Friday, December 28, 2007

2008 begins with a BANG!

We have some great authors coming in January, including some of the biggest names in kids books!

In just under two weeks on the 9th of January, Joanne Harris will be here reading from and discussing her new fantasy chapter book Runemarks. Joanne Harris is the author of the book Chocolat, and Runemarks is her children's book debut.

Some very lucky Little Shop of Stories customers got advanced copies of the book and they are loving it. In fact, Abby, one of our readers, just walked up to the counter and said "it was really good!"

According to Nick, son of Diane, "It's an awesome fantasy, and the best book I've read all year." We're excited about hosting Joanne's first stop on her book tour. Please stop by and meet her.

On Friday, January 11th, one of our local favorites, Carmen Agra Deedy, will be reading from her new book Martina the Beautiful Cockroach and signing at the Decatur Library and we will be there as the bookseller on hand! When she came last month to the store we had a great time. She's an incredibly engaging, wonderful storyteller. Come see her at the Decatur Library!

Jon Scieszka is one of the biggest names in kids books, and he's coming here! On Tuesday, January 15th, the author of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The Math Curse, the Time Warp Trio series, and many, many others, will be her signing his new book Smash! Crash!, the first book in his new series Truck Town. Truck Town is a world much like a local preschool, only everybody is a truck of some sort. Dump truck, garbage truck, ice cream truck -- you name it, Truck Town's got it!

Jon's website ( says more about him than we ever could, so go there to see all of his great books, and find out about his organization Guys Read, an effort to help guys find good books they'll like to read, and to become lifelong readers. Looking for a guy's reccomendation? Check out the Guys Read website at Meanwhile, for a great truck book, come hear Jon read from Smash! Crash!

You've heard the story -- though we do suspect a bit of Urban Legend -- that Diane has wanted to be a children's bookseller since she was a wee one. Regardless, she did go through a period where kids books were not all that, a period of time we refer to as "The Latency Period," when she did not have children -- or children's books for that matter -- to call her own.

Fast forward to Christmas 1997: Diane purchases a copy of The Cinder Eyed Cats by Eric Rohmann on a complete "I really like the cover of this book" whim for her baby boy, Nick. Together, Diane and Nick fall into this book and fall in love with it (as well as each other --ah, the power of children's books!), and Diane's love for children's book is reignited.

Cinder Eyed Cats
is a lushly illustrated, sparsely worded book about a young boy on a dream-like adventure. It's probably not a stretch to say that this book, and by extension, its author, had much to do with the birth of Little Shop.

This is just our long way of saying that we are honored to host Eric Rohmann at The Shop on January 18th at 4pm. Since Cinder Eyed Cats, Eric has won a Caldecott medal for My Friend Rabbit, as well as penned and illustrated one of our all time favorite picture books, Clara and Asha. He will be visiting us to share his latest book, A Kitten Tale, the story of some skittish kitties and their first snowfall. We truly hope you will join us for this very, very special event.

So come hear some great authors read from great new books, and see you in 2008!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Whoosh! Happy Holidays and see you next year!

WOW! We've been so busy here at Little Shop that we haven't had time to update the blog in like, forever!

Okay, maybe just a week or two. But it has been busy. Last night we had hot chocolate and cookies for our Winter Solstice story time, and wonderful live music. It was fun, and lots of folks dropped by who were at the Decatur Bonfire

including Santa Clause!

I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, and he said a long week's rest after the 25th. I said "great!" and proceeded to put some fun things to read in his hands for all that time he's got coming.

What did I suggest? Well, it's mostly stuff I've been reading, like Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Jane Yolen's beautiful Owl Moon, or the forthcoming book from Jessica Day George (of the very fun Dragon Slippers) called Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. I just finished reading this book and it has gone to the top of my favorites of the season list!

Enjoy these and other snowy titles until we meet again next year!

Yours in books,

Little Shop of Stories

Monday, December 10, 2007

It's Seventy Degrees Outside! Get Your New Cold Weather Guide!

The sun is shining.
The grass is green.
The oak and magnoila trees sway . . .

It may be freakishly warm right now in Decatur --we've had several patrons in shorts and sleeveless tops in the past few days-- but that doesn't mean you shouldn't snap up a copy of the new Pocket Field Guide for Cold Weather (2007-2008) from our friends at the Duck & Herring Co.

