Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Harper Perennial: The Paris Model by Alexandra Joel

Algonquin Young Readers: Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Andrews McMeel Publishing: How to Draw a Reindeer and Other Christmas Creatures with Simple Shapes in 5 Steps by Lulu Mayo

Houghton Mifflin: No Place for Monsters by Kory Merritt

Quotation of the Day

Give Books: 'Cheese and Crackers Never Changed Anyone's Life'

"The value of books... because cheese and crackers never changed anyone's life: When people get yet another basket filled with fruit or wine or cheese and crackers--it is hard to remember who sent what--but when they receive a book or a basket of books or a series of business, current events or history books--it feels thoughtful and personal and memorable. It also represents lots of value--hard to imagine what would have as much impact for an expenditure of $30 or $50."--An e-mail newsletter sent by Roxanne Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., promoted "Corporate Gift Ideas."

 


University of California Press: Smoke But No Fire: Convicting the Innocent of Crimes That Never Happened by Jessica S. Henry


News

Notes: Two Big Houses to Delay e-Big Books; Mavjee Crowned

Simon & Schuster plans to delay by four months the e-book editions of 35 leading titles early next year, and Hachette Group has similar plans "for the majority of its titles," according to the Wall Street Journal, which called the moves "a dramatic stand against the cut-rate $9.99 pricing of e-book best sellers."

S&S CEO Carolyn Reidy told the paper: "The right place for the e-book is after the hardcover but before the paperback. We believe some people will be disappointed. But with new [electronic] readers coming and sales booming, we need to do this now, before the installed base of e-book reading devices gets to a size where doing it would be impossible."

The affected S&S titles include Don DeLillo's Point Omega; Karl Rove's memoir, Courage and Consequence; and Jodi Picoult's House Rules.

Hachette CEO David Young said, "We're doing this to preserve our industry. I can't sit back and watch years of building authors sold off at bargain-basement prices. It's about the future of the business."

An Amazon spokesman told the paper, "Authors get the most publicity at launch and need to strike while the iron is hot. If readers can't get their preferred format at that moment, they may buy a different book or just not buy a book at all."

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Random House has picked up where it left off earlier this year reorganizing the company: yesterday it announced that the trade publishing units of the Crown Publishing Group--including general books published by Crown, Clarkson Potter cookbooks and Shaye Areheart Books--will be separated from the Random House Audio business and the information unit, which publishes Fodor Travel Guides and Princeton Review guides.

At the same time, Crown Publishing Group president and publisher Jenny Frost is leaving the company and is being replaced by Maya Mavjee, executive publisher of the Doubleday Canada Publishing Group and executive v-p of Random House of Canada.

More in the New York Times.

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Majors Books, the medical bookstore with sites in Houston and Dallas, Tex., is closing the Houston store in January, the Houston Chronicle reported. Owner Al McClendon told the paper that online booksellers had had hurt sales and that ever more medical information and research is available for free online.

Majors will keep the Dallas store open and sell online. Earlier this year the retailer had decided to sublet part of its 10,000-sq.-ft. space in the Houston store (Shelf Awareness, April 6, 2009).

Majors was founded 100 years ago. The Houston branch opened in 1956.

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Nice plug!

In the New Yorker's Book Bench Holiday Gift Guide, featuring recommendations from editors, writers and bloggers in the magazine's book department, Rebecca Mead wrote:

"I already got exactly what I wanted for Christmas--the Greenlight Bookstore, which recently opened in my Brooklyn neighborhood of Fort Greene. Oh, the joy of living in a place where an independent bookstore is opening, rather than being closed down! The store is well appointed, smartly stocked, and welcoming. Their events have been packed like Chelsea gallery openings--at the opening party, which took place on a night of pouring rain, the sidewalk outside the store was thronging with crowds who couldn't get in--and their children's corner is a confirmed Saturday morning destination. With the Greenlight in the neighborhood it's almost possible to believe this is an era in which publishing is flourishing and reading has never been more popular. This may be a delusion, but it's not a bad one to have available just around the corner."

