Our family business, Electric Type, has just announced its first book!
Meet Electric Type’s The Jungle Book: The Story of Mowgli and Shere Khan.
When Electric Type was founded in 2010, our goal was to build a better digital book for the iPad. We wanted our first title to be a well-loved story, so we chose the Rudyard Kipling classic The Jungle Book. The original text has been adapted and modified to a kid-friendly (read: parent-friendly) seven chapters, each of which are perfect to read as a short bedtime story or in epic succession.
We brought on board acclaimed Australian illustrator Nigel Buchanan, who has created a series of lush, beautiful images. A “Read to Me” option, with a dramatic performance of the text by Emmy-nominated voice actor Rich Orlow, brings the characters and story to life. Sound effects, music, and interactive features take young and adult readers on Mowgli’s journey to rid the jungle of the ferocious tiger Shere Kahn.
An excellent review from Kirkus for The Trust: A Secret Society Novel:
The plot thickens at the Chadwick School. This second installment of the Secret Society novels (Secret Society, 2009) reintroduces Lia, Nick, Thad, Patch and Lauren, five wealthy teenage friends linked by membership in The Society, a clandestine group of New York’s most powerful people who are willing to protect their exclusivity no matter the price. After witnessing The Society’s ruthless measures, the teens decide they want out—but they quickly learn with deadly certainty the power of The Society and its determination to maintain membership. Historical elements of ancient Egypt (an ankle tattoo of an ankh is the badge of membership in the Society), New York society and art history are intertwined in this intense mystery, which the teens must unpack to learn The Society’s secrets and earn their freedom. More of a thriller than anything else, the text delivers suspense, but at the expense of unevenly introducing and developing the main characters, therefore making a read of the first book essential. (Thriller. 12 & up)
Aside from mixing up ankle tattoos with neck ones, a great review, especially from such a hard-to-please outlet! (We think it goes without saying that a read of the first book is essential!)
As many of you know, Drew and I have two new additions to our family: Julia and Violet, who arrived on October 19. And they said to us…
“Hey, even though we are only two months old, we want Christmas this year, and we want it in a big way!”
Actually, they wrote it on their monogrammed stationery.
We took the request very seriously, and we got to work.
First, we put up a big boxwood wreath on the door, and we wound lights all around the Japanese maple outside.
But they said that wasn’t enough!
We brought home an eight foot tall tree, which was just barely big enough to please them. They said, “By the way, guys, we don’t want Santa Claus and snowmen! We want a tree that’s beautiful and exotic. Why can’t you do a tree that’s more like the fabulous one by Jennifer Boles at The Peak of Chic?” Violet and Julia have a lot of free time during the day, and they spend it reading blogs. Jennifer’s tree upped the ante on us!
We started by collecting a boatload of ornaments, from San Francisco to Sag Harbor. But was that enough for Violet and Julia? No! They wanted pagodas! They wanted lanterns!
They wanted peacocks! (Jennifer had peacocks and pagodas, and so, naturally, Violet and Julia wanted them, too. Kudos to Jennifer for telling the girls where to get those hard-to-find pagodas!)
Because Violet and Julia are beach babies, they wanted whales!
Oh, and they wanted sparkly ginkgo leaves. As they told us, “Come on, Dads, what tree is complete without a few sparkly ginkgo leaves?” They were right.
They agreed that the final result is a jewel of a tree, and it only took about a week to complete!
Now, of course, like us, Violet & Julia felt that no living room fireplace is complete without a proper garland.
The feel that Violet developed for the fireplace was “Wainscott woods meets the ocean,” complete with boats, sea creatures, mushrooms, and wildlife, all wrapped around white pine.
There are birds…
And an octopus!
Even the stone dogs got boxwood wreaths of their own.
Finally, for the fireplace in the family room, Violet and Julia insisted that it was to feel like the North Pole. Well, Wainscott meets the North Pole, with a bit of the Natural History Museum and the Central Park Zoo thrown in for good measure.
The garland is made of intertwined white pine and boxwood, and has shells and pinecones and more shells and…penguins! Julia loves penguins, and said we must have a few. Well, four, to be exact: one for each of us. “Haven’t you read And Tango Makes Three?” Julia said.
Yes, Julia, we have.
Afterwards, we all ate gingerbread. Well, except for the girls. They had milk.
Julia: “I am extremely concerned, as I see nothing in this blog post about presents.”
