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.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas and Hanukkah and seasonal spirit

Dear Annie,

I love the passing of the code-breaking to a new generation.  This is giving me tons of ideas for Christmas presents for your household.

The store is in full holiday mode: shelves that were well-stocked in the morning have gaping holes by afternoon.  I'm seeing customers I see only once a year -- and never have quite enough time to talk.

I thought I'd give a tip of the Santa hat to Christmas books we've loved and blogged about in the past:

and some Hanukkah ones too (tonight's the first night):

I have two stories from the bookselling frontlines this year, good illustrations of the extremes of the season.  I'll start with the Grinch-y one.

A grandmother asked me about books for an 8 year-old good reader who "doesn't like anything sad."  (Nothing sad, or nothing scary, are frequent requests.)  I offered Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, which we have all loved.  It's the story of a girl who runs away from home to find the Man in the Moon and to ask him to change the fate of her parents, who are poor farmers.  It's a magically wonderful book.  No, said the woman, too sad.  Actually, I said, it's pretty uplifting.  No, she said, it's about poor people: "too sad."  So much for the spirit of the season.

But for every customer like that, I talk with dozens and dozens of kids and adults who are just happy to be in the midst of books.  My other story is about literature always being in people's lives.  A dad asked me to special order one of the Who Was books I was out of: Who Was Bruce Lee? (the range of subjects of those books keeps getting wider and wider).  He left his name and number: his first name was Dickon.  Ah, I said, a great name from children's literature.  Dickon is the Yorkshire boy in The Secret Garden who's deeply in sync with nature.  "Yes," he said, "My mother was reading The Secret Garden to my sister when I was born."  That alone was wonderful, but I wondered if he might be a bit tired of the book, having been so closely tied to it.  "Oh no," he said, "I love it.  I'm looking forward to being able to read it to my daughter."

So here's hoping readers everywhere have books they're looking forward to giving to and reading with the kids in their lives.



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