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The Wall Street Journal offers "Recommended Reading for a Healthy New Year."

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Is there a Jane Austen fanatic in your life? Inkwell Bookstore, Falmouth, Mass., has some great gift suggestions, from notecards and T-shirts to the Pride and Prejudice board game (sorry, no zombies).

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More Jane!

Penguin Classics on Air, a half-hour radio series devoted to some of the more than 1,500 Penguin Classics titles, makes its debut this week on Sirius XM Book Radio (Sirius #117, XM #163). The series is written and produced by Penguin employees and airs twice a week, on Mondays at 3 p.m. and Thursdays at 11:30 p.m.

Hosted by Penguin Classics editorial director Elda Rotor, associate publisher Stephen Morrison and senior director of academic marketing Alan Walker, the shows include in-depth conversations with scholars and experts.

The first show, called "Why We Love Jane Austen," explores what it means to be a Janeite, how etiquette was different in Austen's time and why spoofs like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are so popular right now.

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Get ready for "the next big thing in e-books": Baker & Taylor's Blio. According to Mike Shatzkin's blog, the wholesaler has been developing a proprietary e-book platform "that can work on 'any device with an operating system,' which means computers and iPhones, but not Kindles."

"Publishers deliver PDFs, which B&T converts for free to the new format," which Shatzkin describes as "the best I've ever seen. The type is crisp and sharp, it has full multiple-media functionality... and it does tricks, my favorite of which is that you can see (on a PC screen) many pages at a time dealt out like a deck of cards. Then you find the ones you want and hone in on them. There are many ways to use that capability, particularly for an illustrated how-to book or a textbook."

At the Frankfurt Book Fair, we at Shelf Awareness saw a demo of the device--which at that time was unnamed--and can attest to its attraction (Shelf Awareness, October 15, 2009).

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The Open Book bookstore in Shorewood, Wis., which opened last month, has sent an apology to its member-owners for calling itself a co-op when it is actually an LLP, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. The owners are in the process of establishing a legal co-op.

The new store, managed by a Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops veteran, has been criticized for calling itself a co-op and for obtaining a $35,000 low-interest loan from the town of Shorewood (Shelf Awareness, November 8, 2009).

Five legal Wisconsin co-ops had sent a letter to the store asking that the store "make a public apology, that it stop using the 'co-op' description in its materials, and that it issue a news release to all local media correcting its description," the paper said.

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Entertainment Weekly's Shelf Life blog reports that Nora Roberts is getting into the video game biz. "The famously prolific author is a fan of casual computer games herself, using them to help keep her mind elastic as she writes her 5-10 novels a year."

"The romance genre, with its built-in encouragements of reader identification and beach daydream role-play, seems a perfect fit [with videogames]... I-play, a computer gaming company that has already worked to make the work of James Patterson and Agatha Christie interactive, has teamed up with Roberts to fashion a downloadable casual-play game out of her 2009 novel Vision in White.

"The game follows the plot of Vision (about four friends who operate a wedding-planning company), punctuating the story with hidden-object tasks and nuptial-themed mini-games."

 


GLOW: Houghton Mifflin: How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by Guy Raz


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Moon River and Me by Andy Williams

Tomorrow on the Bonnie Hunt Show: Katie Lee, author of The Comfort Table: Recipes for Everyday Occasions (Simon Spotlight, $26, 9781439126745/1439126747).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: A.S. Byatt, author of The Children's Book (Knopf, $26.95, 9780307272096/0307272095). As the show put it: "As the vast array of subjects presented in A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book parades past--puppetry, women's rights, Fabianism, Peter Pan, education, children's fiction, the history of pottery glazes--one can't help but wonder: how does it all hold together? Everything in the book refers to England before World War I, but still, what an assemblage of fascinating parts!"