Violet: “I like looking at the lights.”
Presents! We forgot about presents! Clearly, it’s going to be a busy week.
Today an email blast went out to the members of the Courage Campaign that I wanted to share.
Author Tom Dolby and his husband, Drew Frist, wrote the following message to the Courage Campaign community in the aftermath of the 9th Circuit stay of Judge Walker’s historic decision striking down Proposition 8. Tom and Drew have been phenomenal supporters of our work, from funding Camp Courage to our Testimony campaign. Please read their very personal message below and help us build the “Courageous Families Photo Project” today. Thanks!
– Rick Jacobs and everyone at the Courage Campaign
Dear Friend –
When we were married in Connecticut last year, we knew that the federal Prop 8 trial might change our lives in 2010. What we didn’t know was that we would be anxiously awaiting the birth of twin girls, via a surrogate and egg donor.
So when we heard the news a few weeks ago that Judge Vaughn Walker had ruled Proposition 8 unconstitutional, we were overcome by emotion. In that moment, we realized that by the time our daughters were born, our family might have the same rights and dignities as every other loving family in California.
Unfortunately, that possibility of equality is on hold yet again, following the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay Judge Walker’s ruling indefinitely.
Still, we know that this journey to marriage equality is just the beginning. And we know that if we want our daughters to be raised with the inherent belief that their family is no less important than anyone else’s family, we need to change the way Americans think and feel about LGBT families.
We need to change hearts and minds. All of us — LGBT and straight — together. Starting now.
That’s why we’re inviting you to join the Courageous Families Photo Project today. Will you send us a picture of yourself or your family, just like the one of us at our wedding below? We’ll add it to a nationwide body of evidence demonstrating the joys of full equality and countering the destructive power of discrimination. Your family photo may even be chosen to be featured prominently on the Courage Campaign’s web site. Just click here to upload your photo now:
As we progress along this new journey of parenthood, with the joy and fear that every prospective parent feels, we’ve found ourselves wondering: Will our children feel that they are valued in the world, that their parents are just the same as any other loving couple?
We hope so. That’s why we are supporting the Courage Campaign as it launches the next phase of Testimony: Equality on Trial — an unprecedented online storytelling project to bring the Prop 8 trial into the lives of Americans and change the conversation about marriage equality across the country.
In the coming year, the Testimony project will collect your depositions in the form of videos, pictures and written submissions. Every two weeks, the Courage Campaign home page will feature a real family picture selected from those pictures submitted through the Courageous Families Photo Project. This campaign will demonstrate that no two families look alike, but all families share the common bonds of love and — most importantly — deserve equal dignity and respect.
All families are welcome in the Courageous Families Photo Project: LGBT or straight. Single or coupled. Legally married or not. Together for one month or 50 years. We are all in this together. Will you help to change the way Americans think about families by sending a picture of you or your family today? Just click here to upload your photo:
At our wedding celebration for family and friends in Sonoma, our celebrant quoted the activist Parker Palmer as saying, “There is often a tragic gap between what is and what could and should be. To live in this world, we must learn how to stand in the tragic gap with faith and hope.”
We ask that you stand with us in faith and hope as we work to ensure a safe and loving society for all of our children.
Thank you for joining us in launching this special project.
Tom Dolby and Drew Frist
I know some of you have been waiting months for this…so here it is, the flap copy for The Trust, coming out February 2011!
Who can you trust when everything is secrets and lies?
It’s a new semester at the Chadwick School, and even with the ankh tattoos that brand them, Phoebe, Nick, Lauren, and Patch are hoping for a fresh start. Each day, however, they are reminded of their membership as new Conscripts in the Society. The secret group that promised to help them achieve their every dream has instead turned their lives into a nightmare.
The Trust, Tom Dolby’s sequel to Secret Society, is an alluring glimpse behind the facade of a life of entitlement, where secrets aren’t merely fun—they’re deadly.
Yes, I know, I’m about two weeks late in posting this…but if you didn’t catch it on Twitter, here’s our house in the fabulous June/July issue of Lonny magazine (go to page 164). In case you’re wondering, I usually work in the yellow guest room — it’s a lot messier in real life than it is in the photo — though that will have to change once the room becomes a nursery. Enjoy!
