Why Garden Organically?

The reasons for being an organic gardener are many: concern for the environment, desire for self-sufficiency, and the joy of eating fresh food, to name a few. For me, gardening organically over the last twenty years has been both a cost issue and a nutritional choice. Organic, versus conventional, fruits and vegetables are less expensive to produce in the home garden, and they provide better nutrition.

1. First, let’s take a quick look at the price of using chemicals in a garden. With price, there are the obvious, monetary costs: $10 per gallon for all-purpose fertilizer, $156 per gallon for broad spectrum herbicide, $40 per half gallon of fungicide, $20 to $100 for a hand-held sprayer (prices are approximate and were obtained from a national retailer of garden and home products). Chemical costs can definitely add up over the years. Is the cost worth paying? I think not.

Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West (Fulcrum, $24.95, ISBN: 978-1-55591-725-8) by Jane Shellenberger (publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener) makes this interesting point: “Two world wars, plus the Korean and Vietnam wars, provided not only many of the chemicals adapted and marketed for postwar agricultural use, but also the mindset necessary to convince farmers and the public that we needed to do battle to overcome nature and her ‘pests,’ at every turn employing a chemical arsenal.” I definitely do not want chemicals in my garden that were originally designed to kill people, no matter what the agricultural adaptation has been.

In addition to the monetary costs, chemicals exact a very high price from the soil and its myriad organisms. Each teaspoon of soil holds hundreds if not thousands of living creatures, including microscopic worms, protozoa, nematodes, and fungi, such as the water bear (below): “Water bears are named for their slow-faited walk. Also known as tardigrades, these microbial extremophiles can survive a range of temperatures from near absolute zero to 304 degrees, plus 1,000 times more radiation than other animals.” (Organic Gardener’s Companion, p. 30).

When a gardener uses chemical pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or synthetic fertilizers, they may solve a garden problem, but the short-term solution destroys the biodiversity of plants and animals that make a self-sustaining garden possible. Soil and its creatures, weeds, and desirable plants create a biodynamic system in every garden. While occasionally the system can become unbalanced, resulting in a garden problem, an overabundance of dandelions is far better than a chemically burned yard full of “dead” soil.

2. Another reason to grow vegetables and fruits organically is that they’ll provide you with more nutrition than conventionally grown food. For years I didn’t have the scientific verification to prove the better nutritional value in organically grown versus conventionally grown vegetables. Then, on February 13, 2009, Science News published an article by Janet Raloff titled “AAAS: Stress Can Make Plants More Nutritious.” In the article, Alyson Mitchell of UC–Davis “compared identical cultivators grown on certified organic plots versus those where standard fertilizers and pesticides were being applied. And as a rule, organics far surpassed their conventionally grown kin for vitamins and beneficial micronutrients, such as antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol.” Mitchell found that the extra stress that organically grown plants experience causes their “defensive secondary metabolites” to kick into action in order to fight off pests. These secondary metabolites are also the mechanism that plants use to produce “phenolic acids, flavonoids, alkaloids, and terpenoids”—these natural plant pesticides and sunscreens function as important micronutrients and vitamins for humans. “And one potential bonus: Better taste. Some of the secondary plant metabolites break down into flavor compounds.”

So, next time you’re gardening and see a moth nibbling on your cabbage, forgo spraying pesticide and remember, those little holes indicate a higher vitamin content! For additional information on organic gardening, I suggest you visit your local library and look for a copy of Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West by Jane Shellenberger. Copies are also available from the bookseller of your choice or at www.fulcrumbooks.com.

Posted by Ingrid Estell, veteran gardener and Special Sales Manager at Fulcrum

New Year, New Roles as Citizens

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Carwil Bjork-James

For those of you who make New Year’s resolutions, here’s one to consider (albeit a few weeks late): resolve to become a part of the solution this year. It might be easier than you think, thanks to Colorado state senator Morgan Carroll. A major advocate for citizen involvement, Morgan, with her new book out this month, Take Back Your Government: A Citizen’s Guide to Grassroots Change, shows how any ordinary citizen can make and change law and policy in their state, through practical tips, checklists, and sample documents. Morgan aims to give readers an inside look at how state legislatures really work through this accessible how-to manual.

