Saturday, January 22, 2011

Library purchasing recommendation: Dark’s Tale by Deborah Grabien

Book cover: Dark's Tale by Deborah Grabien
The purpose of this paper is to recommend the inclusion of Dark’s Tale by Deborah Grabien in the inventory of the Morro Bay Library and, through it, the San Luis Obispo and Black Gold Cooperative library systems. A keyword search confirmed that this book is not already among its holdings.

Dark’s Tale is Grabien’s 13th published novel ― but her first book for a non-adult readership (Hackett). School Library Journal places the book’s readership at grades four to seven (Jonker).

Other books by Grabien include While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Rock & Roll Never Forgets and London Calling (Kinkaid Chronicles) and a series of mysteries featuring the ghosts of characters from folk ballads: Cruel Sister, The Famous Flower of Serving Men, Matty Groves, New-Slain Knight and The Weaver and the Factory Maid (Grabien, Home page) among others.

Morro Bay Library is part of the San Luis Obispo County Library, “which operates 15 libraries throughout the County [that] provide a wide array of services and programs for children, teens and adults” (San Luis Obispo County). Children’s storytimes are offered at 10 a.m. Thursdays at the Morro Bay Library (San Luis Obispo County Library).

Among a school-age population who would be potential readers for this book are 303 students at Del Mar Elementary School and 240 students at Morro Bay High School (

Morro Bay Friends of the Library encourages children’s library involvement, offering one free child’s book from its Friends sales shelf with a child’s Friends membership (Morro Bay Friends of the Library 9).

Morro Bay is additionally part of the Black Gold Cooperative Library System, which encompasses Blanchard/Santa Paula, Lompoc, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Santa Maria library systems (Black Gold Cooperative Library System).

Dark’s Tale is the story of a cat who has been abandoned in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The arrival of coyotes threatens Dark’s survival and that of every other animal in the park.

“Pulling elements of the story from her real-life experiences with cat rescue, Grabien touches on some animal-rights themes, leaving them open-ended for readers to consider” (Jonker).

A Booklist review observes that two human characters “occasionally serve as mouthpieces for the author’s views,” which the reviewer believes breaks the flow of the narrative (Phelan). Grabien acknowledges in a Cat Fancy interview that Dark’s Tale was inspired by her husband’s and her experience feeding feral cat colonies and by the incursion of coyotes into Golden Gate Park (Hackett). Grabien also discusses these experiences in an afterward to her book (Grabien, Dark’s Tale).

Grabien admits during the interview that the most difficult part of writing her book was “Trying to tone down how furious I was at how the situation with the coyotes was handled by the local animal control department and city officials” (Hackett).

However, having read Grabien’s book, I do not agree that viewpoints expressed by human characters detract from the story’s narrative. To my thinking, city policies in regard to park management have a direct bearing upon Dark’s existence in Golden Gate Park. These concerns are quite reasonably on the minds of the humans who feed Dark and the other animals.

The School Library Journal review identifies an audience for this book among fans of Erin Hunter’s Warriors series (Jonker), as did publicity that accompanied my promotional copy of the book.

Having read and enjoyed Hunter’s series, I agree with the assessment. I further observed that Night Whispers, book No. 3 in Hunter’s Warriors: Omen of the Stars, currently has 12 holds placed against eight available copies in the Black Gold Cooperative Library System.

In summary, because of its ready-made audience among Hunter’s Warriors fans, as well as because of a compelling story that is worth reading in its own right, the addition of Dark’s Tale to the Morro Bay Library inventory would enhance the holdings of the San Luis Obispo County Library and the entire cooperative system.

Works Cited

  • Black Gold Cooperative Library System. Welcome to the Black Gold Cooperative Library System. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Morro Bay, California. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Grabien, Deborah. Dark’s Tale. Uncorrected bound proof. New York: Egmont USA, 2010. Print.
  • Grabien, Deborah. Home page. Deborah Grabien. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Hackett, Stacey N. “Catch Up With Author Deborah Grabien.” Cat Fancy Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Jonker, Travis. Rev. of Dark’s Tale, by Deborah Grabien. School Library Journal 1 May 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Morro Bay Friends of the Library. “Junior Membership Application.” Among Friends: Morro Bay Friends of the Library Newsletter Winter 2011: 9. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • Phelan, Carolyn. Rev. of Dark’s Tale, by Deborah Grabien. Booklist 1 March 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • San Luis Obispo County. 2010 Annual Report: 34. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.
  • San Luis Obispo County Library. Children’s Programs. Web. 22 Jan. 2011.

Compiled for Cuesta College LIBT 105, Library/Information Center Collections

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