Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Book That Changed a Boy’s Life

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 12, 2015

Recently, I visited a school so far north in Vermont that cell service there comes from Canada. I’d been invited as the visiting author guest to help the town’s school and public library celebrate the grand finale of their year-long literacy program courtesy of the wonderful Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLiF). I spoke to 110 K-3 students, then 110 kids in grades 4-6—and ended with a visit to a preschool with 10 toddlers and young children. At this event, a boy told me about a book that had “changed [his] whole life.” More on that in a bit.
These finale programs are fantastic fun. First, the town librarian introduces the fun summer reading programs available to the kids after school ends, then the author (at this event, it happened to be me) does a half-hour presentation, and then every child gets to pick a book to keep. CLiF chooses a fine selection of brand-new titles for the kids to peruse—everything from Caps for Sale to Inkheart to Anna Hibiscus to books about Nascar. It’s a great mix of literary and popular titles, and it’s a blast after my presentation to be one of the adults helping the kids find just the perfect book to take home and treasure. (Since I recommend books to children of all ages every day at the bookstore, it’s a familiar gig—and so much fun not to have charge any money for the books!)
Great moments with children always come out of these events. You can see the love of books lighting up their faces, and the utter joy of receiving a present they can have forever. You hear the most touching or interesting or perceptive or thoughtful or funny things from the kids. I have a couple of memories from this visit that I can’t resist sharing:
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‘Uprooted’: The Epitome of an Alex Award Title

Kenny Brechner - June 11, 2015

The Alex Awards, which “are given to 10 books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18,” are a source of particular interest to me. The underlying concept of the award embodies the kind of thinking booksellers do all the time in assessing the possibility of alexawardmultiple handselling audiences for a book. The how, where, and why books crossover from Young Adult to Adult (such as The Night Circus) and vice versa are both interesting and useful. The benefits of literary bridges are immense. Successful crossover books provide substantive momentum at critical points in a reader’s life. They promote multi-generational connections. Apart from any other considerations, Alex Award winners also tend to be some of our biggest sellers.
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“They Took My Reading Away”

Josie Leavitt - June 10, 2015

Working in a small village means I run into customers all the time when I’m doing my own errands. Yesterday I was at the drugstore picking up some much needed allergy relief, and two of my favorite young customers were also shopping. Manny is nine years old and is a fixture at the bookstore with BBbookhis younger sister, Daisy. Manny is a voracious reader of all things Hardy Boys. He started reading the series months ago and is now on book 50. He comes in weekly and orders two more books. We now have the entire series in stock, just for him. I’m already plotting for what to suggest for him to read when he finishes the series. Continue reading

They Didn’t Need Any Help

Josie Leavitt - June 8, 2015

We have a saying at the bookstore when summing up the retail day, “We worked hard for no money.” We sing this out like the Donna Summer tune we’ve borrowed it from. Oftentimes there are days where we feel like we offer help to everyone and show them books and they just don’t buy anything. Book talking, whether to folks intent of buying or just curious to learn more about books, takes just as much energy and focus. Sundays are usually the “I’m just browsing” crowd, so we’re used to that. But every bookseller has a fantasy of folks not needing a ton of help, and still buying heaps of books.  Well, this day was yesterday. Continue reading

Tips for the End of School

Josie Leavitt - June 5, 2015

sunSomething happens to people, parents, teachers and kids this time of year: the frenzy of the end of school winds people up in a blur of assemblies, graduations, cupcake parties, and getting teacher gifts. The slow slouch towards summer vacation sees a flurry of activity for most bookstores. This is a wonderful and slightly exasperating time. Here are some helpful things to make the the last few of school a little easier for your local bookstore. Continue reading

Summer’s Reading List

Kenny Brechner - June 4, 2015

With summer now visible on the horizon, and summer reading  on our minds, we are fortunate that Summer herself agreed to share some of her own reading list with ShelfTalker readers.
Kenny: I know how busy late Spring is for you. Many thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
Summer: I’m delighted to do so, Kenny.
Kenny: First off I have a question for you.
Summer: Why then, unburden yourself of it.
Kenny: Well, most readers refine their literary opinions, and make their book selections, at least in part, based on interactions with other readers. I know how well read you are but do you have the opportunity to discuss what you are reading with anyone, and if so who? Do you and the other three seasons have a reading group or anything like that?
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Magical Moments at BEA — Part 2

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 3, 2015

True confession: I had several pages of notes on itty-bitty paper with funny things authors said and quotes from award speeches I wanted to share with you, and those notes have vanished into the ether. I blame Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Because they don’t know me personally and so I can. So I may as well start off my Magical BEA Moments Part 2 with them.
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Magical Moments at BEA — Part 1

Elizabeth Bluemle - June 1, 2015

I had such a great time with so many authors and artists at BEA, and wanted to share some of the best moments with you all:

  • The We Need Diverse Books panel, which you can watch here: And their panel at BookCon 2015 with I.W. Gregorio, Mike Jung, Matt de la Peña, Grace Lin and Jacqueline Woodson, which NPR covered here:
  • Rainbow Rowell being hilarious at the Children’s Breakfast, her delight at making Nathan Lane laugh, and her line about being surprised to be asked to speak in front of groups because she thought choosing a writing career meant she got to “eat cheese in a cave.” Lane, Oliver Jeffers, and James Patterson were no slouches themselves. This is Nathan Lane’s French bulldog, Mabel, who is featured in his fall picture book, Naughty Mabel:


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