Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Brothers Torres Coert Voorhees

The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees- I really didn't plan on writing anymore book post until the new year. I heard great things about The Brothers Torres early in the year yet I was still surprised by how much I loved this book. This is the story of 16 yr old Frankie Thomas. The younger brother who must work at his families restaurant while his older brother, Steve gets a soccer scholarship, the girls and a car. Voorhees created a character in Frankie Thomas that many people can get behind and relate to. He's in his older siblings shadow, he's a sophomore trying to psych himself up to ask a girl to homecoming. Frankie must also decide what type of man he wants to be. This is a very well told with a strong beginning that will capture many reluctant readers. Voorhees doesn't try to do too much with The Brothers Torres, simply tells Frankie's story- thats one of the things that makes this novel so good. The Torres family lives in New Mexico. Frankie's tells us a lot about their small town Borges, its history and the people who live there. While reading this I couldn't help but think diversity in books is such a beautiful thing and I want more of it in young adult literature. There are some things that a Frankie Torres will say or experience that a Frank Towers couldn't. Everyone should be exposed to other experiences and everyone deserves to read a line that brings on that a ha moment of recognition.

Time to share

Frankie working at the restaurant

"This is our salsa especial." They raise their eyebrows, and I know I made the right choice. If you want to milk a tip from tourists, you have two options. One is to speak entirely in English, with no accent at all, so that you give them the impression that even though you're from a crappy small town, you'r still educated and wanted to make something of yourself. The other option is to embrace the culture, the langauge and the accent- and then to lay that experience on thick.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Own the Tee "There's no crying in baseball"

Check out Apryl's great post about Vintage Blue an eco friendly company that has vintage inspired sportswear. The first line is based off of All American Girls Professional Baseball League. What League? It inspired the A League of Their Own movie
Women Like Sports - Vintage Blue

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Eve at Books Are Beautiful

This post is dedicated to retail workers everywhere. Feel free to vent in the comment box

The Worst of Customer Shorts

Customers- Where are audio books ?
Tamika- Just right over here
Customers - Well I need some suggestions
Tamika- (you should've come in last week. Your lucky I am even walking you to the section) Well the bestsellers are right here.
Customers - Is that the best you can do?
Tamika- Yes - Next

Sam- Your total is 64.29
Customers- Hmm how do I want to pay. What was my total again?
Sam (breath) 64.29
Customers- Oh good I kept it under $85.00, I suppose I will write a check.
Sam - Noooooooooooo
Customers- Uh oh I can't find my check book. Here it is. What's my total again?
Sam- (hold it in and breath) 64.29 ( thanks, for not having anything filled in yet)
Customer- Here is my I.D.
Sam- Thank you, your receipt is in the bag.
Customer- Wait, I just have to balance my check book. If I don't do it now I'll forget.
Sam- Of course you have to do that right in front of my register while there is a long line on Christmas Eve.

Customer- I am looking for America's Dictionary
John- Sold out
Customer- Are you sure?
John - Yes
Customer- Any in the back?
John - No
Customer- Where can I get it? I need that book.
John ( If I could turn back time, I would find a way to make sure you still didn't get America's Dictionary because you're a pain in the ass) Don't know
Customer- Thanks for nothing
John- Your welcome , Next

Kelly- What can I help you find?
Customer- data technical study the 2nd edition by Williams published by Carson Press
Kelly- ( that doesn't sound like a present, and Kelly doesn't do text books ever, especially on Christmas eve) We don't carry text books
Customer- You didn't even check
Kelly- Are you looking for a text book?
Customer- I am looking for a book
Kelly - Is it for class?
Customer- Yes
Kelly - Do you know how much it cost?
Customer- Lets see its says here $150
Kelly- (quack quack man) Its a text book
Customer- Where can I get it?
Kelly (Don't care) Don't know, Next

