Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Happenings

We are in full holiday swing at Micawber's. Today at work, the phone started ringing before we even opened and rarely stopped. There was a steady flow of people all day. And UPS delivered eight big boxes of special order books. It may be too soon to tell, but so far this holiday season seems busier than the last two years.

Are people feeling more fiscally confident? Are they just sick of not buying stuff? Or are people realizing how excellent books are as gifts? Whatever the reason, I am very happy that our little bookstore is busy.

The biggest seller so far is The Autobiography of Mark Twain, vol. 1, which we actually have in stock (for the moment), but they are going fast!! This is followed closely by Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.

I love helping people find good books for gifts. Since I'm the "children's book person" at the store, I usually get questions like, "What's a good book for a 7 year old girl who is a good reader?" or "What's a good book for a boy who loved The Lightening Thief?"

But today I had a new challenge. A woman came in needing to buy five books for a gift exchange. This is the information she gave me:

- Man, 60's, likes military and mysteries
- Woman, 60's, doesn't read much
- Woman, 40's, eccentric
- Woman, 30's, interested in child psych
- Woman, 30's, likes Oprah books

I love a challenge! We walked around the store, I pulled out books, and we had a pile within 10 minutes. It was a lot of fun.

Here are our matches:
- Monuments Men by Robert Edsel
- Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
- Room by Emma Donoghue
- The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

On the kid's side of things, today I recommended The Last Apprentice series, The Book of Three, Otis, The Alchemyst, Ivy and Bean, Best Pet of All, and The Carrot Seed, among many others.

If you need book recommendations, we are your people. We'll have your gift list taken care of in no time. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bad Boy Obsession?

I'm starting to think my 12 year old daughter has a bad boy obsession.

First, it was a fascination with Jesse James at the age of 8. We read books about Jesse, listened to songs about him, and went to the "Defeat of Jesse James Days" in Northfield, MN.

Then there was a brief pirate period. Followed quickly by a longer, and still ongoing, fascination with Al Capone, which resulted in a family vacation to Chicago.

Now, it's The Outsiders. Granted, who doesn't love The Outsiders? But my daughter is taking it a little far. She's on her second reading of the book in one week. Plus, she watched the movie three times over the weekend. Now, she's dressed in blue jeans, Converse tennies, a white t-shirt, an open blue button down with rolled up sleeves, and has fairly greasy hair (she needs a shower.) She looks vaguely like Soda Pop, who is the cutest one.

I'm all for reading great books and The Outsiders is among the best for junior high kids. Also, the movie version of The Outsiders is excellent. The author, S.E. Hinton, even makes an appearance in the movie as the blond nurse that Dallas yells at in the hospital.

I just wonder where this Outsiders obsession will bring us. A trip to Oklahoma? Too bad we didn't go to the Caribbean when she was into pirates. Now that would have been a good vacation.

If you've never read The Outsiders, go to your nearest independent bookstore or library ASAP and pick up a copy. You won't regret it.

I wonder which bad boy my daughter will find fascinating next? Machiavelli? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Books

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and my thoughts turn to books. There are distinctly fewer Thanksgiving-related kids books than books about Christmas or even Halloween. But one book stands out for me as a unique and very cool book to read on Thanksgiving.

Sarah Morton's Day by Kate Waters is a book about a day in the life of Pilgrim girl, Sarah Morton. Using photos taken of costumed interpreters at Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum, Sarah Morton's Day brings a Pilgrim village to life.

While the book is not directly about Thanksgiving, it provides an excellent way of learning more about the Colonial English community in the 1600's. Instead of a cartoon version of Pilgrims and Indians sitting down together for a turkey dinner, this book could spark a real conversation about early English Americans and American Indians.

Incidentally, Plimouth Plantaion (in Plymouth, MA) offers a bicultural museum experience including history of the Wampanoag People. A good companion book to Sarah Morton's Day is Tapenum's Day by Kate Waters. Using the same historical-like photo concept, Tapenum's Day is about a Wampanoag boy during the time of the Pilgrims.

