Thursday, October 29, 2009

We have a winner

Kim correctly guessed the book title (see my posts from Oct 16 and Oct 23) in what turned out to be my first contest. For this she has my eternal gratitude (and her choice of Spring 2010 ARCS).

The way I figure it is, there are two kinds of people in the world of children's lit: those who adore Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.

And those who hate it.

Which one are you?

Whoa. Hang on. Don't click "comments" yet. Get back here.

Before you answer the above question, read this comment on Alison Morris's Shelftalker post by Andy Laties:

I watched Bob Munsch perform this book for a crowd of children's booksellers in 1997. He handled it as pure, satiric comedy. I believe the book was originally developed as comedy, and that the incorrect, sentimental reading is an example of the general public completely misunderstanding an extremely dry, ironic text. That it's intended as satire is proven by the image of the mother climbing in the grown man's window and rocking him. Munsch developed his stories during live performances for toddlers. Of course toddlers would find it absurd that a "daddy" figure would be rocked by his own mommy.

Thanks, Andy. I never thought of Love You Forever that way. And yeah, by looking at that photo, you can guess that Bob Munsch is a comedian.

So, blogger friends, how do YOU feel about Love You Forever?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Books for guys

Okay. So, looking back at my own posts, I realized my Gems of the Week have been girl books. And there's a definite need for books guys will like. So here are two suggestions:

Z. Rex (The Hunting Book 1) by Steve Cole (Philomel, Sept 2009), ages 8 to 12.

Think you'd rather play video games than read a book? Think again. This book is so exciting you'll feel like you're inside a virtual-reality game. Thirteen-year-old Adam Adlar's dad is working on an ultra-reality game when he suddenly goes missing, captured by power-hungry people who want to use his technology. The problem? They want to use it to bring a dinosaur to life. And not just any dinosaur, but a super-intelligent T-Rex with wings and the ability to become invisible. Nicknamed Zed, the creature gets loose and runs amok, tearing apart buildings and people. Since Dad used Adam's brainwaves for the game, Adam is the only one who can communicate with Zed. Together they try to find Dad.

War Games by Audrey and Akila Couloumbis (Random House, Oct 27, 2009), ages 8 to 12.

Much quieter, but still a powerful story. Petros is 12 and lives in a small village in Greece with his family during World War II. Born in America, Petros barely remembers it, though his family speaks both Greek and English. The war seems far away at first. Petros, his older brother Zola and their friends play games when they're not doing chores, gardening or feeding chickens. Then the Germans invade and everything changes. The family must discard everything American and speak only Greek. The German commander moves into Petros and Zola's house. And suddenly the games the boys play become deadly serious.

This is based on true events in the life of Akila Couloumbis as a boy in wartime Greece.

Gem of the Week

The Shifter by Janice Hardy (Book One in The Healing Wars), Published 10/6/2009 by Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins). Ages 12 and up.

A highly original fantasy. Nya is a 15-year-old orphan, struggling to survive and take care of her younger sister Tali in the war-torn city of Geveg. Both girls are Takers, healers who can draw out other people's pain. But unlike Tali, who joins the Healer's League as an apprentice, Nya can't complete the process. She can't push the pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal that can hold pain. What Nya can do is shift the pain from one person to another. When pain merchants and politicians realize this, Nya has to go on the run to avoid becoming the ultimate secret weapon.

If you like your fantasy fast-paced, filled with action, and startling in its originality, you'll love this book.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Children's books that hang around forever

Well, since no one guessed the answer in my last post, I'll give you another hint. It's a picture book.

And to repeat what started this little contest, I had a customer recently who came up to me with this conundrum:

"I'm looking for that kids' book. You know the one I mean."

and oddly enough I did know the one she meant. If you're the first person to guess which book it was, you'll win a prize (your choice of certain ARCs for Spring 2010).

Happy guessing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Actual Customer Quotes

I'm not trying to insult anyone here. So no names, dates or other clues will be used. But just so you have some indication of why booksellers sometimes want to tear their hair out, these are actual customer quotes from the past few months in the bookstore where I work.

"I'm looking for a kids' book and I don't know the author or the title but it has a blue cover."

"Is this the price that it says it is?"

And last but certainly not least:

"I'm looking for that kids' book. You know the one I mean."

The strange thing was, I did know the one she meant. Clearly, either the brain aneurysm made me psychic or I'm the perfect person for this job.

A prize will be awarded to whoever guesses the title of that last request.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gems of the Week

Okay, since I haven't been on here in, ahem, 10 days (gulp), I'm offering you not one, not two, but THREE gems of the week. That's because they're all by the same author and she considers them a trilogy. And I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to the author yesterday at a writing conference, SCBWI's Fall Philly. Catherine Gilbert Murdock is the author of the Young Adult novels Dairy Queen, The Off Season and the newest, Front and Center (all published by Houghton Mifflin) and she revealed to us at the conference that she never intended to write a trilogy. She started with a stand-alone book (Dairy Queen), which, believe it or not, came to her in a dream, and fans wrote to her, begging for sequels.

If you read the trilogy one right after the other, you'll almost think you're reading one continuous book. The story in book two continues right where book one ended, and book three follows immediately after book two.

What's so great about the D.J. Schwenk trilogy? The voice. By far, the voice. It really sounds like a sixteen-year-old girl who lives on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and likes sports. And she's a great character, funny and talented as all get out, but so normal and down to earth she doesn't even realize she's talented. And as someone who was painfully shy throughout adolescence (okay, I admit it, even into adulthood) I was most affected by her shyness. This girl is real. You'll come away from these books with a sense that D.J. could be your friend, or your neighbor or that tall girl who sits next to you in Math class.

And whether she's trying to save the family farm in Dairy Queen, trying to save a family member who's seriously injured in The Off Season or trying to decide between colleges -- and boys -- in Front and Center, she'll make you smile. I'm not usually a sports fan but I found myself cheering at the endings of all three books. Winners all.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Gem of the Week

Just finished reading an amazing, thought-provoking Young Adult novel:

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr (Little, Brown, $16.99, published Oct 2009).

It's a hot, dry California summer. Sam (short for Samara), a fifteen-year-old pastor's daughter, hangs around the house, not wanting to do anything. Sam has always been the model daughter in a seemingly perfect family. But now everything's falling apart. Mom is in rehab. Pastor Charlie spends too much time with his flock and not enough with Sam.

Then a 13-year-old girl from the church choir goes missing. Suddenly a novel that seemed to be about family relationships and losing one's faith becomes as gripping as any crime thriller I've read. Who kidnapped Jody? Is it someone Sam knows? And is Sam, herself, in danger?

An expertly-crafted novel about hope and faith. This is the first book I've read by Sara Zarr and from now on, I'll be reading all of hers.