Abbott, Tony

Born: October 26, 1952

Ohio connection: Birth

Born in Cleveland, Tony Abbott is the son of a teacher and a WWII paratrooper.  His family moved to Connecticut when he was eight.  He graduated University of Connecticut with a degree in English Literature.  Reading bedtime stories to his children inspired him to write children’s books.  Abbott has written several series, including “Danger Guys,”, “The Secrets of Droon,”, and “Cracked Classics”.  Many of his books have been translated in Italian, Spanish, Korean, Japanese and Russian, selling over 6 million books worldwide.  He and his family live in Connecticut. Tony Abbott has received several awards including the Golden Kite Award for fiction, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, 2007, for Firegirl; and the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best juvenile novel, Mystery Writers of America, 2009, for The Postcard.

Web site

William, Allen


Born: September 8, 1940

Ohio connection: Resident

Born in Dallas, Texas, and writing since the age of twelve, William Allen has interests that include fiction and nonfiction, history, humor, nature, and regional writing about his Texas background. Allen attended universities in Texas, California, and Iowa, and has taught creative writing at The Ohio State University since 1973. His books include Walking Distance: An Ohio Odyssey(1993), and his short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in many periodicals including Antioch Review, Saturday Review, New York Times, and Audience. Allen was the founding editor of The Journal (originally Ohio Journal), the award-winning literary periodical of The Ohio State University, that has been published continuously since 1973.

Los Angeles Newspaper Guild award, 1967, as California State, Long Beach journalist of the year.

Abbott, Lee K.


Born: Friday, October 17, 1947

Ohio connection: Resident

Lee Kittredge Abbott has been a professor of English in Ohio for more than two decades, teaching at Case Western Reserve University for twelve years before transferring to Ohio State University in 1989. However, despite his lengthy stay in Ohio, the environment and people in Ohio feel “like an alien culture” to him. Perhaps this is because he was born miles and worlds away from Ohio, in the Panama Canal Zone, on October 17, 1947, and reared in New Mexico, where most of his short stories are set. Abbott has described the American Southwest as “what I know…it’s a place where the firsts happened: first drunk, first sex, first death. It’s where I came to adulthood.” Writing about what he knows has earned the “linguistic hellion” praise from premier book review sources such as Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, and Publishers Weekly for his “invigorating prose”, “antic, smart-alecky style” and his “lush style of speech”. These highly praised short stories typically revolve around three themes: boy-girl, father-son, and buddies, and include college professors, rock-n-roll bands, and bank robbers as some of his primary characters. His stories have been collected in the following volumes: The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting (1980), Love is a Crooked Thing (1986), Strangers in Paradise (1987), Dreams of Distant Lives (1989), Living After Midnight (1991) and Wet Places at Noon (1997). He also co-wrote, along with eight other authors, The Putt at the End of the World (2000), a farcical thriller of a novel that mixes a celebrity golf tournament in Scotland with spooks and ecoterrorists. Abbott’s work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories (1984 and 1987) and he has contributed to magazines, including Atlantic, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares and Story Quarterly. He now resides outside of Columbus, Ohio.
Fellow, National Endowment for the Arts, 1979 and 1985; St. Lawrence Award for Fiction, Fiction International, 1981, for The Heart Never Fits Its Wanting; O. Henry Prize, Doubleday & Co., 1984, for “Living Alone in Iota,” and 1997; Prize for Fiction, Story Quarterly, 1985, for “Youth on Mars”; National Magazine Award from Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, and Editors Choice Award from Wampeter-Doubleday, both 1986, both for “Time and Fear and Somehow Love”; Pushcart Prize, Pushcart Press, 1986, for “X,” 1987, and 1989, for “The Era of Great Numbers”; Major Artist Fellowship, Ohio Arts Council, 1991-92; Governor’s Award for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, 1993; Syndicated Fiction Award, 1995.

A New Get Graphic! Book Discussion Series Begins Thursday, June 4, 2015

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a superhero would have a traumatic origin story.  We must ask, though, why are these origins always filled with such suffering? And how do these superheroes learn to work with their painful histories as they protect and transform the world around them? We will ask these questions and many more as we discuss the tumultuous lives of superheroes with our Guest Reader, Valentino Zullo.

*The title for this series is a tribute to a book by Dr. Vera Camden entitled, Trauma and Transformation: The Political Progress of John Bunyan.

1st and 3rd Thursdays, June – August 2015 | 4:00 PM
Literature Department, 2nd floor, Main Library, 325 Superior Avenue. For more information call 216.623.2881.


Valentino Zullo began his studies in comics at Kent State University (KSU) many years ago. He is a PhD student in the English department at KSU, and holds a Master of Arts in English and Women’s Studies from Bowling Green State University where he studied Comics as Literature. He has a Master of Science in Social Administration from the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. He is also a student pursuing psychoanalytic training at the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center. Valentino believes in Literature, Social Justice and the Superhero Way!

Click on Superman image (above) to download / print the flyer for this series.

Dates and Titles:

June 4, 2015: Ultimate Spider-Man: Power and Responsibility by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

June 18: Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazuchelli

July 2: Batwoman: World’s Finest by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman

July 16Double Discussion:
Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Captain Marvel: In Pursuit of Flight by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Dexter Soy

August 6: Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassady

August 20: Superman: For Tomorrow by Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee

Interested in other books about comics and graphic novels? Click here to download / print a bibliography compiled by OCFB staff.


