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, December 23, 2013

One day more...

Dear Annie,

Ah, Isabel is having such a fascinating journey into the literary world.  I'm so glad Bone was a hit.  Also, I'd suggest checking out Marcia Williams' graphic novel retellings of classics: they're delightful.  There's also a whole world of early chapter-level graphic novel series: Babymouse, Squish (he's an amoeba), the Lunch Lady (she's a superhero), Pet Shop Private Eye (a guinea pig), and more, which I'll write about soon. 

Just one more shopping day until Christmas.  It's been crazy-busy, but also a lot of fun. One of the many interesting phenomena of this season is that adults seem much more adventurous when they choose books for kids.  I've sold more Thurber in the past week than in the last six months.  Ditto Mistress Masham's Repose  and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  Yesterday someone bought The World is Round by Gertrude Stein (illustrated by the great Clement Hurd) for a ten year-old who hasn't yet found a book she really loves.  It's an odd, very Stein-ish book, with lots of circuitous sentences.  It could be a terrible choice for a reluctant ten year-old.  But then and again, it could be refreshing and different enough to change her whole attitude toward chapter books.  I hope I find out what she thought.

Two days ago I had a conversation straight out of this blog.  A mom talked about her five year-old who's very resistant to the idea of reading chapter books.  His eight year-old sister is a voracious reader and the mom suspects the younger brother is rejecting chapter books -- even before anyone has a chance to open them -- as a way to say I'm-not-my-sister.  Sound familiar?  I talked to her about Isabel and recommended a couple of books.  Then, as she made her way to the front of the store, the synapses connected: I grabbed Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle from the shelf and ran after her.  So we'll see what happens.

Then there are the Who Was... books that we've talked about.  Five new ones came out last week, an even odder-than-usual assortment: Frida Kahlo, Milton Hershey, Ernest Shackleton, Steven Spielberg and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  They sold out in two days.  The first to go was Milton Hershey -- go figure.  Which leads me to another lovely conversation of the past weeks.  A mom was talking about how much her son loves this series.  But he only likes the "outside people."  He sees the world of biography as comprising people who live their lives primarily either outdoors or indoors.  The presidents: not so good.  Davy Crockett: yes.  Steve Jobs: no.  Jane Goodall: yes.  In the list above, maybe Shackleton and Wilder are outside people?  His favorite, though, was very clear:

  Sacagawea, definitely an outside person.

Have a lovely Christmas out there in Illinois. 

Merry, merry,


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