Monthly Archives: April 2017

Calling My Name

Meghan Dietsche Goel - April 14, 2017

Last week I attended a fantastic, vibrant Children’s Institute in Portland, where I connected with publishers I don’t see very often and shared ideas with booksellers around the country. We were treated to some incredible speeches (Jason Reynolds!), and got a chance to talk with a wide variety of authors about their upcoming and recent releases.
At a dinner hosted by HarperCollins, I was lucky enough to sit next to a fellow Texan whose debut blew me away. Elizabeth Bluemle also highlighted Liara Tamani’s novel Calling My Name in a ShelfTalker post last week, calling it a poignant debut, which it is. It expertly follows a young girl, Taja Brown, through the foundational years of growing up, evolving subtly but powerfully over time to reflect her maturing perspective and desires.
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The Cheerfulness Challenge Champion

Kenny Brechner - April 13, 2017

Cheerfulness Challenge Champion Carol Chittenden.

The Cheerfulness Challenge called upon contestants to craft a cheerful composition containing these 20 cantankerous words.
drenched, socket, furrowed, butchering, searing, blood, damp skin, spoil, boil, winces, clots, scalp, plies, plucking, gutting, stain, spalting, sliced, and shattered.
There were a number of excellent entries but one stood apart. Here is our worthy winner:
At the Foreign Anguish Bar & Grill, by Carol Chittenden
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Bulldogs and Birthdays

Cynthia Compton - April 12, 2017

It’s been a busy week at our store, and the fur and feathers are flying (literally.) On Monday I celebrated a birthday – one of the “speed limit” numbers (think county highway, not school zone) and in our store tradition, donned the first of several dozen birthday hats that I will wear all month. The collection has grown over the years, and now includes an autographed Colts hat, one from our friends at the Naptown Roller Girls, and an impressive group of tiaras (with and without feathers) which were handed down from young customers when they “graduated” princess stage and moved on to earbuds as a permanent fashion accessory. Continue reading

Andy Griffiths and the Little Free Treehouse Library

lhawkins - April 10, 2017

What’s more fun than a treehouse? A treehouse that holds a limitless number of stories in the form of free books for readers of all ages. This weekend at Spellbound, Australian kidlit sensation Andy Griffiths helped unveil a gorgeous Little Free Library built as an homage to his popular Treehouse books. Andy visited the bookstore on tour for his newest book, The 65-Story Treehouse. Continue reading

Coloring on the Walls

Meghan Dietsche Goel - April 7, 2017

One of my favorite months is upon us. Not only because of the emergence of bluebonnets everywhere (which I love) and copious amounts of sunshine (which we don’t really hurt for in Austin anyway), but because every April we turn over our cafe art wall, where local artists display their pieces throughout the year, to the hundreds of incredible bookmark designs submitted to us through our annual bookmark contest. Our prompt is simply to create “something inspired by your favorite book.” We pick winners in each age group (kindergarten, 1st-2nd grade, 3rd-4th grade, and 5th-6th grade) and have them printed to give away at the store for the rest of the year.
Of course we see a lot of love for book celebrities like Elephant and Piggie or Harry Potter. And I’ve certainly seen a fair few cats in hats. But the really special thing about going through the submissions is that each bookmark expresses something a little different, even the ones that tackle similar themes. Sometimes the images are straightforward homages, some are whimsical fantasies, and some are just plain strange, but none of them is boring. I honestly wish we could print each and every one of them because they not only show off some serious artistic talent, but they reveal so much about what stories are truly resonating with kids around Austin and what elements of those stories are evoking responses.
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Sneaky Triangles, and the Anniversary That Sneaked Up on Me

Elizabeth Bluemle - April 6, 2017

The white hair caused by excessive blogging.

Last week, I looked at the calendar realized something. Eight years ago today, on April 6, 2009, I wrote my first post for PW. Alison Morris was leaving the blog, and passed her bedazzled and intimidating baton over to me and the Flying Pig’s then co-owner Josie Leavitt. We became the new children’s bookselling bloggers for PW’s ShelfTalker, which was and is helmed by my editor Diane. I had no idea that, nearly 500 blog posts and almost a decade later, I’d still be at it. Come to think of it, I had no white hair when I started blogging, and now I have two blazing streaks. Diane, I’m looking at you.
I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to write about topics important to me, from the minute (a plea for series numbers on book spines) to the monumental (diversity in children’s books and in publishing). I still
look back at a 2010 post, The Elephant in the Room, about the overwhelming whiteness of our publishing field. The article featured amazing art created for the piece by Kevan Atteberry, Addie Boswell, Jerry Craft, Katie Davis, Nancy Devard, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Laura Freeman, Erin Eitter Kono, Grace Lin, Claudia Rueda, Nicole Tadgell, and Sharon Vargo. I look at it and think of what has changed in the seven years since I wrote it (the creation of the We Need Diverse Books movement, the CBC’s Diversity initiative, #OwnVoices and more) and what, shamefully and frustratingly, has not.
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Twenty Minutes a Day: Knute Rockne Style

Kenny Brechner - April 4, 2017

One knows that the practice of treating reading like exercise, of encouraging the nation’s youth to read for 20 minutes a day, is an amiable deception. Its goal of course is to encourage reading gluttony, not light snacking, but is it a sound practice? To find out more, let us glean what we can from the Knute Rockne of 20-minute reading, my own assistant manager Karin Schott. With Karin’s son Evan immersed in that team sled reading competition, the IditaRead, at his local school, and with said team foundering, Karin stepped into the breach. Here she is.
I know there is one kid in this class who reads a lot. His house is cluttered with books. There are at least three books at all time in the backseat of the car. He can’t help but read. His mom is a bookseller and librarian. And I am standing in front of his class with a box of advance reader copies of middle grade readers. He is trying not to die of embarrassment in front of his 20 classmates. I stand before them with a vague idea of what I will say. They are in fifth grade. They make the leap to middle school next year. Fifth grade is the last year they will participate in IditaRead, a month-long reading challenge that begins and ends in conjunction with the Iditarod sled dog race.  Each student records the number of minutes they read each day. Each class works as a reading team to move their class across the finish line. The first class over the line wins a pizza party and has a plush husky dog in their classroom for the remainder of the school year. These kids have never won the race. Six years in this school and they have always trailed.
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