Author and storyteller Tim Tingle’s forthcoming middle grade book Doc and the Detective is being pulled from publication prior to its release. In a statement issued last Wednesday, Scholastic said, “Our relationship with Mr. Tingle has ended and we will no longer be publishing Doc and the Detective.” The book was originally slated to be published in October by Scholastic imprint Arthur A. Levine Books.
Scholastic would not comment further on the matter, but the cancellation comes just weeks after allegations of inappropriate behavior were made against Tingle by two booksellers.
At the American Booksellers Association’s Children’s Institute in Pittsburgh in June, two booksellers said that at Scholastic’s Thursday night After Party, Tingle interrupted their conversation, touched them on the hands and knees, and then patted them both on the head. One of the booksellers, who has a permanently implanted device in her head, reported the incident to representatives from Scholastic as well as leadership in the American Booksellers Association.
Tingle’s agent, Andrea Cascardi of the Transatlantic Agency, said the agency “takes all allegations of harassment seriously.” She also confirmed that the author and Scholastic have “parted ways due to differences.” (Cascardi is the mother of PW news editor John Maher.)
In an e-mail to PW, Tingle wrote, “Scholastic and I have reached a mutual agreement that the rights to Doc and the Detective will be returned to me, and I have let them know that the allegations made against me are untrue.”
A member of the Choctaw Nation, Tingle is a widely recognized storyteller and has published 20 books including Stone River Crossing, which was released in May to critical acclaim—including a starred review in PW—by Lee & Low Books. Doc and the Detective was an important fall release for Scholastic, which had toured Tingle to a number of national and regional conferences and distributed a large number of advance reading copies to booksellers and librarians.
The two booksellers whose conversation was interrupted by Tingle at the Scholastic party in Pittsburgh shared similar descriptions of their encounter with the author. After interrupting their conversation, Tingle inquired as to whether they had read his book. When the booksellers indicated that they were not interested, Tingle became more insistent, urging them to read it. After touching their knees and hands, he patted them both on the head.
Annie Carl of the Neverending Bookshop in Edmonds, Wash., told PW that she removed her hat to reveal the shunt that is implanted in her head, and responded, “You don’t know what’s under my hat, I have a medical device. Do not touch me.”
“It was totally unacceptable,” said Carl.
The other bookseller, Alicia Michielli of Talking Leaves Books in Buffalo, said Tingle then replied, “No, no, I’m not trying to do a Joe Biden here.” Michielli replied, “You just did exactly a Joe Biden. What kind of world do you live in where you think it’s okay to walk up to a woman and ruffle her hair?”
Michielli said that the incident was especially concerning given Tingle’s audience. “You’re a middle grade author. You’re going to be around teachers and booksellers and kids,” she said. Prior to Scholastic’s announcement, Michielli said she felt that Tingle needed to face consequences, but that she did not favor canceling his contract.
In an e-mail, ABA CEO Oren Teicher said that the “ABA takes very seriously any allegations brought to our attention under our Code of Conduct; and, we pledge to thoroughly review and investigate. However, given the nature of these matters; we believe that maintaining a high degree of confidentiality is critically important—so we will not comment publicly on any of the specifics."
Tingle told PW, “The thousands of librarians who have hosted me for the past three decades have never heard me say a single ‘four-letter word,’ nor witnessed any inappropriate behavior.” The author declined to elaborate about the quoted phrase ‘four-letter word,’ and whether he was referring to the incident involving the booksellers, in which no swearing was alleged.
After reporting the incident, Carl said, “The ABA’s response was exactly what I was looking for.” Contacted following the announcement that the book had been canceled, she said she was saddened by the outcome, but added that “there are consequences to actions in a professional workplace.”
Tingle’s actions left Michielli with a feeling of disappointment as well. “I would have loved to have sold a middle grade book by an older, Native American man. How amazing would that be? And now I’m sad that I can’t and won’t.”