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Tomorrow on Ellen: Steve Harvey, author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment (Amistad, $23.99, 9780061728976/0061728977).

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Tomorrow on the Diane Rehm Show: Andy Williams, author of Moon River and Me: A Memoir (Viking, $25.95, 9780670021178/0670021172).

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Gwen Ifill, author of The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama (Anchor, $15, 9780767928908/0767928903).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Show with David Letterman: James Hansen, author of Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (Bloomsbury USA, $25, 9781608192007/1608192008).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Howie Mandel, author of Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me (Bantam, $25, 9780553807868/0553807862).


Atheneum Books for Young Readers: Tune It Out by Jamie Summer


Television: Pillars of the Earth

Ken Follett visited the set of Pillars of the Earth in Hungary, where filming is currently underway for the Ridley Scott-directed miniseries based on the epic novel.

The book was originally published in 1989, but Follett told the Associated Press (via ABC News) that, "while he had received offers to turn the book into a two- to four-hour film, only Scott was willing to commit to an extended version that would capture the book's complexities."

"Most people think it's my best book and I felt very strongly that I should hold out for a long miniseries," he said of the eight-hour series starring Donald Sutherland, Ian McShane and Rufus Sewell. "Ridley was the only person who was able to guarantee that.

"What I liked most about the script was that the story remained strong. I was most relieved when I read it," Follett added. "You think you have to let your baby go, like sending your child to school, you have to put him into someone else's hands. You know you've got to do it but it worries you anyway."

 


University Press of Kentucky: The Redshirt (University Press of Kentucky New Poetry & Prose) by Corey Sobel


Movies: One Day

Lone Scherfig is in negotiations to direct One Day, adapted from the novel by British author David Nicholls (set to be published in the U.S. next June by Vintage Contemporaries), according to the Hollywood Reporter, which noted that the story "revolves around Dexter and Emma, who meet for the first time during their graduation in 1988 and proceed to meet one day a year for the next 20 years."

One Day's producer Nina Jacobson is also "in postproduction on Diary of A Wimpy Kid, an adaptation of the Jeff Kinney books. Her Color Force is developing an adaptation of The Hunger Games, based on Suzanne Collins' best-selling young-adult book series." 

 



Books & Authors

Attainment: New Books Out Next Week

Selected new titles being published next Monday and Tuesday, December 14 and 15:

Witch & Wizard
by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (Little, Brown, $17.99, 9780316036245/0316036242) takes place in a nightmarish totalitarian future in which two teens are imprisoned for no discernible reason.

Too Much Money: A Novel
by Dominick Dunne (Crown, $26, 9780609603871/0609603876) is a high society satire from the late author.

Nanny Returns: A Novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus (Atria, $25, 9781416585671/1416585672) continues the Nanny Diaries series.

Love and War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of by John Eldredge and Stasi Eldredge (Doubleday Religion, $22.99, 9780385529808/0385529805) gives marital advice from a religious perspective.

The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron by Rebecca Keegan (Crown, $24, 9780307460318/0307460312) chronicles the film-making career of James Cameron, including a special behind-the-scenes look at his newest film, Avatar.


Children's Reviews: Gift Books 2009, Part III

This is the final installment of our annual roundup of children's gift books for the holidays. These books star characters we've met before, but can be fully appreciated without having read the previous titles.


Dog and Bear: Three to Get Ready by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook, $12.99, 9781596433960/1596433965, 32 pp., ages 3-7, September 2009)
In Laura Vaccaro Seeger's third book about tried-and-true friends Dog and Bear, the author-artist once again combines her signature ingredients: suspense, surprise twist and heart. And she does it all in a few brief pages in a trio of tales ideal for beginning readers. In the first, "Uh-Oh," Seeger mixes full-page illustrations and cartoon-style panels to demonstrate Dog's solution for removing a bucket from Bear's head (naturally, the solution introduces a new problem for Dog). Only the star dachshund's hindquarters are visible on the title page for "Oops." Why? Because Dog is "flying." "Please stop jumping on the bed," cautions Bear. When Dog pays no mind, Bear prepares for the inevitable. In the final story, Bear helps Dog to get "more organized" by alphabetizing his bones, sticks, toys and books. But where did Bear put Dog's sock monkey? Maybe it's in the box marked "c" for "cuddly" or "a" for "adorable," Bear suggests to Dog. No matter what challenge lies before Dog and Bear, Seeger keeps the focus on what matters most: a loyal friend.