Many of you have already enjoyed the goodness squeezed into D&H's Pocket Field Guides: the timely (and delicious!) recipes, the engaging short fiction, the handy To Dos, the helpful (and winsome!) nonfiction pieces, all handily packaged in a format that is easily carried in purse or pocket--ever at the ready to entertain and delight while you are stuck standing in a long line, are delaying some unpleasant task, or perhaps just have a cup of tea/coffee/cocoa and need something good to read for the next half hour.
Others of you have heard about the PFG (or have seen it at our store), but still aren't quite sure what it is, exactly.
Perhaps even more of you are still in the dark about the whole thing.

But no matter where you stand on the locally-edited, Atlanta-based literary companion, we invite you to come in and give the newest edition a try. Inside you will find How To Dress in Layers; A Frostbite Warning; Pinecone arts & crafts; fiction by authors from Minnesota, the Soviet Union, Los Angeles, and Germany; plus suggested things To Do during the duration of the cold weather, and an authentic recipe for Oyster Stew. But these are only a few of the many things available to you in this compactly compelling collection.

Perfect for your brother in-law's stocking, your mother's bookshelf, or your office's Secret Santa pool, the Pocket Field Guide for Cold Weather 2007-08 is on sale now for only $9. Visit their site for subscriptions and submissions:

Friday, December 7, 2007

Hey Kids, Comics!

Well, the American Library Association's Great Graphic Novels list for 2007 has just been announced, and there are some great books on that list. We carry several of the titles on the list, and graphic novels are really coming into their own as books with stories as exhilarating and brilliant as anything else on the bookshelves. This puts me in mind to talk about some of our graphic novel faves here at Little Shop of Stories:

The Owly books by Andy Runton are great for pre-readers, beginning readers, and early readers. Great artwork highlights these wordless stories of a little owl and his friends as they have light, fun adventures and learn about friendship, loyalty, and acceptance. Andy Runton is another local author, and his publisher, Atlanta's own Top Shelf, is one of the finest comics and graphic novel publishers around.

Perfect for every budding ballet dancer, To Dance is the memoir of Siena Cherson Siegel, as illustrated by her husband Mark Siegel. Siena tells of her inspiration to dance when she saw Maya Plisetskaya of the Bolshoi perform in Swan Lake when Siena was young, her early days training at the American School of Ballet, and her struggles both at home and with the exhausting, rigorous life of a ballerina. Her husband's art is wonderful, perfectly capturing the wonder and delight of a young girl fascinated and determined to succeed in the best ballet school in the country.

If you've read every volume of Jeff Smith's Bone, and you're looking for a new series to sink your teeth into, look no further than Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet series. The first volume just arrived, and it's an amazing fantazy filled with sinister demons, cool robots, and talking animals. Here's the book description from the publisher:

"After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world. Together with Miskit, a small mechanical rabbit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves."

Owly art from Andy Runton's website: Go there and check out all his fun art and stuff (including the cutest Owly hats ever!)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Piper Reed, Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt, Reviewed by Jennifer, age 6

Piper Reed, Navy Brat is a good book. It is about a girl that has to move alot 'cause her dad is in the Navy. She has to make a lot of friends, and she is good at it too. Piper Reed is a feisty, fun girl, and her little sister is really smart! Her big sister is sort of mean and sort of nice. When Piper grows up, she wants to be one of the Blue Angels-Navy pilots that are real daredevils- and I think she could do it!

My Mommy-Daughter book group read Piper Reed and then we got to meet the author, Kimberly Willis Holt, and she signed our books. We talked to her about how she came up with the story and found out that it is a story about her life as a kid! We learned from her that all fiction stories are real in some ways. Kimberly Willis Holt also told us that Piper Reed will be a series and I can't wait to read the next book!

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

For those of you new to Little Shop, you might not yet know that The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is one of our all time store favorites for middle grade and YA readers, as well as adult readers of children's literature. And whether you are new or not to this wonderful book, with the movie due in theatres on December 7th, you might have heard the bubbling controversy around this book.

Golden Compass is the story of Lyra, a fiendishly smart and plucky girl destined to save the world. Lyra does not live in our world; rather she lives in a world parallel to ours but very much like what you'd expect to find in Oxford England, with the addition of talking polar bears, zeppelins, and daemons: the physical, animal manifestation of a person's soul.

