Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review: Mistwood by Leah Cypess

by Leah Cypress
9780061956997, $16.99, Greenwillow Books (Harper), Pub. Date: May 2010

Isabel doesn't remember her life before they came for her. She was living in the forest, that much she knows, and apparently, not as a human. The new king (Rokan) and his brother (Will) found her there. The king's sister (Clarisse) does not approve. The king's high sorcerer (Albin) does not approve. Rokan brings her back to the castle anyway.

Isabel is a shape-shifter. THE Shifter sworn to protect the king. She should not have emotions. She should be cold, calculating, and exist only to save the king from danger.
Except Isabel does have emotions. She does have feelings. She does form attachments and opinions about who and what she likes. So how can this be?

Similar to the tale of self-discovery told in Kristen Cashore's Graceling and Fire, Isabel will have to unravel the tales of her own existence, the secret history of the new king, and her own forgotten past lives in order to find out who and what she has the power to be.

A strong debut novel for Leah Cypress. This is a teen read, ideal for ages 12 through 15.

-Rebecca (view the original post on my personal blog here.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mixed-Media Artists: Carin Berger, Lisa DeJohn, & Lorena Siminovich

I love mixed-media art, also known in certain circumstances as collage art. It is my own preferred art method of choice, and I find myself drawn to it in others.

Today I would like to highlight the work of three mixed-media artists who also work in the children's book realm:
Carin Berger,
Lisa DeJohn, & Lorena Siminovich

Carin Berger I first discovered for her book The Little Yellow Leaf. Hardcover: 9780061452239, Greenwillow Books (Harper), $16.99

She incorporates many different papers in her illustrations, often using the design of the pa
per to enhance the illustration - for instance, ruled paper creates some lines of perspective on the horizontal plane, or variance in paper color adds texture to the trunk of a tree.

In Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant by Jack Prelutsky, she uses newsprint for the elephant's body, counting on the black words on white page to form the grey of the elephant's skin.
Hardcover: 9780060543174, Greenwillow Books (Harper), $16.99

All Mixed Up
is even more abstract; you can flip through the book, choosing a different head, body, and legs to create your own character.
Hardcover: 9780811849661, Chronicle Boo
ks, $8.95

Don't miss Forever Friends, about the friendship and loyalty between a rabbit and a blue bird, coming this March 2010.
Hardcover: 9780061915284, Greenwillow Books (Harper), $16.99

Other Carin Berger-illustrated books are:

Not So True Stories & Unreasonable Rhymes
Hardcover: 9780811837736, Chronicle Books, $15.95

Trailblazers: Poems of E
xploration by Bobbi Katz
Hardcover: 9780688165338, Greenwillow Books (Harper), $18.99

Ok Go

Hardcover: 9780061576669, Harper, $17.99

Lisa DeJohn was first introduced to me on the Chronicle Book list.

I love almost everything
picture book or art-related on the Chronicle Book list; our tastes are usually very much aligned.

Lisa DeJohn's Alphabet Animals Flash Cards made me want more, more more, though this is, sadly, the only children-specific item that has been published.
9780811864657, Chronicle Books, $14.95

I've had friends buy these cards to
use them as the border on the walls of their rooms, or made them into mobiles for babies' cribs.
Chronicle has also published a calenda
r and journal that has featured her collage work. Her website shows a lot of other work she's done, and is really worth checking out.

Lorena Siminovich I discovered just last year, when she and Sara Gillingham published their In My... series board books with Chronicle Books. (I warned you I loved that publisher.)

In My Nest, In My Den, In My Pond, and In My Tree all came out in 2009.
Board Books: 9780811865555, 9780811870535, 9780811865562, 9780811870528, $8.99 each

In My Meadow
and In My Flower were just published in January 2010.
Board Books: 9780811873383, 9780811873390, $8.99 each

What I didn't realize until today was that Lorena Siminovich also has My Favorite Things ABC flash cards, similar to Lisa DeJohn's in their ability to be used as much for their artistic value than functional one.
9780811867993, $14.95

Also, hooray!, two new board books are being published in March 2010 by Chronicle Books:
I Like Fruit and I Like Bugs are part of her "Petit Collage" series, which also features a baby book/memory box, notecards, and cloth journal.
Board Books: 9780763648039, 9780763648022, $6.99 each

I hope you enjoy their work as much as I have!

