Saturday, March 19, 2011


It's Spring.  Suddenly people are doing things again- probably because they can now open the doors to their houses.  The weather is sunny and clear, just the sort of day to pull out a deck chair and laze about with a book. Luckily, we have hundreds of new remainders in the store, from popular fiction and nonfiction to gift books and cookbooks to children's picturebooks and pop-ups. 
Two kids' books.  Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack: A Tying Adventure by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.  Half alphabet boardbook, half interactive keyboard, originally $14.99 now $7.99.  Ton by Taro Miura is a simple math concept book and perfect for young vehicle enthusiasts, originally $15.95 now $5.99. 

 Diana and her favorite new cookbook, Best of the Best: the best recipes from the 25 best cookbooks of the year from the editors of Food & Wine, originally $29.95 now $8.99. 
Adult fiction! The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker, originally $25.00 now $5.99, and Nieves' favorite The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen, originally $16.00 now $6.99. 
History!  American Creation by Joseph Ellis, originally $26.95 now $7.99, and Last Lion the Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy, originally $28.00 now $9.99.  

Two interactive books on Princesses.  Princesses of the World, originally $17.99 now $6.99, and The Secret Life of Princesses, originally $17.99 now $6.99.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Must-Read Monday: New in paperback!

This week we are spoiled for choice when it comes to great new fiction releases.  Tomorrow (Tuesday) marks the paperback debut of 2010's National Book Award Winner, Lord of Misrule. This literary dark horse (pun intended)  from a small publisher surprised most booksellers when it took top honors, but after we got a chance to read it.  Come pick up a copy of this to see for yourself why the New York Times called it "assured, exotic and incontrovertible winner, a bona fide bolt from the blue."

Next up we have David Mitchell's newest masterpiece in paperback, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.  This novel earned more praise for its debut in 2010 than almost any other, including four starred reviews.  From Dave Eggers, who praised this novel on the cover of the New York Times Book Review: "If any readers have doubted that David Mitchell is phenomenally talented and capable of vaulting wonders on the page, they have been heretofore silent. Mitchell is almost universally acknowledged as the real deal. [This book] confirms Mitchell as one of the more fascinating and fearless writers alive."

Come stop by the Odyssey or give us a call and we'll reserve one of these fine books for you. 


Friday, March 4, 2011

Brand New Picturebooks

You can tell spring is coming by the almost daily arrival of new books.  Though I love children's books in general, I must admit my favorite things are brand new picturebooks.  Over the past few days the picturebooks have come flooding in, and you're sure to find something interesting among the mix.

Blue Chameleon
by Emily Gravett
Simon & Schuster

 Poor chameleon feels blue and goes looking for a friend. But though he can change his color to look like a snail or a sock or a rock, none of these are willing to be his friend. Who can he find who will appreciate him for being a chameleon? This simple book is wonderful for very young children. Simple words on each page indicate the pattern or color of the chameleon and the object he mimics. But being a copycat is not a good way to make friends and, as chameleon learns, the best way to find a friend is to be your colorful self. For children one year plus, this book would make a wonderful baby gift- hopefully we’ll see it in board book form in the future.

Dear Tabby
By Carolyn Crimi, Illustrated by David Roberts
Tabby is an alley cat, but with the help of a typewriter he’s also an advice columnist. Over the course of the book he hears from another cat, a parrot, a hamster, a skunk, a groundhog, an ex-circus bear, and a dog. Through letters and newspaper articles we trace the lives of these animals and how, over time, they eventually find happiness- including Tabby himself.

This wordy picturebook is perfect for those in early grade school to read to themselves. Readers will find themselves trying to figure out and patch together each animal’s story, something made especially fun by inserts of newspaper advertisements, posters, etc. Roberts’ illustrations are fun and balance the text well; I especially love his full-page spread of the runaway circus bear on her tricycle.

Red Wagon 
by Renata Liwska
Renata Liwska is the illustrator of the best-selling The Quiet Book.  In Red Wagon, a little fox named Lucy takes her brand-new red to market.  Even though this sounds a lot like chores, Lucy sets out.  Along the way, the red wagon becomes all sorts of things as Lucy and her friends pretend.  As it turns out, doing chores can feel a lot like playing after all!  Lucy's imaginings build as the story continues, until the red wagon is illustrated as the rocket ship or truck of Lucy's imaginings.  The cute critters of The Quiet Book are just as charming in Red Wagon; be prepared for them to become frequent storytime visitors!

On the Road & Busy Boats
by Susan Steggall
Frances Lincoln
These two books are perfect for the car, truck, or boat enthusiast in your life.  Sparse text illustrated by intricate cut and ripped paper collage allows children to find larger stories in the illustrations.  They'll love pointing out details in the background or identifying the names of the many vehicles whose names they know.  On the Road is a light paperback, easy to tuck into a backpack for a car journey, while Busy Boats would be a wonderful gift for children headed to the shore.

