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Book News: Two Cleveland Kidnapping Victims Writing A Book

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

  • Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus, two of the three women kidnapped and held at a Cleveland house for about a decade, are collaborating with Washington Post reporters to write a book about their time in captivity. James R. Wooley, an attorney representing the two women, said in a statement, "Many have told, and continue to tell, this story in ways that are both inaccurate and beyond the control of these young women. Gina, Amanda and their families have decided to take control and are now interested in telling the story of what happened to them." The reporters are the married couple and Pulitzer-prize winning journalists Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan. Kidnapper Ariel Castro hung himself in his prison cell in September.
  • The largest collection of Shakespeare documents in the world is going digital, the BBC reports. The collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., will be available next month through a series of apps. Director Michael Witmore told the BBC, "We have 50,000 high quality digital images of rare valuable material that, up until now, only scholars who had research credentials could consult." Curator Heather Wolfe added that with the digital texts widely available online, "people are going to make so many serendipitous discoveries."
  • Maya Angelou, Judy Blume and more than a hundred other authors have signed an open letter to President Obama protesting dependence on standardized testing in schools. The letter reads, "We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates ... on children's love of reading and literature. ...We call on you to support authentic performance assessments, not simply computerized versions of multiple-choice exams. We also urge you to reverse the narrowing of curriculum that has resulted from a fixation on high-stakes testing." The letter goes on to quote Philip Pullman, who wrote in 2003, "I am concerned that in a constant search for things to test, we're forgetting the true purpose, the true nature, of reading and writing."
  • For The Atlantic, Nolan Feeney interviews some of the world's biggest young-adult fiction authors — including John Green, Veronica Roth, Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan and R.L. Stine — to come up with "The 8 Habits of Highly Successful Young-Adult Fiction Authors." Levithan, explaining why YA novels need to have hope, says, "That's life, isn't it? S--- hits the fan. The abyss opens up. But then you get through it. You wrestle it down. You find a way to survive. YA only reflects that. It's not about being preachy or pragmatic to say that most people find a way out of the maze of adolescence. It's only being accurate."
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    Annalisa Quinn is a contributing writer, reporter, and literary critic for NPR. She created NPR's Book News column and covers literature and culture for NPR.