The controversy surrounds the author Philip Pullman and his faith, or lack thereof. Pullman is an atheist, and some people use that as an argument to not read Golden Compass, or the sequels The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. Justin, a Little Shop bookseller, is the husband of a Presbyterian minister and he thinks The Golden Compass is as theologically engaging and interesting as the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis.

If the fear is that he's somehow hidden an "atheist agenda" in these books, then consider this: if the point of the books is to make an argument for a world without God or religion, then why have the central conflict be about the literal struggle between Good and Evil for control of children's innocent souls? Doesn't that sink any notion of a faithless world? Besides, we haven't seen any huge growth of young witches or wizards in the wake of Harry Potter, and we don't expect any upswing in child atheism either.

Regardless of what Pullman personally believes, this is a wonderful book with an amazing story, inventive characters, and no matter what your faith, truly engages readers of all ages, beliefs, and opinions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex: A Review by Nick, Age 11 and All Around Good Guy

Greetings residents of Smekland! I have come to you to tell you about this new book by Adam Rex called The True Meaning of Smekday. Gratuity Tucci, age 13, has been asked to write a story for the national time capsule contest. Where to begin? The part where she drives a floating car to the Happy Mouse Kingdom? Or maybe when she waits out a hurricane in a junkyard? Maybe the part in which she narrowly escapes death? Oh, and by the way, earth has been invaded by aliens, known as Boovs. Twice. The theme? I'd say the book is a combo FantasySciFiComedy novel. It's even complete with comics. The True Meaning of Smekday is a great Smekday gift for any young Boov because it's hilarious!

Editor's Note: No aliens were harmed in the making of this blog review.

Editor's P.S.-- Don't believe our reviewer? Go here for an awesome countdown of top ten reasons to read The True Meaning of Smekday by it's two main characters, Gratuity Tucci and J-Lo the Boovian!

Publishers rock too!

We've talked a lot here about our love for local authors and illustrators--after all, Decatur is chock full of them. Well, last week we had two local folks in signing their book. The book is The Monster Who Did My Math, written by Danny Schnitzlein and illustrated by Bill Mayer.

Both guys are great, and they had a tremendous turnout. So great a turnout, that the book is a top seller of ours for the whole month of November! Lots of folks came in, excited to see Danny and Bill, and excited to see the book.

How did that happen? Who made that happen? Why, the publisher, of course! Our very own Atlanta-based Peachtree Publishers. They did a great job of putting the word out about the book signing, and drummed up lots of local support for Danny and Bill.

They publish other great books too-- like Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Agra Deedy. And in just a couple of weeks (on December 8, to be precise) we're hosting a book signing by her!

So, in all our talk of great authors and great illustrators and the fantastic books they create, let's not forget the people who make it all possible: the publishers. Especially the publishers who are dedicated to taking a chance on quality books that otherwise might be missed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coloring Page Tuesday: Here come the Holidays!

Well, we're just getting over the last holiday and suddenly a new one is upon us! Courtesy, as always, of Elizabeth Dulemba and her blog, here's the first in what I'm guessing will be a month of holiday coloring pages!

Remember, if you like what you color, feel free to email a (low res) copy to Ms. Dulemba and she'll post it on her blog!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Coloring Pages

It's time again to check in with our friend Elizabeth Dulemba and her coloring pages. Have a great Thanksgiving with this slightly anxious turkey.And you can relieve his worries by printing out the picture, coloring it, and sending a (low-res) copy to Ms. Dulemba at Gobble gobble, everyone!

What We're Thankful For

This past summer, in the middle of the Decatur Book Festival, I got a call from my sister. We chatted a little, and when she found out that the one and only Judy Schachner was here, my sister told me of a fellow teacher who loves Skippy John Jones.

"You have to get a book signed for her, I'll even pay you extra."

I told her don't worry about it, and that I'd be happy to do it. Except I then forgot.

Flash forward to the last day of the festival, and the wonderful Ms. Schachner was signing books and talking to a small group of women at our store. I meekly intruded and begged her to sign a book for my sister's co-worker.

She laughed and happily obliged.

I mailed the book and a stuffed Skippy toy to my sister, and promptly forgot again.