Morgan conducts hundreds of town hall meetings and community seminars, teaching ordinary citizens how to influence the legislative process, and it was her own civic activism that launched her ultimate decision to run for office. In Take Back Your Government, she shares practical information and easy-to-follow steps for beginner advocates, including:

  • How to find out who your elected officials are
  • How to make contact– sample letters, e-mails, and telephone scripts are all included
  • How to write petitions and fact sheets
  • How to  testify at a legislative hearing
  • How to be an advocate in ten minutes or less
  • And more!
Morgan (above) will be at the Tattered Cover Colfax on Friday, February 10, at 7:30 pm, and at other venues around Denver this spring and summer. For her upcoming schedule, please check here. For more tips, follow Morgan on Twitter: @TakeBackYrGovt, on Facebook: www.facebook.com/takebackyourgovt, and on her blog: www.takebackyourgovt.com.
(Top photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons/Carwil Bjork-James)

What’s Scarier than Halloween? Never Experiencing It.

As an editorial intern, I get to work with amazing coworkers and get a real hands-on experience developing manuscripts, proofreading, and reviewing acquisitions submissions. But here’s a little secret about me: I’ve never been trick-or-treating, yet I’m a pumpkin-carving mastermind. At the Fulcrum office, Marit, my cubicle buddy and editorial intern partner in crime, and Dani, of marketing and sales, are busily organizing their Halloween plans, filled with parties, costumes, cute puppy getups, pumpkin-carving designs, and candy treats for trick-or-treaters. Unfortunately for me, I’m currently 40,044 feet in the air flying to Atlanta, and for the twenty-fifth year in a row, I’m missing out on all of the Halloween festivities.

Yes, I’m twenty-five years old, today to be exact, and I’ve never had an official Halloween of sugar, scares, and Goodwill-assembled costumes. It all started when I was born. My mom is a Halloween hater, no way around it. (I’d love to say that she is just a disliker, but no, it’s an all-out abhorrence, and I have never gotten to the bottom of this mystery.) Mom discouraged Halloween joy from my very beginning. When I was brought home from the hospital, friends and family were asking what my little baby Halloween costume would be. Oh, no. Not happening. No daisy-petaled headband or orange pumpkin onesie; not even a baby jumper that says BOO in felt lettering. As I got older, trick-or-treating was out of the question—with the exception of a nice evening drive to the nursing home, and if Grandma and Grandpa were up for it, we’d drive half an hour to their house for watery pumpkin pie or stale sugar cookies in the shape of ghosts. Yes, I was deprived. When I headed off to college, I was certain I’d finally get to experience all my Halloween dreams.


This is my next project... maybe (credit:rockingfacts.com)

But when Halloween arrived that first year, my friends were busy dressing up and putting on loads of black eyeliner, and I, instead, was putting on my tuxedo/penguin suit, decked out with my bowtie and nonslip shoes. I drove off to work the annual Halloween banquet put on by Mayor Schmitt. (Sigh). The mayor had the same party every year, and I worked it every year. No haunted houses, no crazy costumes, no giant bags of candy, not even a single cavity…

But I did do my best to participate in the festivities that weren’t forbidden. Mom couldn’t find a reason to hate pumpkins, so, with desperate creative juices flowing, I became obsessed with all things pumpkin: homemade pumpkin pie, brownies, cookies, crispy-baked pumpkin seeds, pumpkin-patch hunting, and of course good ol’ pumpkin carving (my favorite). One year, I won the high school pumpkin-carving design contest, and today I proudly display my numerous creepy, crazy, overly detailed, dilapidated pumpkins on each step of my front porch. Yes, having five pumpkins glowing out into the street might seem slightly fanatical, but I gotta do something to make up for years of sugar deprivation!

