In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Panda time

Dear Annie,

I hadn't seen the Helen Keller graphic novel by John Lambert -- it looks amazing.  Am going to start carrying it in the store.

We've been having a good time at the toy store this past week, decorating for an author event.   The stuffed animal buyer ordered more than the usual number of large pandas, the window-decorator has scoured the shelves for big stuffed pandas, teeny plastic pandas, and everything in between.  And we've been talking on the phone with the National Zoo.

Here's the immediate result of all this activity:
A panda window!  

The books are Zen Shorts and Zen Ties by Jon J. Muth: the event is for his new book,
Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons.

Muth's Zen books so far (they also include Zen Ghosts) are stories about a very large panda named Stillwater who speaks "with a slight panda accent."  He befriends three siblings and tells them multi-layered stories that entertain (some nice wordplay) and teach life lessons.  The illustrations are stunning watercolors, and in some of the books black-and-white ink drawings lend a more thoughtful mood to his Zen tales. 

In Zen Ties, Muth introduces Stillwater's nephew Koo who speaks only in -- you guessed it -- haikus.
And now Koo has a book of his own, a collection of haikus about the seasons.  In illustrations, Koo and two children frolic through the year, throwing snowballs in winter --

snowball hits the stop sign
Heart beats faster
are we in trouble?

Escaping winter doldrums in the spring --

And appreciating fireflies, stone-skipping and kites in the summer.

When Scholastic announced it was publishing Hi, Koo! -- the official on-sale date is this coming Tuesday, February 25 -- they didn't have plans to bring Jon Muth to Washington DC.  As you may know, we're quite happy here in the nation's capital that the National Zoo has a new baby panda: Bao Bao is just about six months old.  So I wrote them and suggested that we'd be the perfect spot to kick off the book tour.  

That's what's happening: Jon Muth is coming to a Washington DC public school, then to the store at 4 pm this Tuesday.  Local folks: everyone's invited -- it's going to be fun.  But I suspect the best part of the day will be a visit we arranged for the Muth family to see Bao Bao.  Too cute for words these days:
I'll be going along with them to the zoo.  Will have a full report on the day in my next blog entry.