Two weeks ago, I got this in the mail:

Our wonderful manager, Terra McVoy, has a saying: there is a book for every person, and a person for every book.

We are so thankful for moments like this, when we are able to help great authors get great books to great people. Thank you Judy Schachner, thank you Mrs. Baker's Class, and thanks to each and every person who has stopped by Little Shop of Stories and found some magical book to take home with them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Children's Book Week: Postscript

Well, it's been great fun this week, talking all about our favorite books of the year. If only it were Children's Book Month, or even Fortnight, we have so many more books to rave about! Thanks to all the folks who came by the store and checked out the books and commented on them (and bought them!).

Finally, we can't let a best of the year list go by without mentioning an obscure little title we loved loved loved:

Yeah, we realize there was much hype and attention surrounding the summer release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, but despite all that, we feel that it is truly deserving of much recognition as one of our favorite books of 2007.

Some us -- Those Who Shall Not Be Named -- still get goosebumps when talking about HP7. For us, it was the perfect culmination, a literary casting off of a great story, a graduation of sorts for the many years we had spent at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, which if you think about, was really more than 7 years since we had to wait so long in between books.

We are so proud of Harry- he really has grown into a fine young man. HP7 was a true coming of age tale, and we look forward to sharing Harry's story with new readers for many, many years to come.

And yes, we really do like Snape.

Children's Book Week: Day 5

Last day for Children's Book Week here -- *sniff* -- and we're doubling up on some yummy picture books. So far we've witheld the hyperbole, but there are some books you can only describe with words like "awesome-y awesome-ness," and "beauty-mous." These are two such books:

Toy Boat by Randall de Seve and Loren Long is great in the way that only picture books can be, funny and earnest at once: beauty-mous!

A boy makes a toy boat, and takes the toy boat wherever he goes, even to the bath with him, even to bed with him. When they visit the lake, the little toy boat wants to play out in the waves with the bigger boats, but the boy never lets go of the string that keeps his toy boat close.

Until one day, the boy lets go, and the toy boat gets to float free.

And I can't go on because it's too great. Loren Long (Mr. Peabody's Apples, The Little Engine that Could)'s sumptuous illustrations emphasize the power of the larger boats the toy boat dreams of joining, as well as the lush depth of the ocean, and, ultimately the warmth shared between the boy and his little boat. A great book for little boat-builders eager to sail off to their own horizons, and the moms and dads who want to keep them close to shore.

And now for the Awesome-y Awesome-ness:

Just so you know, the entire time you've been reading this entry, the squid in I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry has been saying it's bigger than that other book up in the corner. And this blog. And you! And the truth is, the giant squid IS bigger than anything else! HE IS THE BIGGEST THING IN THE OCEAN! Bigger than those shrimp! This clam! Even that shark!

Except, well, you and I both know there are some pretty ginormous things out there in the ocean besides squids.

See if this silly, brightly-colored, super-duper pre-school read-aloud knows that there are bigger things in the ocean, too. We guarantee this is a story that is no small peanuts!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Children's Book Week: Day 4

We are winding down our week (only one day to go!) and today our focus is on two exceptional Young Adult novels published this year to much acclaim:

If you haven't read anything by Alan Gratz, now is the time, so you can be one of those who says, "Oh, I knew Alan back before he was famous." Alan's most recent book, Something Rotten: A Horatio Wilkes Mystery, a modern day Hamlet, is a clever retelling with a twist -- our wisecracking narrator-detective, Horatio Wilkes, is straight out of a Raymond Chandler novel. Horatio, on school break, arrives in Denmark, TN to visit his best friend Hamiliton, only to find that much is truly rotten in Denmark. Hamiliton's dad is dead, and it looks like murder -- his uncle has married his mother, and someone is polluting the town's river. Horatio is quickly on the case but distractions intercede and our hero must pull all the clues together before it is too late.

