Category Archives: Uncategorized

Flashlight Time

Josie Leavitt -- October 31st, 2014

On Halloween, it only seems fitting to talk about reading with flashlights. No, this is not a scary post, but rather one about a mom and her reading twins. My friend, Deb, has twin eight-year-olds: a boy, Henry and a girl, Lisa. They are readers, and Deb is a single mom with a full-time job. Hers is a busy house and the kids are rambunctious, but really good.

They shop at the store and came in a few weeks ago. Harry was disappointed I was out of Star Wars books (how that happened, I’m still not sure). Liza had camped out in the middle grade section and was going through exclaiming,”Read it, read it, loved it” at all books. This girl had read everything, so it was fun to challenge to introduce her to books she hadn’t read. Eight seems like the perfect age for longer books that are part of a series, so she left with Fablehaven and The Book of Elsewhere.

As I was ringing them up Liza was talking about what book to start at flashlight reading that night. I asked, “What is flashlight time?” Both kids started smiling. Deb explained that after bedtime, once they’d been all tucked in and the light turned off, each child was allowed to read with a flashlight until he or she fell asleep, or Deb noticed the light was still on. They don’t have headlamps, or flashlights with an on off button, but rather the kind of light that if your hand presses the bar, the light stays on. The beauty of this is when the child’s hand drops off in slumber, the light no longer stays on. This is genius and seems smarter and safer than a light that’s always on.

I love this idea. The mom knows her little readers are going to stay up reading (and read all over the house, at all times), so she’s made it part of their routine, rather than getting mad at them. They stay up a tiny bit later and get to have some stolen reading time that is part of bedtime. Reading has been made important, and fun, at their house ;I can’t think of a better way to support young readers.

The Power of Working Together Locally

Josie Leavitt -- October 30th, 2014

We are less than a month away from the real start of the holiday shopping season. Once again, it’s a shortened time because Thanksgiving is late this year. This year, though, Small Business Saturday, on November 29th, looks to be enormous for my town. Why? Because all the stores are working with each other to create massive buzz about why it’s important to not only support smaller stores, but to support the ones in Shelburne, Vt.

Last month I wrote about Keeping Business in the Village and what we had done to promote our village to shoppers. In November we are launching an all-out campaign to reach beyond our town and get folks in the rest of the area to come down to Shelburne to shop for the holidays. The beauty of this has been two-fold: there is a core of dedicated business owners who have the time to coordinate this (I am not one of them and am grateful for these energetic souls) and are doing most of the heavy lifting. They regularly communicate ideas and promo thoughts, and have been working with advertising sales folks at radio stations and the local papers to secure us good spaces. This kind of effort is wonderful. And it’s really smart to only have three people “deputized” to do this for the group rather than each person researching, reaching out and reporting back. Things are streamlined and efficient.

Not only are things easily handled, but because there are so many stores participating, this whole effort is not expensive. For a contribution of $200, each store will be featured in flights of radio spots on two different stations, and ads in four local papers. The graphic designer already has everyone’s logo and store write-up from the brochure, so there’s nothing for stores to do but chime in about the radio copy and suggest tweaks. For us this is huge. It saves us to just work and not design ads, gather logos, etc. There are so many details to coordinate and we’ve proven how well we all work together because the brochure was a huge hit and seemed fairly effortless.

The great thing about working with other business owners are the ideas folks come up with. The first idea that would have never occurred to me is a massive raffle for over $500 in gift cards. One lucky winner will get all the $35 gift cards from each store. This is a very sizable prize and one that will keep folks filling out raffle forms in all the stores and what a fun prize to win during the holidays. I never think of these things and if I did, a one-store raffle isn’t all that impressive, but a raffle with 12 stores is much more attractive.

The last thing that’s going to work is that all the stores will be using the same ad copy on their email blasts. The level of thought that’s going into this is impressive to me. The four coordinators of this effort have really thought of everything. They know that this kind of solidarity and continuity reinforces the message that Shelburne businesses are working together to support each other. Small Business Saturday is a huge day for stores like mine and by the collaboration with 11 other stores, it should be an amazing day.

I’d love hear other ideas of what your town or village doing to get ready for Small Business Saturday.