- Rebecca

(To see this post on my personal blog, go here.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Bookselling in Crisis, Part 2

Hello, again, loyal readers,

It is I, the non-alarmist, bringing you more alarming news from the front lines of the independent book-selling world. (To read the first "Bookselling in Crisis" post, go here.) Today I am here to report on the recent crisis concerning publishing representatives (hereafter referred to as "reps"). Reps are the biggest connection between booksellers and publishers. They come to our stores, get to know our store size, buying styles, customer demographics, and possible events. They send us advanced copies, and sometimes published copies of favorite books. They help us make author connections and help us with events. They listen to our advice, and our reviews. They celebrate with us when a favorite book wins an award. They help us straighten out ordering issues, remind us of old treasures, introduce us to new favorites, and generally provide a warm and friendly face to put with large (and small) publishers.

In short, my life as a bookseller is enriched by my interaction with my publisher reps.

And sadly, my publisher reps are being hit hard as the book industry struggles to right so many excess wrongs it's incurred over the years.

This is a letter to the publishing industry at large, written by the North Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association:

We are alarmed with what appears to be a trend in the sales division of publishers; the removal of field sales reps to independent bookstores. This draconian move against our bookselling segment will be responsible for the disappearance of book culture.

Field sales reps are a crucial part of our business. Each regional independent booksellers association and Publishers Weekly honors an outstanding field rep each year. We can’t think of another publisher position that gets this recognition. We devote countless hours at conferences refining the sales rep/bookseller relationship. They are that crucial to us.

Restricting field reps to large stores will give publishers a skewed view of what is a very diverse world --independent bookselling. Sales reps take the time to know our stores, what our customers like, and what is on our shelves. They are the industry worker-bees, travelling the region, taking ideas and trends and pollinating other stores. We learn about other stores from them, what others are reading and loving; what is selling; marketing tips; event ideas; what the publisher is doing; and what authors have books coming out in the next season. They make fans for authors out of our frontline booksellers. They cut through the catalogs to make sure we carry what we’ll be able to sell, and their endorsements are why we buy what we might have ignored.

These reasons are why cuts in field sales reps devastate us. Have you really thought about what this stricture will mean to you? Fewer books sales. Without a doubt, we are not ordering as much through telemarketing. We are definitely not focusing on your backlist through tele-sales, and we definitely miss titles from the frontlist. We also don’t buy as much direct, which makes independent bookselling a less profitable business. The vicious cycle is that we buy less because we don’t have sales reps, and then you devalue our business because we aren’t buying as much as we used to.

We understand the corporate need to save money. There are more efficacious and less exclusionary ways to cut your budgets. You know what they are because independent bookstores have been telling you what they are for years. Cut multiple ARC mailings. Do away with promotional gimmicks that go from mailbox to garbage can. Consider publishing fewer titles, fewer hard covers, fewer copies. Take a hard look at celebrity advances.

We exist to sell your books, those unique and hard to place titles, not just the established authors. Field sales reps are the tools we need to do that for you. As much as you would like to think a tele-salesperson is doing the same job, you are sadly mistaken. A field sales rep is far more than a person filling in an order form.

Don’t cut our lifeline to your books.