In Catherine Jinks' Evil Genius, protagonist Cadel Piggott is a genius, of the nefarious sort. At the age of 7, he is already hacking into computers and wreaking havoc on city infrastructure; soon after, his psychologist urges his adoptive parents to enroll him in an elite private school. Cadel soon discovers that it is really a front for for the Axis Institute, an educational institution that teaches "special" teens everything they need to know in World Domination, including embezzlement, disguise, forgery, lying, guerrilla warfare, and, well, you get the picture. Although he is initially entranced by his new-found place in this world and intoxicated by the carrot of power dangled before him, Cadell quickly learns the fine lines between good and evil and between trust and family bond.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Children's Book Week: Day 3

Okay, you've heard a lot of recommendations from many of us here at Little Shop of Stories, but our Pappa Bear, Dave, co-owner of the store, has been quite mum. No more, I say! Here's two titles that rank as some of his favorites from the year:

The blurb on the cover of Jacques Couvillon's The Chicken Dance states "Like having Napolean Dynamite and Frank Perdue as your best friends." That quote comes from Jack Gantos - author of the Joey Pigza books - and he's dead on. Eleven year-old Don Schmidt is our somewhat socially clueless protagonist and narrator who goes to school in Louisiana and raises chickens on the side. His success in chicken-judging contests leads him to an unusual friendship with the class bully and sends him on a search for his long-lost sister.

In his debut novel, Couvillon writes with great empathy for his subject, and also with great joy. This book is great fun to read, and I highly recommend it for readers around the ages of 10 to 15 - particularly boys.

Punk Farm on Tour rocks! Like Jarrett Krosoczka's original Punk Farm, this picture book is wonderfully anarchistic fun combined with playful illustrations. It's a great book for reading (and singing) to your kids. Not only that, but you can go to and download songs performed by the farm animals.
- Dave

Coloring Page Tuesday!

Okay, Wednesday. But it's Children's Book Week, and in all the excitement, I almost forgot! Enjoy this wonderful Thanksgiving themed coloring page from the wonderful Ms. Dulemba over at And remember, this and lots of other goodies (like more coloring pages) are awaiting you at her blog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Children's Book Week: Day 2

Two more of our absolute favorites published this year--The first you may have heard about, it was just listed as one of the New York Times best illustrated books of the year. You may not have heard of this second title, but we consider it a hidden gem.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a marvelous novel about Paris, a train station, clockwork, film, a mechanical man, pursuing your dreams, an inventive orphan, discovery, hope, a bookish girl, and--above all--believing in your imagination. At times the story is told purely through illustrations, this is great for kids handling chapter books on their own, but would make a wonderful family read-aloud. Sure to be a classic, pick up this treasure of a beautiful book.

When Diane looks at the illustrations in Tummy Girl by Roseanne Thong and Sam Williams, she gets major baby craving. Who could resist those round little bellies and chubby legs or those brown curly locks on the preschool prima ballerina? This is a sweet sweet story about your little girl and how she will always be your little girl-- always be your tummy girl-- no matter her age. Tummy Girl is a great gift for any girl in your life, whether she is newborn, celebrating a birthday or graduation, or just because you want her to know how dear she is to you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Children's Book Week: Day 1

Welcome to Children's Book Week! Terra's going to start us off with one of her favorite books from this year, Home of the Brave, by Katherine Applegate. She writes:

I read Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate (yes, the Animorphs author!) while standing in a very long line, waiting to ship stuff from a convention in NY back here to the store. Boy was I glad the line was so long! This is a beautiful story (told in poems, not chapters) about a young African boy, Kek, who is new to America and trying to make sense of it all, including electricity, snow, and alienation.

I cannot stress how gorgeous, quiet, and penetrating the language is here--truly the prettiest book I've read all year, but also this is like What is the What for kids, a personal, honest (but not horrific) depiction of an all-too-sad reality in our world today.

Diane met Gretchen Hirsch, editorial assistant at Harcourt, last February at the Atlanta SCBWI conference. Gretchen talked about discovering her "first" author/illustrator, Jan Thomas, whose book What Will Fat Cat Sit On? was published earlier this year.

Gretchen's genuine enthusiasm for this book was contagious and without even seeing a finished copy of it, I ordered multiple copies for the store. We have been reordering it regularly ever since and it is a staple read at our Tuesday morning storytimes with Lynn.

What Will Fat
Cat Sit On? is a perfectly silly and irreverant picture book that begs to be read aloud at storytime, bedtime, or just about any other time. The illustrations are fantastic- simple, colorful, and engaging- the expressions of the animals as they worry about their fate are priceless. Thomas is definitely up and coming and her work is certainly reminiscent of this guy you might have heard a bit about- Mo Willems.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Children's Book Week!

