Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wondering what to eat? Try lionfish!

Carl Safina, author of THE VIEW FROM LAZY POINT and A SEA IN FLAMES, has released a series of guests posts on food columnist Mark Bittman's blog on The Opinion Pages of The New York Times.  Safina is a marine biologist, the founder of the Blue Ocean Institute at Stony Brook University, and a recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant. His series, entitled "Scourge of the Lionfish," focuses on the red lionfish, a beautiful, quilled fish native to the west Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea that has become dangerously invasive along Atlantic coastlines stretching from Venezuela to Rhode Island.  

As Safina writes, "In a world where the main concern about fishing is overfishing, and the main demand on fish is to feed an increasingly hungry human-dominated world, it may seem odd to complain about abundance. But theirs [the lionfish's] is an abundance that produces widespread scarcity. That's because invaders from afar often crowd out or gobble a wide array of desirable natives. And as an invading saltwater fish--the lion is king."

With venomous spines and a deceptive seaweed-like disguise when on the hunt, the lionfish is virtually untouchable. Lionfish prey upon many juvenile fish, including (among others) parrotfish, which are important for keeping coral reefs alive and thriving. As Safina argues, the ocean simply cannot afford to experience a scarcity of parrotfish or any other native fish.

And so, the solution proposed to restore marine habitats and prevent the invasive lionfish from destroying the underdogs is just as unorthodox as the complaint: hunt down the lionfish and eat them.

Red lionfish and Carl Safina. Photo by Safina.

While Safina and a crew of cameramen were filming for Safina's upcoming PBS series Saving the Ocean, they traveled to the Bahamas, Florida, and Mexico to investigate the lionfish.  Below are links to each of the fascinating articles in Safina's series:

Part 1: Why the lionfish began appearing in the Atlantic in the first place and why they are such superb--and direly threatening--predators.

Part 2: How contestants in a lionfish derby launched their own attack against these invasive predators, by spearfishing them and frying them up.

Part 3: How fishermen are trying to commercialize the lionfish by catching them in bulk and convincing restaurants in the States and elsewhere to put lionfish on their menus. Fortunately the lionfish are, in Safina's words, "really delicious."

Part 4: Safina's thoughts on how human overfishing in general may have led to the domination of the lionfish.

As Safina concludes, "It's a sad commentary about how we're changing the world that killing and eating one of the world's most beautiful fish--as long as they're from the Caribbean or Atlantic Ocean--actually helps."

Safina's PBS series Saving the Ocean will premiere in mid-October.  Expect more from us soon as we near the release date!  In the meantime, you can learn more about the TV series at PBS or the Saving the Ocean website.  Once the premiere date is nearer, be sure to find out when Saving the Ocean will appear on your local station at this link

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jeanne C. Blackmore, granddaughter of celebrated illustrator Roger Duvoisin, makes a splash in the children's book world

Jeanne C. Blackmore makes her children's book debut with a beautiful and lyrical bed-time book HOW DOES SLEEP COME?, just published as a lead title from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.  The book, which was inspired by the curiosity of Blackmore's then-two-year-old son and his question about where sleep came from, has received excellent reviews so far.

Though the book is Blackmore's debut, she is no stranger to the world of children's books.  Blackmore is the granddaughter of the acclaimed children's illustrator Roger Duvoisin, who illustrated over 100 children's books between 1936 and 1980.  He received a Caldecott Medal Award in 1948 for WHITE SNOW, BRIGHT SNOW (text by Alvin Tresselt) and a Caldecott Honor Award in 1966 for HIDE AND SEEK FOG (text also by Alvin Tresselt).  

Publishers Weekly recently interviewed Blackmore about the process of getting her book published and what it was like to grow up with Duvoisin as her grandfather.  We've included a few tidbits below, but be sure to read the full article here.

There were several bonuses to having an illustrator for a grandfather.  As Blackmore remarks in her interview with Publishers Weekly, "All of our birthday cards were filled with his artwork, and he created posters for our bedrooms...He'd write us funny letters with illustrations.  We were always surrounded by his artwork, and I loved it."

She goes on to say, "I knew him through two lenses...On one hand, my teachers in school were always calling me out, and librarians would approach me, which was embarrassing.  I didn't really understand how famous he was.  On the other side, I knew him as a wonderful man living with my grandmother on an idyllic farm in New Jersey.  They were both artists and it was a magical place to visit."

Below are several of the reviews in so far for HOW DOES SLEEP COME?:

"A distinctive piece of work; Blackmore has carefully polished her prose's rolling, soothing rhythm, beginning with adverbs that describe how sleep comes and finishing by knitting them into one long, hypnotic final sentence... Blackmore... assembles the softest, most comforting elements she can find...If that's not a recipe for sweet dreams, what is?" --Publishers Weekly

"What a beautiful story.  The analogies Blackmore makes to sleep will make any child or adult relax and settle into a comfy sleep mode...I believe you will find this book a special one to share with your young child." --Dad of Divas Reviews Blog

"This book was so very cute.  It is a wonderful book to read to your little ones before they go to bed." --Crossroads and Crossroad Tours Blog

Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, September 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

A trailer and an audio recording for STARLING

Don't miss the trailer for Lesley Livingston's STARLING, the first in her newest trilogy, complete with sword fighting, a steamy kiss, and even a naked guy!  Of course the trailer is just a preview to the danger, romance, and endless adventure in the book itself.  After you view the trailer, don't forget to buy the book!  STARLING was just released from HarperTeen last week (we posted about it before the release here).

Livingston has a background in acting, and so when it came time to record the audio version of STARLING, she knew she wanted to be the one to put voice to her narrative.  In the video below, Livingston explains what it's like to record her book, including all the side-effects of speaking into a microphone all day. Who knew that audio recording could cause muscle twinges and pain in your toes? 

As Livingston says, she's not trying to sound exactly like the male, female, young, and old characters in her audio rendition of the book.  Instead, she is conveying "an impression of, or an idea of what they sound like in my head."  So if you've ever wondered how a book sounds to the author who is writing it, look no further than this video.

In the video, Livingston narrates an excerpt from the same sword fighting scene depicted in the above trailer.  See if you can spot the similarities!

The audio edition of STARLING is available through

HarperTeen, August 2012, August 2012