When I heard that Fulcrum is putting on a Favorite Ways to Enjoy a Pumpkin contest, I was so excited—my time to shine! So although I’ll be on a plane, missing Halloween yet again, I’m thinking up my next big idea. The girl who has never experienced Halloween (and who’s only had a few lousy Tootsie Rolls and expired Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum from the nursing home) is looking for a challenge. I’ve had plenty of fun-filled pumpkin experiences, so all you competitors, look out! I may even send a photo of my next carved masterpiece all the way from Georgia.

Jessica Engman is the editorial intern at Fulcrum Publishing. She moved from Green Bay, Wisconsin (yes, she’s a Packer fan) to sunny Denver, Colorado in July 2011. Jess loves Disney movies, mornings, and spends way too much time at coffee shops. She is working to build a career in book publishing.

Tweet us @FulcrumBooks, tag Fulcrum Publishing on Facebook, or reply to this entry with your favorite ways to enjoy a pumpkin to enter for a chance to win a copy of In Search of the Perfect Pumpkin by Gloria Evangelista. The giveaway ends on October 31.

Dia de Los Muertos at the Denver Botanic Gardens

The original Day of the Dead movie poster—If you're like me you're spending this weekend watching zombie films. (Credit: United Film)

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 29, the Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting a celebration for Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. That’s the traditional Mexican celebration in honor of departed souls, not the Romero film or, for that matter, its far inferior 2008 remake.

At the Botanic Gardens Dia de Los Muertos, there will be face painting, sugar-skull and papel picado (“perforated paper”) making, as well as flamenco dancing and live music.

Details from the Denver Botanic Gardens’ website:

Date and Time:
Saturday, October 29, 5–8 p.m.

$8 Adults
$7 Member Adult/Student/Senior
$6 Child
$5 Member Child
Come in costume and painted skeleton face and receive $1 off admission (you must purchase tickets at the door the day of the event to receive this discount).
Buy tickets online. Limited tickets available—get your tickets today!

Entertainment and Activities
 (included in admission):

Mitchell Hall
5–6 p.m.: Aztec dancers
6–7 p.m.: “Dancing Across Cultures”
7–8 p.m.: “Mariachis San Juan de Colorado”
Gates Hall
5:30–6:30 p.m.: Spanish guitar and Flamenco dancer
6:45–7 p.m.: Mexican loteria “bingo” game #1
7:15–7:30 p.m.: Mexican loteria “bingo” game #2
Lobby Court (5–8 p.m.)
Face painter
Photo booth
Interpretive signage
Sugar skull display from different regions
of Mexico
Traditional altar
Gates Garden Court (5–8 p.m.)
Sugar skull workshop
Papel picado workshop
More crafts — TBA
Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory Balcony
5:30–7:30 p.m.: Storyteller provided by El Semanario
Helen Fowler Library Foyer (5–8 p.m.)
Professional pumpkin carving – Carving Día de los
Muertos images

I hope to see some of our readers there!

WTO Meets Occupy Wall Street

The Battle in Seattle

Receive a 50% discount on this title at http://www.fulcrumbooks.com. Use discount code OCCUPY at checkout.

Today’s blog is by Janet Thomas, author of The Battle in Seattle: The Story Behind and Beyond the WTO Demonstrations and Day Breaks over Dharamsala: A Memoir of Life Lost and Found. Thomas has written plays about abortion, sexual abuse, nuclear war, the Vietnam War, and the war against the environment, books about hostel travel in the West, and she’s been editor of a magazine about spas around the world. She lives and teaches on San Juan Island in Washington State.