The Frogs and Toads All Sang by Arnold Lobel, color by Adrianne Lobel (HarperCollins, $16.99, 9780061800221/0061800228, 32 pp., ages 4-8, May 2009)
Who could resist a lady frog in a long dress dancing with a gentleman toad in pants--in a bucket of lemonade? That's the opening image paired with the title poem; there are 10 in all. In these pages, frogs and toads sing, dance, bake apple pies, play waltzes on a violin and drive fast cars. Adrianne Lobel, daughter of the late great Arnold Lobel, tells in an introduction how she came across these works by her father, which he fashioned as gifts to friends long before his unforgettable Frog and Toad stories were published. Adrianne, a set designer, also discusses her preparation and approach to coloring her father's illustrations. My favorite, "Made for Toads," seems almost like a blueprint to the personalities of the inseparable friends Lobel would later create: "A sunny day/ Is made for toads/ To play and leap/ Down dusty roads./ A rainy day is made for frogs/ To swim in swamps/ And under logs./ In weather gray/ Or weather bright,/ For some, the day/ Will be just right."

Ivy and Bean: Doomed to Dance by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Chronicle, $14.99, 9780811862660/0811862666, 122 pp., ages 6-10, October 2009)
Even if readers are only now discovering Ivy and Bean (this is their sixth adventure), they will be taken with the pair immediately. And if--like Ivy and Bean--they have tried ballet lessons and moved on to other pastimes, they will especially relate to the events here. When Ivy's grandmother sends The Royal Book of the Ballet to Ivy, the two friends find out just how gory ballet can be, and they beg their mothers for ballet lessons. Their mothers resist (they've been this way before), but Ivy and Bean promise to stay for the full session, perform in the recital and agree to the terms: "No quitting. And no complaining." But ballet is nowhere near as gory as they'd expected, so they hatch a plan to exit gracefully and still keep their promises. Blackall's illustrations play up the girls' growing impatience with third position and pliés and make the most of Barrows's humor.

Al Capone Shines My Shoes
by Gennifer Choldenko (Dial/Penguin, $16.99, 9780803734609/0803734603, 288 pp., ages 10-up, September 2009)
For those unfamiliar with Moose Flanagan from Choldenko's Newbery Honor book Al Capone Does My Shirts, set in 1935 Alcatraz, the author quickly gets them up to speed and begins just where she left off. In the last book, Al Capone helped narrator Moose's older sister, Natalie, get into a special boarding school "for kids who have their wires crossed up." How Capone did it is a mystery, but (as the con who does Moose's family's laundry) he sent a message in Moose's shirt pocket that said, "Done." But now Capone wants a favor back ("Your turn," says his note). The trouble is, Moose's friend Annie's onto the situation (the laundry was delivered to her in error), and she thinks Moose should come clean. But what if Capone can undo his good deed? Moose must do this favor for Capone or risk his sister's expulsion from the school, just when Natalie is showing improvement. Choldenko is at the top of her game with Moose's latest adventure. The story combines a baseball-loving hero, a power-hungry prison guard and cons likable enough to plant a seed of doubt in 12-year-old Moose. Are all bad guys completely bad? Are all good guys good through and through? Both boy and girl readers will want to explore the gray area with this thoroughly likable narrator.

