Having filed suit against Muskegon, Mich.-based publisher RDR Books last fall, J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. saw their case tried in federal court this week. The trial centered around RDR’s intended publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon by Steven Vander Ark, based on Vander Ark’s Web site of the same name, which included an alphabetical listing of and details about all of the characters, spells, places and creatures in Rowling’s Harry Potter universe. Rowling and Warner Bros. contended that the language in the Lexicon was plagiarized from Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, companion books and other materials.
On multiple occasions, U.S. District Court Judge Robert P. Patterson expressed his opinion that this was a case that “could be settled and should be settled” out of court, as well as his concerns that the case seemed “lawyer-driven” as opposed to “client-driven,” but the case proceeded nonetheless. In opening remarks, the plaintiff lawyer Dale Cendali stated her intention to show that the Lexicon “takes too much and does too little” with Rowling’s work, while Anthony Falzone, for the defense, said that Vander Ark had met the standards of fair use in his adaptation of the material.
Rowling’s testimony on Monday was certainly one of the most anticipated moments in the trial, and she delivered an emotional account—tearing up at one point—of how the trial has disrupted her own creative process, and she underlined the importance of the case for all authors’ rights. “These characters mean so much to me,” Rowling said. “It’s difficult for someone who’s not a writer to understand what it’s like.” She said she found the Lexicon’s manuscript to be a “travesty” and noted that, in particular, her own Potter companion books, Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, had been “plundered” by the Lexicon.
Thirty years ago, Philippe Werck opened Poespas, a children’s bookstore, in his native city of Hasselt, the capital of Belgium’s Flemish province of Limburg. In 1984, he launched his own children’s publishing company, Clavis Publishing, which currently releases more than 180 Dutch-language titles annually. Now Clavis—the Latin word for key—has opened its doors in this country with the establishment of a Manhattan office and the spring launch of its first 10 English-language titles. Independent Publishing Group will distribute Clavis titles in the U.S. and Canada.
Werck, who had previously worked in the advertising department of a Hasselt newspaper, entered the bookselling business at the age of 25. "I was looking around for good books for my own young children, and they were rather hard to find in general bookstores," he explains. "The thought that my need for good books would also be the need of many other parents created the store. I started Poespas without partners and today the store is still a family business, where the most important partners are my children."
Even as he stocked Poespas’s shelves the evening before the store opened, Werck had his next step in mind. "I remember thinking on that night that I really wanted to be publishing myself one day," he says. Six years later, he was. Werck founded Clavis and released its first five titles, rights to which he had purchased at Frankfurt. Soon thereafter the publisher began signing up authors and illustrators to create an original publishing program. Over 24 years, Clavis has published books by Belgian, German, Dutch, French and Italian writers and artists, in formats spanning board books to young adult novels. Clavis’s Hasselt office now numbers 34 employees.
In what Bloomsbury’s director of publicity Deb Shapiro calls “eerily fortuitous” timing, just as Cecilia Galante, the author of The Patron Saint of Butterflies (Apr.), was preparing for the last bookstore event on the first leg of her book tour, the news broke that a judge had ordered the removal of 400 children from a compound that housed the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, a polygamous religious cult, in Eldorado, Texas.
The Patron Saint of Butterflies, Galante’s second novel, tells the story of two girls growing up in a religious commune, with one girl wanting to live out her life there, while the other wants only to escape.
The day after the story broke about the raid on the Eldorado commune, Galante—who herself grew up in a religious cult—spoke before a small group at The King’s English in Salt Lake City. Attendees included two women who work with the Diversity Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with boys and girls rescued from polygamist cults. The two women, who planned to travel to Texas the next day to work with the children rescued from FLDS, consulted with Galante on how best to help these children, whose experiences mirrored those both in Galante’s own past as well as in her novel.
Time Inc. Home Entertainment, which usually publishes books on popular culture and current events under the Time Books imprint, has collaborated for the first time with Yad Vashem Publications, the publishing arm of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Authority, in producing a YA title, Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice from the Holocaust by Rutka Laskier. Rutka was a Jewish teenager incarcerated with her family in the Bedzin ghetto in southern Poland, and later killed by the Nazis at Auschwitz in 1943. Her diary, dubbed by her co-publishers as the "Polish Anne Frank," is being released in the U.S. with a 55,000-copy initial print run on May 2, which is Yam Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Unlike previous editions of the diary, which were published in Poland and in Israel (in both Hebrew and English editions) by Yad Vashem, this edition sets Laskier’s writings within their larger context: pages on the left feature her diary entries, typeset on what looks like parchment, while pages to the right feature maps, historical documents, or photographs (including several of Laskier with family members and friends), as well as historical commentary and annotations explaining obscure terminology. Rutka’s Notebook also includes essays by Yad Vashem scholars, to place Laskier’s story within its historical setting.