Customer- I need a nice coffee table book about Guatemala
Tamika- (and I need not to walk away after hearing what you need) We won't have that here
Customer- Well how about a nice book about the history of Guatemala
Tamika- Everything we have about Guatemala is in travel
Customer - The gift is for a couple, who just got back from Guatemala, they don't need a travel book
Tamika ( Then why the hell are you trying to get them a book about a place they just visited, you should've got them a digital camera for the trip) Thats all we have, Next

Customer- I am looking for a books for a 9 yr old girl, and she's a very precocious reader
Lucy- Aren't they all this time of year - What does she like to read
Customer- Everything, she very advanced for her age. She's already read all the Harry Potters
Lucy- (Of course)- How about this book about a magical time machine?
Customer- Oh no thats way too short. She needs something more advanced because she's a very precocious reader
Lucy- ( I hate that word, reading is not a race) Well here are some titles other Harry Potter fans enjoyed. Next

Friday, December 19, 2008

Change-Up Baseball Poems Gene Fehler Donald Wu

Change-Up: Baseball Poems by Gene Fehler -I love baseball and was very happy to get an advanced copy of this forthcoming book of baseball poems from Clarion Books. (thanks Jennifer) A good sports book puts a smile on my face. A good sports book makes me thankful that I can appreciate a game, the game, any game. A good sports book makes me feel bad for those who can't see the beauty in the game.

Change- Up is a great collection of baseball poems. There's a very nice cohesive flow (thanks Project Runway) to this collection. Though every poem stands strong on its own when read in order it tells the story of a baseball season, through the eyes of a shortstop/pitcher. One of the things I love about this collection is, feeling the love, this young player has for the game of baseball. We are introduced to some of his baseball loving family. I love that moms is a lover of the game along with the dad and grandpa.

Mom (an excerpt)

Some moms are too busy
to ever come to your ballgames

My mom pitches me batting practice
hits me grounders, then dives
in the dirt to field mine. At breakfast

some moms nag about homework or how
you're dressed for school. Mine grabs the morning
paper to read the box scores.

Some baseball players and fans can be very superstitious (me included) There's a poem called Superstitions, I'll tease you with the last verse.

Well, I'm not superstitious
Not me. No, not a bit
But now I'd better kiss my bat
it's almost time to hit.

I Visualized the Ball (an excerpt)
I visualized the ball so well
I could read every word written on it
The name on the baseball, Spalding, spoke to me, saying "How do you do?"
"Fine" I said, and I hit the ball
smack on that name and visualized it all the way over the fence"

Fehler is able to describe the craziness that is a knuckleball. For all the girls who play or simply enjoy the game along with the baseball loving mom there's Gabby one of the Stars best pitchers and she has her very own poem.

Now the illustrations. I already dropped the L word a few times, and I will happily do it again. I loved Donald Wu's illustrations. Wu's artwork compliments Fehler text very well. I'll do my best to describe two of my favorite pictures. In the first one a batter hits a surprise two strike bunt- the ball is at the edge of the paper, so close and clean the stitching can be counted , and its hugging the line. Then there's the eyes of the players - the fielder and catcher look surprised and worried, the hitter looks hopeful and happy.

In my second favorite- a baseball breaks a light in the outfield. The ball shatters in two, everything falls together including speckles of yellow making it look like stars are falling. With all of that happening the outfielder remembers to keep her eye on the ball.

Baseball fans will love this collection of poems. The last baseball book I raved about like this was James Preller's Six Innings back in May. Six Innings has since made New York Public Library 100 Books for reading or sharing list. I am not trying to say anything, am just saying.
Change-Up Baseball Poems is due to be released on February 16.

