Archive for August, 2010

A Yellow Watermelon named to Georgia Center for the Book inaugural reading list

Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Lisa Harrison

A Yellow Watermelon by Ted DunaganNewSouth Books is pleased to announce that Ted Dunagan’s novel A Yellow Watermelon has been named one of the 25 Books Every Young Georgian Should Read.

The Georgia Center for the Book compiled this inaugural list of titles for young readers; they have produced a list of 25 Books Every Georgian Should Read since 2002.

The names of the young adult titles were revealed at a private party on August 26 at the Parkers on Ponce restaurant in Decatur, Georgia. A public announcement to be followed by a book signing will take place Saturday, August 28 in Decatur’s Historic Square from 10:00 am to noon.

“The goal of the Georgia Center For The Book is most laudable,” said Dunagan, “and I’m honored that my work is part of their initial offering.”

William Starr, director of the Georgia Center for the Books, noted that “this new list was created to help recognize some of Georgia’s outstanding authors of books for young readers, and to serve as a way of connecting those writers with readers all over the state, and beyond. Ted Dunagan’s book A Yellow Watermelon is an obvious choice for the list because it carries a strong, compelling moral message and conveys it with a wonderful storyteller’s artistry.”

In the best Southern literary tradition, A Yellow Watermelon explores poverty and racial segregation through the eyes of an innocent boy. In rural south Alabama in 1948, whites picked on one side of the cotton field and blacks on the other. Where the fields meet, twelve-year-old Ted meets Poudlum, a black boy his own age, who teaches him how to endure the hard work while they bond and go on to integrate the field. The white boy and the black boy encounter danger and intrigue while executing a plan to save Poudlum’s family from a corrupt businessman, and discover a great, yet simple, secret of enlightenment.

A Yellow Watermelon has been compared to the works of Mark Twain and Harper Lee. Kirkus Reviews called it “a memorable, generous-hearted tale.” Ted Dunagan was named Georgia Author of the Year in the young adult category for Yellow Watermelon. NewSouth’s Junebug Books imprint recently published the sequel, Secret of the Satilfa.

Ted Dunagan has traveled across the South speaking to book lovers of all ages about the writing process and the themes of his novels. He says his visits to Southern schools and libraries will be even more meaningful now that he knows he’s speaking about a book which has been so strongly recommended for young readers.

A Yellow Watermelon and Secret of the Satilfa are available from NewSouth Books, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Courier-Journal calls Wade Hall’s Abraham Lincoln interview book illuminating, moving

Thursday, August 26th, 2010 by Noelle Matteson

A new book on our country’s sixteenth president published by NewSouth Books has earned high marks from the Louisville Courier-Journal‘s Linda Elisabeth Beattie. In her review of Wade Hall’s An Interview with Abraham Lincoln, Beattie notes that the book “captures Lincoln’s essence in succinct, entertaining and often moving prose.”

A mixture of imagination and fact, Hall’s book utilizes a fictional interviewer to examine President Lincoln’s views on slavery, war, and life, with Lincoln’s words all coming from the historical record. Beattie’s review praises Hall for knowing “that the best biographers write from the facts to reveal the truth” and that “the facts inform, rather than replicate, reality.”

Beattie calls Interview, though slight in size, “significant and frequently eloquent.” The review concludes, “In just 88 pages, Hall captures the complexity of Lincoln’s competitive, compassionate nature in a smart, sensitive scenario that would make his subject proud.”

Alabama native Wade Hall is professor emeritus of English at Bellarmine College in Kentucky. Among his other books and plays from NewSouth is Conecuh People, an intimate collection of oral history interviews that captures the lives of the people of Bullock County, Alabama, once the backbone of the rural South. A scholar of Southern literature and history, Hall is a frequent presenter on the life of Lincoln. He is giving a number of talks around the South related to An Interview with Abraham Lincoln, and is available to speak in connection with next year’s centennial anniversary of the commencement of the Civil War.

An Interview with Abraham Lincoln is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online bookseller.

Alan Gribben Talks Mark Twain’s Life, Looks to Unique New Edition

Thursday, August 19th, 2010 by Robert

Alan Gribben, Auburn University Montgomery professor and noted Mark Twain scholar, spoke Saturday at the inaugural “History at High Noon” lecture series at Old Alabama Town.

Dr. Gribben’s lecture, “The World According to Mark Twain,” taught listeners about Mark Twain’s life and the full range of his writings. Gribben explained that even though Twain’s reputation has in recent years rested on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, he was better known in his lifetime for his travel writing. “People during that time did not think of him as a fiction writer,” Gribben noted, as reported by Alvin Benn of The Montgomery Advertiser. “Twain had difficulty at times developing plot lines for his novels and much preferred his travel books,” mainly because a trip had already formed the structure of those works.

Dr. Gribben wrote the introduction to NewSouth’s Alabama Big Read edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, published last year. Currently, he is working with NewSouth on a combined edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn that replaces the books’ racial epithets-which Twain used to reflect the societal standards of the nineteenth century-to enlarge the potential audience of students and teachers.

Gribben explains that Mark Twain’s novels “can be enjoyed deeply and authentically without those continual encounters with hundreds of now-indefensible racial slurs.” Numerous editions use the derogative words, and Gribben believes that their presence has gradually diminished the readership of Twain’s two masterpieces. This new edition will be the first of its kind to make this substantive change.

The Alabama Big Read Edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite retail or online bookseller. Alan Gribben’s new volume, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn: The NewSouth Edition, will be available in February 2011.

Damned good advice for writers and editors . . .

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 by Randall Williams

. . . in the 8/4/2010 New York Times Schott’s Vocab column.

In the item, guest columnist David Crystal, a linguistics professor at the University of Bangor in Wales, writes about what he learned when he recently asked a 12-year-old to go through one of his manuscripts and underline anything she didn’t understand. The result — demonstrating that there’s a vast cultural knowledge gap between today’s youngsters and the rest of us — may seem obvious, but writers and editors working on material targeted for children or young adults still stumble over this every day.

In Crystal’s case, he made a reference to John Wayne, and his young test reader had no idea who Wayne was, had never seen any of his movies, and could not have cared less. I was reminded of the time my youngest son came home from school and, following up on some discussion in his second-grade classroom, asked me, “Daddy, what was it like during the Civil War?” Not wanting to disappoint, I told him how it was, but you get the idea . . .