The NAIBA Board of Directors

Joe Drabyak, Chester County Book Company, West Chester, PA

Lucy Kogler, Talking Leaves Inc., Buffalo, NY

Betty Bennett, Sparta Books, Sparta, NJ

Harvey Finkel, Clinton Bookshop, Clinton, NJ

Pat Kutz, Lift Bridge Book Shop, Brockport, NY

Mark LaFramboise, Politics & Prose, Washington, DC

Margot Sage-EL, Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, NJ

Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

Susan L. Weis, breathe books, Baltimore, MD

They say it more eloquently than I ever could. Please, help us by supporting your local independent bookstores. Increased sales means a publisher might think twice about cutting a rep for our area. Thank you for taking the time to read about our plight.
- Rebecca

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Seasonal Sensations - Valentine's Day

For those of you who enjoy boycotting this holiday, you may also need to boycott this post.

No, I
won't write the entire post in red, that's just obnoxious. Yet, I am still going to tell you about my favorite picks, both old and new, for this particular holiday. If you don't want to give them to your sweethearts, beloved friends, or family members during this month, perhaps they will come in handy some random day in the future.


I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, illustrated by Jacqueline Chwast
Hardcover: 9780395071762, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $6.95

This sweet and tender book is perfect to give to both a friend or the most loved one in your life. It's a small-format, hardcover picturebook whose tiny size packs a huge punch with its lyrical, child-like text. "I like you/And I know why/I like you because/You are a good person/To like".

A Friend is Someone Who Likes You by Joan Walsh Anglund
Hardcover: 9780152296780, Harcourt, $9.95

This old classic has been re
published for a new generation. Adorable, classic spot illustrations alternate between pen-and-ink, and color pictures, highlighting the simple, sweet, and wise text. Here's my favorite page: "A brook can be a friend in a special way. It talks to you with splashy gurgles. It cools your toes and lets you sit quietly beside it when you don't feel like speaking." Also perfect to give to a friend or romantic love.

Vintage Valentines by Vivian Robbins
Paperback: 9780375875144, Random House, $4.99

Don't miss these absolutely adorable, cheeky vintage valentines! Perfect for anyone, at any age.

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
Hardcover: 9780061915109, HarperCollins, $16.99

My favorite picturebook out this Valentine's season, every animal in this book is made up of hearts! Trust me on this one, it's not sappy or overdone, but saved by the bright bold colors and big shapes. Each page is a solid color, while the animals are a contrasting color. The hearts that comprise the animal shapes are varying shades of the same color, so that the entire picture is a study in shapes and shades, but all coming together in the most complimentary of ways. The sparse, rhyming text is a perfect match.

Don't miss this fun craft:
Decorate-Your-Own Wooden Heart Chest

by Melissa & Doug (toy company), $4.99

For adults:

No, I don't mean naughty things, I mean books that might pique an adult reader's interest at this time of year. And no, as much as I love Jane Austen, you won't find her here.

Best heart-breaking love story:
The Time Traveler's Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger
Paperback: 9780156029438, $14.95

To tell you about it would ruin it. You need to experience it for yourself. I'll admit it made me cry, but in the most wonderful of ways.

My new favorite heart-warming love story:
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
by Winifred Watson, preface by Henrietta Twycross-Martin
9781906462024, Persephone Books, $18

As delightful as the movie, this novel is a perfect slice-of-life look into the day of 2 women in the 1930s. Winifred Watson wrote novels for women about the lives they were currently living, and it is fascinating to read the culture of the 30s from the point-of-view of a contemporary. Miss Pettigrew is a struggling governess-turned-accidental social secretary to Miss Delysia Lafosse. The two spend the day together: Miss Lafosse juggling which of the 3 men and 3 life paths she wants to follow, Miss Pettigrew dispensing sound advice and perhaps experiencing a bit of romance herself. The day and book end with my favorite feeling –hope– for both of their happy futures.

Best book to give to a friend:
84, Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff
Paperback: 9780140143508, Penguin, $13
Spanning 20 years, this collection of correspondence chronicles the friendship between American author Helene Hanff and Frank Doel of British Bookstore Marks & Co., at 84, Charing Cross Road. By the end of the book, you will have fallen in love yourself with the bookstore and all of its employees, their families, their lives, joys, and sorrows. Simply delightful.

Read the original post on my personal blog here.