Nikki and Deja: Birthday Blues Karen English

Nikki and Deja: Birthday Blues (Nikki & Deja) by Karen English, I came upon this by chance while flipping through a children's catalog of upcoming releases. Its the second book featuring best friends Nikki and Deja. Deja is about to turn eight, and her birthday party is coming up. One of the things I loved about Nikki and Deja is that it wasn't a signal focused storyline. Nikki and Deja still had to do a map of their neighborhood and a presentation for social studies. It wasn't all about the party , though Deja does like to remind Nikki it was coming up to get her way but what seven yr old doesn't do that with their best friend. Antonia a girl from Deja's class decides to throw a just because party the same day has Deja's birthday party. Antonia hands out her inviations first. Deja waited too long to give out hers and now one may come to her party. Of course it works out in the end but it was not an easy fix. Some of the funniest parts came when Deja had to stay with Miss Ida an older neighbor while, her Auntie Dee goes out of town on business. Miss Ida still has a rotary dial telephone (there's a picture), a black and white T.V. with a rabbit ear antenna. I really enjoyed this story and little girls will love it. From the cover I thought it was going to about the same reading level as Junie B. Jones or Willimena Rules. I was very excited to discover it was slightly higher since there don't seem to be enough books featuring black characters for children who are past early readers as previously mentioned and are not yet ready for Sharon Flake or Nne Okorafor Mbachu. Nikki & Deja Birthday Blues comes out January 19 and the first book Nikki & Deja will be released in paperback.

Time to Share - Nikki tries one of Miss Ida's candies

"Nikki eyes widen, and she immediately looks at the dish of peppermints on the coffee table. She smiles broadly. Deja can't help but giggle as she holds the dish out to Nikki. "What's so funny?" Nikki asks plucking a peppermint from the bowl. "Nothing " Nikki pops the candy in her mouth and tries to suck on it, then begins to chew slowly. Deja bursts out laughing watching the look on Nikki's face go from anticipation to confusion. Nikki chews and chews and finally swallows. "What's wrong with this candy?" "Its kind of old." Deja's giggle turns into a laugh. "You should have seen your face."

Pele, King of Soccer/Pele, El Rey del Futbol Monica Brown Rudy Gutierrez

Pele, King of Soccer/Pele, El Rey del Futbol by Monica Brown, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, translated by Fernando Gayesky. I released its been awhile since I posted about a sports book when this book stop me in my tracks. This is a beautiful book/ Es libro bonito. I promise I won't do that again . Since this is bilingual picture book I figured one time wouldn't hurt. Brown tells the story of a young Pele who grew up in a small town in Brazil. Pele is the King of Soccer and in Brazil soccer is king. Though Pele's family didn't have much money soccer was still played, when necessary shoeless and with a newspaper stuffed sock as a ball. Gutierrez warm vibrant colors influenced by the Brazilian flag brings this picture book to life. Pele is featured on every page, doing every thing from cleaning shoes, comforting his father and of course scoring goals. I lack the vocabulary to describe how gorgeous this is but I'll give it a go. In one of my favorites Pele is high in the air above the stadium doing a bicycle kick, the opposition leans back in surprise and wonder, the ball is bullseye center of the stadium, with the word Goooooooooooool written on bottom of the page. This is a great introduction to Pele and soccer. In the author notes Brown has more information about Pele including his full name.

Time to Share
Pele and his friends started their own soccer team. When the other teams saw that Pele and his teammates couldn't afford shoes they nicknamed them the "Barefoot Team" But the Barefoot Team kept winning.

Marjorie Coughlan interviews Monica Brown about multicultural literacy - PaperTigers

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You A Pie Robbin Gourley

Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie: A Story about Edna Lewis by Robbin Gourley
When I first heard about this book, the name Edna Lewis sounded familiar though I couldn't place it. When the ARC arrived (thanks Jennifer) there was a picture of Edna Lewis on the back. It came to me then, I was like oh that Edna Lewis the chef. She came to the bookstore I work at a few years back to sign The Gift of Southern Cooking with co author Scott Peacock. Though I didn't get a chance to say hello, the line was very long. That book still sells very well. In this story about Edna Lewis, Gourley shows us how the Lewis family eats whatever the season brings. The story opens with a birds call signaling the end of winter and the beginning of spring. In each season the Lewis family picks the ripe fruit and vegetables. It's not looked upon as a chore, the family works together filling baskets and singing rhymes. The rhymes tell of the many things that can be done with the picked food. Some will be canned to be kept in the celler for winter. This would be a great read aloud with its nice easy flow. Gourley's illustrations made me want to trade the chocolate I was eating while reading this for some fresh fruit. I must give two thumbs up to a book featuring fruits and vegetables that make my mouth water. Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You A Pie is a great book to help teach children where and when fruit and vegetables are grown and their importance in our daily diet. Gourley has placed a few recipes in the back of the book - including one for corn pudding and apple crisp

