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!