"We thought the story would gain so much if we added more texture, another dimension," Kelly Knauer, the editor at Time Books who edited Rutka’s Notebook, explained. "We really wanted to open this book up for an American audience."
Fans throw a wide variety of questions at Diary
of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney during his many appearances. But the #1 question he's asked these days: What color will book #3 be? The first book was red, the second was blue, and the color for the third book is revealed here for the first time, as Bookshelf provides an exclusive look at the cover of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw. The national laydown date will be Saturday, January 17, 2009.
To get the buzz started, Amulet/Abrams will be showing the cover of The Last Straw during Kids Day at New York ComicCon this coming Sunday, as well as at BEA and ALA. For fans who can't wait till January: in October, Abrams will publish Diary of a Wimpy Kid: A Do-It Yourself Book, which enables readers to write like a Wimpy Kid, through activities and questions.
Even More Book News
HarperCollins and Marvel Team Up for Spider-Man
Marvel Comics and HarperCollins Children's Books are teaming up to launch a reading program based around Marvel's popular character Spider-Man. The new line, called simply, Spider-Man, will release its first titles in winter 2009; it will focus on a variety of children's formats, including beginning readers, story books, chapter books, phonics sets and novelty publications.
The initial line—21 titles in all—will launch with four books, including a beginning reader (Spider-Man Versus the Vulture), two chapter books and a story book. The program will not include comics, but the books will have illustrations.
Jodi Harris, editorial director of HarperFestival, which will oversee the program, explained that Harper worked with Marvel to choose the Spider-Man character as well as a number of villains featured in Spider-Man comics who will star in each of the kids' books. The books will be developed and produced by HarperCollins, which will come up with story lines and hire writers and illustrators.
Online book community Readergirlz and YALSA are teaming up for a project called Operation TBD (Teen Book Drop) in honor of Support Teen Literature Day, which was first celebrated last year and is being observed today. The organizations will be delivering 10,000 books donated by publishers to 10,000 teenagers in pediatric hospitals across the U.S. Here, Readergirlz members, representatives of Mirrorstone Books and the Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation pose with books ready for delivery. Further information is available at the Readergirlz Web site.
Reading Festival Nets Big
This past Sunday, the third "Explore-A-Story:
A Celebration of Books" festival at the ArcLight Cinemas Hollywood raised more than $400,000 for underprivileged libraries in Southern California. The event, sponsored by local nonprofit organization The Wonder of Reading, was attended by more than 1,800 people. Speakers included Julie Andrews, Felicity Huffman, Kadir Nelson and David Shannon. Here, Huffman reads to the crowd.
Sneaky Peeks in Phoenix
Simon & Schuster is currently touring author Cassandra Clare in support of her novel, City of Ashes, the second title in her Mortal Instruments series. While in Phoenix, Clare was joined by Lisa McMann, author of Wake (Simon Pulse, Mar.) for school and bookstore events. The authors had previously established an e-mail friendship after McMann's editor, Jennifer Klonsky, sent Clare a copy of Wake, but this marked the first time they had met in person. Here, McMann (l.) and Clare peek over their book jackets at Phoenix Book Company.
Bookshelf spoke with Angie Sage about her new novel, Queste (HarperCollins/Tegen, Apr.).
The fourth book in your series is about to come out in the U.S. How have the reactions from readers been different in the UK and the U.S.?
I get a lot more letters from children in the U.S., and I think that's something to do with the way reading seems to be such a high priority in your schools. It's wonderful. I think they ask a lot more interesting questions, U.S. kids do. And there's quite a buzz, I feel. There's a buzz over here too, but I generally get fewer letters from here, at the moment, anyway.
