ROBB WHITE: Seeking Adventure and Long-Lost Books
Williamsport (Pa.) Sun-Gazette, 14 June 2009
Joseph W. Smith III
When it comes to Robb White, it's tough to say which was
more exciting - his life or his books.
most folks, though, the tougher question is, "Who's Robb
late author - who would have turned 100 next Saturday -
penned adventure novels, TV scripts and horror-movie
screenplays. Though most of his books are out of print, his
devoted fans have a fondness for his work that borders on
Most of White's 27 books are aimed at younger readers, many
of whom first encountered him through the Scholastic reading
program in public schools 40 or 50 years ago; like me, they
were captivated by the powerful authenticity and breathless
action in such stories as "Secret Sea," "Flight Deck," "Up
Periscope," "The Survivor" and "Torpedo Run."
White's legendary 1946 novel "The Lion's Paw" has proven the
most enduring - and perhaps the most elusive.
the 79 reader-reviews at Amazon.com, 77 give the book five
stars, calling the story of three kids on a sailboat
"engrossing," "wonderful," "timeless," "enchanting,"
"excellent," "fantastic," "mesmerizing," "beautifully
written" and "absolutely incredible."
the word that seems to come up most often is "favorite."
"This book changed my life ... This was the book that opened
the door for me, that showed me just how wonderful reading
can be. I have read and reread my original beat-up paperback
version many, many times."
the book was out of print for years, and those aging
paperbacks proved hard to come by. Last year, Bookfinder.com
listed "Lion's Paw" as America's most sought-after
out-of-print children's book.
Originally priced under $1, it regularly sold for $50 on
eBay, with pristine hardbacks netting 10 times that amount.
now, a splendid new reprint, complete with drawings and
jacket design from the original Doubleday hardback, can be
purchased through Amazon, eBay, thelionspaw.org, selected
retailers (including Otto's) or the Ingram Book Group.
White's third wife and life-long friend, Annie, explains:
"My daughter Leslie and I receive mail daily from many
readers who proclaim 'The Lion's Paw' their favorite book
they formed A.W. INK to reissue White's work - starting with
20,000 copies of "Lion's Paw," currently stored in their
Utah garage and sold individually by phone or Internet.
Having moved about 10,000 so far, they hope to reprint other
White titles soon.
when it comes to Robb White, finding long-lost books is only
half the excitement. He lived a life most folks only dream
Born to missionaries in the Philippines, White grew up among
Igorot natives, whom he called "absolutely superb people" -
even though they ate several of the family's dogs.
White later moved to the U.S., where he graduated from
Annapolis with the rank of ensign in 1931.
Working on a "floating school" in the 1930s, White one night
swam ashore from two miles out when the schooner was
crippled in a December storm.
married Rodie Mason in 1937 and the couple settled in the
Caribbean, eventually purchasing an uninhabited eight-acre
island, Marina Cay, for $60.
Whites spent three years on this barren atoll, digging a
cistern out of rocky ground and building themselves a small,
They weathered a typhoon, a flirtatious Nazi skipper, a
boatload of Jewish refugees and a surprise visit from
After Pearl Harbor, White was recalled to military duty,
earning nine medals, serving on battleships, submarines and
aircraft carriers, and fighting in the Battle of Leyte Gulf
near his birthplace. White drew heavily on these experiences
for his later novels.
the 1950s and 1960s, White wrote episodes of TV's "Perry
Mason" and teamed with horror director William Castle for a
series of cheap but successful thrillers, including
"Macabre," "Thirteen Ghosts," "The Tingler" and "The House
on Haunted Hill."
White was a member of Harvard's 1950 anthropological
expedition to the Middle East. He lived in California,
Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina, England, Ireland,
Scotland, Italy, the West Indies and the French Riviera.
died on Thanksgiving in 1990.
White's daughter Bailey is an NPR commentator who reminisces
about her father in several of her books.
White's son, Robb IV (1941-2006), was a boat-builder whose
collected writings were released June 1 under the title
"Flotsam and Jetsam."
own White obsession began when I fell in love with "Flight
Deck" in middle school; it was reignited in the 1990s when I
found an ancient but sturdy copy at Cady's News Stand
After years of Internet searches and more cash outlays than
I care to admit, my collection of White's books was finally
completed this spring when I nailed an affordable British
edition of the very rare "Sailor in the Sun" (cheapest copy
now available: $700).
recommend "Sail Away," "No Man's Land," "Silent Ship, Silent
Sea" and White's memoir of his amazing Caribbean adventure,
"Our Virgin Island."
Here's hoping A.W. INK brings these back too.
