Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Bests of BEA (So Far)

Alison Morris - May 30, 2009

The show so far has felt like a whirlwind, with me having entirely too little time to spend on the trade show floor! With that in mind, I’m focusing this mid-BEA post around a superlative theme — giving you little soundbites that open larger windows into the wealth of things going on at the show.

The most entertaining thing I’ve heard so far: I moderated a delightful conversation with Trenton Lee Stewart as part of ABC’s "Tea with Children’s Authors." My favorite part of the conversation was hearing a few snippets about what Trent was like as a kid — snippets that shed some light on what things might have influenced his creation of the characters in his Mysterious Benedict Society books. When he was in… second grade, I think it was (?) he entered a class competition to come up with a list of homonyms. He had no idea homonyms other kids would be submitting but, already a lover of wordplay, threw himself into the task and was thrilled when his list of  400 homonyms won. The kid who got second place had come up with a list of…? 8. Yes, 8. A bit of overkill on Trent’s part, maybe? He also said there was a time when he thought maybe he’d like to grow up to be an inventor. The flaw in this plan was that he wasn’t actually any good at inventing things, or, say, putting things back together once he’d taken them apart, like his Batman and Robin alarm clock, which he disassembled and then couldn’t return to its former state. (Thank goodness he had his wonderful writing talents to "fall back on.")

The most impressive thing I’ve seen so far: Neil Gaiman’s signing line at the HarperCollins booth in the middle of the trade show floor. WOW. I walked by at 1:20 p.m., the signing wasn’t starting until 2 p.m., and already the line wrapped around a considerable chunk of the show floor. I can’t imagine how long it must have been by the time the signing actually began! Alas I’ve got no photo for you, as I just didn’t have a lens big enough to capture this crowd.

The most exciting non-book item I’ve seen so far: MerryMakers has created a FABULOUS Scaredy Squirrel puppet that will be available in August. I can just see him being sold in stores alongside a display of hand sanitizer. Perfect! 

I also love MerryMakers’ soon-to-be-available bat puppet for Brian Lies’ Bats at the Beach and Bats at the Library.

The most charming booth design I’ve seen so far: The picket fence and eye-catching awning of Applewood Books make their booth awfully hard to pass by.

The most bizarre promotion I’ve seen so far: The real flaw here is that I don’t even know what book/product this clan is promoting…

And the most "What will they think of next?" and "Where WON’T they try to sell to you?" thing I’ve seen at the show: The photo below shows the escalator handrails Starbucks has paid to wrap with advertisements. Seriously, what WILL they think of next??

A Small Recap

Josie Leavitt - May 29, 2009

The breakfast speakers have just wrapped up and turned my mood around. I awoke this morning tired, and somewhat burdened by all the things I learned in yesterday’s educational sessions — there’s so much I’m not doing and should be.  

Julie Andrews really is a delightful way to begin the day. She’s stately, regal and lovely. Her sharing of her love of books was heartfelt and humorous. Peter Yarrow was a surprise treat who sang from his new book, Day Is Done. A somewhat sleepy crowd did their best to sing along, although we disappointed. We clapped well, but sang "meekly." It was 8 a.m. after all. I can’t speak for other folks, but I had not had enough coffee.

Meg Cabot was delightfully funny. She began by saying next year we should have Bono sing, so the opening speaker can be as intimidated as she was, having to follow Julie Andrews and Peter Yarrow. Until she was an adult having little success as a illustrator, she never showed her stories to anyone. Once she did, she had three years of rejections, but she persisted. She shared her three rules for life: Never pass a bathroom without using it. Always treat people the way you want to be treated. And lastly, Never give up.

Tomie dePaola was adorable as always. He began by doing what a lot of people think when they see Julie Andrews — he sang, "The hills are alive with the sound of music.."  I was awed that Strega Nona began as a doodle. A doodle! My doodles are angry boxed-in squares. Hmmm. Everytime I see Tomie I still can’t believe he’s 75 and has been making art for so long. And the good thing, he’s not stopping.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal was very innovative, both with her presentation and her creative life. Her ten questions were provocative and funny. I really loved what she said about how she could spend her time reacting to things or creating.