In November 1999, 60,000 people poured out of nowhere to occupy the streets of WTO Seattle on behalf of global social, environmental, and economic justice. It was a week of shock and awe when farmers, union workers, students, teachers, pilots, economists, environmentalists, faith leaders, indigenous people, office workers, human rights activists, writers, musicians, artists, turtles and the rest of us showed up from the far reaches of the planet. We stunned the world and one another. Nobody saw it coming. There was no social media; there were no smart phones; cell phones were few and expensive; and the Web was not yet research-reliable.

The organization of WTO week was pocketed away in various corners of concern—all centered around the impact of the growing corporate monopoly over the resources of our planet and the lives of its people. There was a two-day teach-in about the impacts of corporate domination with scholars and policy makers from all over the world. There was a forum on the global corporate war system and another forum on the corporate impact on global health and the environment. The expanding use of genetically modified foods and the invasive nature of genetic research was a major concern. So was the corporate takeover of food production and farming. Back then, Starbucks was part of the problem. Their bottom line came at the expense of farmers in South America, held hostage by the corporate coffee bean, who could no longer grow food for their families. Organic, shade-grown, and farmer co-op coffee was not yet in the cup. In India, farmers were forced to grow cotton on their land while their families went hungry. They still are, and the suicide rate of Indian farmers, through the ingestion of the agricultural chemicals that were supposed to make their lives better, is an ongoing tragedy. Follow the food and you eat your way right into the greedy reaches of agribusiness, where a dollar reigns and a human life is disposable.

On N30, that iconic day in November, I found myself walking on the streets of WTO Seattle behind a small group of peasant rice workers from Japan. They were wearing their white peasant garb and couldn’t speak much English, but they sang their rice-worker songs and were euphoric in their gestures of delight at the communal affection and appreciation on the streets. They were being seen and their song was being heard. They were recognized, acknowledged, and respected for the integrity of their lives and their struggle.

I was walking by myself in the midst of the crowd on the streets of Seattle that day and those Japanese peasant rice workers embraced me with their joy and jubilation. But why were they there? Answering that question became the seed, metaphorically and otherwise for my book The Battle in Seattle: The Story Behind and Beyond the WTO Demonstrations.

Growing rice in Japan, as with grapes in France, is rooted in generational farming. Many families participate, each taking care of their own rows, each preserving their own seeds from year to year—seeds that adapted over hundreds of years to small bits of land and to the hands that carefully farmed. But because Montsanto identified the genetics of their seeds, the farmers were no longer entitled to own and cultivate them. And the seeds they were forced to purchase came complete with terminator genes so they couldn’t be saved from year to year. And so began the end of economic justice, the end of generations of culture, the end of safe rice, and the end of a vibrant and viable future. Theirs was a unique story on the streets of WTO Seattle—as was every story on those streets that week. What wasn’t unique was the human spirit rising in embrace of what was just and fair for humankind, and for all sentient beings, including this living, breathing planet.

Author Janet Thomas

The phrase of the week was civil society. To be civil is to be most of all respectful. A civil society is a respectful society. It honors deep democracy, where the integrity of an individual life is honored. It is fair. It recognizes and celebrates differences and unique ways of being in the world. It doesn’t quantify everything, bottom-line everything, weigh and measure the worth of a human being by a stock portfolio or bank account. Civil society is the bedrock of the future. Corporate society is anathema to civil society; its global domination means the end of our unique and individual stories—whether we are peasant rice farmers in Japan, teachers in Manhattan, or longshore workers in Long Beach.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is an outpouring of civil society. The media might wring its corporate hands over the lack of specifics and solutions, but civil society knows what’s right and what’s missing: the fundamental human right to a meaningful life for everyone on this planet. Everyone has a story and their story matters. Follow our individual, family, cultural stories and they lead to everything that’s right and everything that’s wrong with our world. Civil society knows the difference; corporate society doesn’t have to. This is where the line is drawn in the sands of global society. When 99 percent of us occupy the Wall Streets of the world, those simple words, right and wrong, come to life like those peasant rice workers on the streets of WTO Seattle. They mean something. So do we all.