Two Rural Maine Schools With One Author Who Cares

Kenny Brechner -- October 28th, 2014

Few authors make as much of a difference in their communities as does acclaimed Maine children’s author Cynthia Lord. Aside from being a wonderful writer, and the recipient of many notable awards, including the Newbery Honor for her first book, Rules, Cynthia is also one of the hardest working, most professional writers I know. Cynthia does many full-day school visits around the country, and she provides well developed, interactive programming both in the classroom, and in the auditorium. These visits are part of her professional life, and have a business side to them of course, but Cynthia is more than just a total pro. She cares deeply about young readers and, recognizing that there are rural districts in Maine that lack the resources to bring her in for a full day of school visits she has worked with me on special occasions, volunteering her time to bring a dynamic experience to area children who would never be able to experience it otherwise.

Take this last October 16th for example. Cynthia did a whirlwind tour with me of Jay Elementary School and Livermore Falls Elementary School, doing two presentations in each school, one for kindergarten to second grade and one for third to fifth. This is made possible by the broad age range of her work. She has a delightful picture book series featuring Hot Rod Hamster, along with a Hot Rod Hamster I Can Read book, a charming new chapter book series called the Shelter Pet Squad, to go along with her three terrific middle-grade novels, Rules, Touch Blue, and Half a Chance.

Getting the books out for sale. Myself, that is, some of Cindy’s books, and her alter ego, The Lord coffee mug.

Cynthia in the act of demonstrating her surprising and remarkable superpower while I go over the pre-order checklist to make sure everyone got their books..

In short these four presentations were absolutely electrifying with a whole auditorium full of kids with their arms raised to answer questions and give their input from start to finish, from the K-2 set helping Hot Rod Hamster choose his way through race day or having the grade 3-5 students working on developing a story idea and plot structure for a novel whose protagonist is desperate to have a dog but who has the obstacle of an allergic parent standing in the way.

A K-2 presentation gets under way.

Waiting to have a book signed.

Huzzah!

Personalizing a book that came in from home with a special note from the family for Cynthia.

Awww!

District librarian Cheryl Mills wrote to me afterward. “Thank you so much for bringing Cynthia Lord to our school. Her visit generated LOTS of enthusiasm and excitement. The students fell in love with Cynthia and are still talking about her in conversation!!!! Her books are flying off the library shelves. What a great experience for our kids.”

Before we left for the day, special ed teacher Susan Wiles brought in Scholastic paperback copies of Cynthia’s picture books that she sells to raise funds in an in-school bookstore. Susan has been running the bookstore every Friday for the past eight years. All of the books are $1.00 and she collects box tops in order to continue buying books. The students in her classroom help out every Friday by picking up students in the other classrooms, stocking shelves, taking care of sales, and setting up/taking down the books. Cynthia graciously signed all the copies of her book that the bookstore had and then ran out to her car to donate copies of the Hot Rod Hamster picture books Susan didn’t have!

Cynthia with Susan Wiles. Superpowers indeed!

Quick! Support the Indiegogo for We Need Diverse Books

Elizabeth Bluemle -- October 27th, 2014

This just in from the Department of Putting Our Money (and Social Media Efforts) Where Our Mouths Are: the We Need Diverse Books campaign has put together an IndieGoGo fundraiser.

Even if you can’t contribute financially at this time (although every little bit adds up), please don’t miss the wonderful short video featuring kids and children’s book authors and editors—including Matt de la Peña, John Green, Grace Lin, Marie Lu, Lamar Giles, Tim Federle, Jacqueline Woodson, Cindy Pon, and Arthur A. Levine—and share it with your friends, family, and colleagues, who may be in a position to contribute.

Here are some of the great initiatives you’ll be supporting:

1) Diversity in the Classroom: Your donation helps bring diverse authors to classrooms that really need author visits!

2) Walter Dean Myers grants for deserving authors and artists of color whose work deserves a wider audience. (More info in the PW article here.)

And here are some of the perks you can receive for donating:

(1) Signed prints from some amazing artists!

(2) Agent critiques!

(3) Swag packs full of bookmarks, pins, and other goodies, including a poster in the super swag packs.

Over the past several years, I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking and talking about this vital need in children’s books, and have felt pretty deeply immersed in the value of seeing ourselves and others reflected authentically and widely in the books we offer to youth. So I was surprised to discover, in the video, an aspect of this conversation I hadn’t really thought about. It came from Matt de la Peña, who was not an enthusiastic reader as a kid and didn’t discover the power of books until his basketball skills led to a college scholarship. There, he encountered the first book he ever read that moved him nearly to tears (watch the video to find out which one!). He said, “Books became my secret place to feel.”

I think this must be the case for so many young readers, especially for boys whose feelings are not encouraged to be shared. And how are books going to touch these tender souls wrapped in their outer protective layers if those books don’t speak to a variety of emotions and situations that resonate with readers? We need diverse books! For so many, many reasons.

