Of Mice And Men To Be Banned In Idaho?

Hailed by the Nobel prize judges in 1962 for his realism and sympathetic humour, John Steinbeck is under attack. Parents in Idaho have branded “Of Mice and Men” “neither a quality story nor a page-turner” and asked for it to be removed from classrooms. A curriculum review committee in the city of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has recommended the 1937 novella should no longer be taught in classrooms, according to the Spokesman-Review, and that ninth-graders should study it “on a voluntary, small-group basis” only. For parent Mary Jo Finney, the use of words such as “bastard” and “God damn” makes it unsuitable for 14- or 15-year-old students. After counting more than 100 “profanities,” she expressed her shock to the Spokesman-Review that “teachers actually had the audacity to have students read these profanities out loud in class”.

Steinbeck’s story of the difficulties faced by migrant fieldworkers in the Great Depression is a fixture on high-school syllabuses in the US, the UK and beyond, but since 1953 has also become one of America’s most frequently-challenged books.

In the same week, one of the novels on the American Library Association’s most recent list of banned books, “The Kite Runner” by Afghan-born Khaled Hosseini, has come under attack in North Carolina. According to the Citizen-Times, a parent in Asheville complained about the global bestseller’s language and “adult themes”. “The description of the book the teacher included mentioned that there was a rape,” said Lisa Baldwin, “but not that it was the rape of a child and it was the homosexual rape of a child, which I felt was something parents needed to know.” Baldwin also objected that Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front” had been “removed from the curriculum without parents knowing about it”.

Hosseini’s 2003 book has been removed from classrooms until a committee at Ashville’s Reynolds High School has considered Baldwin’s complaint. It’s not yet clear if parents concerned by Hosseini’s depiction of war and chaos in Afghanistan will be reassured by Remarque’s evocation of the shock and horror of mechanised warfare in France.

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James Patterson Donates $100,000 To Bookstores In Australia And New Zealand

JAMES PATTERSON DONATES $100,000 TO BOOKSTORES IN AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND

In his first visit to Australia in 11 years, Patterson announced a $100,000 donation from which Australian and New Zealand book sellers with dedicated children’s sections could apply for cash grants of up to $5000. The donation was timed for Patterson’s arrival in Sydney for a series of Writers’ Festival events and promotion of Rafe’s Aussie Adventure, his Middle School pre-teens collaboration with writer-illustrator Martin Chatterton.

The greatest challenge facing society, warned Patterson, was getting bright children to read more broadly and at-risk kids reading competently. One in three Australian high school students could be considered functionally illiterate. Patterson’s hope was that Australia might follow Germany’s lead and set up a ministerial foundation to support and acknowledge the importance of independent booksellers as missionaries of children’s literacy. Were Amazon to locate its operations in Australia, Patterson predicts half the local bookstores would close.

Patterson has been one of the loudest voices in the book world warning about the pressure of online discounting and e-book retailing on the local bookstore. Retailers, who applauded Patterson’s assistance, have been lobbying for the imposition of GST for all online purchases and a review of international parcel delivery agreements.

Patterson holds the Guinness Book of Record for Number One New York Times bestsellers. Total worldwide sales exceed 300 million, of which he has sold 4.5 million copies in Australia.

A former copywriter, Patterson’s prodigious output includes one or two standalone thrillers each year in his name and seven or eight books which he commissions by way of detailed 50 to 80 page synopsis, edits and, if necessary, rewrites. To criticism of his methods, “my answer is Simon and Garfunkel, Lennon and McCartney, Stephen King and Peter Straub and the Coen brothers”.

As a commissioning editor and co-author, Patterson has branched into the genre of young-adult and children’s fiction, collaborating in six children’s book series. Chatterton describes his partnership as a “pain-free” experience, and Patterson as a precise and conscientious editor. “I strive for the highest common denominator,” Patterson says.

Patterson’s passion for child literacy began with his son’s reluctance to read. One summer he cancelled Jack’s chores and told him his only obligation was to read for one hour a day. “Give them stories that they’ll gobble up like chocolate pudding and ask for more,” says Patterson of the secret to enthusing reluctant readers. The only bad book was one that put a child off reading for life.

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England Votes On Best Opening Lines To A Book

Peter Pan is the book with England’s favorite opening line, according to a new poll.
‘All children, except one, grow up,’ wrote J M Barrie in his children’s classic which scooped 20% of the vote in a poll commissioned to mark World Book Day next month.

But it’s not just childhood fairy tales that adults have fond memories of, as the opening lines from classic 19th Century novel “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens scored second place, while George Orwell’s “1984” completed the top three.

One in five of those polled admitted they will put a book down if the first line isn’t engaging.
However, one in four said they will continue reading a novel to the end even if they don’t enjoy it and, with complete disregard for the opening line, 15% admit jumping to the last chapter first to find out a book’s ending.

