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.