Last night was the San Francisco Public Library’s 14th Annual Laureates Dinner, an event which never fails to remind me how important libraries are in our lives. The evening was great fun, with an eclectic group of authors (Greil Marcus, Frank Portman, Susie Bright, and 25 others), fabulous food (yes, in a library!), and guests dressed up according to the theme, “urban legends.” I attended as a laureate, and spoke to my “salon”–a collection of five tables in a wing of the library–on urban legends and the early role of books in my life. Here are my comments:
Thank you so much for having me. I‘m very lucky to be considered an honorary San Franciscan, to be a part-time resident of a city that values authors and books so much.
I have had an extremely bookish few days in the city. While I live most of the time in New York with my husband, Drew, I had the task this week of cleaning out my childhood bedroom, as my parents moved two months ago to a new house after twenty-five years. My room had become a time capsule, albeit one that was added to each time I visited. I have always been a collector—this week I sorted through piles of photographs and journals and schoolwork; I culled through Herb Caen clippings and Armistead Maupin novels and yellowed tearsheets from the Chronicle magazine.
I saw many of my literary and artistic influences—there was Salinger and Raymond Carver and Fitzgerald; Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis; Pam Houston and Natalie Goldberg. Andy Warhol and David Hockney. The Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones, and lots and lots of really embarrassing 1990s music on audio cassettes.
There was one collection I thought coincided rather nicely with tonight’s theme. It had been packed up years ago and put into a storage unit, but I remembered it, and I wanted to take it with me to the new house. It was my collection of Hardy Boys books. Though they were fictional characters, the Hardy Boys were as real to me as any urban legend, and at eight years old, I thought about them almost constantly.
I would wake up early in the morning and sneak a few chapters; I would take the latest mystery to Town School, where I would read under my desk after I finished my assignments. Luckily, back then, reading was reading, and no one made the distinction between good literature and bad.
The Hardy Boys were my urban legend—though the books had been written as early as 1927, even in the 1980s, they seemed incredibly current. I started digging deeper into their world; I even wrote to the publisher, Grosset and Dunlap, asking for more information on the series, though I never got a reply.
I spent many afternoons with my friend, Jason Bley, who is here tonight, searching for rare editions of the series. We would take the bus to Green Apple Books on Clement Street, where we would sit in the stacks for hours, debating the merits of each copy for sale. Used copies went for fifty cents or a dollar—two dollars was expensive, and ten dollars was a verifiable investment. Was a pristine fourteenth edition of The House on the Cliff better than a third edition with a tattered cover? Did it really matter that my copy of The Mystery of the Flying Express was stained with rings of chocolate milk? Green Apple Books wasn’t a library, but we attempted to turn it into one, reading entire portions of novels while sitting on the floor of the dusty shop.
The books were quirky, and they were specifically designed to appeal to adolescent boys. Every chapter ended with a cliffhanger. There were detailed descriptions not only of car and boat chases, but also of elaborate meals and home life. The books never used the verb “to say”—characters would interject, suggest, deny, or exclaim, creating a roller coaster ride of a narrative in which every sentence was breathlessly uttered. The stories were about crime, but they weren’t really about evil—they were more about friendship and the bond between two brothers. According to writer Arthur Prager, “Never were so many assorted felonies committed in a simple American small town. Murder, drug peddling, race horse kidnapping, diamond smuggling, medical malpractice, big-time auto theft, even (in the 1940s) the hijacking of strategic materials and espionage, all were conducted with Bayport [their hometown] as a nucleus.”
I found the world of the Hardy Boys and their fellow adventurers in other series undeniably exciting. In fact, had I not gone into fiction writing, I think I might have joined the FBI.
A few months ago, I picked up a copy of The Mystery of Cabin Island (Hardy Boys number eight) at a junk shop, and I read it in an afternoon. While entertaining, it was terribly hackneyed, dated writing. Though I had not read a Hardy Boys novel in twenty-five years, this had always been my suspicion. The boys were a jumping off point, not a final destination.
When I wrote my two recent books for teens, Secret Society and its sequel, The Trust, I would sometimes think about the legend of the Hardy Boys. In a world of texting and Facebook and Gossip Girl, the books represented for me a preservation of American childhood through reading—both my own childhood, and the childhood of the books’ characters, nearly fifty years earlier. I hoped that with my own foray into writing for young adults, I might be able to capture some of what had fascinated me so many years ago.
I’m saving those boxes of books. My hope is that when Drew and I have children and they are old enough to read, they will sit with them in a window seat somewhere, enraptured, just exactly as I was. Thank you.