Here are the top 10 selections:

1. ‘All children, except one, grow up.’ – Peter Pan

2. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.’ – A Tale of Two Cities

3. ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ – 1984

4. ‘When Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.’ – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

5. ‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice “without pictures or conversation?”‘ – Alice in Wonderland

6. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.’ – Pride and Prejudice

7. ‘Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.’ – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

8. ‘Here is Edward Bear, coming down the stairs now, bump bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin.’ – Winnie-The-Pooh

9. ‘My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night.’ – Adrian Mole

10. ‘The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.’ – The Cat in the Hat

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

“I AM MALALA” WINS GRAMMY

Neela Vaswani, a professor of creative writing, literature and cultural studies, was stunned to learn she had been nominated for a Grammy.

When she heard the audio version of I Am Malala, the book by Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai–which Vaswani had narrated–had been nominated for Best Children’s Album, she shared, “I had no idea it was even possible for a children’s book to be nominated.”

The news just got even better: the audio version of I Am Malala won the Grammy. The Grammy represents the latest in a slew of honors the teenaged Malala has earned since surviving an attack in which she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for standing up for her belief that all children should have access to an education. She earned rave reviews for a keynote address at the Forbes Under 30 Summit this fall, explaining her journey and what she’s now doing to spread her message all while attending school in the United Kingdom. “She’s very busy going to school and saving the children of the world,” said Vaswani. “I hope Malala is happy,” said Vaswani. “I’m thrilled to be a part of spreading her message further.”

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JK Rowling Writing More About Harry And The Gang

JK ROWLING WRITING MORE ABOUT HARRY AND THE GANG

JK Rowling has revealed she is writing new material for her dedicated all-things-Hogwarts website, Pottermore – with a special tale that released in mid- December to bring readers up to date with what happened to blond-haired baddie Draco Malfoy.

Malfoy, played by Tom Felton in the film series, was Potter’s sworn enemy at Hogwarts School for Wizards and Witches. By the final episode films, he had grown into a real villain, in league with Potter’s nemesis, Lord Voldemort. A change in character for Malfoy would not be altogether surprising: Rowling described him as being “not wholly bad, just a moral coward”, and in one of the final scenes of the series, an adult Malfoy is seen taking his own children to catch the Hogwarts Express train at King’s Cross station at the same time as Harry and his gang.

To mark Halloween, the author released via the site an essay that revealed her views on one of the stories’ characters, the teacher Dolores Umbridge, played in the films by Imelda Staunton. She said the teacher was modeled on two people she had encountered in real life. She has also used Pottermore to expand on such characters as the ice-cream selling Florean Fortescue, who appears in “The Chamber of Secrets” and “The Prisoner of Azkaban” before meeting a sticky end.

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Get A Jump On The Year’s Movies By Reading These Novels Headed To The Screen

GET A JUMP ON NEXT YEAR’S MOVIES BY READING THESE NOVELS HEADED TO THE SCREEN

Screen adaptations are awesome, but reading the book first puts you a step ahead. Not only do you know what will happen, you’ll also see what the screenwriters cut from the original story. Here are some titles be headed to the big screen in the next months:

“The Mortdecai Trilogy” by Kyril Bonfiglioli — The comedic crime novels have been turned into a film, “Mortdecai,” set for release Jan. 23. Johnny Depp stars as Charlie Mortdecai, an art dealer searching for a stolen painting. The quirky story also stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor.

“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Seth Grahame-Smith — The zombie parody of the Jane Austen classic is set to hit the big screen in 2015, with “Downton Abbey” actress Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet.

The “Last Apprentice” series by Joseph Delaney — The fantasy series follows Thomas Ward, a farmhand who discovers he has the power to protect his county from a witch. The film, called “Seventh Son,” stars Ben Barnes, Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore, will be released Feb. 6.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James — The blockbuster erotic romance novel will hit theaters on Valentine’s Day, but don’t expect the movie to be as explicit as the book. Some things had to be toned down to assure an R rating. Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star.

“Paper Towns” by John Green — This young adult novel got the green light to be filmed almost immediately after the success of “The Fault in Our Stars.” Nat Wolff, one of that 2014 film’s young stars, here has the lead role of Quentin, a teenager trying to decipher the mystery behind the girl he is in love with, Margo (Cara Delevingne). The movie has a June release.

“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins — Fans will have to wait until November to see what happens in the second half of the series. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has to deal with a brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and realizes her business in the Capitol isn’t over yet.

“Brooklyn” by Colm Toibin — The film of Toibin’s novel follows a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) who emigrates from Ireland to Brooklyn in the 1950s. She falls in love there, but a tragedy forces her to return home.

“Insurgent” by Veronica Roth — This sequel to “Divergent” follows Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) as they try to discover the history of Tris’ family. If they want answers, they’ll have to fight the Erudites.

