The Book Look
‘Owen and Mzee: the True Story of a Remarkable Friendship’
The bond between a baby hippotamus orphaned during the Asian tsunami and a 130-year-old Aldabran tortoise is the basis for a recently released children’s book publsihed by Scholastic Inc.
Written by Craig Hatkoff, his seven-year-old daughter, Isabella, and Dr. Paula Kahumba of Lafarge Eco Systems, operators of Haller Park in Kenya where the animals live, “Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship” tells the story of how these two animals came together.
Inspiration for the Hatkoff’s to write Owen and Mzee’s story came after the two saw the pair’s picture in a newspaper article not long after the Asian tsumani hit in December 2004. The book tells the story of Owen’s rescue and his growing friendship with Mzee.
While Scholastic wouldn’t disclose the cost of the marketing campaign, Kris Moran, a spokesperson for the publsiher, says Scholastic has launched an advertising campaign and is featuring a poster in Scholastic’s Firefly Book Club.
“It’s doing incredibly well,” Moran says. “It was No. 23 on Amazon overall on their best-seller list, it’s been on BarnesandNoble.com’s best-seller list. It’s getting tremendous publicity.”
The authors have also helped to promote the book with a recent appearance on the “Today” show and an appeareance on CNN in January.
Fast Fact: The rights to tell Owen and Mzee’s story were acquired from Lafarge Eco Systems in Kenya where the animals are living.
Authors: Craig and Isabella Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumba.
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: January 2006
Once bitten twice shy is a mantra Oprah Winfrey is adhering to with her latest selection for “Oprah’s Book Club.” After feeling the heat for supporting her selection of “A Little Million Pieces” by James Frey, even after the book was found to be inaccurate and highly embellished, the influential talk-show host has selected “Night” by Eli Weisel, a new edition of the memoir in which the Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter details his experience in the famed Auschwitz concentration camp.
The new edition was scheduled for an April release, but production of the book was accelerated when Oprah selected it for her Book Club.
“Everything about it, the jacket, the introduction, everything was already planned,” says Jeff Seroy, the publicist for the book with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, the publisher of “Night.”
“We were able to [move up the release date] because everybody cooperated, including the author and his wife who reviewed page proofs at a very accelerated pace.”
In addition to moving the release date up to January, Farrar, Straus and Giroux increased the inital print run to 1 million copies in paperback and 150,000 copies in hardback to prepare for the spike in sales.
“When Oprah picks a book, the print run goes way up,” says Seroy. “The expectations are much higher and sales potential are much higher.”
Hours after its selection the book soared from No. 56,439 in sales ranking to No. 21 on Amazon.com.
Fast fact: Print run increased to 1 million copies
Author: Eli Wiesel
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: January 2006