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We’ll Miss You, Brynn

It was a sad day at Fulcrum, as we said goodbye to our sales assistant, Brynn.

She is one of the best.

Brynn’s dedication, kindness, and top-secret superpowers made her an essential part of the Fulcrum team. She will be missed by all, and we wish her the very best in her future endeavors.

Cheers to Brynn!

For our readers, a selection of Brynn’s greatest hits (blogwise):

Cooking at Home with the Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook

Uncompahgre Peak—A Journey in Photos

Wednesday Hiking Inspiration

Wednesday Outdoor Inspiration

Colorado Fourteeners Giveaway Contest

Indigenous Peoples’ Day

“It is not the big dramatic things so much that get us down, but just being Indian, trying to hang on to our way of life, language, and values while being surrounded by an alien, more powerful culture.” —Mary Crow Dog, American Indian activist

The idea of replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day occurred in 1977, at a UN-sponsored conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on discrimination against indigenous populations in the Americas. But it wasn’t until 1991 that activists in Berkeley, California, convinced the Berkeley City Council to declare October 12 a “Day of Solidarity with Indigenous People.” Since then, there has been a growing movement to appropriate Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. States including South Dakota, Hawaii, and Alabama (but not Colorado) have changed the holiday’s name, and many more cities have taken similar action.

On this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, this blogger intends to spend some quiet meditation honoring indigenous resistance and to contemplate how to best confront current injustices. For our readers, I’ve linked to some great posts and articles on the history of Christopher Columbus and on Indigenous Peoples’ Day below:

Blueness has a great post on Admiral Columbus at The Daily Kos. From the post:

What is known is that when the Admiral stepped ashore on Hispaniola, he brought Original Sin to the New World. The policies he pursued there exterminated that island’s people, the Taino. Every one.…

Today,’ the Taino survive in the shape of one’s eyes, the outline of one’s face, the idiom of one’s language.” All the rest is gone.

From Hispaniola, the Admiral and his works brought destruction too to all the native peoples of all the rest of the Americas—north, central, and south.

And to replace the falling bodies of the Taino, who died extracting gold and silver for him, the Admiral birthed the transatlantic slave trade, bringing to the New World in bondage people from the place where people were born.”

Racialicious has posted “An Open Letter to Urban Outfitters on Columbus Day,” in which Sasha Houston Brown writes:

“I doubt that you consulted the Navajo Nation about using their tribal name on sophisticated items such as the “Navajo Hipster Panty.” In fact, I recently became aware that the Navajo Nation Attorney General sent your company a cease and desist letter regarding this very issue. I stand in solidarity with the Navajo Nation and ask that you not only cease and desist selling products falsely using the Navajo name, but that you also stop selling faux Indian apparel that objectifies all tribes.

Urban Outfitters Inc. has taken Indigenous life ways and artistic expressions and trivialized and sexualized them for the sake of corporate profit. It is this kind of behavior that perpetuates the stereotype of the white man’s Indian and allows for the ongoing commodification of an entire ethnic group. Just as our traditional homelands were stolen and expropriated without regard, so too has our very cultural identity. On this day that America still celebrates as Columbus Day, I ask that do what is morally right and apologize to Indigenous peoples of North America and withdraw this offensive line from retail stores.”

There’s also a great excerpt from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States on Christopher Columbus at the Manifest Destiny blog. From the excerpt:

“When we read the history books given to children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure—there is no bloodshed—and Columbus Day is a celebration.

The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (the Arawaks) the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress-is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders. It is as if they, like Columbus, deserve universal acceptance, as if they—the Founding Fathers, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, the leading members of Congress, the famous Justices of the Supreme Court—represent the nation as a whole. The pretense is that there really is such a thing as “the United States,” subject to occasional conflicts and quarrels, but fundamentally a community of people with common interests. It is as if there really is a “national interest” represented in the Constitution, in territorial expansion, in the laws passed by Congress, the decisions of the courts, the development of capitalism, the culture of education and the mass media.”

