavis Smiley, host of PBS’s Tavis Smiley and PRI’s The Tavis Smiley Show, spoke about how he was influenced as an African-American boy, growing up in a large family among the cornfields of Indiana, by Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.” Smiley used the poet’s passing to call on those in the audience to publish diverse books. “It’s not enough for us just to celebrate the life and legacy of Maya Angelou,” he said. “[We need] to recognize that every one of us has a voice, a unique thumbprint on our throats, and each of us has a story. I want to encourage all of us in the book publishing world to work a little bit harder to get the stories of people of color told.”

In his new book, Death of a King (Little, Brown, Sept.), written with David Ritz, Smiley warns of the triple threat of racism, poverty, and militarism—a message that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to spread during his final year. At the BEA breakfast, Smiley spoke about there being more to King than one sentence in one speech, and opened and ended his talk with this quote, also from King: “Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’ But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but because conscience tells one it is right.”

“Welcome to my own personal nightmare,” quipped New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline (Betrayed, St. Martin’s Press, Nov.), speaking about following Smiley, Huston, and Harris. She needn’t have worried. She kept the audience laughing with her tales of her ostracized Aunt Lena, who brought a gun to a wedding, or possibly a communion party, and of a rain storm that caused the cheap red rug on the top of her white car to bleed, turning it into a “blood mobile.” These events inspired her books The Vendetta Defense and Look Again. She quoted director Francis Ford Coppola, who said, “Nothing in my movies ever happened, but all of it is true.” Scottoline added, “It only connects if it’s true.” It’s that truth, she continued, that speaks to readers, “soul to soul.” — Judith Rosen, Publishers Weekly, May 29, 2014

Good morning! I can’t begin to tell you how thrilling and terrifying it is to address you on this occasion. It is truly an honor to be named the Publishers Weekly 2014 Rep of the Year. My gratitude to author/illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba for nominating me for this award, and thank you to Publishers Weekly for having a means to acknowledge the efforts of sales reps in the larger mosaic of the publishing industry.

Thank you to my son, Taylor, when upon notified of my achievement, instantly took credit for the award because he proofread the essay I was asked to write, explaining the philosophy behind my work ethic. “I better be the first person you thank!”, he said. Thank you, Taylor!

Thank you to my husband, Billy, who tolerates a wife frequently traveling, a house and garage overrun with books and catalogs, and who loves me anyway.

My colleagues at Southern Territory Associates: Angie, Geoff, Jan, Tom, Rayner and Judy, you are all the most extraordinary coworkers in publishing. They have given me the gift of a week in New York City with my family, which we have enjoyed immensely.

Thank you to the publishers I represent, and to the authors and artists of those publishers who make it a joy to go to work every day. And, to my booksellers: you know I am your biggest fan. I have THE BEST booksellers, courageous entrepreneurs working continuously in a challenging economic environment to find ways to bring books and authors to their communities.

It is a privilege to have dedicated my career to bookselling. I have believed in this business for thirty years. Throughout the enormous evolutions in publishing in those years, what remains consistent is the abiding dedication to connecting books to readers by all of us in publishing. I abandoned my aspirations of being a musician for a career in bookselling. I may not have made it to Carnegie Hall as a musician, but I am extremely proud to be standing here in the Carnegie Hall of publishing, thanking you for the honor that you bestow upon me today. — Teresa Rolfe Kravtin, Southern Territory Associates, May 29. 2014

Next: The High Line and ABRAMS Dinner at Trestle on Tenth.

Previous: An Extraordinary Week to Remember: Monday through Wednesday.

Photo credit: Raquel Strecher (PW Rep of the Year acceptance speech)

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An Extraordinary Week to Remember

While I still feel like Cinderella, I’m going to do my best to chronicle this past week’s highlights for time immemorial. I don’t think I’ll ever have another week in my career quite like this, so indulge me this once.

A week ago, my son graduated high school at 8:30 am on a hot, humid Southern Saturday morning. On Monday, my husband and I and Taylor, jetted to NYC for the combined purpose of attending Book Expo America where I would receive the Publishers Weekly Rep of the Year award during Thursday’s breakfast, and celebrate Taylor’s graduation. What a week it was.

We explored the Upper West Side neighborhood near our hotel, walked over to Central Park and dashed into the American Museum of Natural History for the last open hour to get a quick look.

We had a great visit with a cousin who lives in Brooklyn on Monday evening. He came to us and treated us to dinner. Back at the hotel we all sat in the lobby and chatted, and my colleague, Geoff, joined us.

On Tuesday, we ventured out to the Staten Island Ferry for a fabulous ride by the Statue of Liberty and striking views of the lower tip of Manhattan. The temperature was perfect, the breezes refreshing, and it was a natural, slow, relaxing mode of transportation in stark contrast to the subway.

In the afternoon, Taylor and I headed out for Nintendo World at Rockefeller Center. It’s a two-story mecca for video game geeks. Taylor was in heaven. He tried out the demo for the new Mario Kart 8, bought gifts for himself and for his friends.

That evening we had tickets to hear Jeff “Tain” Watts at The Village Vanguard. We were second in line when the doors opened and got choice seating right in front of the stage. The set of music was spectacular. I am so glad we went.