Both books are a little older - published in 1993 and 1996 - but are definitely worth looking up. They are a great way to "see" what life was like back in the Pilgrim days.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Garbage Trouble

As some of you may know, last year I had a run-in with the Garbage Police. Late at night as I walked home, I would toss our bag of store garbage into the trash can on the sidewalk in front of our building. But I got caught! Not once, not twice, but three times, the Garbage Police struck! Our tall white kitchen garbage bag ended up back on the store's front steps. I was being reprimanded.

I never figured out the true identity of the Garbage Police, but I learned my lesson. I have been dutifully disposing our store garbage in the proper trash receptacle behind the building.

Until now . . .

The dumpster is broken; it's overflowing; it's crazy disgusting! Plus, the other day, a squirrel jumped out at me and nearly gave me a heart attack!

So, what do I do with that lone tall white kitchen garbage bag full of trash? I carry it home. I put it in my own trash can. No Garbage Police or scary squirrel can get me now. Plus, if I get attacked on the way home, I can always whack the offender with a full, stinky garbage bag.

P.S. This photo is NOT our actual store dumpster. It is meant as representational only. I don't want to incriminate the people who should be FIXING (hint, hint) the dumpster.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter's Here; Come On Inside

After a very nice stretch of beautiful Fall weather, Winter has arrived in Minnesota. On Saturday, we got about 7 inches of wet, heavy snow. The paper said we received "a month's worth of snow in one day." Well, such is life on the great Northern plain. It's not like we didn't know snow was eventually coming. But, it was nice to be lulled for awhile.

I worked on Saturday (the Great Snow Day) and was convinced that traffic at the store would be so slow that I could literally fall asleep on the front counter and no one would notice. But, thankfully, that was not the case. We ended up having a steady flow of customers all day. In fact, five minutes before closing a couple came in that had never been there before and ended up buying about 12 books. Great way to end the day.

I am once again reminded of two things:
1. People in Minnesota are hardy. They don't let a little thing like 7 inches of heavy snow get in their way of a fun Saturday night.

2. Books and bookstores have a pull on people. When the weather outside is frightful, inside the cozy bookstore is delightful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Strings Attached

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to meet and eat dinner with Judy Blundell, award-winning author of What I Saw and How I Lied. She was in town promoting her forthcoming young adult novel, Strings Attached.

Under various pseudonyms, Blundell has authored over 100 New York Times best-selling titles. But, Blundell chose to use her real name for her two teen literary novels. Her first, What I Saw and How I Lied was awarded the National Book Award when it came out in 2008.

Strings Attached is Blundell's new novel, coming out in March 2011. I read the Advance Reader for Strings Attached and thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is set in Providence, Rhode Island and New York City during the 1950's. Kit Corrigan, a teenage girl with desire and talent for the stage, flees her family in Providence to "make it" in New York. She is totally unprepared and ends up accepting help from an unlikely source - the father of her estranged boyfriend. Unfortunately, Nate Benedict is a lawyer for the mob and any time you accept help from the mob, it comes with "strings attached."

I recommend this book for teens and adults interested in New York, the 1950's, gangsters, and Broadway. Blundell weaves just the right amount of history into this fast-paced, suspenseful story. Check it out (in March), I think you'll enjoy it!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Suzanne Collins

I already have blogged extensively about The Hunger Games Trilogy and how fabulous the books are. But, I wanted to add this cool photo to the mix.

This is a picture of my daughter and Suzanne Collins at the Midwest Bookseller's Association, Children's Book Breakfast. Micawber's amazing Scholastic rep, Terribeth, gave me two tickets to sit at Suzanne Collins' table.