Last year, on the Republic of Lakotah site, Glenn Morris and Russell Means did a great piece on why AIM opposes Christopher Columbus Day and Christopher Columbus celebrations. And today, the site has a great post calling out Occupy Denver and asking them to integrate Native peoples and methods into the Occupy movement. From the post:

“We have been waiting for 519 years for such a movement, ever since that fateful day in October 1492, when a different worldview arrived—one of greed, hierarchy, destruction and genocide.

In observing the “Occupy Together” expansion, we are reminded that the territories of our indigenous nations have been “under occupation” for decades, if not centuries. We remind the occupants of this encampment in Denver that they are on the territories of the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Ute peoples.  In the U.S., indigenous nations were the first targets of corporate/government oppression. The landmark case of Johnson v. McIntosh(1823), which institutionalized the “doctrine of discovery” in U.S. law, and which justified the theft of 2 billion acres of indigenous territory, established a framework of corrupt political/legal/corporate collusion that continues throughout indigenous America, to the present.

If this movement is serious about confronting the foundational assumptions of the current U.S. system, then it must begin by addressing the original crimes of the U.S. colonizing system against indigenous nations. Without addressing justice for indigenous peoples, there can never be a genuine movement for justice and equality in the United States. Toward that end, we challenge Occupy Denver to take the lead, and to be the first “Occupy” city to integrate into its philosophy, a set of values that respects the rights of indigenous peoples, and that recognizes the importance of employing indigenous visions and models in restoring environmental, social, cultural, economic and political health to our homeland.” 

Banned Books Week—More Banned Books We Love

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff is sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers.To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

From our editor, Carolyn Sobczak:

I finally read Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War a couple of years ago, having somehow made it through my middle and high school classes without it being assigned reading. What struck me most, reading it at age 32, wasn’t how many times Jerry, the protagonist, thought about masturbation and sex, or how bad the language was (commonly cited “problems” with the book)—it was how the adults in the book ultimately fail the youngsters. (This is just my interpretation, of course. Maybe you wouldn’t read it that way…or maybe that’s the real reason the book’s been challenged so many times.)

I admit that I was upset when I closed this book, but that’s the effect a rich and complex story can have. I wondered how a teen might respond and what my then classmates would have said. There are so many great discussion topics to consider: What is the nature of the world? Can we work against the status quo? What is right and wrong? And that’s just the beginning.

I wish someone would have suggested to me that adults aren’t infallible. I wish that before I went to college I would have understood what all those bumper stickers meant that said Question Authority, and why it’s important to do so. I wish The Chocolate War had been required reading.

Carolyn is an editor at Fulcrum, where she prides herself on encouraging her authors to produce the best books possible. She enjoys projects that are both intelligent and highly readable, like Ted Gioia’s The Birth (and Death) of the Cool.

From our editorial intern, Jessica Engman:

Fahrenheit 451 is a science fiction novel about a dystopian society where books and all printed material are banned because of the fear that books create individualism and freedom of thought, enabling people to rise up against their government. The protagonist, Montag, is a fireman, but not the kind who puts out fires—he burns books. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which books burn.

Fahrenheit 451 was first banned because of its use of words like damn or hell and because the Christian Bible was one of the books that was burned and destroyed. Ironically, Fahrenheit 451, a book that condemns censorship through its portrayal of it, was banned in schools because many groups feared that it advocated anti-Christianity and governmental suppression.

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Okay, concerned mothers of America, I’ll give you the fact that Shel Silverstein was a mildly controversial figure. A man who writes for both Playboy and 2nd graders is bound to be. But, speaking as a former 2nd grader and faithful memorizer of good ol’ Shel’s poetry, I feel like I owe him a little love during Banned Books Week.