I love these breakfasts: I leave inspired and energized. Now I’m off to the ABC board meeting where we’ll discuss the possible merger with the ABA. Should be a really interesting meeting.

And So It Begins

Josie Leavitt - May 28, 2009

We’ve arrived in the Big City! Off — a little later than anticipated — to the Day of Education. Looking forward to learning about book clubs, Thought Leadership (it sounds so intriguing and beneficial) and lots more. One of the things I like about the Day of Education is it’s more relaxed than when the show floor is open. Today is about reconnecting with friends who I only see once a year and focusing on learning how to be a better bookstore. Once that show floor opens it’s a no-holds barred race to see as much as possible while trying to go as many events as possible. Today’s somewhat leisurely pace is to be savored before the real chaos begins.

And don’t forget to visit the ABC Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction preview site so you’ll know what you want to bid on.

It’s the Little Things

Josie Leavitt - May 26, 2009

Let’s face it: I don’t often think of the big distributors as having a sense of humor. Maybe it’s their vastness. But I was pleasantly surprised by Baker and Taylor’s response to my post about how much I don’t like their boxes.

I received an overnight letter after my post from a lovely man at B&T, Steve Harkins, VP, Retail Sales with an emphasis on independent booksellers. I opened the letter trepidatiously. Perhaps the folks at B&T were not thrilled at the post. While Steve does not speak for the whole company, his apologies about my having punched myself in the face seemed sincere and heartfelt. He also informed me that Baker and Taylor is in the process of changing the boxes (yeah!!) and he would keep me updated on the changes. Until that happens he included two bandages and an antiseptic towelette, should I hurt myself again. I laughed until my head hurt. 

This is the kind of corporate response I like: a promise of  action and a little something I can use right now.

Drool (+ Let the Children’s Book Art Bidding Begin)

Elizabeth Bluemle - May 25, 2009

The Internet has been very good to us this weekend, serving up three different sources of artistic delectation. I almost called this blog post, "Things That Make You Go ‘Wow.’ "

The first deliciousness comes by way of author/artist Elizabeth O. Dulemba’s terrific blog. She pointed us in the direction of Straight Lines Designs, Inc., cabinetmakers and furniture fashioners. This is design straight out of an animator’s dream—bendy, twisty wooden cabinets, tall dressers with arms akimbo, coffee tables that melt, or even (bad table!) piddle on the carpet in steel with one dog-like hind leg raised. There are cabinets with star-burst holes punched out their middles, dressers that "explode," gravity-defying bureaus whose midpoints appear to be gnawed by beavers. You have to see them yourselves. The site is a little slow to load, but it’s definitely worth the thirty seconds.

Not only is the furniture fun, but it’s breathtakingly well crafted and beautiful. Take your time browsing; playfulness abounds. (Even the name of the company, Straight Line Designs, is tongue-in-cheek; there is rarely a straight line to be found in their creations.) So this is Drool #1. We’re dreaming of a flying pig bookcase. What do you dream of?

Drool #2 comes courtesy of Cynthia Leitich Smith, whose blog, Cynsations, is a treasure trove of information and inspiration. I know her as a faculty member at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and there she is often referred to as the Energizer Bunny, since no one understands how she can manage to teach and blog and write fab novels at the level she does. But she does, and we sit back and enjoy the wealth. This weekend’s offering was a set of brief videos about the work of illustrator William Low, a classically trained artist who now works on computer; he is a veritable Wacom virtuoso. The videos show Low creating one of the paintings for his new book, Machines Go to Work, and I was interested enough to dip in, just for a minute, just to get a sense of it. Well, I was sucked in by watching the artist at work, seeing his hands fly assuredly across the computer drawing tablet, and marveling as broad "charcoal" sketch marks turn into a complex, beautiful piece of art. I admit I’ve always had a bias toward ‘real’ painting, but William Low has changed my understanding forever; what he does is real painting. I love his quiet enthusiasm; it’s clear he loves to let people into his world. He would make an excellent teacher. My only wish (yo, Macmillan! help him out here!) is that his website would also offer as a book vendor. (Thanks also go to children’s book expert Leda Schubert, for providing some source material to Cynthia L-S.)