Keep Your Eye on the Kid:
The Early Years of Buster Keaton
Catherine Brighton. Roaring Brook/Flash Point, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-158-4
Brighton (My Tour of Europe by Teddy Roosevelt Age Ten) follows the great silent actor and filmmaker Buster Keaton from his birth to vaudeville parents to his early 30s, when he emerged as a daring comic auteur. The helicopter-parented generation should find the stories of Keaton's itinerant, rough-and-tumble showbiz life tantalizing: he got his start at age three when his father literally threw him across the stage ("Keep your eye on the kid!"), and he attended only one day of school ("Yep, I got expelled for wisecracking, and that was it. I never went back. Ever"). Brighton has created many picture biographies, and this may be her best effort yet. The tough-talking first-person narration has the cadence of someone who was treated as an adult almost from birth; the detailed images evoke the mise-en-scène of silent movies and give a dreamy grace to even the most slapstick moments. Readers of any age will close the book with an itch to see Keaton's movies—or at least catch his most famous scenes on YouTube. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)
Percy Jackson and the Olympians,
Book Four: Battle of the Labyrinth
Rick Riordan. Hyperion, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4231-0146-8
Percy Jackson's fourth summer at Camp Half-Blood is much like his previous three—high-octane clashes with dark forces, laced with hip humor and drama. Opening with a line for the ages—"The last thing I wanted to do on my summer break was blow up another school"—this penultimate series installment finds Percy, Annabeth and the satyr Grover furiously working to prevent former camp counselor Luke from resurrecting the Titan lord Kronos, whose goal is to overthrow the gods. When the heroes learn that Luke can breach Camp Half-Blood's security through an exit from Daedalus's Labyrinth, they enter the maze in search of the inventor and a way to stop the invasion. Along the way they encounter a lifetime supply of nightmare-inducing, richly imagined monsters. Grover's own quest to find the lost god Pan, meanwhile, provides a subtle environmental message. Percy, nearly 15, has girl trouble, having become something of a chick magnet. One of Riordan's strengths is the wry interplay between the real and the surreal. When the heroes find Hephaestus, for instance, he's repairing a Toyota, wearing overalls with his name embroidered over the chest pocket. The wit, rousing swordplay and breakneck pace will once again keep kids hooked. Ages 10-up. (May)
Reviews from the April 14 issue of Publishers Weekly.
Margaret Raymo at Houghton Mifflin has
pre-empted U.S. rights to Genesis by Bernard Beckett. The first novel was one of the hits at last month's Bologna Fair, where U.K. publisher Quercus was shopping it (they had bought world rights from Text in Australia). In the belief that Genesis has wider appeal than just for teens, Houghton's adult and children's divisions will collaborate on the novel, which will be published as an adult book in spring 2009. Read more here.
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will publish the first English-language translations of novels based on the Japanese property Haruhi Suzumiya, acquired from Kadokawa Shoten. The first title, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa, will pub in April 2009 as an original trade paperback, and eight volumes will follow. The program will be overseen by Joe Monti and is the first joint publishing venture between Yen Press and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, both im-prints of Hachette Book Group USA. Novels based on Haruhi Suzumiya have sold more than 4.5 million copies in Japan, with another 1.5 million copies sold of the manga editions.
Zack Snyder has signed up to direct Guardians of Ga'Hoole, an animated feature film from Village Roadshow based on Kathryn Lasky's series for Scholastic, according to Variety. Warner Bros. will distribute, and Animal Logic, which worked with Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. on Happy Feet, will do the animation. There are 14 books in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series; the 15th and final book is due out in November.
Anica Rissi at Simon Pulse won an auction for debut author Jessica Verday's The Hollow in a three-book, world English deal via Rachel Vater at Folio. This love/ghost story set in modern-day Sleepy Hollow opens with the disappearance and presumed death of a teenage girl's best friend, and is the first book in a planned trilogy. Simon Pulse made the acquisition in conjunction with S&S U.K., and a fall 2009 world English launch is planned.
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing announced a promotion and a new appointment. Paula Wiseman has been promoted to v-p and publisher, Paula Wiseman Books. She launched her imprint in 2002. Anne Zafian has been appointed deputy publisher of the trade imprints, consisting of S&S Books for Young Readers, Paula Wiseman Books, Atheneum, Margaret K. McElderry Books and Allyn Johnston's still-unnamed West Coast imprint. Zafian joined S&S in 2004 as director of distributor sales and retail marketing, and was promoted to v-p
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers announced two promotions. Liza Baker has been promoted to editor-in-chief, in charge of the editorial staff and acquisitions for the Little, Brown and LB Kids imprints. She was formerly editorial director of LB Kids. And Fatimah Khan has been promoted to associate editor; she was previously assistant editor.
In the Media
Several celebrities have children's books in the pipeline:
This fall S&S will publish a picture-book version of Bob Dylan's song Forever Young.