A few years ago, a mother was outraged by one of Shel’s poems, “Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony,” and tried to have it banned from the shelves of her daughter’s elementary school. She took issue with the dark outcome of poor little Abigail. (“If I don’t get that pony I’ll die,” Abigail said. And she did.)  She felt that it was giving children the wrong idea, and that ultimately the poem promoted suicide and the manipulation of adult figures. (Because it would never have occurred to children to beg for ponies without Shel.)

While readers (i.e., children) may sympathize with Miss Abigail, I am happy to report that not only was I not permanently scarred as a child by the poem, I hardly remember it. Instead, I remember counting down the days until I could afford my own “Homework Machine,” only mine would know that nine plus four is not three, and fighting an internal battle whenever I had to dry the dishes after supper. (Thank you, “How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes”). But I knew if a dish ever “accidently” slipped and shattered on the linoleum, my mother would be onto me. After all, she’s the one who read the poems to me before I could read them myself.

Which is why, years later as an older and wiser camp counselor, I used to read the poems to my campers. On rainy nights, we would create a tent in the cabin made of safety-pinned sheets and a roaring fire of piled up flashlights. And we would read Shel Silverstein. They now know all about how to catch a moon (“Moon-catchin’ Net”), the proper use of kitchen utensils to form their own rock ‘n roll bands (“Rock ‘n’ Roll Band”), and what happens if a whatif (“Whatif”) crawls into their ear. And you know what’s amazing? I’m sure none of them ever tried to put a brassiere on a camel (“They’ve Put a Brassiere on the Camel”).

Still, it’s amazing to see that even though Shel is only living now in the memories of children and adults who love his stories, his writing continues. Every Thing, a new book out this month, carries on his tradition for wacky words and stirring insight into the minds of the forever young.

An ode to silly poems by a man named Shel:


Beware of those hills, er, holes.

Banned Books Week—Weetzie Bat

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff is sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week, we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our sales and marketing associate (and your friendly Fulcrum blogger), Dani Perea.

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block wasn’t explicitly banned from our school library (it was on the shelves, right next to Witch Baby, which I had read and loved because of Witch Baby’s cowboy boot roller skates). But when I tried to check it out in fourth grade, the librarian aide, after gazing at the back of the book jacket, walked around the counter, took the book out of my hands, and hissed, “Young ladies should not be reading these sex books.”

In an instant, my mild interest in getting this book to read on the bus to Hebrew school grew tenfold. My tiny fourth grade mind was all, SEX book?! Give it here, lady.  But the librarian aide wasn’t having it—she pointed back to the stacks and glared at me.

At that point, curiosity had already overtaken the portion of my brain that handles restraint and lawfulness. I had been checking out Stephen King and Michael Crichton books from the military base library all summer without anyone batting an eye, and there was lots of sex and swear words and glorious violence in those. What was so naughty about this book?

I made a big show of shuffling back to the stacks while I secretly slipped the book inside my coat. I hadn’t learned shoplifting from books—that was thanks to my older cousins who taught me to smuggle schnapps out of my grandfather’s garage.

It turns out that Weetzie Bat didn’t compare to the lust and gore of King or Crichton. Instead, that night I read an airy confection of a story, written in dreamlike prose, about two best friends who made a family amidst the new-wave punk/surf scene in Los Angeles. There wasn’t any explicit sex, just the admission that sex exists and that people have it for all kinds of reasons. One of the main characters was gay and talked candidly with another character about AIDS. A central message of the book was about making a family, which can happen in all kinds of ways besides a heteronormative nuclear unit. I’m not sure what the librarian aide saw on the book jacket to react so strongly—perhaps she read the name of one of the characters, Secret Agent Lover Man.

