Last week in Part 1, I delved into the natural world through the eyes of Jillian Tamaki’s irrepressible explorer from They Say Blue. Through her eyes, readers are launched into a whirlwind of endless curiosity and individual inquiry. I absolutely love the childlike energy of her quest. But as the spring weather pulls my attention outdoors, I also find myself drawn to slow down and spend time in the quieter, more contemplative world of Daniel Salmieri’s Bear and Wolf. As much a visceral journey of the senses as Tamaki’s, Salmieri’s ramble through the woods takes its time, pausing to examine and appreciate each new facet of the wilderness that his furry friends encounter.
When Bear and Wolf meet each other in the snowy woods, they observe each other from a distance before padding forward to observe each other up close. Golden eyes see deep brown eyes, smooth gray fur contrasts with soft black fur, wet black nose mirrors wet black nose. Both out to feel the crisp cold of a wintry day, crunch the snow under their paws, and enjoy the stillness of the woods, they decide to continue on together. Each in their own thoughts, but companions nonetheless, their shared journey beautifully evokes the transcendent peace that can come from immersion in the natural world. Continue reading
We all get an avalanche of marketing and promotional emails from publishers, many of which are useful but are nonetheless variations on particular themes: a book is about to get big publicity on television, the following backlist titles are just the thing to go with a trending news story, and so forth. It is always striking, therefore, to see a genuinely original and uniquely effective missive come into our inboxes. The best example of this I have ever seen is my Como Sales Workman Rep Maureen Karb’s Annual Fall Sales Conference Recap.
I think that most of us frontlist buyers take an interest in publisher sales conferences. These clandestine gatherings not only sound like fun but they are at least in part designed to prepare sales reps to prod us into buying their wares. How could we not be interested?
Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Two of my favorite themes combine in a new title from Clarion this week: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s charming poetry collection With My Hands: Poems About Making Things
, a book celebrating creativity and all the messiness of making art with children. We are big believers in process over product here at 4 Kids Books, and our own story and art sessions (Paint-a-Story Mondays: the Messier the Better
) are usually some combination of the illustrator’s artistic medium and “all the mess your mom won’t let you make at home,” so this book seems especially suited to both our store activity schedule and our philosophy of celebrating childhood.
In marches all across the country children’s booksellers were on the move this weekend to demand gun control to stem our nation’s epidemic of gun violence. Saturday’s March for Our Lives demonstrations, organized by students, included among their ranks booksellers and other members of the kid lit community, many organized to march together by authors Raina Telgemeier and Jenny Han under the banner of Kid Lit Marches for Kids. In addition to helping organizing groups to march together, Telgemeier designed art for posters and banners to carry. Several other talented illustrators also designed artwork for the march, making files available online for free download. Here are some photos that colleagues shared with me over the weekend.
Designs donated for march signs by Dan Santat (left) and Raina Telgemeier (center). On the right is canine marcher Eli.
Happy Spring, ShelfTalker readers! As the East Coast digs out from yet another snowstorm, the calendar reminds us that it’s officially the first week of Spring. Although I’m flying to snowy New York City tomorrow for publisher meetings, here in Austin the bluebonnets have started to bob their heads on the sides of the roads. And while the days start chilly, they consistently end in the 70s and 80s. We’ll be in sweltering 105 degree weather soon enough, but for a small moment, we’re enjoying a temperate transition that I want to slow down and savor.
In the midst of our turn toward spring, I’m very much enjoying two new picture books that arrived just in time to send kids into the balmy outdoors armed for exploration and observation. Each book embraces the visceral immediacy of the natural world and centers around tactile, sensory perception, but they do it in completely different ways. They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki dives into the world headfirst, exploring all its colors both seen and unseen, pausing to contemplate each new wonder before leaping to the next. Bear and Wolf by Daniel Salmieri, on the other hand, has a slower pulse and a more deliberate pace, following two wild friends through the rhythms of a quiet woodland year, together and alone. Continue reading
The model of exclusive proprietary content, which has become the centerpiece of competition in the video streaming arena, would be the death of that fraught and wonderful sphere which is home to us all: traditional publishing. Cloverfield Paradox only on Netflix. Transparent only on Amazon. Handmaid’s Tale only on Hulu. Translate that to books. The new Barbara Kingsolver, only on Amazon. The new Sarah J. Maas only on Amazon. The death knell of traditional publishing and independent bookselling, available everywhere.
Amazon’s publishing ventures have stood in contrast to those of professional publishing houses whose wares are open to all retailers. These Amazon proprietary publishing efforts feed their own exclusionary retail channel, building up a vertical monopoly with the potential to lure increasingly strong proprietary content into its enclosed production and distribution system. Other related efforts include leveraging the power of its own bestseller lists and that of vertical acquisitions such as Audible, ABE, and Goodreads, along with their near monopoly on ebooks. These efforts, like those of the Swedish army sappers during the siege of Jasna Gora, have had the effect of weakening and undermining the integrity and foundations of proprietary publishing’s open access to all retail channels.
Patricia and her two sons, Sean and Michael, stopped by this morning right after a visit to the dentist next door. It had been Sean’s first time in the dental chair, and he was very proud of his white plastic bag imprinted with the clinic name, containing a new toothbrush, some stickers, and a foam tooth. His older brother Michael, age 4, was less impressed with his new toothbrush, but very interested on our new train table layout and the recent Floof delivery. Patricia is a bit fatigued. She and her husband learned right after Christmas that they are expecting a third child, but they haven’t shared this good news with the boys, after struggling with a miscarriage last year. She quietly slid a copy of Big Brother Daniel over the counter, and we quickly slipped it into her tote before dashing around the cash wrap to give hugs.
The children know.
They have always known.
But we choose to think otherwise: it hurts to know the children know.
If we obfuscate, they will not see.
Thus we conspire to keep them from knowing and seeing.
And if we insist, then the children, to please us, will make believe they do not know, they do not see.
They are remarkable – patient, loving, and all-forgiving.
It is a sad comedy: the children knowing and pretending they don’t know to protect us from knowing they know.
— Maurice Sendak, preface to ‘I Dream of Peace’ (UNICEF, HarperCollins, l994)
Mr. Sendak was talking about the hard truths of our world, from which—if we are from a relatively peaceful time, region, or culture—we may be privileged enough to attempt to shelter our children. He was speaking about death and loss, grief and war, and the other major subjects of life we don’t want to visit upon our children before they’ve had a chance to have a few years free from worry. Except.
I have a heartwarming tale to share with you this week. One that should reassure you of the generous nature of people and also reaffirm how much representation in media matters for people of all ages.
What do you see when you look at this sculpture? The piece by Louise Nevelson is titled Dawn’s Presence, but what is the sun rising on? Seen in the context of Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, Armand Baltazar’s epic mash-up of timelines, technologies and cultures, perhaps it starts looking like a city—but a city for whom and with what purpose? With skyscrapers outfitted with slides instead of elevator shafts and jagged dragon’s teeth on the edges, this city of the imagination begins to take shape, rippling with strangeness and pulsing with energy. Makes you want to grab your hoverboard and soar, right?