Last, but absolutely not least, and most time-sensitive, Drool #3. My eyes are already bigger than my pocketbook viewing all the original art up for bidding at the ABC Children’s Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction this coming Friday at the Brooklyn Marriott. There are 152 paintings, sketches, drawings, even a baby dress with hand-sewn decorative smocking up for bidding. Every year, I am touched by the generosity of the artists who donate their work—no small gesture at any time, but especially moving given the tough economy—to support children’s bookselling via the Association of Booksellers for Children. (Disclosure: I’m on the ABC Board, so I’m extra delighted to see the quality and quantity of the donated work. This auction is a significant part of what allows us to provide education and programming for booksellers throughout the year.) These gifts are appreciated possibly even beyond the artists’ reckoning: by ABC members, by eager art collectors, by publishers happy to see their artists enjoy a lot of attention on a night filled with children’s book luminaries. Karma should be coming to you artist/illustrators by the bucketload.

I am tempted to list all the artists; in fact, I am more than tempted, I am driven by gleeful astonishment to list the names of every artist whose work people attending the auction will have a chance to take home: Adam McCauley, Adam Rex, Adrienne Yorinks, Ann M. Martin, Annette Cate, Babette Cole, Barbara Lehman, Betsy Bowen, Betsy Lewin, Bob Barner, Brian Selznick, Bruce Degen, Catherine and Townsend Artman, Catherine DeJong Artman, Chris Raschka, Chris Van Dusen, Christie Gregory, Dan Yaccarino, David Carter, David McPhail, David Shannon, David Small, David Soman, D.B. Johnson, Deborah Noyes, Diane deGroat, Diane Goode, Don Brown, Doug Kennedy, Ed Young, Edel Rodriguez, Elisa Kleven A, Elisa Kleven B, Elizabeth Sayles, Emily Arnold McCully, Gail Gibbons, Giselle Potter, Grace Lin, Hans Wilhelm, Helen Lester, Henry Cole, Holly Hobbie, Holly Keller, Ian Schoenherr, Jack Prelutsky, James L. Barry, James McMullan, Jan Brett, Jan Pienkowski, Jane Wooster Scott, Janet Stevens, Jarrett Krosoczka, Jerry Pinkney, Jez Alborough, Jill Wolfson, John and Wendy, John Hassett, John Rocco, John Stadler, Jon Agee, Jon Buller, Judy Schachner, Julie Paschkis, Kady MacDonald Denton, Katherine Tillotson, Kathryn Otoshi, Katie Davis, Katy Schneider, Kevin Henkes, Lane Smith, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Laurie Keller, Lois Lowry, Loren Long, Lori Eslick, Lynne Rae Perkins, Margot Apple, Mark Teague, Marla Frazee, Mary DePalma, Mary Jane Begin, Matt Phelan, Maxwell Eaton III, Melisande Potter, Melissa Sweet, Mo Willems, Lisa Brown, Nancy Carlson, Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Nancy Tafuri, Nancy Willard, Nicola Bayley, Nina Laden, Patrick McDonnell, P.D. Eastman, Peter Brown, Petra Mathers, Ponder Goembel, Rebecca Emberley, Richard Cowdrey, Richard Jesse Watson, Robert Neubecker, Rosemary Wells, Roxie Munro, Ruth Lercher Bornstein, Sharon Watts, Simms Taback, Sophie Blackall, Steve Jenkins, Sue Heap, Susan Estelle Kwas, Susan Jeffers, Susan Meddaugh, Susan Roth, Tao Nyeu, Ted Dunagan, Ted Lewin, Tina Matthews, Todd Parr, Tomie dePaola, Vincent Kirsch, Vladimir Radunsky, Wendell Minor, and Yan Nascimbene. If that is not a drool-worthy list, I don’t know what is.