The story didn’t perform any transformative tricks on my young, innocent worldview, but Francesca Lia Block’s surreal, surfer-slang style of writing did inspire me to write my first novel. Which I proceeded to do, on those bus rides to and from Hebrew school. It was a comedy about a fourth-grade girl with superpowers who fights aliens on a battleship and then becomes president of the United States. I mailed it to HarperCollins, handwritten on 50 sheets of wide-ruled paper, sure that I’d be a best-selling author with my own mansion by fifth grade, but they never responded. (Ahem, if you’re reading HarperCollins, I’m still waiting on that response.)

I wasn’t gutsy enough to smuggle the book back into the library. It’s still on my bookshelf with the plastic library jacket and check out card pocket, and on the inside cover is the word CONTRABAND, printed in careful block letters by the hand of a fourth-grade thief.

Dani Perea is the marketing and sales associate at Fulcrum Publishing. Ever since working in a comic shop as a teenager, she has bought her books, instead of stealing them. When she’s not wearing her sales and marketing top hat, she enjoys punk rock, a rousing game of tumbleweed chasin’, and gazing at vast desert skies filled with stars, preferably all at once.

Banned Books Week—Julie of the Wolves

In honor of Banned Books Week, our staff will be sharing their experiences with banned books, and at the end of the week we’ll give away a copy of Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection to one of our randomly selected blog subscribers. To enter the giveaway, just subscribe to our blog via the e-mail subscription link. To enter additional times, you can blog, tweet, or update your status on Facebook with a link over to the giveaway (tag @FulcrumBooks on Twitter and @FulcrumPublishing on Facebook), or “like” Fulcrum Publishing on FacebookJust be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and leave the link to each one.  The contest ends on October 3.

Today’s blog post is from our editorial and production manager, Haley Berry.

When our marketing team asked us to write about a banned book, I was surprised to see one of my favorites, Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, on the list. I had to google it to see the objections to the book (marital rape scene), and I had to admit I didn’t remember that part of the story. The part that had stuck in my impressionable young brain was when the main character eats food regurgitated by a wolf. That’s hard core.

I didn’t love the book because I was shocked or felt like I was reading something I shouldn’t; I loved it because the story spoke to the independence I so craved. I was hungry to prove myself, to have my own place in the world. After reading Julie of the WolvesMy Side of the Mountain, and Hatchet, when I was eleven you could have parachuted me into the wilderness and I would have been really happy about it (for a while, anyway). Because after reading those books, I looked at myself and knew I could survive, that I was smart enough and strong enough. Whether that’s true is definitely debatable. I probably would have starved to death or fallen out of a tree or something within a week or two. Still, those books gave me confidence and fed my already independent spirit. What’s not constructive about that?

I can’t imagine what I’d be like if my parents had kept certain books from me. Neither of my parents have a college degree, so they were happy I was hoovering books and that BOOK IT! was giving me free pizzas for it. They figured if it was in the school or town library, then it was probably safe. In short, I was reading Stephen King and watching Predator at nine. That’s likely objectionable to a lot of parents, but I’m so grateful mine didn’t keep certain books and movies away from me. Living in a small town, books provided so many experiences and viewpoints that I never would have had access to otherwise. They made my world bigger and my choices more informed.

But here’s the funny part: my mother never attempted to censor any books or movies, but she was terrified about my exposure to MTV or music with “dirty” lyrics. Makes you scratch your head, doesn’t it? She almost blew a vein when I brought home Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, which drops a single F-bomb. One curse word equaled one really big fight, and I was sent to my room (sans Alanis), where I probably curled up in bed to finish Lady Chatterley’s Lover or Go Ask Alice.

Haley is the editorial and production manager at Fulcrum. Some of her favorite Fulcrum authors include Craig Barnes, Dick Kreck, Mitch Tobin, Amy Masching, Kirk Johnson, and Anita Thompson. She’s happy to spend her days working with talented designers and editors (and marketers!), and to have finally found a world that embraces word nerds. If Haley were a book, she’d be a petite paperback with matte lam, flaps, and a deckled edge.