Time to Share
When the wild blackberries are ripe, Edna, Sister, and Brother forage early in the day, before thunderstorms start to rumble. Sweet berries stain hands and lips and teeth blue.

Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie received a starred Publishers Weekly Review

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Willoughbys Lois Lowry (This is not a review)

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry I loved the Willougbhys, it had me laughing out loud. If you're looking for a gift for a teacher or someone who enjoys children's literature or hates the classics with orphans get them The Willoughbys. This book was silly, fun, quick and perfect

Places where you can find an actual review and summary of The Willoughbys

The Look of the Hunted Retail Worker

A customer with a long list should never ever stop me in mid purpose stride while I am obviously in the middle of helping someone else. When this happens my neck snaps real quick and the customer gets The Look, its a cross between the little girl from The Exorcist and the woman from I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. After working on her feet for 8 hours two guys try to pick her up she screams at them, she has cramps and her face morphs into something hideous. That's the Look impatient customers get when I am busy and they act like I am some catchable thing. If I could stop the Look I would but I can't, that's like asking a deer not to run when they hear the telltale sign of a rifle, or asking a cat not to hiss when trapped in a corner, or asking a baseball player not to move out of the way of a 90mph fastball. The Look is a reflex. I am simply trying to survive and not scream on the sales floor.

After Tupac & D Foster Jacqueline Woodson

After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson, I don't know what took me so long to read this, I really have no excuse because 1) it's Woodson and 2) I read a lot of great reviews. After Tupac and D Foster is set in the mid 90's. The book opens with a nameless narrator and her best friend, Neeka learning that Tupac survived being shot five times. The narrator and Neeka have been friends since birth. They're eleven years old, and their mothers believe too young to travel by themselves. So they stay on their Queens block., one day D finds her way to them. D Foster is also eleven however she doesn't have a mother to worry over her. Instead D has a foster parent that trust D's instinct to roam the city. The connection between the girls is quick and very believable. The life time two some quickly turns into Three the Hard Way. All three love Tupac's music. Woodson narrator is a reader so we learn Tupac's mother was a Black Panther and he was born in prison. D Foster feels Tupac lyrics are speaking for and to her. There are moments in the novel when D feels safe enough to share a small part of herself thanks to one of Tupac songs. In those moments Woodson makes me feel D's safety. Nothing out of the ordinary happens in this novel, that's part of its beauty. Its simply life. Woodson's writing is beautiful, this book not even 200 pages yet I felt connected to all of the characters. The three girls of course but there's also Neeka's, older brother JayJones who dreams of playing pro ball, Neeka's oldest brother Tash, a self proclaimed Queen, a victim of a hate crime and serving time. It doesn't matter if a young reader is unfamiliar with Tupac, they'll still enjoy this novel. I believe this is more then Tupac its about being young and finding something or someone that understands you. Many readers will relate to D's connection to Tupac and her need for it. After Tupac and D Foster would be an excellent mother - daughter book club read . There's so much that can be dissected and discussed. Also moms can reminisce but not too much moms you don't want your daughters rolling their eyes.

Time to Share
"Brohers be hunted," Jayjones said one Sunday morning. "I wanted to tell Jayjones that sisters be hunted too- boys screaming behind you and whatnot. Trying to touch you and whaynot when you walked passed them like they had some kind of right to your body. It was crazy."

"I see Tupac rapping and I see he got that same look that I got- like we both know what it feels like to be that hungry, to wan to eat something that bad. And when you finally get something to eat your stomach gets all cramped up around it and you can't even keep it down."