In anticipation of some fierce silent auction shenanigans, I would just like to say in advance to Carol Chittenden, owner of Eight Cousins, bookselling guru, and fellow bidder: I think it’s my turn to walk away with whatever we are fighting
ver this year. And Mo Willems, I am on to your red-wine-spilled-on-the-bidding-sheet tactics. Clear beverages for you around the auction tables this year, mister. As for me? I plan to strategically alter the angle of the artworks I’m ogling bit by bit, so that by the time the bidding closes, they will be facing backward. Brilliant, no?

We hope you’ve enjoyed the visual artistry of the incredible artists represented in this post, and invite you to tell us what’s on your wish list: whose art would you most love to hang in an honored place at home or in your studios and bookstores? What piece of fantastical furniture would you create if you could?

Making a List: Kids’ Book Events at BEA

Elizabeth Bluemle - May 22, 2009

As Eloise at the Plaza Hotel said, "Oh my Lord. There’s so much to do. Tomorrow I think I’ll pour a pitcher of water down the mail chute." Dear Readers, Book Expo in NYC looms large, and our BEA schedules are packed tighter than our suitcases. Whether or not you’ll be at the Javits Center next week, we thought you might like to know about some of the major events for children’s book people.

We’ve tried to make the info as complete as possible, culled from the ABA website, the official BEA website, and the Association of Booksellers for Children website. But we’re still missing one important piece of information: what do you want to hear from us about the show next week? Best galley snag? Most exciting author sighting? Best Julie Andrews or Katherine Paterson quote? Josie, Alison, and I will all be posting tidbits to ShelfTalker all next weekend for your amusement and/or edification, so please  add any requests to the comments field below. We’ll do our best.

Hope to see you there!

            THURSDAY, MAY 28 — ABA Day of Education

  • 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.—Give It Away to Get It Back: Using "Thought Leadership" Marketing to Build Your Children’s Business (Room 1E13) In this workshop, learn why you and your children’s staff are your own best advertising, and how to leverage your collective expertise as a powerful marketing tool to build your children’s business exponentially. This workshop will explore the definition of "Thought Leadership" in relation to current trends in New Economy Marketing and why it should be central to any children’s marketing plan. We will also discuss the benefits that can come from actively giving away knowledge as a marketing technique, as well as outlining the key elements for crafting a strategic and successful Thought Leadership plan for your children’s department regardless of size or staffing level. Panelists include: Diane Capriola, owner, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga.; Shannon Mathis, children’s book buyer, Books Inc., San Francisco; Shelly Plumb, owner, Harleysville Books, Harleysville, Pa., Kristen McLean, executive director, Association of Booksellers for Children (moderator).

    12:15-1:15 p.m.—The ABC’s New Voices Luncheon Room Javits Center, Room 1E13
    Free to attend; boxed lunches available for $15.95
    The ABC’s 2009 New Voices Luncheon celebrates the power of being independent and showcase this year’s ABC picks from new authors. This year’s lunch is moderated by Kristen Cashore, author of Graceling, one of our featured picks from 2008, and the forthcoming sequel, Fire (Penguin). She will be joined by Daniel and Dina Nayeri, brother/sister authors of the new novel Another Faust (Candlewick), a satirical re-imagining of the classic bargain set in an elite New York private school, and David Whitley, author of The Midnight Charter (Roaring Brook), a fantasy set in a world where everything—and everyone—is for sale. Afterward browse the Galley Grab for ten more titles that the 2009 New Voices committee loved.


  • 8:00 am – 9:30 am—Children’s Book and Author Breakfast (Ticket required: $35 breakfast/$20 no breakfast) 
    Javits Special Events Hall — This opening-day breakfast will feature Meg Cabot, author of Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls Book 4: Stage Fright (Scholastic); Tomie de Paola, author of Strega Nona’s Harvest (Putnam); and Amy Krouse Rosenthal, author of Duck! Rabbit! and Little Oink (both Chronicle). Julie Andrews Edwards, author of Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies (Little, Brown) will be the Master of Ceremonies.

