I woke up Sunday morning in a funk. I have been battling a cold that isn’t bad enough to make me miss work, but irritating enough that I wish I could. The weather has been decidedly grey and rainy in Vermont and has started to weigh on me. The long walk I had planned at Shelburne Farms with my dog Allie was curtailed by being told dogs won’t be allowed until Tuesday. Poor Allie didn’t understand why she was going back in the car so quickly, and my explanation was lost on her. I was cranky when I got to work. Continue reading
There’s a book I’ve handsold countless times over all 20 years of my bookselling life. It’s one of my favorite all-time books, not only for its gorgeous writing, but its sparkling comedic brilliance. It’s a book ostensibly for adults, but I’ve recommended it to precocious 10-year-olds and many, many teens. It’s a book that never fails to make fans; its readers come back to buy it for their friends. And it’s a perfect book to hand to a friend recovering from surgery or illness, because reading it is like reading sunshine.
Great performances always contain an unexpectedly exceptional element. Take author school assembly presentations, for example. As booksellers who work school visits know, author presentations at assemblies are a distinct art form. Some things are crucial. A good PowerPoint is de rigueur, otherwise kids in the back can’t see. Also, it allows a young audience to divide its attention from the speaker to the screen, alleviating the natural strain of attempting to be a model audience which a school authority figure has outlined for them. Pacing, organization, interactive engagement, reinforcement that writing is a messy process, humor, only one or two photos of the author as a child – all these things play a role.
As promised, I have an update on my earlier post about twelve weeks of picture books. The concept is simple: my best friend moved to Chicago and I am sending her roughly a picture book a week. Kim is an avid picture book reader, who moved without her books because her partner is still in their Vermont house awaiting its sale while Kim is in an rental apartment. What began as a simple idea about sharing some of my favorite picture books with my BFF has become a wonderful discussion about the power of picture books in the life of an adult. Continue reading
It’s time to corral the best MG and YA openers in this year’s offerings.
What makes first lines stand out? Sometimes it’s the beauty of the writing. Often, it’s the satisfying immediate revelation of character or situation or mood—surprise, dread, suspense, or humor— that slaps readers in the face, in a good way. Sometimes, it’s that elusive thing called “voice” — a freshness and authority that stands out from less distinctive writing. Continue reading
As I was reading the debate as to whether Bob Dylan was a fitting choice for the Nobel Prize in Literature, regardless of his being a great artist, it suddenly occurred to me to ask why it was that no children’s book author had ever won the award. If lyrics were a suitable medium for the award, how could children’s literature not be as well? One would think that enriching, sustaining, and supporting the lives of children around the world over time, and with literary artistry, would eminently suit the Nobel Prize in Literature. Why the absence?
This time of year, as the leaves are starting to change and we are just past the height of leaf-ogling tourist season, we usually find ourselves having a sales lull. Part of it is that holiday shopping hasn’t started in earnest, kids are fully into the demands of homework and fall sports, and the weather is gorgeous. It’s pretty clear that the corn mazes, hay rides, pumpkin selecting, apple picking, horseback rides, and Halloween costume prep eclipse book browsing.
This is the time of year when all retail stores are gearing up for the rush that is the fourth quarter. It’s more than a question of guessing correctly what your customers will want. It’s about the other things that make for a smooth end of year. Of course having the hot titles and anticipating customer requests are an enormous part of the end of the year. There are always the unexpected hits of the season that leave everyone scrambling. How many people remember the popularity of Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography that was utterly unobtainable the year it came out? While we cannot always guess at what will grab the public’s attention, we can be prepared in other ways. Continue reading
Community bookselling is one of those things which, like adolescence, is hard to define with precision but is nonetheless unmistakably real.
A perfect example occurred last Thursday. It was 11:00 and my stellar assistant manager Karin Schott stepped out of the store to pick up the deposit bag from the bank. She dashed back in a few minutes later, announcing, “Hold on to your socks, we’re going to have a crowd in a minute. I’m going to do an impromptu read aloud.”
We love snacks at the Flying Pig. There is a snack box in the back office that is often full of yummy treats, often brought back to the store from trips that staffers want to share. We’ve had Alaskan candy bars, real Swiss chocolates, and taffy from the Cape. We share our treats and have an unwritten rule that no one eats the last snacks, unless they brought it to the store. I have been guilty of eating the last bit of candy bar and not replacing it. Sometimes we leave notes expressing our sadness at the sorry state of the snack box. Often these notes are simply frowny faces when we’re almost at the end of something yummy. The other day I noticed a note in an Altoids tin. Continue reading