Other After Tupac & D Foster reviews (slightly more extensive) Fuse #8 TeenReads

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dream Jordan Interview

I am very exicted to be doing my first blog interview. Newly published Young Adult author Dream Jordan was kind enough to answer a few questions. Jordan's first book Hot Girl was published earlier this year by St. Martin Press. It is nominated for the 2009 YALSA Quick Picks for reluctant reader awards.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York I think I came into this world with a book in my hand. I was reading Franz Kafka at age 12, although I didn’t understand half of what was going on! I loved the library as a youngster, and I think my time spent there ultimately led to my writing career. I love to laugh, make people laugh, and I’m an all around cool chick.

2. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I don’t have a favorite author. I just love books by writers who are real and true to their stories.

3. When and where do you like to write?
I love to write at night, and I usually write at home. But I wouldn’t mind writing in Starbucks, if only I could find a cool table in the cut, sip on a Mocha Frap and let the muse take me away!

4. Are you in a writing group?
No, I’m not in a writing group, but I’ve been thinking about joining one. Writing is such a solitary vocation.

5. How did you get started writing YA lit?
Fellow writer C.J. Morales suggested that I write for children. I took it a step further and decided to write for teens. I still feel young, and I relate to children very well, so I think this is my perfect calling.

6. On your Myspace page you mention that at 12 yrs old your honor roll grades dropped drastically. What happened? What would you suggest a parent do if their child is in a similar situation?
The major event that happened in my life was - believe it or not – my best friend moving to Florida. We had such a unique standing in our school. We weren’t super popular, but a lot of boys liked us – especially her. We chose to compete with our grades, and weren’t too concerned with our outer appearances or other superficial matters. When my BFF moved, I fell in with a different crowd. They weren’t bad girls, but they weren’t into the do-good-in-school thing. I recommend that parents talk to their children, explaining the purpose of school. When parents emphasize the need to get good grades, without explaining the connection to a brighter future, (in a loving way) a child feels pressured instead of encouraged. I’m not saying my parents should have done anything differently. They did the best they could. And if I didn’t go through what I’ve been through, I may not have seen the need to help other at-risk young adults realize their full potential. I find that a lot of people who don’t struggle, or face challenges, don’t believe in coming back, and giving back to others.

7. Tell us a little about New Youth Connection? How did you find out about it?
Youth Communication trains teens in journalism and related skills. The organization also encourages teens and the adults who work with them to use their publication to stimulate reading, writing, discussion and reflection on important topics such as safe sex, college life, you name it, they cover it. When I worked for the Brooklyn Public Library, New Youth Connection was delivered there. I picked up a copy, loved the realness of the teen voices, and I called up the office asking if they’d be interested in my article idea. They loved my article, published it, and seeing my first byline in print gave me the confidence to pursue a writing career. You can check them out here:

8. Did you go to college right after high school?
Say what? College right after high school? Now that’s a big laugh! I almost didn’t graduate high school. Owing to me messing up in high school (getting left back) and graduating from an alternative high school, I had many setbacks before I made it to New York University. But when I finally enrolled at NYU, I attended evening classes, part-time while holding down a full-time job. It was rough, but I did it!

9. You graduated manga cum laude from NYU. So how good are you at Jeopardy?
I can answer at least four questions during the entire half hour of a Jeopardy program.

10. I love the strength of the first chapter, it quickly grabs the reader. How many rewrites did you do?
Gee, thanks for the compliment. I should’ve kept track of my rewrites, but I can tell you that it didn’t come out right the first, second,, you get the idea! My agent is no joke, and never let me settle for the okeedoke.

11. Tell us a little about Hot Girl?
Hot GIRL is the story of 14-year-old Kate, a reckless foster child who manages to get on the right path, only to be sidetracked by a fast girl who leads her down a long, treacherous road.

12. Kate's a tomboy who loves basketball. Do you like or play any sports?
I don’t play sports, so I can’t explain why I wanted her to play sports. Maybe I wanted to exploit the tomboy aspect of her personality. My reasoning escapes me.