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

New Works From Old Masters ~ Show December 6 and 7

FEATURED BOOKS PREVIEWED

“Revival” by Stephen King
“Flesh and Blood” by Patricia Cornwell
“Some Luck” by Jane Smiley
“Desert God” by Wilbur Smith
“Leaving Time” by Jodi Picoult
“Bones Never Lie” by Kathy Reichs
“Beautiful You” by Chuck Palahniuk

INTERVIEW
Patricia Cornwell, author

TUNE IN TO THE PROGRAM FOR
A spotlight on new works from Old Masters. All around the publishing world, the names we often reach for are out with new titles. Elaine shares the highlights, and speaks with Patricia Cornwell about “Flesh and Blood.”

Listen to The Book Report at your convenience. Go to https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-book-report/id540205917?mt=2, or at bookreportradio.com, click on Archived Shows

WILD ABOUT HARRY? CHECK POTTERMORE.COM

J.K. Rowling’s pottermore.com posted an original story on Halloween about a key character from the Harry Potter books. The special Halloween treat for Harry Potter fans focuses on the witch and former Hogwarts professor Dolores Umbridge.

The character first appeared in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic. “Umbridge is not only one of the most malicious Potter characters, she is the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on Harry,” according to pottermore.com.

The new exclusive J.K. Rowling content provides a rich, 1,700-word backstory about Umbridge’s life filled with new details, as well as Rowling’s revealing first-person thoughts and reflections about the character.

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SOPHIE KINSELLA TO PUBLISH FIRST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

SOPHIE KINSELLA TO PUBLISH FIRST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Finding Audrey will be the first young adult novel from the author of the bestselling “Shopaholic” series, Sophie Kinsella. The book will go on sale this coming June.

The novel features a 14-year-old girl recovering from an anxiety disorder, and blends “family comedy, romance, and personal discovery,” according to the publisher.

“Finding Audrey is my first YA novel, and I loved writing it,” said Kinsella. “Audrey has already become a best friend to me, and I hope you will enjoy meeting her and her crazy family.”

Kinsella’s books have sold more than 36 million copies worldwide. Her most recent novel, Shopaholic to the Stars, was released on October 21.

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The World’s Top Earning Authors

THE WORLD’S TOP EARNING AUTHORS

Watch out Danielle Steel and Stephen King – the kids are coming. The world’s top-earning authors list includes three young newcomers who made more than $9 million each in the last year.

In a ranking long-dominated by stalwarts like crime writer James Patterson (who earned an estimated $90 million between June 2013 and June 2014), several of these “youngsters” have joined the ranks of big earners due to the increased commercial appeal of teen literature. Young adult author Veronica Roth‘s ranks 6th on account of her “Divergent” trilogy which sold a combined 6.7 million copies in 2013, earning her around $17 million between June 2013 and June 2014. At just 26, Roth is the youngest newcomer on the ranking, and one of seven women on the 17-person list. 37-year-old newcomer John Green’s ”The Fault in Our Stars” propelled him to an estimated $9 million yearly paycheck. The YA love story, which follows the trials of two cancer-stricken teens, has sold well over 1 million copies in the U.S. and spawned a weepy summer blockbuster. Green is tied for 12th place with Gillian Flynn, who joins the rankings for the first time due to the continued success of 2012′s “Gone Girl.” This New York Times bestseller sold 1.2 million copies in 2013.

Interestingly, a 2012 Bowker Market Research study suggested 55% of YA books are bought by people 18 and older. Adults aged between 30 and 44 accounted for 28% of all YA sales, and the books are purchased for their own reading the vast majority of the time.

With $14 million in earnings, the original young adult tour de force, J.K. Rowling, ranks 8th on the list. She continues to earn from back sales of her iconic Harry Potter series, while Pottermore – a proprietary website she setup to sell Harry Potter ebooks – earns millions. Unlike most authors, Rowling never signed over the digital rights to her books, so she sells directly to readers, earning far more from these digital sales than most authors do through ebooks.

Dan Brown, who first joined the Celebrity 100 ranking in 2004 thanks to the meteoric success of the Da Vinci Code, made an estimated $28 million from his Robert Langdon thriller series. In 2013, his fourth installment, “Inferno,” sold more than 1.4 million copies in the U.S.

Mainstays Nora Roberts ($23 million), Danielle Steel ($22 million) and Janet Evanovich ($20 million) round out the first five. Notably absent from the top: Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins, who ranked third in 2013. This year, she earned a relatively paltry $16 million – a 71% decrease from the $55 million she pulled in between 2012 and 2013 – due to an 88% drop in book sales of her dystopian trilogy.

Collins still fared better than “Fifty Shades Of Grey” author E.L. James. The top earning author on last year’s ranking with a $95 million paycheck, James (No. 11) made just $10 million in this scoring period. Her erotic trilogy sold a meager 1.8 million copies in 2013, compared to more than 29 million in 2012.

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