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
by Jeff Kinney (Abrams/Amulet, $13.95, 9780810983915/0810983915, 224 pp., ages 9-12, October 2009)
Okay, okay, so you know about the out-of-control popularity of the Wimpy Kid series. But did you know that many kids sign up on a waiting list for the books at their school or public library and then wait for weeks to read it? Many of them don't actually own the books. This is what I've learned from talking with multiple kids in the 9-12 age range. So perhaps there's a handsell gift-planting opportunity with parents and grandparents here, since these are books kids read over and over again and would love to own. As the title implies, this one focuses on Greg's summer vacation. The humor continues to arise from the layering of Greg's first-person narrative with Jeff Kinney's minimalist, cartoon-style pictures--e.g., the look on best friend Rowley Jefferson's face as Greg informs Mr. Jefferson that "the quality of service at [his] country club was starting to go down a little." Greg then tells readers that he doesn't mind that Rowley "wasn't allowed" to invite Greg to his pool anymore ("I'm much happier inside my air-conditioned house"). Kinney's wit is spot-on for fourth-graders on up.

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck (Dial/Penguin, $16.99, 9780803730823/0803730829, 176 pp., ages 8-12, September 2009)
Meet Grandma Dowdel, if you haven't already (in the Newbery Honor book A Long Way from Chicago or the Newbery Medal-winning A Year Down Yonder), in her best tale yet. It's not really one tale--more like a series of interwoven vignettes, set against the summer, fall and winter of 1958, with a cumulative payoff at the end, all told by 12-year-old Bob Barnhart. Bob's father is the new preacher in town, and they've moved in next door to Grandma Dowdel. Bob's birthright earns him a dousing in the crick from a gang led by Roscoe Burdick, age 20. They string up Bob in netting suspended above Grandma Dowdel's privy--and that's where the narrator, gagged, bound and naked as a jailbird, first meets the legendary Grandma. More trouble brews when Roscoe's mismatched eyes take in the sight of Bob's 14-year-old sister Phyllis. And then Ruth Ann, Bob's younger sister, at six, becomes enthralled with Grandma Dowdel. How Grandma Dowdel secretly plays a role in the success of Bob's preacher father and works an invisible hand in other matters around town makes for some suspenseful and very comical moments.

Fire by Kristin Cashore (Dial/Penguin, $17.99, 9780803734616/0803734611, 480 pp., ages 14-up, October)
This companion book to Kristin Cashore's riveting debut novel, Graceling, tackles entirely new territory--literally and literarily. Only one character carries over from the Seven Kingdoms setting of her previous novel. Instead, Cashore takes teens to an outlying area called the Dells, home to a beautiful, 17-year-old redhead named Fire. She is the last of a human-monster hybrid species, who has the ability not only to read minds but also to change minds. Fire and her longtime friend and sometime lover, Archer, get drawn into the complex turf wars between the neighboring kingdoms, and Fire must decide if and when to use her powers, and also with whom--if anyone--to align her talents. Cashore delves deeply into questions of feminism, fidelity and responsibility. These themes make this book appropriate for more mature teens, as it explores questions of monogamy versus free love. Give this one not only to sophisticated teens who seek high adventure, but also to adult fans of Twilight for its thought-provoking take on the subtleties of male-female affairs.--Jennifer M. Brown



Book Brahmin: Melissa Hart

Melissa Hart is the author of the memoir Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood, published in September by Seal Press. Her essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, the Advocate, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Orion and Writer's Digest. She's a contributing editor at the Writer magazine. She teaches journalism at the University of Oregon and memoir writing for U.C. Berkeley's online extension program. Hart lives in Eugene, Ore., with her husband and daughter.
 
On your nightstand now:

I've just finished Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, and now I'm reading his memoir about growing up in the 1950s. I'm also reading the current issue of the New Yorker and making my way through each Sunday New York Times as well as reading picture books about animals to my three-year-old daughter. She really likes the Olivia books in particular.