Manners Mash-Up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior
by Leuyen Pham, Lynn Munsinger, Joe Berger, Judy Schachner, Adam Rex, Peter H. Reynolds, Tao Nyeu, Bob Shea, Kevin Sherry, Henry Cole, Sophie Backall, Dan Santat, Frank Morrison, Tedd Arnold
Reading through the long list of author/illustrator contributors, I'm sure you've gotten an idea of the sorts of fun that await you inside.  Yes, I just said fun in regards to a book about manners; this is no ordinary guide to etiquette.  Each spread is illustrated by a different contributor and takes on manners for different occasions, including party manners, doctor's office manners, supermarket non-no's, etc.  Children will laugh uproariously at the horrid behavior of the characters.  Some of my favorite pages include Tao Nyeu's "Please don't pick in public" and Judy Schachner's "Party manners".  Great fun for the all ages, from the rudest person you ever did see to the absolute angel.

by Tom Lichtenheld
Henry Holt
Cloudette is only a little cloud, which can be fun when it comes to hide-and-go-seek or watching fireworks, but when the big clouds make storms, Cloudette feels left out.  After one particvularly big storm Cloudette finds herself in a new place, a place that once had a pond.  And it is here that Cloudette learns how to make a storm. A story about finding one's place and learning new things, Cloudette is also great for tired parents.  Side notes and comments hidden in the illustrations will hold the attention of both parents and children.

Animals Home Alone

by Loes Riphagen
Seven Footer Kids, Publisher Group West
One day, a little girl and her father go out, leaving fifteen animals alone in the house.  In the wordless story that follows, the animals get up to all sorts of things.  The book opens with images of all the animals and closes with the results of the animals' actions.  These final images are paired with questions asking readers what happened to the animals over the course of the story.  These questions are a good place to start, but careful readers will pick up many more adventures than the questions reveal.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teen book of the week

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

In Lena's world, a person undergoes an operation at eighteen, effectively curing them of love. For if one doesn't love, there is no pain or loss, and everyone will be happy. Lena counts the days until she'll receive the cure and everything will be good and right. She'll be matched with her husband and together they'll live a safe, predictable life. But then Lena the perfect citizen, the good girl, finds someone to love. And things will never be the same.

Sometimes I feel that teen romances are taken too far, there is often a sense that this is the one, the perfect partner, despite the fact that the protagonist is but sixteen. Here, I don't feel any of that. Having your ability to feel (love, hate, everything inbetween) cut off at eighteen means young romance is the only thing that's even possible, let alone probable.

The world Oliver has created is so real. Her reliance on everyday objects, places and activities grounds the dystopian environment and cements the connection between the reader and Lena. The one scene that truly clinched my love of this book was when Lena went to the cell in which her mother had been held, and saw one word carved over and over into the walls, a word that was both her downfall and her savior. As Lena walked the halls to the cell, smelling the refuse and mold, I felt snatches of V for Vendetta run through my mind. At other points I couldn't help but think of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. From teen romance, best friends, high school, and illegal parties to a totalitarian government, Oliver seamlessly weaves a classic tale of love with the danger and despair of a dystopia.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Shaun Tan Collection

Lost and Found
by Shaun Tan

Lost and Found is one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen. The reproductions are incredible; I found myself stroking some of the pages as if I might feel the texture of the paint. Each page is a marvel, with spaces that would be "empty" in other books containing layers of texture or related print. Shaun Tan's Arrival astonished me, but I've always found it difficult to get a hold of his other books in the United States. Now, there is no excuse. I have spent hours pouring over this book, dipping into a page or story, or reading from beginning to end, and I intend to spend many more hours marveling at the splendid work.

Each story has a weight to it, at once melancholic and fantastic, uplifting in its hidden details. The story of the rabbits is a dark, sad tale, based on our own history. The Red Tree more uplifting, finding magic in the world. The stories are deep, and the illustrations do them justice, extending and expanding them in unsuspected ways.

This is a book that needs to live on a table, not a shelf. Out where people can pick it up and become amazed by stories and images that will stay with them for weeks afterward.

Our copies have now arrived and I encourage lovers of picturebooks and graphic novels alike to take a few moments to sit with this incredible book.  


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Terrific Tuesdays: Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult

So there's this writer named Jodi Picoult.  Perhaps you've heard of her?  Unless you've been living under a rock for the last decade or so, your answer is no doubt a resounding "yes."  Her new book, Sing You Home, goes on sale Tuesday, March 1, and we want everybody to know about it.  Includes a CD of original songs that Jodi co-wrote with her friend, folk musician Ellen Wilber, created especially for this novel.

Summary: Every life has a soundtrack. All you have to do is listen.
Music has set the tone for most of Zoe Baxter's life. There's the melody that reminds her of the summer she spent rubbing baby oil on her stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. A dance beat that makes her think of using a fake ID to slip into a nightclub. A dirge that marked the years she spent trying to get pregnant. For better or for worse, music is the language of memory. It is also the language of love. Zoe Baxter has spent 10 years trying to get pregnant, and after multiple miscarriages and infertility issues, it looks like her dream is about to come true. But a terrible turn of events leads to a nightmare--one that takes away her unborn baby and breaks apart her marriage to Max.  Zoe throws herself into her career as a music therapist. When an unexpected friendship slowly blossoms into love, she makes plans for a new life, but to her shock and inevitable rage, some people -- even those she loves and trusts most -- don't want that to happen. Sing You Home is about identity, love, marriage, and parenthood. It's about people wanting to do the right thing for the greater good, even as they work to fulfill their own personal desires and dreams. And it's about what happens when the outside world brutally calls into question the very thing closest to our hearts: family.

This book is a subject close to our hearts here at the Odyssey and in the Pioneer Valley--not only is it about reproductive rights, but it takes on the issue of gay rights, too.  So we're extremely proud to host Jodi Picoult for a reading and booksigning on Monday, March 28.  Ellen Wilber will also perform songs on stage from the CD written exclusively for Sing You Home.   This event is free and open to the public, but we are asking people to contact us to reserve their free tickets in advance.  Purchase of Sing You Home is required if you want to meet Jodi and get a book signed.  You can find the full details at our website. We hope you'll join us for an exceptional evening!