GN_Books about Graphic Literature.pdf

Brown Bag Book Clubs at Main Library Featuring AWBA-Winning Titles with Guest Reader Valentino Zullo Begin Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On June 10, 2015, Ohio Center for the Book (OCFB) at Cleveland Public Library will begin a series of lunchtime book club discussions with guest reader Valentino Zullo, featuring Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards (AWBA) winning titles. One book discussion will be held each month, June through August 2015, on Wednesdays at noon, and will take place in the Literature Department and OCFB at Cleveland Public Library, Main Library, 2nd floor. The book talks begin Wednesday, June 10 at 12:00 p.m., with the 1952 AWBA-winner The Wall by John Hersey. Other books in the series are: Other books in the series are: The Boat by Nam Le and Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. For more information, contact the Literature Department at 216.623.2881. Click here to view, print or download the flyer.

Special Brown Bag Book Club. In collaboration with Popular Library’s African American Brown Bag Book Club, a discussion of Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley will be held August 2015 at 12:00 p.m. Discussion of this 1998 AWBA-winner takes place in Popular Library, 1st floor, Main Library. Cleveland Public Library is located at 325 Superior Avenue.

Valentino Zullo is a PhD student in the English department at Kent State University. He holds a Master of Arts in English and Women’s Studies from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Science in Social Administration from The Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. He is also a student pursuing psychoanalytic training at the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center. A comics scholar, Valentino hosts the Get Graphic! Graphic Novel Speaker Series, and serves as guest reader for the popular Get Graphic! A Graphic Novel Book Club discussion series, both are presented by Cleveland Public Library and Ohio Center for the Book. Valentino believes in Literature, Social Justice and the Superhero Way!

Edith Anisfield-Wolf, a former Cleveland Public Library Board of Trustee, established AWBA in 1935; it is the only juried book prize that addresses racism and diversity of cultures. The 80th AWBA ceremony will take place Thursday, September 10, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. in the Ohio Theater of PlayhouseSquare, 1511 Euclid Avenue.

A complete set of all of the past winners is housed in Special Collections, Main Library, 3rd floor. For more information about the AWBA, visit the website at

OCFB Book Set Titles on Race Available for ‘It’s Time to Talk:’ Book Clubs

Cleveland Public Library (CPL) is “The People’s University,” the center of learning for a diverse and inclusive community. CPL’s vision is to be the driving force behind a powerful culture of learning that will inspire Clevelanders from all walks of life to continually learn, share and seek out new knowledge in ways that are beneficial to themselves, their community and the world.Ohio Center for the Book at Cleveland Public Library (OCFB), as an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is dedicated to promoting and celebrating books, reading, and literacy. The YWCA Greater Cleveland (YWCA) states as its mission a dedication to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.  The YWCA’s values are courage, accountability, integrity and social justice. Throughout its history, the YWCA has been at the forefront of many major movements in the United States as a pioneer in race relations.
These exceptional institutions have come together in partnership to present: It’s Time to Talk: Book Clubs, “Improving Cultural Competency through Community Reading Experiences.” Book clubs are one of many options offered by the YWCA’s “It’s Time to Talk” programs, and offers a unique experience for individuals and organizations willing to talk about the complex issues of race. It is an effort to increase awareness, knowledge and levels of cultural competency in the workplace and the community.  Cultural competency has been defined as: the ability to interact with persons from cultures and/or belief systems other than one’s own.  It is the ability to understand and appreciate the differences that make us unique.

It’s Time to Talk: Cleveland Book Clubs are a way to engage in thoughtful and intelligent dialogue, where people–co-workers, community members of different racial and ethical backgrounds–can sit down together to discuss selected books on race-related topics. The intent is to get people listening to one another, which will lead to greater understanding. This is a worthwhile effort, given that recent research by scientists involving emotional transportation, i.e., how sensitive people are to others’ feelings, have concluded that reading literary fiction can improve empathy.  After all, the ability to put oneself in someone else’s shoes—the capacity to understand what others are thinking and feeling—can be a first step toward becoming stronger in race relations.

OCFB Book Set Titles on Race. OCFB and Cleveland Public Library have made 35 book sets (27 fiction, including graphic novels, and 8 non-fiction) available for borrowing. The literary fiction titles selected are award-winning books that deal with issues of race and cultural diversity.  For a description of each title, search CPL’s online public access catalog; download or print a copy of the OCFB Book Set Titles on Race here.

Helpful Resource.  The YWCA has developed conversation guidelines to help facilitate discussion around topics on race and racism. You can download or print a copy of “It’s Time to Talk” Book Club Conversation  Guidelines here.

Description of Book Kits. Each Book Kit Contains:
1 hard copy of the YWCA’S “It’s Time to Talk:” Book Club Conversation Guidelines; 1 hard copy of the Reading Group Book Discussion Guide; 1 USB Drive loaded with the book discussion guide, articles, books and websites recommended for continuing the conversation; 10 copies of the book. All contained in a sturdy tote bag.

How to Borrow Book Sets.  Interested in borrowing books for your discussion group? Please contact CPL’s Literature Department at or 216.623.2881. CPL’s Main Library is located at 325 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114; operating hours are:  Monday-Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

YWCA Greater Cleveland is located at 4019 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103. For more information about “It’s Time to Talk” programs and services, contact the YWCA.


OCFB Book Sets_On Race.pdf

YWCA ITT Book Club conversation guidelines4215.pdf