Essential Reading: BookFinder.com Unveils
Top 10 Out-of-Print Books in America
BERKELEY, Calif., Dec 17, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ --
U.S. publishers are responding to heavy demand for
out-of-print books by bringing them back into print. Three
of the ten books in BookFinder.com's 2008 list of the most
sought after out-of-print books in America will go back into
print in 2009 ("Once a Runner: A Novel," "A Lion Called
Christian," and "Comanche Heart").
titles, "The Lion's Paw" and "Football Scouting Methods,"
would have been included in the top 10 if they had not been
pushed into print this fall.
The sixth annual BookFinder.com top 10 out-of-print
"bestseller" list also features books on "do it yourself"
themes, ranging from distance running to woodworking to hand
knitting. "From 98 to 99% of all books ever published are
now out-of-print, so they don't show up in traditional
bestseller lists," says Anirvan Chatterjee, BookFinder.com
founder. "Without big marketing budgets behind them, these
books have been getting buzz the old-fashioned way: reader
word of mouth."
The top 10 most sought-after out of print books in America,
based on BookFinder.com's analysis of national demand
1) "Once a Runner: A Novel" (1978) by John L. Parker,
Jr.; cult classic
distance running novel, coming back
into print April 2009
(BookFinder.com Report 2008 #1
Fiction and Literature title)
2) "Sex" (1992) by Madonna; the pop icon's book of
erotic photos, a
perennial favorite (BookFinder.com
Report 2008 #1 Arts and Music
3) "Promise Me Tomorrow" (1984) by Nora Roberts; early
novel that the
bestselling romance novelist refuses
to reprint (BookFinder.com Report
2008 #2 Fiction and Literature title)
4) "Murmurs of Earth: The Voyager Interstellar Record"
(1978) by Carl
Sagan; the first great era of space
exploration (BookFinder.com Report
2008 #1 Popular Science and
5) "Carpentry for Beginners: How to use tools, basic
practice, designs for things to make"
(1900) by Charles H. Hayward;
prolific carpentry author and former
mayor of Victoria, British
6) "A Lion Called Christian" (1972) by Anthony "Ace"
Bourke and John
Rendall; a memoir about a pet lion,
coming back into print April 2009,
the video featuring a reunion between
Christian and the authors become
a YouTube sensation earlier this
7) "Comanche Heart" (1991) by Catherine Anderson;
coming back into print
June of 2009, "Comanche Heart" is the
second book in the Comanche
series; in 2008, the first book,
"Comanche Moon" was reissued and
placed on the "New York Times"
8) "Legally Sane" (1972) by Jon K. Hahn with Harold C.
investigation of an international
killing spree and the chilling
accounts of a psychopathic murderer (BookFinder.com
Report 2008 #1
Mysteries and Thrillers title)
9) "Woodworker's Essential Shop Aids and Jigs; Original
Devices You Can
Make" (1992) by Robert Wearing;
indispensable resource for "do it
10) "The Principles of Knitting: Methods and Techniques of
(1989) by June Hemmons Hiatt;
ultimate comprehensive handbook for the
knitters (BookFinder.com Report 2008
#3 Crafts, Hobbies and How-To
The aforementioned BookFinder.com Report is a more in-depth
analysis of out-of-print book demand. The 2008 Report tracks
demand trends between July 2007 and June 2008:
Since 1997, BookFinder.com has been one of the best ways to
find and locate the best prices on new, used, rare, and
out-of-print books online. The comparison shopping engine
has an inventory of over 150 million books available for
sale from a network of 150,000 booksellers from over 50
countries, making it the world's largest searchable book
inventory available anywhere, online or off.
Copyright (C) 2008 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
Children’s Author Robb White Republish The Beloved,
Out-of-Print “The Lion’s Paw”
NY November 12, 2008]. -- The beloved children’s classic
The Lion’s Paw, written by award-winning children’s novelist
Robb White (Deathwatch), is back in print for the first time
classic adventure novel “The Lion’s Paw”, one of the most
sought after out-of-print books of all time is back in print
through the self-publishing efforts of the author’s family.
“The Lion’s Paw” is the first of a series of books written
by popular children’s novelist Robb White to be published by
the family’s own publishing imprint, A.W. INK, Inc.
uplifting story of brother and sister orphans
who team up with a boy whose U.S. Navy
Lt. boat builder father is
MIA during World
War II. The three children are chased on a thrilling
adventure steering a sailboat hundreds of miles through the
inland waterways of Florida - from Stuart on the Atlantic
Coast all the way to the Island of Captiva in the Gulf of
Mexico - keeping one step ahead of the Coast Guard, bounty
hunters, alligators and tropical storms that threaten to
deprive them of their quest for freedom and the boy’s
mission to fulfill a promise he made to his father. The
Lion's Paw is a timeless story of children learning to blend
their skills and strengths to overcome all obstacles, to
work as a team and to trust each other.