    10:30 – 11:30 a.m.—ABC Annual Meeting

    The Association of Booksellers for Children’s annual meeting will review 2008, approve new board members, and open the floor for discussion of ABC’s upcoming conversation with ABA regarding the future. Open to all members of the ABC. Javits Center, room 1E10

    1:45-2:45 p.m.—Tea with Children’s Authors (Open to booksellers and librarians only)
    Javits Center, Room 1E10  
    (No cost but advance registration required.)

    This brand-new program gives librarians and booksellers a chance to chat with some of the industry’s brightest stars in a more relaxed and casual environment. Each author will join a table of booksellers for refreshments and open-ended conversation about the author’s life and work. Each table will be moderated by an ABC bookseller. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Authors include: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (Disney), Libba Bray (Random House), Kristin Cashore (Dial), Suzanne Collins (Scholastic), Christopher and Walter Dean Myers (Egmont), Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick), Tomie dePaola (Putnam), Sarah Dessen (Viking), Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion), Ann M. Martin (Feiwel and Friends), Herman Parrish (HarperCollins), Jon Scieszka (Simon & Schuster), Trenton Lee Stewart (Little, Brown), Rosemary Wells (Candlewick), Mo Willems (Hyperion), and Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (Scholastic).

    2:00 pm – 3:15pm—BEA Young Adults Editor’s Buzz–new
      Room 1E15  

    5:45-6:30 p.m.—Silent Auction Preview at the New York Marriott in Brooklyn

    6:45-9:30 p.m.—The ABC Not-a-Dinner and (Mostly) Silent Auction  A glamorous evening of great art, wonderful speakers, and a celebration of being independent! ($89 per ticket; $59 for ABC bookseller members) The New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, 333 Adams Street, Brooklyn 718-246-7000

    6:45-7:30 p.m. Keynote program hosted by Shannon Hale, bestselling author of several titles, including Goose Girl, Rapunzel’s Revenge, and the forthcoming Forest Born (Bloomsbury), with distinguished speakers Katherine Paterson, two-time Newbery Medalist, and author of the upcoming The Day of the Pelican (Clarion) and Mike Lupica, nationally syndicated sports columnist, and bestselling author of stories for young readers including the upcoming Million-Dollar Throw (Philomel)

    The 2009 E.B. White Awards will be announced LIVE!

    7:30 – 9:30 p.m. Cocktail Not-a-Dinner Party & (Mostly) Silent Auction
    Close out the evening with some yummy food and playful drinks, while bidding on fantastic artwork by some of today’s top children’s book artists. All proceeds benefit the programs of the ABC.


    8:00 pm – ?? 
    KidLit Drink Night at the Hounds Tooth Pub
    , 520 8th Ave. @ 37th St., hosted by Elizabeth Bird (blogger extraordinaire of A Fuse #8 Production,) and Cheryl Klein (Scholastic editor extraordinaire).

            SATURDAY, MAY 30

  • 9:30 AM – 10:30 AM Driving Success with Teens & Tweens: Authors Share Online Success Stories Room 1E16

  • 10:30 AM Alternate History – Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan; Cassie Clare, The Clockwork Princess Uptown Stage

  • 11:00 am – 12 :30pm: ABC/ABA/CBC Speed Dating with Children’s Authors (Open to booksellers and librarians only) Room 1A10 & 1A12
    Get to know 23 children’s book creators up close and personal! Authors and illustrators will move from table to table, stopping for quick get-to-know-you chats. Participating "dates" include: Lee Bantle (Henry Holt); Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook); Don Calame (Candlewick); Cecil Castellucci and Holly Black (Little, Brown); Cinda Williams Chima (Disney); Troy Cle (Simon & Schuster); Matt de la Pena (Random House); Sharon Draper (Scholastic); Amy Hest (FSG); John Hulme and Michael Wexler (Bloomsbury); Maureen Johnson (Scholastic); Gordon Korman (HarperCollins); Jarrett Krosoczka (Random House); Josh Lieb (Penguin); Linda Sue Park (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); Michael Rex (Penguin); Alexander Stadler (Scholastic); James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost (Roaring Brook); Bill Thompson (Cavendish); and Sara Zarr (Little, Brown).