Thanks for everything you readers do to support and learn about and educate others about this great ball of momentum for truly multicultural literature!

Compelling Contest!

Kenny Brechner -- October 23rd, 2014

Alliterative Analytical Acuity Alert!

Test your alliterative skills by submitting the Best Behaved Blurb.

First choose one of the following six books. Then submit your blurb by posting it in the comments below using the same single letter as the beginning letter for each word (a, an of, and, the, are, are also allowed). The winning entry will receive a regal reward!

Six Sensational Subjects and a Sample Submission

The Fault in Our Stars

The Hobbit

The Hunger Games

Blueberries For Sal

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Sample Submission

Otis

This tale of a terrific tractor takes the time to tell of a towering task.  The tiny tractor trundles toward a tempest of  towing trouble. A total triumph of a tractor tale!  

Brandish Blurbs Below!

Kids Say the Darndest Things

Josie Leavitt -- October 22nd, 2014

Yesterday, three groups of kindergarten kids came to the bookstore to learn about community. They were visiting several stores, and even the bank, as they ventured forth from school to see what’s in the village. I looked out the front door of the store and saw the kids crossing the street like ducklings, all holding hands and walking in pairs. They entered the store, 15 or 20 at a time, in three shifts, and each class brought a new level of unintended hilarity.

The first group came in and I was ready to read some stories about communities. One great thing about owning a bookstore with an author was being able to read her book Tap Tap Boom Boom to them. Then they got to meet Elizabeth and that was pure delight. Here’s what I learned with kindergartners: they are gloriously random. When asked if anyone had been to the Flying Pig before many hands went up and the following things were said:

– I have a pig at my farm. And a baby dog.

– I like bacon.

– One time, when I was three, we had a dog.

I realized I had to get them back on track, but another little hand went up.

– I’m allergic to dogs.

Okay then. I’m not sure how teachers handle this stream of consciousness every day. The next class was really good about staying on topic, but the last class started with one shy boy raising his hand almost right away. He was nervous, but clearly needed to share.

– If you use scissors, you have to put them the right way when you’re done. Because (he was miming cutting with his hands) if you don’t, it could cut up all your paper.

And lastly, my favorite part of having kids come to the store is asking them to guess how many books we have. The answers started small, with 25 being the most guessed. Elizabeth explained that one shelf in the picture book section had at least 100 books, so they shifted their numbers up, to 101. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any cuter, one boy shouted, “Infinity!” and I was completely done in.

These classes come twice a year to us and every time I marvel at seeing so many little ones in the picture book section. I’m so used to seeing kids with their parents, that seeing them all together, 15 of them filling the picture book section with room to spare, touches me and reminds me that these are the next generation of readers. As they were leaving, one little girl said, “I love books!” I felt proud to be part of their world.

One Mom’s Terrific Letter to an Anxious Young Student

Elizabeth Bluemle -- October 20th, 2014

The school year is in full swing now, and here at the bookstore, we see a full range of children: those who are happy, sad, energized, stressed, beaten down, lifted up by their experiences at school – sometimes many of those things all in one day. Our town is a college-minded one, and there can be a lot of pressure to achieve. When a student comes into the store who seems overwhelmed by the demands of school, family, or especially him or her own self, I find myself wanting to share this beautiful letter that my friend, children’s book writer J.D. Lester, wrote to her own daughter one challenging afternoon. It feels balancing and whole and joyful and kind and calm, a rudder on the out-of-control boat that can be our current cultural mindset. I’ve gotten J.D.’s permission to share her letter here, and after the letter, I’ll post a few book titles that seem to me to celebrate the happy imperfections and uniqueness of kids just being themselves, and I’ll invite you to add your recommendations, too.

And now, the words of J.D. Lester:

An Open Letter to my Kid after our first 3rd grade gifted teacher conference:

Dear Scout, I see how frustrated you are with school sometimes. I see how tired you are at the end of the day. You’re working a grade year ahead for the first time and I know it’s not easy. You’re slow and methodical; they want rapid and moving-on. I know you’re fearful that maybe you’re not good enough. But here’s the thing. You’re 8 little years old. Now is not the time for worrying about your grades or school performance. When I was 8, my biggest goals were figuring out a way down the McQueary’s chimney, growing my hamster empire, and torturing your aunt Lynna. So, I was shocked the other day when you asked me when your grades would begin to count for college. College?! You still have licensed characters on your underpants; let’s just lighten up here a bit, girlfriend. Childhood goes by too quickly; I don’t want yours to slide by in an adrenaline-and-cortisol anxiety-drunk haze.

