Do Readers Live in Your State?

Josie Leavitt -- September 13th, 2016

All bookstore owners think they live amongst readers. How can we not? People come to our stores to buy books. But a new article from Quartz magazine, using census data and NEA statistics, breaks down which states are populated by readers, and which are not. I was saddened to see that the criterion for being a reader is someone who has read at least one book in the past year for pleasure. One book! I can’t imagine having read only one book last year. So, where does your state land on this list? Continue reading

What They Grow Into

Josie Leavitt -- September 12th, 2016

One of the best things about owning a children’s bookstore is getting to know kids. This might sound obvious, but there is real joy in becoming friends with kids. Often we have the privilege of being part of a child’s life from birth on and that is a truly amazing thing. Watching a children grow from babyhood to full-fledged readers, to high school and college students and beyond is one of the unspoken joys of bookstore life. As we celebrate our 20th year in November, I am struck by how many children I’ve seen grow into fine young adults. Continue reading

A Joyful Diversity Collection

Elizabeth Bluemle -- September 9th, 2016

Recently, a teacher sent me a link to an article recommending books to help children understand some of the struggles their peers of color – and those friends’ ancestors – have faced in our country. The teacher hadn’t read most of the books on the list and wondered if we at the Flying Pig would recommend those titles. It is a good, if short, list; I’m familiar with almost all of the books and those I’ve read, I’ve liked. But I didn’t want to think of her classroom collection stopping there.

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Autumn Reveals Her Singular Picks

Kenny Brechner -- September 8th, 2016

MadonnaPietradegliScrovigniWith fading leaves already on the ground I knew it was time to pay Autumn a visit to get some insight into which books published this Fall will be most worthy of our attention.

Kenny: Thank you for taking some time for us.

Autumn: It’s my pleasure, Kenny. Though I must ask you to sign this document please.

Kenny: Sure. Let’s see. Hmmn. What is this?

I, __________________________ interviewer of Seasons, in the interests of the sanctity and safety of said Seasons do hereby agree to respect the principal of Genre Singularity without exception.

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Celebrating Anna Dewdney

Elizabeth Bluemle -- September 7th, 2016

We were shocked to learn the tragic news of the passing of author Anna Dewdney. We were lucky enough to host her at the store, and hear her own voice share her Llama Llama stories with children, and see her draw those adorable characters on a big easel pad. We are proud that she was a fellow Vermonter, who charmed a nation of children with her little woolly guy.

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Embracing the Future

Josie Leavitt -- September 6th, 2016

Back in the day when the bookstore first opened 20 years ago, there were only paper catalogs. Boxes of them would arrive and we would sort them by the imprints we were likely to order from. There was a good divide-and-conquer approach to ordering. Elizabeth and I would each take catalogs and mark them up and then trade them back and forth. Now, there really are no paper catalogs as almost all publishers have switched to the Edelweiss order platform online. I understand the savings, both financial and for the environment, by this shift, not to mention having the most current book release information. Ordering online, while ultimately easier because the order data can be easily downloaded into the bookstore’s POS system saving countless hours of data entry, is still not something I enjoy.  Continue reading

Last Gasp of Summer Reading

Josie Leavitt -- September 2nd, 2016

Most Vermont public schools started on Wednesday and there has been a steady stream of kids in the store getting what they think will be the last few pleasure reading books they can. Kids moving up grades into the unknown world, new teachers, and homework loads make them understandably anxious about their reading time. I love this yearly phenomenon. It speaks to the power of reading in a profound way. Kids who spent the summer reading whatever they wanted are already feeling bereft at the potential loss of this special time.  Continue reading

A Gallery of Our Favorite Bookcases

Kenny Brechner -- September 1st, 2016

Few things are inhabited by as much charm as a well-loved bookcase. I thought it would be fun to feature some photos of especially dear ones here. Given that the best place to find a brook trout is in a brook, it seemed clear to me that the best place to find charming bookcases would be in the homes of people who make their living creating, producing and selling books. Putting theory into practice I put out a call two weeks ago to ShelfTalker readers asking that they send in a photo of a favorite bookcase along with a description of why it is a personal favorite. The delightful results are below. I added a fun book to spot in each bookcase. Thanks to everyone who sent in photos!

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Turning Twenty

Elizabeth Bluemle -- August 30th, 2016
E and J hanging flag 2006 Liz Shayne

Hanging the flag at our new store location in 2006.

On November 23, the Flying Pig will turn twenty years old, and we are starting to plan our party! It’s hard to believe we have been around for two decades. We still call our current location in Shelburne “the new store” – even though we’ve been here ten years, the exact same length of time we were in our old store in Charlotte.

Back in 1996, we opened our doors with 6,500 books and 850 square feet of selling space in a sweet little building that served as the town’s old post office. Twenty years later, we have almost twice as much space and five times more books, toys, cards, and gifts. We’ve seen babies grow into young adults, and young kids grow into grown-ups with children of their own (whom we call Flying Pig grandchildren). We’ve hosted a wedding in the bookstore, we’ve had a baby take his first steps in our picture book section, and we’ve seen so much laughter and many tears over the years as customers navigate their lives with us as one of their community anchor points.

Our moving party at the old location in 2006.

Our going-away party at the old location in 2006. (These kids are all grown up now!)

I’m not big on the horn-tooting, but it feels good to have created something real. A bookstore feels worthy to me, and welcoming, and inclusive. (If only we could give away the books for free, that would be perfect! Like a library, but with brand-new books people could keep.) Bookstores – those containers of joy and knowledge, those supporters of passion and curiosity – are most definitely worth celebrating.


Our 2006 party poster, designed by Betsy Wernert. I’m delighted that Betsy is now a librarian in Ohio, but man, do I miss her graphic design skills!

One thing we’d like to do for the party is to have a looping slideshow, with photos from store events over the years. We are inviting families to contribute pictures of themselves, both back then in our early days and now. It will be amazing to see how they’ve grown over the past twenty years!

We’ll have music and food, maybe face-painting for the kids, and funny toasts to staff former and present. We may celebrate our long-time customers with a silly raffle.

What else shall we do?

For our tenth anniversary, we paired up with the Shelburne Arts Center and invited our customers to paint tiles for display at the store. These tiles are incredible, from the most abstract toddler creations to elaborate pigs with 3D tails, favorite books, and renditions of Toot and Puddle and Charlotte.


Some of the tiles customers created for our 10th anniversary.


More tiles. If you look very closely, you might see a iittle tail sticking up out of the book in the third tile down.

I remember that Eight Cousins’ Carol Chittenden commissioned an amazing alphabet chair that lives outside the store in Falmouth.


Best internet photo of the chair? Shelf Awareness! Thanks, SA folks! (

While I have dreamed of a big flying pig statue outside our store for as long as we’ve been in business, that’s not going to happen. I’d like to do something special, but the Big Idea hasn’t hit me yet. I’m not worried, though. We always get some crazy idea.

My colleagues, you booksellers who have celebrated significant anniversaries, what were the best things you have done to celebrate those anniversaries? The most memorable? The funniest? The most touching?

I can’t wait to write after our party to let you know ours.


From our tenth anniversary party.

Babies as Customers

Josie Leavitt -- August 29th, 2016

One of the first outings for many newborns is a trip to the bookstore. I’ve seen this time and time again. Whether folks are new parents or seasoned parents, there is comfort in a visit to the bookstore. I love this. It sets a pattern very early in a child’s life, that the bookstore is a haven, a fun and safe place to spend some time. When a new customer comes in having just moved to town and had a baby (there seem to be a lot of them at the moment), the first time at the bookstore is a very important trip. Continue reading