  • 11:00 AM – 12 Noon – Teens Read Books—Teens Have Money—There Are a Lot of Teens: How to Get Them into Your Store Room 1E16

  • 12 Noon Stage to Page –  Adam Rapp, Ball Peen Hammer; David Rabe, Mr. Wellington Downtown Stage

  • 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM Consumer Panel: Teens Sound Off  Room 1E14

  • 12:30 PM— Sci Fi – China Mieville, The City & the City; John Ringo, Eye of the Storm Uptown Stage

  • 1:00 PM Children’s Picture Books – Amy Hest, When You Meet a Bear on Broadway; Nick Bruel, Happy Birthday, Bad Kitty Downtown Stage

  • 2:00 PM Emerging Voices Uptown Stage

  • 2:00 PM YA Authors of YA Editors Buzz Downtown Stage

Autographing Schedule

Special Events Page

For what it’s worth, I would just like to point out that the children’s book field has done a much better job balancing out male and female speakers and authors. The adult side, not so much: out of 32 featured author speakers at BEA events, 29 are men. Two of the three women are interviewers; one is a panel member, and she’s a children’s book author. It concerns me that at the major events in the publishing world, it still seems that male speakers continue to be considered the bigger, more prestigious draws. I don’t think it’s a conscious decision, but an undeniable cultural bias of which we should all be more aware. (We won’t go into the lack of racial diversity; that’s another post.)

This will surely be an interesting and bittersweet BEA—so many fantastic books and authors to celebrate, yet so many colleagues on all sides of the field lost to the vagaries of the economy and business decisions, and to life itself. Many glasses will be raised and many toasts made at dinners throughout the weekend. And now I’d better get back to my suitcase. See you soon!

The Power of an Hour

Josie Leavitt - May 21, 2009

We have story hour every Wednesday at 11. It’s always fun to see the little ones come in and sit with their moms, or more than likely, their grandmas, on our multi-colored rug in the picture book section. They gather around, instinctively getting in a circle, small, chubby hands resting on legs waiting for the stories to begin. Our story hour has grown to have quite a following. We have six regulars who walk right in like they own the store. It’s adorable. It’s also profitable.

There is an art to story hour. First someone must love reading stories. We are lucky to have JP Schittina, a former librarian, who knows kids and tends to choose books they’ll love. She’s never missed a story hour unless she’s on vacation, and then she’ll call the regulars to let them she won’t be there. It also helps that we have so many repeat customers to story hour that she knows Gracie likes books with chickens. Anita Jeram’s Little Chick has been a popular request all spring. Henrick likes to listen with his eyes wide, but never says a word. These kids keep coming back and they ask to bring the books home.

I was curious, so I looked up our sales on Wednesdays right after story hour (our point of sale system lets us see a breakdown by hour, by day, etc.) and sure enough, other than after school from 4-6 P.M, the hour after Wednesday story hour is our busiest hour of the week. That’s a pretty powerful statement. I further investigated and found that these customers buy considerably more than the books that were just read. They come back repeatedly. There’s a trust that is built by reading to their children. Parents already know that we understand what books toddlers enjoy and they come to us when they need gifts or new books for their own library.

Another thing I’ve noticed about story hour is how the staff tends to not get as much done, because we’re all listening.

Walking with My Head Up

Josie Leavitt - May 20, 2009

I’m not sure what rock I’ve been living under this month, but it was a shock to me when I looked at the calendar and realized that BEA is just a week away. I’ve made my plane and hotel reservations, and have secured the free badges from the ABA for the show. But I realized tonight I’ve done precious little else, like actually plan how I’m going to use my time in NYC. So, I endeavored to change that last tonight.

