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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New York

Dear Annie, 

I've just spent a wonderful day with you and your family, skipping through the Brooklyn drizzle, being goofy with Isabel, and reading  
Dodsworth in London
with Eleanor.  It was an excellent reminder of the joys of repeated readings of the same book.
I'm here in New York for Book Expo America, the annual booksellers' convention.  There are some workshops on Monday, a breakfast on Tuesday where Kevin Henkes, Sarah Dessen, Katherine Paterson, and Brian Selznick are all going to speak, and then lots of time in the Javits Convention Center visiting booths set up by publishers large and small.  It's a fun event, not so much for specific work that gets done, but for feeling in touch with the whole world of books and the people who sell them.  For the first time this year, people from our other three stores are coming too -- I think that will be a good thing all around.

One of the booths I intend to visit is the one for Workman Publishing, who just did a nice thing for our store.  They publish about half of Sandra Boynton's delightful books.  A couple of weeks ago they wrote to tell us that Barstons Child's Play, our little chain of toy and book stores, was one of the top seven retailers in the country of their Boynton books in 2010.  They sent us a framed signed print by Sandra Boynton (a picture of which I would have posted here but the camera is having download problems) to thank us for the sales.  

This on top of the fact that we sold a grand total of a million dollars in books last year is making me feel pretty good.  And to add to that glow, Workman sent a list of the other six retailers.  It includes some of the best-known independent book stores in the country:

The Tattered Cover in Denver,  Powell's in Portland (yes, that Powell's), Book People in Austin, Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis (the only other children's-only retailer on the list), Anderson's in your Jeff's own hometown of Naperville, Illinois and, just to add something a little different, Deseret Books, the official book store chain of the Mormon Church. 

So I'm off to the convention feeling pretty chipper.  I leave you with some fun from Barnyard Dance!, which starts, "Stomp Your Feet!  Clap your Hands!/ Everybody ready for a barnyard dance!":

I'm spinning off to convention-land.  Will report back to you about it all on Wednesday.  It was great to see you.




  1. Hi, Deborah!
    I've Kevin Henke's Olive's Ocean on my night stand for a few months now--have you read it?

  2. I read it back in 2006. Henkes' novels tend to be kind of quiet and nuanced: they spend more time in the characters' heads than on action, which I like a lot. Sometimes, though, I feel he's bringing an adult sensibility to his kid characters. And I will confess that I felt I had to tell prospective parent buyers that one character talks about listening to his parents having sex -- not something you want to be blindsided by if you're reading it together.

    Come back and tell us what you think of it.

    He's got a new novel out this summer: Junonia, about a vacation where everything seems to be going wrong for an only child. I liked it more than Olive.