As I told you again today, if you try your hardest and flunk every single dadblamed subject, we’ll go out for frozen yogurt to celebrate, because, YAY, you tried your hardest. And then maybe we’ll play with the dog and the bunny, or watch a little Turtle Man on Animal Planet. Furreals, all I really care about is that you give it your best shot – ever. I don’t care if you don’t go to Harvard. Too snowy up there, funny accents. Of course, I’d like for you to go to college – somewhere – because I think knowledge is cool, and because I think knowledge is the very best gift you can give yourself (other than a baby, and you’ll need a participant for that particular gift. But, that’s another letter for another day, though – many years from now. Like 20 years from now. At least.).

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yes. Grades… and school stress and homework anxiety and – stop the presses!!! – again, I repeat, you’re 8 years old. Life is supposed to be SO much more than performing well in school, or succeeding in some fab career – though those things are nice. I’m not knocking them. I’m just saying there’s SO much more. And you’re succeeding wildly already, in my eyes. When you wanted to give blood to the children affected by the Boston bombing… when you wanted to give your birthday money to the Humane Society… when you take the time to make sure other kids feel included… those are the times I come close to being a proud Tiger Mom – because I very fiercely want you to be a good human being. The world needs good human beings more than it needs scholars and over-achievers – and the tragic thing is, we just don’t hand out nearly enough “A’s” for loving, and living, well.

So, you could say that I want you to get straight A’s in caring about other people, and having a good life, however YOU measure that. I’d also be proud if you were Valedictorian of the class that loves the sky and water and land enough to defend it. I hope you’ll be crowned Queen of the Dance of People who Failed and Got Back Up Stronger. I want you to be in the top percentile of people who value and practice humility. I want you to be voted Most Likely to Pee in Her Pants from Laughing Too Hard and Occasionally at the Wrong Times. I hope your greatest awards are smiles you give to others; I hope your trophies are lives you change because of the way you live yours. I don’t care if anyone ever knows your name; I just want you to carry it with grace so, at the end of the run, you have a sense of pride in who and where you’ve been.

I want you to see wild places and know that they are life’s cathedrals; I want you to give them every bit of respect and wonder in you. I want you to see despairing places, work to change them, and never take your own entitlement for granted. If you have to be a teacher’s pet, let the teacher be someone with so much less than you who smiles regardless. You never have to be the star athlete of anything other than euphoric dancing in the rain. (I secretly hope you’ll be a champion rain dancer like your mama.) You don’t have to be cast in the lead of any play. I hope you will know that being authentically, courageously yourself is the greatest starring role you could ever have. I want you to stay busy with extra-curriculars of living room karaoke, lightning bug catching, lying on your back in the grass and cloud-watching. I don’t want your life to be spent looking at the back of a headrest, rushing from one brag book accomplishment to the next.

Basically, sweet girl, here’s what I believe: the world chases a lot of ultimately meaningless benchmarks to measure human worth, and to prove ourselves worthy to other humans. (Silly, isn’t it? And just a little sad?) Know that many of these are arbitrary standards created by people who maybe just never learned how to be happy themselves. And if you don’t conform to these standards, or triumph within the prescribed rules, just go ahead and make your own measures, guided by your own conscience and your own special gifts. Succeed in ways that make you feel proud inside, no externals, no accolades -and, especially, no grades – required. And no matter where you go, know that, already, you’ve been my favorite teacher ever. I love you.

Love, Mama

PS: Your grades were fine. Stop worrying. XO

********

I love that letter. Thank you, J.D., and writers everywhere who help children develop compassion and kindness and self-forgiveness and remind them to value their own inner compass. Here are a few books that share this letter’s spirit of valuing children for their flawed, wonderful, trying-hard selves, books that say, “I hope you will know that being authentically, courageously yourself is the greatest starring role you could ever have.”

the-story-of-ferdinand-book-cover-490x600

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. The peaceful little bull who refuses to fight in the ring, preferring to smell the ladies’ beautiful flowers, leaves a lasting impression on young readers.

ish

Ish by Peter Reynolds. A boy crumples up his artwork after its imperfections are mocked by an older sibling, but his little sister collects it for the gallery she keeps of his drawings and shows him how to see them differently. His flowers may not be perfect, and his vases may not look ideal, but they are flower-ish and vase-ish, and there’s a lot of freedom and joy to be found in living “ishfully.” A terrific book for perfectionists.