I started at the BEA website, which is chock full of information. The first thing that struck me was apparently in BEA-land, I’m not too late in planning, as Early Bird registration continues through May 26th. This kind of has me wondering if attendance will be down, as I thought early birds were in fact early, not three days before the show. I am hoping that everyone has taken advantage of the free badges ABA gave out this year to member stores. That saved us $180, which was about what our airfare cost, so that worked out great. The website wasn’t clear if there were any free badges left, but it’s certainly worth a call to the ABA if you still need to register.

What I loved about the website was the My Show Planner. This is an area that let’s you literally map the show floor according to which publishers or vendors you want to see. There is a drop-down category list with all the vendors listed: want to look for giftwrap? no problem — all the vendors who sell gift wrap are listed. Click the ones you want to visit and a 3D map shows you where they are on the floor, and creates a list for you. I’m seriously hoping that this means I won’t be toting around that five-pound book that lists every vendor at the Javits Center. I can spend hours on the show floor roaming around from one publisher to the next with no clear plan. This year I hope to change that with this handy website, as I can plan an intelligent route through the show floor. I can’t wait to see if it actually works.

Another thing that struck me as a sign of the harsh economic times was how small the Children’s Pavilion appears. There are actually still many booths available (the map shows everything on the show floor) and it just looks tiny. Most of the big publishers seem to have their presence on the main floor only and not downstairs. This saddens me a little that we can’t have all the kids’ things on one floor, and it means I’ll have to spend more time on the main show floor which is usually very crowded.

The next part of the Map Your Show is a calendar function that can synch to Outlook. This is just a very handy calendar. I started putting in my events. If I do everything I’m supposed to, I’ll have about two hours for the floor per day. Thursday is a day of education which always inspires me to try something new when I get back home. Friday is full of great events. There’s the Children’s Breakfast from 8-9:30, hosted by Julie Andrews with Meg Cabot, Tomie dePaola, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal, then the ABC annual meeting from 10:30-11:30, then at 1:45 there’s the Tea with Children’s Authors with a list of truly stellar authors too long to list. (Go to the ABC website for a complete listing of all the activities planned.) Then there’s the Not-A-Dinner at 6:45 p.m. hosted by Shannon Hale with Katherine Paterson, one of the most amazing speakers, ever, and Mike Lupica. It all promises to be a great evening.   I’m already tired and exhilarated and it’s only Friday.

Saturday continues at a simliar pace. There’s the adult breakfast at 8 a.m. and then at 9:45 Elizabeth will be signing at the Candlewick booth for an hour. This is my favorite part of BEA. I don’t often accompany Elizabeth when she does author events, so this is great fun for me. I’m also the designated photographer, so I have more to do than stand around beaming. Sunday is a travel day, so no show floor for me.

BEA is always hectic, fun and exhausting. It’s great to catch with colleagues from all over the country. I love talking about the business of bookselling, so it’s always energizing to see everyone again.

So, if you’ve been putting off planning your time at BEA, hop to it, because a week from now we’ll all be in NYC. And hopefully this year, I will be roaming around a little less aimlessly than usual.

A Perfectly Arugula Tea Party

Elizabeth Bluemle - May 19, 2009

When we saw Perfectly Arugula, Sarah Dillard’s new picture book about a perfectionist hedgehog, we knew what we had to do: throw a tea party! In the story, Arugula the hedgehog is so concerned with everything being perfect that she rebuffs her friends’ offers of help and intentionally "forgets" to invite a loose-cannon squirrel friend, Fidget, to her party. Arugula is such an overanxious hostess that — though the house looks beautiful and the watercress sandwiches are just so — the event is a stiff, dull affair. That is, until Fidget shows up anyway.