 Favorite book when you were a child:
 
I loved Little Women. I've read it maybe 10 times, both for the engaging female characters and for the transcendental philosophy that informs the novel. Alcott's female characters are feminists, and they were inspiring role models for me as a child. As for the philosophy, I only discovered the Alcott family's interest in transcendentalism as an adult, but I appreciated Louisa's focus on the natural world and on living simply without a lot of money (the latter is a wise goal for a writer!)
 
Your top five authors:
 
Amy Bloom, Susan Orlean, J.D. Salinger, Jeffery Eugenides, David Sedaris. These people remind me of what I'm trying to do as an author. In particular, I read Susan Orlean for inspiration and J.D. Salinger for the Eastern philosophy that informs most of his writing.
 
Book you've faked reading:

 
Moby-Dick--don't we all? Oh, and I thought I'd finally made my way through five novels by Charles Dickens--they went so quickly--and then I realized I'd read the abridged children's editions in a book my grandfather had given me when I was 12.
 
Book you're an evangelist for:
 
Sue William Silverman's Fearless Confessions: A Writer's Guide to Memoir. Sue writes fearlessly and honestly about memoir, inspiring me to delve deeply into my life and my own imperfections for material that speaks intimately to readers. I recommend this book to my students at U.C. Berkeley for its practical, compelling advice and inspiring reading selections. In particular, I admire how Sue reminds readers that we have a right to tell our own stories. I remember this when I worry that I've told too many "secrets" about my family.
 
Book you've bought for the cover:

 
Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. I love the droll photo of the bear, and since I backpack, I had to read the entire book just to make sure he didn't get attacked by a bear!
 
Book that changed your life:

 
Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth. I read this book periodically. I found my first copy in a Dumpster and adored it. It's such a rich book, full of philosophy and religion and different ways in which one might conduct one's life, and I love the full-color photographs of everything from sand paintings to scenes from the first Star Wars movie.
 
Favorite line from a book:

 
Rumi's "The morning breezes have secrets to tell you. Do not go back to sleep." I'm an insomniac, and I love to get up early and write or go outside. I spent a glorious morning in Venice a few years back, up with the sun and out on the canals with my camera. Life seems so simple at sunrise, and I like to take advantage of that feeling and try to carry it with me throughout the day.
 
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
 
J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories. I love to recommend this book to young adults because even though it was written decades ago, the characters and their inner conflicts are still so relevant. Salinger is the master of the provocative final image, as well--he wraps up each story without ever resorting to easy answers, instead allowing the reader to make meaning for herself. I love that.
 
What motivates you to write a rough draft?
 
These days, I have to take myself on a date at a local coffee shop to write a rough draft. I get a small mocha and some pastry or another, and I don't let myself get up until I've scrawled down a rough draft in a notebook. I don't write rough drafts on the computer--they look too perfect on the screen. In my notebook, they look hideous and it's freeing to be able to just write longhand in a loud, public place knowing that I'll be able to clean up the draft at home in a peaceful setting. I love the revision process in which thoughts and images come together in a more orderly fashion from my original mess on the notebook pages.
 
What are you working on now?
 
I'm working on a memoir about adoption, pregnancy and training owls. My husband and I adopted our daughter 18 months ago, in a process that took two and a half years. We'd originally planned on adopting from China, but we had to leave the program after they tightened their restrictions because we hadn't been married long enough. We moved to the Vietnam program, but read an article on international adoption in Mother Jones that inspired us to adopt locally. The whole adoption process, whether international or domestic, is bizarre and poignant and sometimes hilarious. I had to focus on something outside of it for a few years, and I chose to work with permanently injured owls at Eugene's Cascades Raptor Center, training them to sit calmly on a glove for educational presentations. My pride and joy is Archimedes, the Snowy owl at the Center. Snowies are difficult to train, and I helped to get him used to the general public so that they could meet him up close. He's on Facebook, by the way, under "Archimedes Snowy." I'm excited by the possibilities for this memoir, and I'm working hard to finish the rough draft by the end of this year.
 
 


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