weslandia_cover

Weslandia by Paul Fleischman, illus. by Kevin Hawkes. A boy doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids. He’s got his own way of looking and thinking about things, and one summer, he sets about creating his own civilization in his garden. His determination and self-reliance—not to mention the magical results of his efforts—draw people to him. A celebration of quirky individuality.

trouble with dogs

The Trouble with Dogs… Said Dad by Bob Graham. When “the Brigadier” is brought in to teach obedience lessons to exuberant puppy Dave, his militaristic approach dulls Dave’s sparkle and dampens his spirit. Not to worry, though; Dave’s human family finds a way to teach the Brigadier that a gentler approach is the way to go, and that warmth and loyalty are more important than mere obedience.

Joey Pigza Loses Control by Jack Gantos. There isn’t a more lovably flawed, doing-his-best character in children’s literature than ADHD “wired-up mess” superstar Joey. Any of the Joey Pigza novels qualifies for this list (and there’s a brand-new wonderful fifth book out this fall, The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza), but I chose the second one because I read them out of order and it was in this book that I discovered this series’ incredible tightrope balance of wild, laugh-out-loud humor, heartbreak, and great good heart.

brilliant fall of gianna z

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z by Kate Messner. Disorganized, well-meaning procrastinator Gianna has one week to pull together the big seventh-grade leaf-collecting project she should have been working on for months. This MG novel rings so true, and show such great compassion for imperfect students whose other strengths deserve to be recognized and celebrated.

and heres to you

And Here’s to You by David Elliot, illus. by Randy Cecil. I have mentioned this book in a couple of blog posts over the years; it’s one of the most joyful books around. In rhyming verses, Elliott sings funny, heartfelt praises of insects and animals, fishes, birds, people, and more. Its sheer ebullience is infectious.

****

What books would you add to this list?

It Pays to Save Energy

Josie Leavitt -- October 17th, 2014

Something bookstore folks don’t really ever talk about are light bulbs. We are so dependent on them for everything at the store. Obviously, all retail places need them, but you don’t realize how much until you lose two in one section and suddenly your young adult section is as dark as a cave. And it always seems that bulbs go bad in one section all at once. This past week or so we lost not one, not two, but five! Two were from young adult and the rest were scattered about the store, causing small pockets of dimness.

Confronted with needing to buy a replacement case of bulbs (at a usual cost of almost $100), Elizabeth went to our local lighting store, and started placing an order for our usual 50 watt halogens, when our lighting rep suggested trying the new LED bulbs. We had tried them years ago and found the light to not have the retail pop or sparkle of the halogens: things were bright, but dim and the same time. It’s funny how bad lighting can make things look dingy. Frank was touting the wonder of these new LEDs so much, and we totally trust him, so she ordered a case and got spare halogens to tide us over. I got a call that the case had come in yesterday, so I zipped over to pick them up, credit card at the ready.

Frank handed me the case and said, “These will change your life.” I’ve never thought a light bulb ledcould that, so I nodded and smiled. He handed me the bill and I saw the first line. Total cost per bulb: $29.99. I thought, wow, this better change my life at thirty dollars a pop. It came to just about $180 for the case. Then Frank, who was clearly waiting for the big reveal, said, “Keep reading.” I scanned the invoice to discover that yes, these bulbs were that expensive, but because they’re energy efficient, putting out the same brightness as a halogen bulb, while only using 14 watts of energy, the state of Vermont gives you an energy credit for buying them. An instant rebate in the amount of $150 was applied and I tucked my credit card back in my wallet and gave Frank $25 in cash. I saved just over 83% on the case of bulbs. I left there smiling from ear to ear.

I replaced all the bulbs immediately and I must say, not only are they brighter and make the books more sparkly, they give off far less heat, so the store doesn’t get nearly as warm. We will slowly switch out all the old lights to the LEDs and use the money we saved to buy more books.

The Gauntlet of Hyperbole

Kenny Brechner -- October 16th, 2014

A great deal of work goes into bringing a professionally published book to market, which is why  it is painful to see that work needlessly undercut as it nears the finish line. When Edelweiss first became coin of the realm, the markup notes were written by individual reps and the buying experience was a direct extension of the traditional rep and buyer interplay, built as it was on mutual knowledge, respect, candid information, trust, and good faith. While some reps continue to produce their own markup notes, there is a distressing trend to having it outsourced to markup note writers who produce fatuous streams of hyperbole mixing in dubious comparisons to successful books and authors with long strings of adjectives, all of which results in “a light that illuminates nothing,” as Tolkien put it.