Now, even though Sarah is not yet a well-known author/artist (emphasis on yet), we knew that getting people to the event would be a cinch. First of all, the book’s got an adorable cover: pink background, cute hedgehog standing on two legs holding a teacup; that’s little-girl gold right there. Then, planning an actual tea party immediately got customers excited. I’m afraid we dealt feminism an unintentional blow when three little girls defected from a frog-finding event at Shelburne Farms the minute they overheard their mother utter the term "tea party." (It can’t be helped; tiny sandwiches and an opportunity to wear your most bell-like twirly skirt are a mighty draw.)

We put three tables together in our author event space and decorated them with bright tablecloths, fresh flowers, fancily folded paper napkins, pretty paper plates, and several different tea sets. We set out miniature peanut-butter-and-jelly and cream-cheese-and-cucumber sandwiches, fresh fruit, mini chocolate chip muffins, button-sized cookies in lemon, vanilla, and ginger snap, and teapots with berry juice or lemonade. Sarah brought heavenly little cream puffs and strawberries — treats from the book — and revealed that they can be bought in the frozen section of most markets. Yum. We also set up two pretty quilts on the floor for parents and children to sit on during Sarah’s reading, with some spare chairs handy for the creaky of knee.

When the kids arrived on Saturday morning, we explained how the tea party would work: first, we’d hear Sarah read her story and show us how she draws her characters, then we would learn some tea party manners, and then we would have our party.

There was, as you might expect, a preponderance of pink — dresses and skirts and shirts, oh my — but we were also delighted to have three little boys show up for the event. One was a very young toddler and probably wasn’t consulted; another, four years old in Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls, stayed through the story, which he thoroughly enjoyed, but then chickened out at being the only boy at the actual table. Too bad he didn’t stay long enough to meet the other five-year-old boy, who arrived late but was the last to leave.

The kids giggled through the story, LOVED Fidget the party-saving squirrel, and stayed rapt through every little detail. Sarah showed them some sketches and a dummy, drew Arugula on posterboard, and invited the children to draw (one of them was amazing; we’ll be seeing her illustrations in the years to come, I bet). They were cute and shy learning their bows and curtseys, and their table manners at the party would have impressed even Arugula herself.

All in all, it was a perfectly wonderful tea party, with spills and sweetness and companionable munching. For anyone who lives outside Sarah Dillard’s vicinity, we think this is a great candidate for an authorless event, too. You can, as we did, invite the children to bring stuffed animal and doll friends and tea sets for them. One little girl brought her plush marmalade cat; their dresses matched. Another brought her imaginary friend ("He’s my imaginary husband," she confided, beaming. She was all of three years old.) One mom brought three plush hedgehogs from her own vast collection; her son happily clutched his "goblin dragon." Really, all you need is this delightful story and some charmingly small treats. The rest will take care of itself.

Oh, the Agony

Josie Leavitt - May 18, 2009

This is a quick post. I’d write more, but I still have a headache from hitting myself in the head with my own hand trying to recycle a Baker and Taylor box. 

The glue, all that glue, leaves me wondering why. Glue on cardboard, glue in the box. Why is it necessary to have enough glue on the box to require two people to tear it apart? Why is there so much glue you can’t reuse the box without leaving the plastic shrinkwrap crumbled on the bottom of the box?

I think of myself as moderately strong, but for the life of me, these boxes are my Achilles heel. I was alone in the store today and thought to myself, "Oh, I can break down this box. Surely I can." Well, after two carpal tunnel surgeries my hands are not as strong as I think they are. I placed my hand on the teeniest part of the corner I could poke up, as I readied to pull with all my might, my hand slipped with great force, and landed right on my face. I punched myself in the face. Seriously, I punched myself in the face. I went to a Quaker school for twelve years, I’ve never been punched — by anyone. It was embarrassing, but it was the agony that actually had me reaching for a bag of frozen peas to suppress the welt growing on my head. I want to save the planet and do my part to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but not at my own peril.

It’s funny actually, that since Baker and Taylor changed its box systems there have been fewer damaged books, but more hurt booksellers.

So, Baker and Taylor: this is for you: Less glue, please. I like my face.