I had a day of meetings on Wednesday, so my husband and son were on their own for a day. They walked in the park and had an adventure at the Empire State Building (which we won’t go into here). We ended the day at the Minetta Tavern in Greenwich Village with a business associate of my husband.

The prime burgers and frites were delicious. It was raucous and crowded and close, just as popular NY restaurants are known. We had a great time with gracious hosts.

Next, Thursday: Book Expo America Breakfast and Publishers Weekly Rep of the Year Award.

Graduation photo credit: Sandra Ward Griffin.

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I am SO excited to officially announce that the Daily Dishonesty book is coming out in Fall 2014!

"Daily Dishonesty pays homage to the little lies we tell ourselves just to make it through the day. Based on author Lauren Hom’s work from the blog of the same title, the book features a colorful collection of 150+ funny & beautifully illustrated lies. Covering topics such as diets, breakups, friendship, growing up, slacking off, guilty pleasures, and more, these hand-lettered, sassy mantras are both relatable and tongue-in-cheek. Daily Dishonesty is a stylish and chic feel-good gift book that reveals, plays with, and makes light of life’s little quirks.”

As always, thank you for all the love, laughs, and support over the past year. This blog and book wouldn’t have been possible without my lovely friends (aka my muses), family, and followers. My parents taught me that I should always tell the truth, but I guess I found a way to prove them wrong. They also told me that I have to put on pants every day…

Keep an eye out for this little blue book in stores later in the year!

x Lauren

Daily Dishonesty: The Beautiful Little Lies We Tell Ourselves Every Day
Lauren Hom
Abrams Image
September 2014

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Author Tour: Geoff Herbach and Avid Bookshop

On Monday this week, I met Sourcebooks author, Geoff Herbach, in real life when he traveled to Athens, GA for two school events sponsored by Avid Bookshop. I’m a big fan of Geoff’s new book Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders which just released last week.

"I’m fully capable of taking my own dignity. But no one else is going to take it."

Gabe is having a tough week. Normally the funny kid at the lunch table, he’s on edge from trying to kick his soda addiction and ditch his long-standing nickname, “Chunk.” So when news breaks that his beloved marching band camp has been cancelled due to lack of funding, he’s furious. What makes him even madder? The school’s vending machine money—which had previous been collected by the band—is now sponsoring the new cheer squad.

The war is ON. And Gabe is leading the charge. No one will be safe from the Geekers’ odd brand of wrath: not the principal, the band teacher, the local newspaper, and certainly not the cheerleaders and their jock boyfriends. Like the saying goes, it isn’t over until the fat boy sings…

"… the funny, profane text embraces the idea that nobody is perfect—Gabe himself is a jerk, and his discovery of his own jerkiness prevents him from being a one-note victim and provides delightful organic growth … will satisfy any appetite." — Kirkus

About Geoff Herbach:
Geoff Herbach is the author of the award winning Stupid Fast YA series as well as Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders. His books have been given the 2011 Cybils Award for best YA novel, the Minnesota Book Award, selected for the Junior Library Guild, listed among the year’s best by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and many state library associations. In the past, he wrote the literary novel, The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg, produced radio comedy shows and toured rock clubs telling weird stories. Geoff teaches creative writing at Minnesota State, Mankato. He lives in a log cabin with a tall wife. Photo by Katherine Warde.

Geoff’s presentation was centered around his journey to becoming a writer. He captivated two middle school audiences and made new fans of students and teachers alike. Here are a few photos from the day.

Burney-Harris Lyons Middle School, Dr. Anne McLeod, Media Specialist (@CAnneMcLeod)

I loved the presentation. Geoff made his life’s journey in becoming a writer relevant to everyone.

Clarke Middle School, Shawn Hinger, Media Specialist (@cmslibrarylady)

Geoff Herbach’s (Stupid Fast) funny and poignant novel introduces 16-year-old trombone player Gabe Johnson, who buys pop to support his high school band. Caught directly after allegedly stealing money from the pop machine, he unspools his story to his defense attorney.

Gabe (aka “Chunk”) started gaining weight after his mother abandoned him and his father for a Japanese architect she met on the Internet. “Stress makes a hole in me that needs filling,” he explains, as he drains bottle after bottle of Code Red Mountain Dew. But then the high school hikes the price of the soda bottles, and Gabe discovers a plot hatched by the head of the school board and the principal to disband the band and start a dance squad of cheerleaders with the pop proceeds. Moreover, Gabe’s beloved band teacher gets arrested for drunk driving, and his best friend starts dating a member of the dance squad. But Gabe also attracts new friends: classmates RC III, the African American quarterback who’s new to town, and “Gore,” a goth girl who works with them at the local doughnut shop.

Through narrator Gabe’s eyes, Herbach deftly walks the tightrope between stereotypes and real people painted in broad strokes, and works in a few surprises. Gabe’s grandfather helps him get into shape, and a supportive English teacher offers counsel, compensating for the teen’s absent parents. Gabe’s gradual and credible maturation, plus his winning sense of humor (“Thank God we don’t have capital punishment in Minnesota. Die pop robber! Zap!” he tells his attorney) carries the novel. —Jennifer M. Brown, children’s editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Another funny, poignant novel from the author of Stupid Fast about an unlikely hero determined to save his high school’s marching band.

Visit Geoff Herbach’s website.

Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA #indieThursday March 21, 2013 on A Rep Reading
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