Paw, originally published in hardcover by Doubleday in 1946
and in paperback by Scholastic in 1954, has been out of
print for many years. Copies of the Doubleday and
Scholastic editions go for hundreds of dollars on eBay,
Alibris and other rare book selling websites, and The Lion's
Paw has been listed as one of the Top 10 Most Sought After
Out-of-Print Books year after year by Bookfinder.com.
White was well-known for his collaboration with innovative
horror film producer William Castle, writing the screenplays
for such landmark films as HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, THIRT13EN
GHOSTS and THE TINGLER, he is best known for the nearly
two-dozen adventure novels written for younger readers over
a distinguished forty-year career as a leading children’s
author, from his earliest work, The Nub (1935) to his last
work Fire Storm (1979).
Weiss, President of Literal Media, which manages the
literary works of Robb White, said, “As many children/young
adult publishers are more focused on the “next Harry
Potter”, the family of Robb White has decided to take
matters into their own hands by republishing The Lion's Paw
in hardcover through their own self-publishing imprint this
fall. The book has been cherished by several generations of
kids who by now have children and grandchildren of their
own, and who will now have the opportunity to read The
Lion's Paw for themselves”.
Saunders, Publisher at A.W. INK, Inc., which has just
released The Lion’s Paw, said, “For years, my family has
received emotional fan mail from hundreds who read, or were
read The Lion’s Paw out load by a grade school teacher, and
fell in love with the moving story of Ben, Penny and Nick as
they courageously overcome huge obstacles to reach
freedom.” Robb White’s widow, Annie White said,
“reintroducing The Lion’s Paw to generations of old and new
readers is a celebration of love for our family and we hope
to see the book back in school libraries and public
libraries across the country.” Annie White said, “my
daughter, Leslie and I receive mail daily from many readers
who proclaim “The Lion’s Paw” to be their favorite book
ever! Many fans claim the book encouraged their desire to
read, and thus had a huge impact on the rest of their
lives. We believe The Lion’s Paw will become a terrific
hardcover edition of The Lion’s Paw with a handsome dust
jacket featuring the original illustrations of Ralph Ray, is
currently available at
www.thelionspaw.com , The Lion’s Paw Store on Amazon.com,
and also via Ingram, and at your local bookstore. For
autographed copies and credit card wholesale orders contact
A.W. INK, Inc. by phone 801-694-0533 or via email at email@example.com.
For wholesale P.O. orders, contact Brigham Distributing, at
by phone 435-723-6611 ,
or via email
www.thelionspaw.org where A.W. INK plans to announce the
next Robb White title to be published.
The Lion’s Paw:
The Return of a Great Children’s Book - US News and Report
October 01, 2008 11:14 AM ET |
John Aloysius Farrell |
A great children's book has sturdy elements. A dangerous
quest, of course, for a magical sword or ring. A missing
parent, or two. A deadly confrontation with evil.
Colorful and fantastic figures—pirates or witches or the odd
school of wizardry—are generally employed to move the plot
So what is the appeal of a quest that takes place in the
very real backwoods of Florida in the 1940s and involves
three American kids named Nick and Ben and Penny for a
knobby seashell called a lion's paw?
Well, I guess
it is a mixed appeal. Robb White's children's book
The Lion's Paw,
has a rather unique status. According to the used and rare
BookFinder.com, White's book is the most sought-after
out-of-print kids' book in the land.
Now there's a backhanded compliment for an author.
I read and
The Lion's Paw
as a boy and dug up a copy for my kids (and me) a few years
back. And so I cheered when I saw the ad in the
New York Times Review of Books
The Lion's Paw
is in print again, in a custom version
from Amazon or by direct mail order.
The teenage Ben is the keeper of his dad's sailboat, and
memory—as his father has been declared missing, likely
killed in action, in battle in the South Pacific. Ben lives
in a marina on the Atlantic Coast of Florida, dreading the
day, fast approaching, when his uncle will make him sell the
boat and accept the grim fact that his father is never
Nick and Penny are younger runaways from an orphanage who
hide out on Ben's boat. He tells them of his crazy notion
that somehow his dad will return if he can only meet the
challenge once given him by his father: to find a rare
shell, the lion's paw. The young orphans persuade Ben to
take on the quest and join him on his journey.
And so they set off through the rivers and canals and the
swamps of central Florida, with Ben's uncle and the Coast
Guard and bounty hunters giving chase, for the Gulf of
Mexico and the then-wild beaches of Captiva Island, where
the lion's paw might be found. The book reaches its climax
in a mighty storm at sea, and a desperate flight for
freedom, with the forces of evil closing in.
White, an accomplished novelist and screenwriter who died
some years back, was no Twain or Shakespeare. But it takes
real talent to set the hero's quest in a contemporary
setting and realistic style. Joseph Campbell would approve.