Ask yourself whether the following markup note in Edelweiss could possibly tell a professional buyer anything at all that would justify a buy:

“Brace yourself for the most astonishing, challenging, upsetting, and profoundly moving book in many a season. An epic about love and friendship in the 21st century that goes into some of the darkest, most ultra-Dickensian places fiction has ever traveled and yet somehow improbably breaks through into the light. Truly an amazement – and a great gift for its publisher.”

Is it helpful to be told that

“Russell writes with a force that feels nearly explosive; his prose teems with the hyper-connective, barely controlled genius of early David Foster Wallace or Dave Eggers, paired with the gonzo risk-taking and off-the-grid sense of mission of a young Hunter S. Thompson.”

What can we, as buyers take from the information that a given book features

“a wholly original and unforgettable story about our relationship with an animal that has mesmerized us for centuries.”

Or that readers are represented as being in a position to

“Discover the wonder of water in this refreshingly fun and fascinating exploration of rain, raindrops, and the water cycle.”

Or celebrate

the littlest members of the family in this soothing ode to all the wonderful bits and pieces that make up a cuddly, snuggly baby.”

One wants two things from an Edelweiss markup note: candid information and candid opinion. Factual information by itself comes a little short of the mark, as you can see here.

“While the Moonbear stories deal with the many wonders of nature and the outdoors, the Bear in these books is a bit younger, wears clothes, lives with his mother and father and has adventures that are family, school, neighborhood, and friend-based.”

Still, that is a good deal more helpful than pure hyperbole. As here.

“A paradigm-smashing look at the core happiness problem of our era – the feeling that we are too busy, exhausted, or stressed-out to truly enjoy all life has to offer – as well as a surprising and scientifically-proven equation for turning stress into productive energy and busting out of your rut.”

It’s difficult, however,  to bust out of your rut when reading markup notes like that, one after another. When we are continually conjured to…

Imagine The Secret Garden for grownups – a group of misfits who happen to be related to each other, trying to capture the magic, trying to grow strong, trying to grow together, trying to pass down all that is good, all while weeding out that which is not. A search for family, community, and a better life, all inspired by flora.

And that’s the difficulty. How can we go through a catalog with 900 titles and “pass down [to our inventory systems] all that is good, all while weeding out that which is not,” if the markup notes are meaningless drivel whose function is to hype the book to the skies no matter what? This practice is deadening, counterproductive, and, most of all, unfair to everyone who worked so hard on these books.

 

They Don’t Need Me (And That’s a Great Thing)

Josie Leavitt -- October 15th, 2014

I returned to work yesterday after a rare 10-day vacation. This is not normally news, but I never go away for this long. The break was much needed and my staffers were all too happy to fill in my shifts for me so I could go away worry-free. It was delightful to get away and know that the bookstore was in good hands. I got very few work-related calls while I was gone – always a sign that things are running smoothly.

I walked in the store and was struck by how lovely it is. It’s so easy to take the store for granted when you work day in and day out. But to be greeted by our flying pig display table filled to the brim with Halloween books, and the cart of delectable autographed books, I was filled with an intense love of the place. The bright blue walls, the colorful rugs, our upholstered cubes dotting sections all combined to have me just fall in love with the place again. Then I looked at the displays and saw all the new books that had come out in my absence. October is always a grand month for new releases, and this one has not disappointed. Yummy books for adults and children filled the face-out cases. The first phone call I fielded was someone asking if we had a certain title. I hadn’t heard of the book, so almost said no reflexively. Of course we had it – in fact, we had two.

The beauty of a great staff is they get things done. Elizabeth had done a wonderful job on the Eileen Christelow event (see yesterday’s post to learn more). And I was sad to have missed that one. Nothing is more fun than a packed event with tons of kids all having a great time. I did little of the event planning, and wished somehow that I could have zipped back for it. We got a lot of teacher orders while I was gone, some big and some small. All were handled with speed and accuracy. In fact, the only teacher order mistake was mine, which I discovered when I came back. Somehow I had misquoted an invoice and still am not sure how I made a $20error. Things ran so smoothly with me gone, I wondered, in jest, if they actually needed me. Of course they do, but it’s a delightful thing to know that I’m not indispensable, because now that I’ve had a proper vacation I’d like to go away more, but not till after the fun and hustle of the fourth quarter.