Monthly Archives: December 2007

Home of the Exhausted and Distractable

Alison Morris - December 5, 2007

I had planned to spend time this evening typing up my review of The Golden Compass (the movie, that is), but my plans were foiled by the following: a LONG day at work where we were busy, busy, busy with holiday shoppers; a LONG evening spent assembling book recommendations for a book talk I’m giving early tomorrow morning to a group of middle school parents; a late, late dinner when I finally got home at about 10pm; and, finally, author Katherine Applegate. Darn you, Katherine!

I was halfway through Home of the Brave when I sat down to my late-night meal (bless my chef of a boyfriend) and picked the book up again. I finished eating and thought, "I’ll just read a couple pages more," then became so emotional over the story that I figured I’d have to finish the book or go to bed a weepy mess. So I did. Curled up on the sofa beside Gareth, who was drawing sketches of Hamlet, I read and read and wadded up Kleenex and read and cried some more and read and finished the book. My three-word review: I LOVED it!!

So, BLAME KATHERINE APPLEGATE if you’re disappointed that you haven’t yet seen my Golden Compass review. Blame her for writing a beautiful, meaningful, wonderful novel — the kind that makes things like movie reviews seem too trivial for the late-night attentions of a tired bookseller. And the kind that makes me SO happy to have the job I do, and to have a blog like this, where I can sing the praises of books and their authors.

Trivial or not, I’ll have a movie review for you all on Thursday, I promise. And I won’t pick up another book until it’s done!

Is That Enlightenment in Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

Alison Morris -

This week we received a letter at the store from Publishers Weekly, inviting us to nominate our choices for the 2007 Cuffies — the annual "Off the Cuff" awards for children’s booksellers’ favorite (and least favorite) titles, marketing campaigns and bookselling moments of the previous year. Usually when I skim the list of Cuffies categories I pause on "Most Garbled Title Request" and wish I’d kept better notes on our customers’ blunders. This year, though, a garbled request arrived right on schedule, just days before the Cuffies letter. Thanks to a customer who browsed the store last Thursday, I am SO prepared this year! Allow me to set the scene…

I’m straightening books in the picture book section when I see a woman looking at the shelves with a puzzled "I’m hunting for something…" expression on her face. When I ask if I can help her find anything she says (AND I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP), "That would be great, actually. I’m looking for a book called Zen Pants?"

There is a brief pause as I try hard not to dissolve into laughter while I scan the "M" authors of our picturebooks. My face shows (I think) only a hint of bemusement (kind bemusement) as I hand her a copy of Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth and ask if maybe it’s the book she’s looking for? Noticing the title she chuckles just slightly, explaining that she’d never seen the book before, that a friend recommended it, etc.

As she offers me an understandable explanation I am DYING for the chance to have a good laugh over this and wishing she’d dissolve into giggles so that I can too, but…? No such luck. Not even when I tell her that the forthcoming companion to Zen Shorts is called Zen Ties.

But no matter. Eventually the customer returns to her browsing and I walk purposefully downstairs to our managers’ office where no customers will overhear me as I pour the Zen Pants story out to our assistant manager, the lovely Kym Havens, and the two of us practically cry with laughter over what was a reasonable but ridiculously funny mistake. I can see that if you’d never laid eyes on Zen Shorts before and didn’t know the "shorts" referred to short stories or fables, it would be easy to mistake it for a reference to an article of clothing.

Nevertheless, I think this request is a doozy. Zen Pants! The only thing better would be Zen Lederhosen. (Hmm… Will have to see if they have any of those in the Virtual Lederhosenmuseum.)

Last Friday morning I woke up thinking about the idea of zen pants, imagining the kind of trousers that would allow one to reach enlightenment. Later I hopped out of the shower with a rhyme percolating in my mind. It’s quite pathetic, but I’m sharing it anyway. Perhaps its shortcomings will inspire a few of you to come up with your own (better) takes on the same theme. Please share them with me if you do!

Zen Pants (or A Sartorial Satori)

When I put on my zen pants
I feel a-okay.
When I put on my zen pants
the whole world falls away!
What’s left is me ‘neath a bodhi tree
with a man who smiles all day.
We sit, we rub our bellies, 
and "Ommmm…" is what we say.
You should put on YOUR zen pants
and visit us today!

Not Another Birthday in the Crew Lounge!?

Alison Morris - December 2, 2007

The comments field of this blog doesn’t allow images, otherwise those pasted below would have appeared in the comments on my post about  the best book I got at NCTE, shared by an anonymous ShelfTalker reader. She says she is "another grateful reader of today’s expansive and exciting offerings in children’s books [who] also keeps this hilarious gem on her shelf as a reminder of how far we’ve come."

In case you can’t read the text in the image below, I’ll reprint it here for you:

     "Our Denver flight is fogged in, Barbie," said Ken. "I’m afraid we’ll be late taking off."
     "Oh, no!" said Barbie. "I’ll never get to my birthday party on time. I may be spending my birthday right here in this crew lounge." Barbie looked around the lounge and sighed sadly.