13. Why did you decide to create a character who has grown up in the foster care?
I wanted to create a character who is faced with insurmountable odds, but succeeds anyway. A lot of children are made to believe that their environment or circumstances shape who they are, and what they become. Through Kate, I want to represent a strong black girl with street smarts and book smarts. She demonstrates that school can be cool, and her future is in her own hands.

14. How much research if any did you do about foster care?
I did a TON of research on foster care. With my first draft, I depicted the typical incidents that I’ve only heard about on television. But several rejections later, I got on the good foot, and delved into the world of foster care. I found a really bleak picture of the system. So I wanted to paint a brighter side, because brighter sides do exist, and we need to hear about them. HOT GIRL is such a story. A lot of readers have told me that they felt hopeful after turning the last page of my novel.

15. How many editors rejected Hot Girl? What did you do with the rejection letters?
HOT GIRL received a total of 39 rejections. At first, I ripped the rejection letters to shreds. Then I calmed down, and decided to save them, so I could look back and laugh.

16. What did you do when heard Hot Girl was picked up by St. Martin Press?
I didn’t do much. Of course I was happy, but it’s been such a long road, I guess I just sighed with relief.

17. Even though 13 editors turned down the book, some students from P.S. 41 read and loved the first two chapters. How did they get a hold of your work?
On several occasions, my father’s wife asked me to visit her school to give talks about life as an author (I self-published a book in 2002). The high I got from talking to the children never left me. So when I needed to test my two chapters out, I asked her to pass the work around. The children gave their excited feedback through letters. When I started doubting myself and my purpose, I read those letters, and got myself amped up.

18. So you met YA author Coe Booth. How and where did this happen? Have you added Kendra to your short list to help make my reading dream of Kate and Kendra meeting come true? It doesn't even have to be a novel a short story will do. It doesn't even have to be published. I will happily accept it as a personal gift and I promise not to sell it on ebay.
Well Doret, I think you’re psychic. Imagine this. When you told me about Kendra, tell me why I met Coe Booth the very next day through the most unlikely of circumstances. Since I’m not in the YA mix yet, I wouldn’t have met Coe if it wasn’t for a wonderful librarian named Amy Cheney, who invited Coe and I to share a night of her being honored. Coe and I clicked right away. She’s extremely funny, and down to earth. I definitely hounded her about us collaborating, and she’s down with the program. If only we can find the time! But thanks for the idea, Doret. Of course you’ll get an honorable mention.

Congratulations on Hot Girl's, nomination for the 2009 YALSA Quick Picks for reluctant readers award. Its well deserved recognition.

Thank you, I appreciate that.

This or That

Coffee or Tea - Tea
Boots or Sandals - Boots
Project Runway or Next Top Model - Project Runway!!
Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit - Scrabble
Cats or Dogs - Cats
The Club or the Couch – The Club
Summer or Winter - Summer
Chocolate Brownies or Cheesecake – Chocolate Brownies

Hot Girl is valued priced at $9.95 Read the first chapter

My Hot Girl post

Monday, December 8, 2008

Publisher's Weekly Article on Books for Black Teens

The following is a link to a publisher weekly article by Felicia Pride and Calvin Reid about publishers paying more attention to YA fiction featuring black characters

Looks like there are some good titles due out in 2009, and I see a few titles I need to add to my
Books make great gifts post.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Venting

This holiday season is going pretty good so far but there are still a few things that make me want to scream

I hate when customers come up to the service desk and get huffy because they have to wait. Its not like the staff is standing around talking to each other no we are helping customer running around mutlitasking. I really hate it when these impatient customers try to bully us into finishing up with a customer by closing in on our personal space. You rude MF back the F up. Or when they scream does any body work here. I need some service. You're going to get some piss ass service now. You impatient prick