Hooray for Children's Book Week, November 12-16. That's this coming week!

Every day we'll talk about two of our loves from this year right here on the blog. But be sure and come in the store because all our favorite titles from 2007 will be discounted 20%! So come in and check out our loves, and tell us about yours.

And yes, that's one of them right there in the corner, to whet your appetite!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Coloring Page Tuesday!

Yay! This week Ms. Dulemba has a Thanksgiving themed coloring page!

And did you know you can see all her coloring pages by going here? Also, if you are especially proud of your coloring job and want to share it with the world, email her a (low-res) copy and she will post it on her blog at!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Book Focus: Clementine

Nora, age 4.5 (with help from Dad) says:

"Clementine is silly and funny and a really great story. I liked it a lot.

I like where Clementine cut her own hair off because she also cut Margaret's hair off first. The pictures show Margaret and then Clementine's cut hair. I laughed and laughed. My favorite thing is the way Clementine talks because it is like how I talk, and my favorite character is Clementine's little brother because she calls him vegetable names."

From Kate, Mom:

"We read this to Nora on a plane trip and it held her attention the whole flight--we read it straight through!

I enjoyed reading Clementine because it was as funny for me as for Nora. Clementine reminds me that all the things that can frustrate me in my own children are the things that will serve them well later on. "

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oh.My.Gosh, Or Isn't It Great To Be a Girl?

It's here! It's really here! The Daring Book for Girls, sister of sorts to this year's widely successful Dangerous Book for Boys, arrived yesterday and it's smart, feisty, sparkly, brave, and thoughtful- just like your Favorite Girl.

Inside you'll find Best Practices in climbing, how to change a tire, make a friendship bracelet, sleepover a friend's house, fashion a seine net, go to Africa, tie a sari, play the stock market, perform math tricks that will dazzle your friends, jump double dutch, put your hair up with a pencil, create mayhem with vinegar and baking soda, care for your softball glove, and do a cartwheel. You'll also learn about great women leaders, scientists, explorers, and athletes, as well as how to make a lemon powered clock or read the periodic table of the elements.

If you have a Daring Girl in your life, or are in fact a Daring Girl yourself, this is the book for you (or her)! It's proof positive that girls really can do anything.

Coloring Page Tuesday

Yay for local authors! We love Halloween here at the store, and we've celebrated with story times both creepy and fun. But we wanted to make the blog fun and Halloween-y, and our good friend Elizabeth Dulemba is helping us out!

Here is a copy of her coloring page for today. Click on it for a nice big copy you can print out. And for more great coloring pages and info on the divine Ms. Dulemba and all her great books, go to her website at, or you can get to her blog through the above link.

Have fun, and have a happy Halloween!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Book Focus: The Gravity Keeper

Walker Downs, 7th Grader, writes:

Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper, by Michael Reisman, is about a twelve year old boy named Simon. Simon finds a supernatural physics book that allows him to do anything he wants with physics. But there is a twist: a woman with many more powers wants the book so she can have the power.

This book is interesting because it has a narrator and near the end Simon discovers the narrator's office. This book was impossible to put down. Anyone from 10 to 14 that likes SciFi would love Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper. Overall it was a very good book.

Editor's Note: Simon Bloom, the Gravity Keeper is not due out until next year! So why post a review now? And how did Mister Downs get his hands on this book? Does he, like Simon Bloom, have powers to defy space and time? Although that would be really, really cool, Walker has not seen into the future. We gave Walker an "Advanced Reader's Copy" (often referred to as an ARC) so he could give us this review!

So, if you would like to read a FREE book and have your stunning review published here just like Walker Downs, stop by and ask for one of our advanced copies. But remember: you gotta write a review!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Two Great New Titles are In!

Yes! We have them! Finally our copies of Jessica Seinfeld's blowout popular cookbook, Deceptively Delicious is in house to provide inspiration and relief.

More important, however, is the muy-anticipated Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones by our beloved friend, Judy Schachner. We also got in some super-cute small editions of the first Skippyjon book, which comes boxed with your own little stuffed jalepeno--er, I mean, stuffed Skippyjon Jones--just right for bouncing on your bed as many times as you want! To celebrate we'll be having a special Skippyjon storytime on Sunday at 3, right after PLAY THE HARMONICA WITH RICK day at 1:23 sharp.

