Saturday, March 27, 2010

Author Dan Gutman Scores a Hit

Today the Brookline Public Library welcomed author Dan Gutman; the library's Hunneman Hall was chock full of fans ranging from elementary school students right up through adults. While Mr. Gutman says he did not like to read as a boy, when he got hooked on sports he decided to write about sports -- and that led to an abiding interest in reading and books. He turned to writing stories for young people when he saw how dedicated his son Sam (in the photo below with his dad) was to skateboarding, and he figured he could capture that passion in books for young readers.

Indeed, he is now celebrating the publication of Roberto & Me, the tenth book in his popular time travel series in which the protagonist travels back in time to the era of celebrated sports heroes such as Clemente, Babe Ruth and Satchel Paige. His first book in the series, Honus & Me, was inspired by the most valuable baseball trading card -- a 1909 card featuring Honus Wagner, worth 2 million dollars today to card collectors!

Mr. Gutman received 100 rejection letters from publishers when he tried to have Honus & Me published. But did he give up? "No!" answered the audience resoundingly.

The opinion of one editor -- that kids would not find this as fascinating as adults -- proved to be wrong indeed. At last, the publisher HarperCollins saw merit in his book, and three or four drafts later it was published, complete with the "baseball card" cover suggested by Gutman.

Mr. Gutman presented a slide show of "The Day in the Life of the Author" -- an ordinary day of work, in a sense: writing in the morning, doing errands, and then dedicating several hours in the afternoon to research for his current book. Gutman records his facts and thoughts on numerous 3x5 file cards and then does an outline of the whole story as he expects it to be, taking about 4 or 5 months to actually write the book. The eleventh book in the series (about Ted Williams) will be published in 2012, so fans have something to look forward to.

Gutman also writes a funny series about a school where all the adults are a wee bit crazy (soon to reach 29 books in total); Gutman, though claiming to be no artist, sketched a picture of AJ, the main character.

January 2011 will herald a new series: the Genius Files, featuring brother and sister twins. And Gutman's favorite book by another author? Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret. His favorite author? Carl Hiaasen, author of Hoot and Flush among other good books. The bottom line: Dan Gutman loves both writing and reading books. He definitely appreciates his fans and plans to keep providing books for them to enjoy!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Enthusiastic Book Award Readers!

Students in Grades 4 to 6 at Lawrence School have been reading up a storm as the deadline for voting for favorite books in the Massachusetts Children's Book Award process draws near. Salem State College sponsors this program annually, with 25 titles nominated as candidates for students' favorite book statewide. What will it be? It is hard to tell from the standpoint of our library because many of the books have been circulating a lot; readers are discussing books enthusiastically though they have not yet submitted their votes. Students must read five or more books in order to cast a vote for their single favorite book; the deadline is this Thursday at 3 pm, when we will submit all the votes to the MCBA. You can view last year's winner and this year's list of nominated books! The state winner will be announced later this spring. We'll keep you posted.