Sometimes the relevance of a book to contemporary events is not linear, even if that is the author’s intent. An old-fashioned sensibility, and a commitment to the truth, layer even the most current of event topics with the upsides and downsides of a personal attachment which reaches beyond literary pragmatism. Take Trell, for example.
Dick Lehr, a one-time Boston Globe Spotlight investigative reporter, current Boston University Journalism professor and author of many well regarded nonfiction books, has written an upper middle grade novel. If we imagine justice as an overturned cart, Trell explores the role that journalism and law can play in working to set the wheels of the cart back on the ground even when set against the competing pressures of racial politics and corruption. For a book whose primary sell in point is its immediacy to current events Trell is surprisingly, and in many senses pleasantly old fashioned.
A is for alphabetizing, the simplest and yet most challenging of frontline bookseller tasks. It’s on every day/s “to do” list, yet will never, ever be truly done.
B is for Board Books, which exponentially expand each buying season. As the phenomenon of childhood compression continues, longer and longer stories are reduced to cardboard pages with flaps. Where do we shelve the Touch and Feel version of the City of Bones series, now?
C: Camp care packages, the salvation of the July end-of-day ztape, as padded envelopes are filled and mailed to Lake Mosquitogotcha, replacing the weekly shopping trips for wrapped birthday gifts.
The fastest-growing, fastest-selling section of our store over the past year has been graphic novels for younger readers. Long ago, it outgrew its shelves and graduated to a full wall case. Truth be told, we need a bigger wall case for middle grade graphic novels. Here are a few recent and upcoming titles the kids in our region are excited about:
The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman and Fred Fordham (Graphix; out now) The marketing materials say 8-12, but I think 10-13 is the sweet spot for this spooky/dark action adventure tale from Philip Pullman.
If you’ve worked in a bookstore, you’ve probably had some experience with (and some opinions about) the ubiquitous floor display known as the “permanent spinner rack.”
Presumably the “permanent” tag differentiates it from cardboard displays, or “dumps,” that usually end up in the recycling bin after a season or so; though I’ve never seen a temporary spinner, cardboard or otherwise, so I sometimes wonder at the nomenclature. But I digress…
Hello again! Returning from a two-and-a-half-week vacation is overwhelming and comforting at the same time, between getting caught up and getting back into a routine. I admit I had grand plans of posting from the road, but between my kids’ unpredictable sleep schedules and computer issues, my various plans all fell apart. But I had a great time off, and as with any good vacation, books played a big role.
For just over a week of our trip, my husband Samir and I went to Iceland to drive the famous Ring Road. Inspired by a stack of books in a remote gas station gift shop, I decided that the best way to while away the 30+ hours was to read the brutal (and lengthy) Njál’s Saga aloud. Trapped in the car, Samir couldn’t exactly stop me, but he ended up warming to the literary adventure.
The other day, a mom came into the store raving about Jason Reynolds’s Ghost. While this is nothing new — it’s a perfect book — her reason for raving was that the book was a turning point for her son, who hadn’t ever loved a book (past the age of six) and could rarely be persuaded to open one voluntarily. Ghost captivated him, and proved to him that a book could be more than worth his while. He went on to read everything Jason has written, and was beyond thrilled when we gave him the ARC to Ghost‘s forthcoming sequel, Patina (both books published by Atheneum).
We’ve heard this story so many times in our 20 years, and so many different and unexpected books have been the turning point for young readers. Continue reading
Dear Staff: Cynthia will be gone July 1st–8th, but reachable by text and (in emergency) on her cell phone. Please be aware of the five-hour time difference in London, and plan accordingly. As always, she trusts your judgement on returns, refunds, and other customer service issues. There is an extra set of keys at the dentist next door, and plenty of snacks in the fridge. Daily project lists are on the front counter, and most of the purchase orders you should receive are in the top drawer. (Let’s not get creative with pricing on these, OK?) Most importantly: any last-minute shift changes need to be logged in on the scheduling app (NO POST IT NOTES!), and please remember to bring the giraffe inside every night.
As reported here earlier, James Nicol’s The Apprentice Witch was the winner of Summer’s All Glade Gather. This clearly called for further investigation! You see, The Apprentice Witch‘s victory will surprise no one who has read it, but the qualities which make the book so unusual are hard to define. There is something in the air of its world that causes a reader to breath deeply and be immersed. Its characters feel known to us, its forests trodden by our feet. To find out more about this story of a young Apprentice Witch, sent to a small country outpost when she inexplicably fails her exam, author James Nicol has kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us.
Kenny: I know you are planning The Apprentice Witch as a multi-book series. How much will Arianwyn age during the course of the story arc?
James: The plan is that by the end of book 3 (current contract in the U.K. is for three books in the series) we will have been with Arianwyn and all her friends (and foes!) for just over one year.
So she will have a birthday at some point! A few people have said it would be nice to see her age over several books, like Harry Potter, but as I’ve been planning the stories in books 2 and 3, time frames are a little more compact than The Apprentice Witch which happens over approximately 8 months, to something more like 3 or 4 months for the sequels.
Spellbound’s tiny back room, approximately 70 square feet serving simultaneously as stock room, break room, and broom closet, reached a breaking point last week. Or, rather, I did.
The phrase Where’s Waldo generally conjures searching for Waldo within a crowd favoring red and white striped garb. Not so for me this year. We have been running a Find Waldo Local event since they began, making this our sixth year, and I find myself looking for Waldo not in the pages of a book, but in our photo archives as I recollect all the DDG Waldos to wear the stripes. This is particularly true as July 4th rolls around. Our Waldo always marches in the Farmington July 4th parade. In fact we have two 2nd place ribbons to our credit. The parade is an awesome vehicle for distributing the passports. The DDG Waldo works the crowd, handing out hundreds of passports to the children lining the parade route, and does so in high style as our ribbons attest.
Yet the parade is just one of three DDG Waldo aspects. There is also July 31st party Waldo and around town delivering search items and collecting prizes from participating downtown merchants Waldo. Here then are our Where’s Waldos past and present.