We have oodles of other good things rolling in for the Fall (and, yes, the holidays), so come dodge this weekend's Decatur Beer Festival traffic (or take a break from the sampling) and enjoy your weekend with us! See you then!
Yours in books,


Friday, October 12, 2007

We Are Not Alone

We didn't get to be the cool, fun-to-hang-out-in bookstore that is Little Shop of Stories without help, and I'm not just talking about our great customers. We also have lots of friends who write and illustrate books, all of whom have given us fantastic support. And it's no surprise they're out here on the web.

So this post is a bit of a shout out, just a fat linky post of those folks who've shown us the love (and we'd like to show some back).

Holly Black-- Holly's website is stylish, has lots of info about the Spiderwick books and her YA books, and a link to her blog. When she came for the Decatur Book Festival last month, I got to interview her and she is a blast to talk to. Plus, a classy woman.

Elizabeth Dulemba-- Elizabeth is very local; we see her here in the store about once a week! And she's always turning us on to great new books. You can see what she's reading and talking about on her terrific blog, which you can access from her website. Plus, she has a weekly coloring page you can print from her blog AND images of books she's working on!

Alan Gratz-- Alan's first novel, Samurai Shortstop, is one of our favorites, especially Dave's, because Dave loves both historical fiction and baseball. Alan's new book, Something Rotten, comes out next week and is already on our You Must Read This list. If you like mysteries, you'll dig Something Rotten. And if you want to know more, keep checking here in the coming days because we'll have an interview with him soon!

Kimberly Willis Holt-- How cool is Kimberly Willis Holt? She sent us flowers after her signing (for her new book Piper Reed, Navy Brat) here a little over a week ago! And her website's just as neat, with lots of interactive elements, including an awesome page on writing.

Sam Riddleburger-- For me, Sam is the greatest thing about the Decatur Book Festival, or any big, group event with lots of authors. You go to meet and talk to your favorite authors, and you discover a fun, great guy like Sam and his really fun book The Qwik Pick Adventure Society. If you haven't read it yet, I have just two words for you: poop fountain. His website has lots of fun links and things to do.

Deborah Wiles-- Yay Deborah! Have you read Love, Ruby Lavender, or her latest, The Aurora County All-Stars? If so, then you know why we shout Yay--Deborah's one of our favorite writers and a local resident. Right now, she's winding up her tour, but you can keep in touch through her website and blog.

So give these writers some love and click on the links!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Book Focus: Click

There's been some interest in this new book Click--people calling the store and asking about it (mostly I think due to this interview* with some of the authors and the editor). The plot centers around a girl named Maggie and the strange box filled with shells she inherits from her grandfather Gee, a world-travelling photographer. The story spans whole generations and whole continents, as befits a book from which the royalties will benefit Amnesty International.

What's most fascinating about this novel is that it has ten authors. That's right, 10: every chapter is written by a different person. Now, normally books like this are very hit and miss, emphasis on the miss. They can feel like they have no central plot or no core characters. But this book feels different, and the reason why is the authors involved.

You may already know some of them: Eoin Colfer writes the Artemis Fowl books, Linda Sue Park wrote the Newbery award winner A Single Shard, and Gregory Maguire has written books for adults as well as children, most famously Wicked. Roddy Doyle and Nick Hornby are no slouches either, and both have written books for adults and youth.

But the reason I'm excited by Click is the presence of two authors who may not be on your radar: David Almond and Margo Lanagan.

David Almond has written some of my favorite middle-grade books, including Skellig, his most famous. It's a mysterious, moving book about loneliness and friendship, filled with beautiful writing and a wonderful main character.

Margo Lanagan is a short story writer from Australia whose only current import is her collection Black Juice. I read the stories in this and was blown away. Just great great writing, with a weird, tingly bent to them (not quite fantasy/sf, but not...not f/sf, if that makes any sense). The good news for us here in the US? Her newest collection, Red Spikes, will hit our shores this month!

So, check out Click, and check out some of these great authors.