As Hans, my boss and co-owner of Micawber's says, "We don't pay very much but there are definite perks." Having breakfast with an author I greatly admire is definitely a perk.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dick and Jane and Vampires

When Pride and Prejudice and Zombies first came out, it was quirky and funny. Monsters infused into a classic was a unique and humorous idea. But now, many monsters later, I'm getting pretty sick of this new "genre." When I saw Android Karenina, I knew we had officially moved into the realm of "beating a dead horse."

But, then a new book arrived at the store: Dick and Jane and Vampires. Yes, it is once again a monster-infused classic. But, this time I'd like to believe it's laughing at itself. The original Dick and Jane books are goofy enough, but then throw in a vampire and it's pretty darn funny.

My favorite line is said by Jane: "Look out Mother! Look out behind you!" The illustration shows a black-cloaked vampire following mother into the sweet shop. It really is funny to read the stilted dialogue and see the original pictures, except there is a vampire lurking around.

I understand if you, like me, don't want to see another classic made into a monster- mashup. What's next, Moby Dragon? But, if you do get a chuckle out of quirky, tongue-in-cheek humor, you might want to check out Dick and Jane and Vampires. It's good for a laugh.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Baby Mamba!

Last Saturday, October 30, we had a fun, "snakey" event at Micawber's. Author Kurtis Scaletta read from his new middle-grade novel, Mamba Point, and talked about his inspiration for writing the book. Also, in attendance was Kurtis' new baby boy, Byron, decked out in a baby mamba costume! Byron was so darn cute and not poisonous-looking at all.

This photo is of Kurtis and his unhappy, little mamba baby. Byron was probably upset because he didn't get any "snake snacks." The snacks available were gummy snakes (worms), straight pretzels, and Twix candy bars. Snakes, Sticks & Twix. I thought it was fairly clever.

The event was a lot of fun and Kurtis had much to say about the background for Mamba Point. Apparently, when Kurtis lived in Liberia as a kid, his neighborhood was called Mamba Point. Kurtis did have two encounters with deadly Black Mambas during his time in Africa. One was shortly after his arrival when, like Linus in the book, an African man came running at him with a machete raised high! Instead of attacking Kurtis (or Linus), the man hacked up a Mamba at the boy's feet. That just doesn't happen in St. Paul.

The other Black Mamba encounter was when one slithered right in front of Kurtis and a group of his friends. The boys all froze, which is appropriate when a Mamba is passing by. After the Mamba was gone, one boy said to Kurtis, "You looked like you wanted to touch it." Thus, another inspiration for Kurtis' character Linus, who does indeed touch a Black Mamba.

But, you'll have to read the book to find out what happens to Linus and the snake!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Books by Minnesota Authors & Illustrators

Fall is definitely here and so are many new children's books by Minnesota authors and illustrators!

Today I went to the store early. The kids' section has been getting out of control! So I rearranged the teen and middle grade books and created a new Minnesota table.

Here's a round up of some of the new kids' books by Minnesota authors and illustrators:

Picture Books:

BIG BELCHING BOG by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen.
- Great combination of Phyllis' writing style and Betsy's woodcut illustrations.

- The Minnesota State Fair is over, but you can hang on to it all through Debra's book.

THE SNEAKY SHEEP by Chris Monroe.
- Chris Monroe, of Monkey With A Toolbelt fame, has done it again.

HENRY AND THE BULLY by Nancy Carlson.
- This summer I saw some of Nancy's illustrations at the Chicago Institute of Art. Way to go Nancy!

THE PRINCESS AND HER PANTHER by Wendy Orr, illustrated by Lauren Stringer.
- Lauren does a great job with this imaginative picture book.

ONE PUP'S UP by Marsha Wilson Chall, illustrated by Henry Cole.
- The perfect simplicity of Marsha's text makes me jealous and very happy for her!

Chapter Books and Novels:

MAMBA POINT by Kurtis Scaletta.
- Kurtis lived in Liberia for awhile as a kid so he knows what he's talking about. But, unlike the protagonist, Kurtis did not communicate with black mambas, which is a good thing. We're having a snakey MAMBA POINT event at the store on Saturday, October 30 at 11:00 am.

