Monthly Archives: June 2015

A Book to Watch

Josie Leavitt - June 30, 2015

As a die-hard mystery fan, I knew about Soho Press, but I have to confess, their teen imprint, Soho Teen, had flown a little under my radar.  Luckily for me, when I was packing up galleys to take home for the anticipated rainy weekend, I grabbed The Girl with the Wrong Name by Barnabas Miller. I had no idea about the book when I started reading, choosing not to read the blurb on the back of the book, but just diving in. I actually enjoy reading like this with no preconceived notion of what to expect. I started reading and was immediately hooked.  Continue reading

The Day No One Was Angry

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 26, 2015

the day no one was angry

Once in a while, you’ll pick up a children’s book and know instantly it was not written (or perhaps illustrated) by anyone who grew up in this country. These books sometimes telegraph their not-United States-Americanness by having ambiguous endings, or delving into unapologetic melancholy or darkness, or taking on existential themes. I love these books, because the good ones — and I have only seen good ones, because the rest wouldn’t have made it through the import vetting process — refresh the brain like seltzer and invite us to step outside narrative habits we aren’t necessarily aware of inhabiting. They also respect the capacious nature of a child’s inquisitive, thoughtful mind.

At ALA Midwinter this January, a Gecko Press book on the Lerner table caught my eye immediately because of its retro feeling (both in palette and style) cover that reminded me of picture books I’d pore over at my grandmother’s house as a child. I also liked the title, The Day No One Was Angry. It’s always intriguing when a title pronounces itself by way of something it is not. I opened the book expecting to find a happy or at least tongue-in-cheek happy animal friendship story. Ha! Not at all.
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37 Is Just The Right Amount

Kenny Brechner - June 25, 2015

Goldilocks-bedsThanks to Goldilocks we can all grasp the concept of an amount being just right. But knowing what that right amount might be is harder to figure out in advance than it is to recognize after the fact. Money, love, fame, attendees for author events, the exact right amount is always clear retrospectively.  Success and failure clarify everything wonderfully.
So when Pamela Voelkel and I plotted to do some outreach to book people on behalf of a prolific ninth grade writer whose mother was dying of cancer (read the full story here), we weren’t quite sure of our goal. We knew we wanted to make a difference in Kayla’s life. But we didn’t have a clear idea of how much participation was needed or if what we were asking was impossible. The main thing was that, as Pam put it “right now, she’s out of words. Which is why I think she needs a group hug from her fellow authors and booklovers. We can’t rewrite Kayla’s story, but maybe we can give her strength for what she has to face.”
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Amazon’s Latest Idea

Josie Leavitt - June 23, 2015

I read with increasing fury the news of Amazon’s new royalty payment for authors who self-publish books for the Kindle. The Telegraph reported this new plan this morning. Rather than paying a royalty when the book is purchased like a traditionally published book, self published authors are now going to paid by the number of pages of the book the customer actually reads. This is a frightening way to value books and a very scary way to observe readers’ habits. So, if someone downloads a book but only reads 10 pages, then the author gets that percentage of his or her royalty.  Continue reading

Strangest Question, Ever

Josie Leavitt - June 22, 2015

All bookstore staffers get asked a lot of questions every day. They range from simple to complicated. Often we are asked if we carry certain books. These are usually straightforward questions about where a book might be in the store. Occasionally, we get asked questions that just stop us in our tracks, and leave us scratching our heads to wonder what’s happening at a customer’s house. I know everyone has a hobby or two, and there is the expectation that bookstores should reflect all of them. I have learned after 19 years of owning a bookstore that there are some hobbies we just don’t even think about. Sure, I have knitting books, cookbooks, books on how to build treehouses, gardening, even stamp collecting, but I found out last week I have a gap in the collection.
I was working with Laura when a man and his teenaged daughter came up to the counter. The father looked at me and asked quite seriously, “Do you have any books on how to clean a skull?” Continue reading

All-Time Great Family Read-Alouds

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 19, 2015

Every summer, we have families asking for books they can read aloud (or listen to on audio) that will work for the whole family — kids from, say, ages 6 to 16, and that will entertain the adult as well. Because this is such a common request, I thought I’d create a poster of recommendations to help my staffers as well as the families.
It can be hard to find books that resonate with such a broad range of ages, so I dipped into the classics quite a bit while also looking for more recent additions to keep the list current and diverse. I polled bookselling colleagues for titles they would add to their Great Family Read-Alouds lists, and got some terrific recommendations. Here’s the first iteration of the poster:
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An Interview with Mrs. Perry’s and Mrs Murray’s ARC Reviewers

Kenny Brechner - June 18, 2015

I’ve never come away from chatting with a classroom full of kids about ARCs they’ve read and reviewed for me without some interesting takeaways. The conversation below with two Cape Cod Hill School classes, one fourth grade and one fifth grade, who had just completed our annual Galley Review Project was not an exception. Note that while kids this age like nonfiction, the use of inserting fictional elements into the narrative to create dialogue is very important to them. Here are the kids!

Kenny: What surprised you the most about the book you read?
dangerouswatersEmma Z: That seeing a unicorn in the parking lot wasn’t surprising to the people in the book. (Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures)
Brody: There was a boy who looked nice but he did something that was not nice at all.
Emma H: I read about Dolly Madison. (Women Who Broke the Rules: Dolly Madison)  I was surprised that she was a famous girl who did a lot of things and helped her husband a lot.
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The Stars So Far – June 2015 Update

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 16, 2015

stars shootingDrum roll, please — it’s time for the the mid-year roundup of starred reviews given to books for children and teens!
The Stars So Far is a project in which I foolishly decide to gather all of the year’s starred reviews for children’s and YA books from BooklistThe Bulletin of the Center for Children’s BooksHorn Book, KirkusPublishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. Some of the reviews are harder to track down than you’d think, so publishers, please alert me to omissions at ebluemle at publishers
Before writing to tell me I’m missing a star, please note that starred reviews are counted only when they have been officially printed and released by the review magazines. If you know that a book will be given a star next week or next month, please don’t send an email. I will add those stars as they are published by the review magazines. Thank you!
This is a detail-laden process, and as careful as I try to be, there will be bobbles here and there. If you want the cleanest, most comprehensive version of this list, check back here several days after the original post, when I’ll have been able to make any fixes.
And now for the stars:
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The Joy of Galleys

Josie Leavitt - June 15, 2015

I am just now getting to unpacking the box of galleys I mailed myself from Book Expo. Most of these galleys, some signed, are for friends. The sheer plethora of available galleys at the trade show really feels like a mini-shopping extravaganza with other people in mind. Yesterday I gave out the last of the gift galleys to two friends and a friend’s kid. After almost 20 years in business, it’s easy to forget that galleys are special and very, very fun to have.  Continue reading