*You should check out the interview, it's really good. Even if you don't have time to listen to it, the page has some interesting info, plus excerpts from the novel.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Book Focus: Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians

Nick, age 11, Jaded Son of Bookstore Owner writes:

What if you found out that there are more than seven continents on the earth? Or if you knew that dinosaurs still existed today? Or if you knew that there was an evil cult of librarians trying to take over the world? Well, if you don't, read Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson. In this book, foster teenager Alcatraz, a boy cursed to break everything he touches and the same name as an infamous U.S prison, receives a bag of sand for his thirteenth birthday. Little does he know that this bag of sand will soon lead him to infiltrating a library, fighting monsters made of romance novels, becoming an Oculator, meeting British dinosaurs, discovering his Smedry Talent, befriending a 12 year old knight, and of course, breaking stuff. He will also find that his bag of sand is much more than he thinks. But of course, I can't tell you what it really is. You'll have to read the book. 306 Pages. Fiction

Editor's Note: A bunch of us at Little Shop- both staff and customers- are currently reading this book and loving it- it is clever, irreverent and very MT Andersonish.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Book Focus: Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It is the diary of Miranda, a teenager who writes of typical things: conflicts with her parents, struggles in school, and the changing dynamics of her friendships. But then an asteroid hits the moon and shifts it enough to change things like tides and weather, causing everything Miranda knows to transform. Her Pennsylvania town experiences food and gas shortages, extreme weather, and information blackout. Miranda and her family must struggle through it all to hold on to what's important.

This is how much I loved Life as We Knew It: as soon as I finished this book, I sent an email to the author, Susan Beth Pfeffer. I was in a feverish haze to talk to somebody, anybody about this book. It's that good. This book is so good, so emotionally lyrical, honest and immersive, I want to recommend it to everyone I meet. As soon as I finished it I wanted to run out into the streets and pull people aside and shove a copy into their hands.

This book is so gripping, every time you look up from its pages you will double-check your wood pile and water stores for the winter, and you will eat less while reading this book just to conserve food for Miranda and her family.

It's that consuming, I swear.

Oh, and the upshot of my email? I got a witty, warm, and generous response from Ms. Pfeffer. Want to check out how cool she is? Go check out her blog at (she’s currently running a series on writing, including theme and story so far. Next is an entry on characters!).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Series Focus: Percy Jackton and the Olympians

Thank the gods for Percy Jackston!

From Bridget, age 11

One book I loved was The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. (And The Sea of Monsters and Titan's Curse, also by Rick Riordan). I think that it is cool because we were some of the first people to read the book and now it is world wide. I liked it because it wove Ancient Greek and the present together to make one amazing, action filled story. I also like it because it is about kids my age, so I can kind of relate to what they are going through. (Though I must admit, no matter how much I wish I was, I'm not a demi-god). I liked that we got to see Rick Riordan for ourselves. He was really nice and it is cool how it all started with bedtime stories. Now that I know him, I am re-reading the books with a whole different perspective.

This year in school I am studying Ancient Greek. Re-reading these books has helped alot with my study of Ancient Greek because all of the stories about the gods and monsters are true. It just goes to show you how much research goes into making a great book like this.

Some people have compared Rick Riordan's books to the Harry Potter series. I think that in some ways the two series are very much alike and in some ways they are so different it is like they came from different sides of the universe. I could give you a thousand reasons either way. I think it just depends on how you look at it.

Editor's Note: Rick Riordan has a fan base at Little Shop of Stories that borders on stalking. Our Kids and Companions Book Group read him for the first time last year, and since then, we can't keep his books stocked. Rick visited us this past Labor Day for the Decatur Book Festival and we learned that the Percy Jackson stories began at bedtime in the Riordan household. For more information about this great series, go to

Friday, September 7, 2007

It's a Blog!

Welcome to our Blog!

What you'll find here:

  • Kid generated reviews of new and not so new books for kids and teens
  • Book suggestions from our well read and good looking staff of booksellers
  • Interviews with some of our favorite authors and illustrators
  • Answers to life's most pertinent questions, including:

Why should you read our blog?

Answer: Unless someone tells us differently, our blog is the only one of its kind, offered by a bookseller, that incorporates kids' reviews. These books are written for kids, after all- shouldn't they be reviewed by them?

And even if someone does tell us differently, we still think we will be the smackdown of book blogs for kids.

Prepare for liftoff.