I hate when customers don't have their method of payment ready. They slow down the line, and the other customers start giving me the evil eye because the lines stopped. How hard is it to have a credit card, cash or check out. It gets worse when a check isn't filled out or a check writer wants to balance their check book right in front of my register. (Puff Puff Give MF you had your turn now move on)

I am so over customers asking if Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer is in paperback yet. And no I will not check. For those of you who aren't around books all the time. Novels usually follow a certain formula. Hardbacks are out for year give or take a month depending on how they sell, then the paperback edition comes out. If its a series like Meyer's Twilight books, once the new one comes out the one prior is usually released in paperback. However, this is not a strict rule, if the publishers can still make money on the hardcover they will delay the release of the paperback. So even through Breaking Dawn, the fourth book in the Twilight Saga came out earlier this year Eclipse the third book is still only in hardcover. Every single day someone will ask is Eclipse n paperback. And it wouldn't be so bad if they believed me when I said no. Why would I lie? Or didn't ask me why. I have no idea, I don't have any inside contacts.

I hate when customers who aren't holiday shopping want to bi*ch about how busy it is. The holiday season is the same time every year. If you don't do the holidays and hate the lines wait until January to shop.

I hate customers who want a gift receipt for a $2.99 bargain book. Really, I mean come on really a gift receipt for a $3 book, I just don't get that.

Misc Rants

"But it was reviewed in the paper." And that's why we're sold out. And no we don't have any in the back. I hate when customers who only shop the children's section once a year won't listen to any suggestions when we're sold out of a reviewed book they were looking for. And yes it was probably a very good book and thats why it was reviewed and sold out. But we still have some very nice books. "No, I came in specifically for this book because it was reviewed in the paper." "I can't believe you don't have it" This customer likes to repeat it was reviewed in the paper every five sentences, like its going to make the book magically appear. If it did I'd probably hide it.

"I am looking for children's classics like Mark Twain for a nine yr old." Mark Twain is not a children's classic. Its a classic yes but children's classic, no. If the kid doesn't drop out before high school they will read Twian. When I suggest Hatchet or Phantom Tollbooth I get the eww whats that look. I want to say MF they're freakin children's classic.

To be continued

I Am So Over My anti picture book

I am so over books featuring penquins. Ever since the March of Penquins movie, they've been very popular. Penguins are very cute but the world is filled with many animals. Can't zebras, seals, hippos, baboons or kangaroos get some love?

I am so over Pink picture books for girls. I have to bite my tongue when customers ask for these books.

I am so over Pop up Books. Every holiday season four or five pop up books come out. I am like enough already. I always get customers who want to talk about them. "These books are always so amazing. Look at all the detail." I really don't want to hear how amazing these pop ups are, just buy the books. It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't happen 5 or 6 times a week

The other day a new picture book came in that had 2 out of the 3 things I am so over. Pink! Its a pink penquin. (lovely) It's probably a very nice book but since its my anti picture book I won't be reading it anytime soon.

I am going to risk looking foolish here (if no one responds) and post a question. What is your anti book and why?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Scat Carl Hiaasen

Scat by Carl Hiaasen Once again I have the Random House Rep to thank for this book. I probably would have missed out on this very fun and entertaining read if not for the ARC. Hiaasen first middle grade novel, Hoot it didn't do much for me. When customers ask about Hoot, I simply say its a best seller and award winner. Now I am looking forward to telling customers how much I enjoyed Scat.