- This is the third book in the Julia Gillian series which takes place in Minneapolis.

BINK AND GOLLIE by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
- Just out, this fun collaboration between Kate and Alison is sure to be a hit!

- This is the first book in a fun, new series.

MAGIC BELOW STAIRS by Caroline Stevermer.
- Here's a new Victorian fantasy for middle grade readers.

- The two girl detectives are back with more mysteries to solve.

HAMSTER MAGIC by Lynne Jonell.
- Soon to be out. We're having a HAMSTER MAGIC event at the store on Saturday, October 16 at 11:00 am!

Wow! There are definitely a lot of great children's authors and illustrators from this state. If you're in the area, stop by Micawber's and check out our new display.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dress Code

Last week I suddenly noticed that I was the only person who ever wears shorts to work. I had a flash of doubt - was I too casual, too unprofessional? Not only was I wearing shorts that very day, but had been all summer long! It's been hot, so I naturally reach for shorts. But, perhaps I had crossed a line. Maybe I was violating the "professional booksellers dress code!" So I asked Hans.

Hans, as always, listened to my question and gave me his thoughtful response. Yes, I was indeed the only one to wear shorts at work, but he did not see a problem. As he put it, "there is no dress code problem here."

He went on to say that he had only seen Tom in shorts once, and it wasn't at work. And he doubted that Karen ever wore shorts. Hans said he likes shorts but had decided a while ago not to wear them to work.

Oh no, I thought. Hans likes shorts and he's not wearing them. It's because he wants to be professional! Now I felt sure that all summer long I had been committing a huge bookselling faux pas!

Hans, seeing that I was still concerned, relayed this story: Before Micawber's, Hans, Tom and Karen all worked at The Hungry Mind Bookstore (later named Ruminator). The bookstore was located very close to a small, liberal arts college and they sometimes employed college students at the store.

One year, there was a college employee on staff that did cross the dress code line. And he gave them no end of trouble because he just wouldn't be convinced that he was doing anything inappropriate. His dress code error? His professional bookseller blunder?

He refused to wear shoes.

I guess my shorts aren't so bad after all.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


A week ago Tuesday, MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins was released. I had the day off and I read the entire book in one day. It was excellent! MOCKINGJAY was a great conclusion to the very compelling, thought-provoking HUNGER GAMES series for teen and adult readers.

Two people recently asked me about the premise and message in these books. On the surface, THE HUNGER GAMES is about a televised competition where teenagers fight to the death. There can be only one winner of the Hunger Games. This sounds pretty gruesome. And it is.

But the story is about so much more. It's about human nature related to war and peace. It's about the lengths a government will go to to preserve its power and control. It's about the strength of human character in the face of evil. It's also a darn good, suspenseful adventure.

Katniss Everdeen, our heroine, volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games, for anyone from District 12, usually means certain death. Thus, begins her journey from girl-who-provides-for-her-family to the Girl-On-Fire.

As Katniss continues to survive and gather supporters around the country, the revolutionary leaders want her to become their symbol, their Mockingjay. While the first two books deal primarily with the Hunger Games, the third book focuses on the growing resistance movement and ultimate revolution against the Capitol.

I will not give away the ending, but I'll say that it got me thinking. Thinking about what it means to be good or bad, right or wrong, and the question, "Does the end ever justify the means?" Katniss wonders these things too, and is empowered to act on her final convictions.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Al Capone's Chicago

Last week, my family and I vacationed in the Windy City, aka Chicago. In case you're interested in where names come from, the "Windy City" does not refer to how much wind comes off Lake Michigan, but rather that early city promoters were called "wind bags" for their efforts to make Chicago seems greater than it was.

The name Chicago is a French derivation of an earlier Native American word that loosely means, "heap of big, stinking onions." Apparently there were a lot of wild onions and garlic in the area. This is also what I called my husband after he ate a particularly potent onion sandwich.

