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Old 11-17-2003, 04:10 PM   #1
Auburn Annie
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Publishers Weekly

Regionally Speaking: Some Children's Book Favorites
by Staff, PW Daily for Booksellers -- 11/17/2003

Now that all of the regional bookseller shows are over, we asked our trusty regional correspondents to tell us about a few titles that children's booksellers were buzzing about at the meetings.

The hottest children's book at GLBA, according to Midwest correspondent Claire Kirch, was published by a small publisher in Michigan. The Edmund Fitzgerald: The Song of the Bell by Kathy-jo Wargin, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, was published in September by Sleeping Bear Press. The picture book recounts the mysterious sinking of a 729-foot-long ore ship in Lake Superior, on November 10, 1975. Twenty-nine sailors, who hailed from all over the Upper Midwest, died that day, the largest loss of life in any modern-day American shipwreck. This tragedy was immortalized by Gordon Lightfoot in his ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

It's been 28 years since the Edmund Fitzgerald sank, yet it's clear from the reception to this book that this shipwreck still resonates with residents of the Great Lakes region. According to Mariah Chereu, Sleeping Bear's bookstore events and publicity coordinator, who staffed the booth at GLBA, she was primarily pushing the press's lead holiday title, Red-Headed Robbie's Christmas Story by Bill Luttrell.

But, to her surprise, many booksellers were more interested in The Edmund Fitzgerald. "The excitement over The Edmund Fitzgerald was much greater than we expected," Chereum said. The company gave away 350 finished copies, and another 250 copies at the GLBA Author's Feast, in which van Frankenhuyzen participated. "Booksellers who'd received copies of Friday evening were bringing their friends by the booth Saturday and telling them to pick up a copy," Chereum told PW Daily.

The Edmund Fitzgerald picked up even more steam after GLBA, as November 10 (the anniversary of the shipwreck) approached; it was featured this week in off-the-book-page articles in many newspapers across the Upper Midwest. The author also was interviewed on radio in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The book has just sold out of its initial print run of 35,000 copies, and has gone back to press for a 20,000-copy second print run. Susan Capaldi, manager of McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., has been doing well with the title in her store, and has sold 50 copies in the past six weeks. "It's been doing great for a number of reasons: the author lives up the street, the November 10 anniversary of the shipwreck, and the great interest in ships and shipping here in northern Michigan. It's a sad story, but kids here can handle it. They all know that there's danger in sailing the Great Lakes."

The book was also a hit at UMBA. The author and illustrator both spoke at Saturday morning's Salute to Regional Authors Breakfast, and the publisher's sales reps gave away approximately 150 finished copies to booksellers.

The GLBA is (I believe I've got this right) the Great Lakes Booksellers Association.

For more on the book and author, see

[This message has been edited by Auburn Annie (edited November 17, 2003).]
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Old 11-17-2003, 05:28 PM   #2
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Makes me want to buy the book,most definetly!

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