Like many of Hiaasen's novels Scat is a mystery set in Flordia. Mrs. Starch a no nonsense biology teacher goes missing after a field trip to Black Vine Swamp. I loved the beginning, we are introduced to many of the main players Mrs. Starch, Nick , Marta and Duane aka Smoke. Hiaasen puts the reader in the classroom, you can almost feel the fear Mrs Starch puts into her students. The period ends with Duane aka Smoke threating the teacher and eating a pencil out of her hand. The next day Mrs Starch goes missing after a fire in the Black Vine Swamp. Duane is the obvious suspect . The obvious suspect is never guilty, Hiassen never really tries to convince the reader of Duane's guilt. 14 yr old Nick and Marta's try to figure out what happened to their biology teacher. Nick's father is serving in Iraq. Hiassen treats this storyline with care and love. There are some very interesting characters in Scat making for a very funny read. Smoke's father Duane Scrod Sr., is paranoid at times, burned down a car dealership, listens to classical music and owns a crazy Macaw bird that speaks three langauges. Then there's Drake McBride, a rich New York transplate who likes to part of a Southner, with snakeskin boots on his feet, a cowboy hat on his head, danged and pardner rolling off his tongue. Wendell Maxmo a substitute teacher, always teaches the same page depending on the day of the week and forces the students to stand up and sing. Anyone familiar with Hiaasen's writing knows how much he cares about the enviroment. I enjoyed learning a few new things. When I started this book I didn't know Scat is animal feces or that Florida has pathners, or so many Florida animals are extinict. I enjoy learning new things from a novel, as long as it doesn't feel forced or take away from the story line. Hiassen blends his need to inform and tell a great story very well.

Time to share

"Marta looked as if she might throw up again. The last time that had happened, Mrs. Starch had barely waited until the floor was mopped before instructing Marta to write a paper listing five major muscles used in the act of regurgitation. Nick and the other students had been blown away. What kind of teacher would punish a kid for puking?

Scat's release date is January 27. If you're looking for a fun new mystery to read or recommend until Scat comes out check out Put A Spell On You

Monday, December 1, 2008

I Share My Opinion (what's not urban lit) written by Amy Pattee a assistant professor at Simmons College’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science. The article is about urban literature and if its appropriate for teens. After reading this, I had to remember to breathe.

I was kind of wary when Pattee says urban literature is know for it's provocative titles, which is so true but the example she gives -"Death Before Dishonor" is so weak. There are so many better titles she could have chosen. James Patterson's " Pop Goes the Weasel" is more provocative. Though, I nodded my head in approval when she outlines the history of urban literature. I also agreed when Pattee said urban novels are prone to grammicial, punctuation and spelling errors. Though from there we part ways.

Pattee considers Push by Sapphire an urban lit novel, and that is so wrong. Push is not urban lit. ( redundant on purpose) Push is a beautifully written contemporary realistic novel. It does not glamorizes the protagonist story. It simply tells the story of Precious Jones, a teenage girl who slowly begins to believe in herself and want more. No one reading Push is going to dream of being a pregnant 16yr old who is sexually abused by her parents. If Push is urban lit then so is Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Pattee goes on to say some of the African American YA novels are urban fiction.

"Teen street lit also often includes warnings about the harmful consequences of destructive or criminal behavior. And some mainstream publishers are now offering a “safer” variety of teen street lit, such as Scholastic’s “Bluford High” and Harlequin’s “Kimani Tru” series—but beware, young connoisseurs of urban lit may find these more restrained stories babyish or inauthentic."

I have read some Kimani Tru novels and they are not urban lit, if we are sticking to the already established defintion in the article. Kimani Tru novels feature black teens sometimes but not always living in urban areas, doing what all teens do coping with family, friends and life. I have not read any of the Bluford High books but I am go out on a limb here and say they are not urban lit. The other YA novels Pattee names do not fit the pre established urban lit criteria either. If Tyrell by Coe Booth and The Hoopster by Alan Lawren Sitomer are urban lit then so are The First Part Last by Angela Johnson and Game Walter Dean Myers.

I am so upset by this article, Pattee seems to be calling most contemporary YA fiction featuring African American characters urban literature. She's teaching and influencing the buying habits of future librarians. There are negative connotations assicoated with urban lit (or maybe that's just my bias) when some of Pattee's student begin working they may think twice about giving a book like Hot Girl by Dream Jordan or Indigo Summer by Monica Mckayhan a chance.

Their eyes were reading smut I am linking to this 2006 NYT opt piece by Nick Chiles because it fits in with this post plus its a great article and I don't know when I will get a chance to share it again. It still makes me laugh, its either laugh or cry.