We were in Chicago for a specific reason - to learn more about Al Capone, the 20's and prohibition. My 12-year-old daughter continues her fascination with old-timey gangsters thus the Chicago vacation.

Our hotel, The Blackstone, is a historic hotel right on Michigan Avenue. Al Capone used to get his haircut in the barbershop there. The baseball bat scene from the UNTOUCHABLES movie was filmed at the hotel. The Blackstone offered a package called "Good to be a Gangster" which included a copy of the movie, a signed copy of a new book about Al Capone, and tickets to the Untouchables Tour of Chicago.

The Untouchables Tour was a highlight of our trip. The picture above shows one of our guides as we drove around town in a black school bus. We learned all about prohibition and Chicago crooks as we drove past historic places such as Al Capone's former headquarters and the site of the Valentine's Day Massacre. Pretty interesting, gruesome stuff, but these guys made it very compelling and fun.

The book we received, which my daughter is now reading, is worth a look for anyone interested in Al Capone, his rise to power, and eventual capture. It's called GET CAPONE by Jonathan Eig, published by Simon & Shuster.

Besides being hotter than hades the week we were there, Chicago was a lot of fun. We ate deep dish pizza, visited museums, rode the EL, and, of course, learned about Al Capone. And fortunately, it did not smell like rotting onions.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer Days

It's already July and full summer here in Minnesota. Yesterday was the annual neighborhood parade complete with:

- Marching Girl Scouts (including me and my daughter),
- The Pig's Eye Jass Band,
- Patriotic Essay Winners riding in a convertible,
- Seniors from Park Home in their wheelchairs,
- The Anaphylactic and Food Allergy group,
- Friends of the Library,
- Some bagpipers,
- Some clowns,
- A fire engine,
- & lastly neighborhood kids on decorated bikes and wagons.

The rain held off and the parade was fun, as was the picnic that followed in the park. Ahhh. It's summer time. Time for some good summer reading.

I'm reading several summer books. One is FODOR'S CHICAGO 2010 because we're planning a trip in August. My daughter has a fascination (obsession) with Al Capone, so we'll be doing the Gangster Tour while we're there. To prepare, my daughter is reading AL CAPONE: A BIOGRAPHY by Luciano Iorizzo.

I, on the other hand, am working on THE NEW YORK TIMES MILD CROSSWORDS. These 150 "very easy puzzles" are fun because I can actually complete one with only two or three cheats! I'm obviously not a crossword master.

I'm also reading:
WOMEN, FOOD, AND GOD by Geneen Roth
WELL BEING by Tom Rath and Jim Harter
ON THE BLUE COMET by Rosemary Wells

Whew! Like I told Hans the other day - we need to add an 8th day to each week just for reading! Wouldn't that be great? Happy summer reading everyone.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

I've said it before and I'll say it again. One of the best things about working at a bookstore is getting to read Advance Reader Copies of new books, especially highly anticipated ones like the new Stieg Larsson!

I just finished THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST by Stieg Larsson. The American publication date is May 25, 2010. This is the third (and sadly, last) installment in Larsson's excellent mystery series starring Lisbeth Salander.

I devoured the book, just as I did the first two, but this time was different. I knew it was the last one. And not intended to be so.

As most Stieg Larsson fans know, Larsson died shortly after delivering the first three manuscripts to his Swedish publisher. But it was not supposed to be a trilogy. He apparently was planning to write a 10 book series. Unfortunately for us, that will never be.

Without giving anything away, I will say I was disappointed at the end of THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST. It was a great "middle novel," meaning it moved us along and answered many questions raised at the end of the second book. But, by no means did this feel like a final book. Why? Way too many loose ends were left open.

