"Sky Blue Water," a collection of short stories by Minnesota writers edited by Jay Peterson and Collette A. Morgan, was set to have its launch party on Sept. 14.
Peterson, Morgan, and most of the young-adult writers who contributed to the anthology planned to be at the launch--National Book Award-winning writer William Alexander, John Coy, Pete Hautman, Shannon Gibney, Anika Fajardo, and many others. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book was intended for Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute, a Twin Cities organization that offers free tutoring and writing assistance for students.
But now the Press has announced it is pulling the published books from bookstores and postponing the launch party. The problem lies in one paragraph in the book's foreword, which was written by Kevin Kling, The error was introduced by an editor and then was not caught by the Press, said Emily Hamilton, assistant director of marketing.
The paragraph states: "Some believe that the Vikings navigated from the Atlantic Ocean to Minnesota more than a hundred years before Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas."
It was writer Shannon Gibney, whose short story, "Lone Star," is included in the anthology, who noticed the paragraph and called it to the Press's attention. In an e-mail, Gibney wrote, "Was there a reason why Kling and you all chose to present the Columbus encounter in this way? After all, this 'discovery' narrative has been effectively unhinged and reevaluated many times through the years by all kinds of historians, and I hate to see it reproduced in what bills itself as a progressive and inclusive new anthology of writing for children."
The Press did not disagree, nor did one of the two editors Gibney heard back from. On Facebook, Gibney posted the response from one of the editors (though did not say which one). " I, along with the writer and the team at [the] Press, wholeheartedly agree that this passage is entirely out of line with the spirit of the book, the mission of [the Mid-Continent Oceanographic Institute], and the press’s long history of publishing books about the people, history, and landscape of MN," the response read. "Please know that we’ve been working since you wrote to address the matter swiftly."
The Press, Hamilton said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune, "deeply regrets the unintended and incorrect meaning of this phrase. This error is out of step with the spirit of inclusiveness the team on this volume is committed to and worked to achieve in the development of the book."
Hamilton said the Press printed 4,000 copies of the book at a cost of about $4,000.
Corrected books are expected to be available by late September, and the launch party will be rescheduled.
"In addition to the recall and reprint, we are going to examine how this error got by the editorial safeguards we have in place to prevent such inaccuracies from making their way into our published books," Hamilton said.
"At the U of MN Press we take these matters seriously. 'Sky Blue Water' is not only an entertaining book, filled with terrific stories, but it is a powerful educational tool and a diverse reflection of young people's lives in Minnesota. We are proud to publish it and believe this action will only strengthen the book as a whole. It's an important book and we want to get it right."