There is a literary technique known as Checkov's gun that basically says, "If you place a rifle on the wall in chapter 1, it had better go off by the last chapter." In other words, when you include an intriguing plot element, you need to follow it through. In my opinion, Larsson skillfully laid out several "rifles" for us in the first two books, but some of these are never "fired." The epilogue in book three ties up a few loose ends, but not nearly enough.

I have heard rumor of a fourth partial manuscript by Larsson. But there may be a legal battle going on regarding it's ownership. We can only hope it is substantial enough to one day make a fourth novel in the series.

Until then, read THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST with relish since it's the last chance you'll get, at least for a while.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Waiting for Baby

At Micawber's, we are in a waiting game this week. When will Baby W show up? Han's wife is due on Saturday, but you never know with babies. They come when they feel like it.

Today I'm "on call" just in case. With all the excitement and anticipation, I bet Baby will decide to come late.

Either way, it's a great time for babies and new life and all things growing. Spring has definitely sprung and I can't say enough about how happy that makes me (and most Minnesotans)!

Last night was our first big thunderstorm. Today everything genuinely looks greener. And it smells good too.

So, hurry up Baby W! We can't wait to meet you and share Springtime with you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Garbage Police Strikes Twice

There is a Garbage Police in our Micawber's neighborhood. And he (or she) has now struck twice!

Last week I was closing the store. It was around 8:30 pm and I had two small bags of garbage to take out. We are supposed to put our garbage in the big dumpster out back. But, I was heading the other way. And frankly, I don't love going to the dumpster at night. It's dark and creepy and recently I saw a rubber glove of unknown origin on the ground. Plus, when you share a dumpster with a restaurant, all manner of nasty can appear.

So, I took my two small bags of garbage with me out the front door when I left. I placed them into the garbage receptacle on the sidewalk and went home.

The next morning, poor Karen found the same two garbage bags plopped on Micawber's front stoop! They had been ravaged by squirrels. (Apparently, there was 1/2 a sandwich in one bag.)
She wondered if I had forgotten to throw the trash away. But, when I arrived at work that day, I assured everyone that I had indeed put the bags in the garbage can.

So, someone actually dug into the garbage can, took out our two bags, and put them on our front steps.

I felt embarrassed. Apparently someone had seen me throw our trash into the city garbage can on the sidewalk. I know these cans are primarily meant for lunch-time strollers, dog walkers and coffee drinkers, but I had no idea it was such an enormous deal to deposit two, small bags of garbage there as well. I was wrong.

That day I vowed to never put Micawber's garbage into the city can again. I am, once again, facing chicken guts and possible kidnappers in order to place our garbage in the correct receptacle.

I thought the garbage drama was over. But then, the Garbage Police (dare I say Trash Nazi) struck again!

Yesterday morning, I opened the store and found a single bag of garbage sitting on our front steps. When I questioned Hans about it, he admitted to hurriedly putting a bag in the sidewalk can the night before.

The ever-vigilant protector of the city waste had discovered the bag and brought it back home. This time I noticed there was an envelope in the bag that had our address right on it. Aaah. Perhaps the Garbage Police is not a nosy neighbor watching us each night, but rather the trash collector himself in the morning.

Either way, I am tempted (slightly) to put some garbage bags in the can, sleep overnight at the store, and catch the Garbage Police in action. This is probably the only way to find out his/her true identity. Remember, this is Minnesota so the garbage is placed on our steps without a note. Just a Minnesota reprimand to not use the city garbage cans.

Monday, March 29, 2010

13 Treasures

This has been a good season for new children's books. One middle grade novel that arrived at the store today is 13 TREASURES by Michelle Harrison. I read the advance reader copy a couple months ago and really enjoyed it!

13 TREASURES is the story of Tanya who can see fairies, but wishes she didn't. They are not the kind, lovely little fairies you might imagine. These fairies tend to cause a lot of trouble (and sometimes actual pain) for Tanya. Tanya is sent to live with her grandmother in an old, secluded mansion near a strange town in Essex, England. Tanya begins to explore the mansion, the woods nearby, and encounters more fairies who torment her. And, of course, there are mysteries to solve along the way.

Harrison, who is from Essex, did a lot of research about fairy lore and myth for 13 TREASURES, which is her first book. One belief Harrison discovered, that makes its way into the book, is that wearing the color red helps protect you against fairies.

Luckily I like the color red and will be wearing it much more frequently now that I know its protective powers. I don't want to take any chances and perhaps meet some of the fairies Tanya encounters!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Nest for Celeste

As a bookseller and children's book buyer for Micawber's, I receive many ARCs each season. ARCs are Advance Reader Copies of books that are forthcoming. The idea is that publishers send booksellers ARCs in the hopes that they read the new books, buy them, and most importantly hand-sell them. The power of hand-selling is tremendous and publishers know this.

Unfortunately, there is no way any bookseller can read all the ARCs he/she receives. When I first started working at Micawber's, I was so excited by all the free books that I took stacks and stacks home. Now, a year and 1/2 later, my house, which already held hundreds of books, is threatening to explode! So, I'm being more choosy about which ARCs I take home with me.

The ARC I'm reading now is so delightful that I wanted to tell you about it. It's a middle grade reader by Henry Cole called A NEST FOR CELESTE. Cole is the illustrator of many books for children. He has also written and illustrated children's books including, JACK'S GARDEN which we have at the store.

A NEST FOR CELESTE reminds me of THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick, not because of subject matter, but because of format. Almost every page of the book has black and white illustrations that enhance the story. I love Cole's depiction of Celeste, the cute little mouse who is looking for a place to call home.

Celeste encounters many adventures and creatures (human and animal) along her path. Two humans that are central to the story are John James Audubon and his young assistant Joseph. I have always been interested in the real-life Audubon, of BIRDS OF AMERICA fame, and Cole weaves historical details into the story well.

A NEST FOR CELESTE is set in the 1820's on a plantation outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, where Audubon actually stayed for several months. But, the heart of the story is really about a little mouse named Celeste. And as Cole says himself, it's also "A Story About Art, Inspiration and the Meaning of Home."

A NEST FOR CELESTE was published in February 2010 and should be available now at your local, independent bookseller. If you like nature, history, art or cute little mice, you will definitely enjoy this book.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Welcome Back!

Apparently I took January and most of February off from blogging, but I'm back!

So here is my rundown of all things Micawber's for January and February, 2010:

- Inventory Day! Once each year, at the beginning of January, we take stock of all the stock. This involves Hans asking all his friends and many relations to come help us out. We work in teams or solo. We take down EVERY book in the store and jot down the price and quantity.

Example: $16.99 /// (This means three books at $16.99.)

You get the idea. We start around 9 am and finish around 3 pm. We don't officially close the store, so a few brave souls venture in for a look around amidst the organized chaos. Inventory Day might sound like a drag, but it's actually kind of fun. At least it's fun one time a year.

- Karen goes to England every other year for the month of January and this was her year to go. She accompanies her husband and about 20 of his Hamline theater students for a month of study and fun on the emerald island.

This is what I noticed while Karen was gone:
1. 3 workers is not as good as 4 workers. Even in January, which is typically a slower month, I felt the lack of our 4th partner.
2. I helped with the filing while Karen was gone. I now have a much greater appreciation for that part of her job.
3. The guys were not as fastidious about cleaning in January. Luckily, we got a new vacuum cleaner and all is better now.

- I had surgery in February. As soon as we were back to 4 people, I went in for minor surgery and the store was back to 3 people for a while. Not only did they have to deal with a heavier work load, they also had to deal with . . .

- Lots of Water! There was a bad leak in the store ceiling while I was gone. It would come in periodic rushes from the apartment upstairs. Thank God it ended up being from the sink, not the toilet! It's all fixed now. And by some miracle, only three books were damaged.

Typically January and February are slow months in the book business. But, here at Micawber's we had lots of excitement!