Thursday, January 31, 2008

Do You Write?

Our new teen boys book group met this past weekend to discuss the book So Yesterday by one of my favorite authors, Scott Westerfeld. It was great fun--we discussed everything from what coolness means (the book is about a teenaged "cool hunter"--somebody who's paid by marketers to figure out what's cool and what's going to be cool) to whether or not the book is science fiction (it's set in the present but it's got that heady explosion of ideas that you always find in really good SF. Plus, Scott writes awesome SF: check out Peeps, his Uglies trilogy, or his Midnighters books).

Today I was on Scott's blog and discovered something really cool: a SF/Fantasy writer's workshop for teens! It's called ALPHA. Their website says:

The ALPHA SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers (ages 14 - 19) will be held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg Campus July 16 - 25, 2008 in conjunction with Pittsburgh’s science fiction convention, Confluence, July 25 - 27th.

We’re looking for enthusiastic, talented young writers who have a strong interest in science fiction, fantasy and/or horror and a passion for writing.

Come spend ten days working with professional authors, each of whom will spend two days at the workshop.

Does that sound like you? Would you like to study writing under Michael A. Arnzen, Christopher McKitterick, Timothy Zahn, or Tamora Pierce? That's right, I said TAMORA PIERCE! Well then, what are you waiting for, go to the Alpha website now for details!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Checking in with Ms. Dulemba

It's been almost a month since we've checked in with our good friend Elizabeth Dulemba! She's got lots going on over on her blog, including pictures from our two big events last week. Go on over to her website to see the wonderful Ms. Dulemba standing next to Jon Scieszka and Eric Rohman, right here in our store!

While you're there, print out some coloring page like the one here on the right so you can have some cold winter fun drawing away while we all dream of Spring...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Coretta Scott King

Happy King day! What with this being an election year, and Atlanta as the center of all things MLK related, I've been thinking a lot about the King legacy. It's undeniable that Martin Luther King's impact on our nation is tremendous.

But here at Little Shop of Stories, the King family member who's legacy seems most immediate is Coretta Scott King. The Coretta Scott King award has had an amazing impact on children's books over it's nearly 40 year history.

Did you know that both Ozzie Davis and Sidney Poitier have won Coretta Scott King awards? And poet Nikki Grimes? Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison? By my count, Virginia Hamilton has won or been honored eight times, and Walter Dean Myers has won or been honored nine.

Christopher Paul Curtis received both a Coretta Scott King honor and a Newbery honor for his first book The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, a feat he repeated this year with his latest novel, Elijah of Buxton.

It's not just the list, though. What the Coretta Scott King award has brought to children's literature cannot simply be measured in names and titles. It has forever broadened the kind of books that readers want to read, publishers look to publish, and writers put to paper.

Thank you, then, Coretta Scott King. Thank you for recognizing that working for a world where children of all colors can live together in peace sometimes begins in the pages of a book.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Kid/Companion Book Group Picks for 2007!

This week we have been really excited, as the national children's book award winners are all being announced (, but we're even MORE excited about our own in-house awards, chosen by the members of our Kids & Companions book group (for readers ages 8-11, and an adult companion of his or her choice) for the best book of this year's picks. If you would like to see a complete list of what we read this year, please email, but for those of you on pins and needles dying to know, here are our winners!

#1. A TIE!!!!! The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson

#2. Two Hot Dogs with Everything, by Paul Haven
#3. Firegirl, by Tony Abbott

There were only three out of thirteen books that received no votes at all, strangely one of them being this year's REVOLUTIONARY Caledcott Medal winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It is still a beautiful, wonderful, terrific, imaginative book though, so if you haven't read it yet, seize a copy for your library soon!

Congratulations to our winners, and our readers!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Runemarks by Joanne Harris, reviewed by Nick Capriola

If you're a fan of Norse mythology you probably know that when we last left off there was a big battle and all the gods died. Well, the book Runemarks by Joanne Harris suggests that Ragnorok, the Norse battle to end all battles, wasn't really the end.

The story begins with a girl named Maddy who lives in the town of Malbury where general imagination is not approved of; townspeople sleep on boards on wood to prevent themselves from dreaming and they refuse to tell their children made up stories. But Maddy is different from them. She was born with a strange mark on her hand- a "Ruinmark" that makes everyone treat her as a witch. Maddy meets up with a man named One Eye. One Eye teaches her that her "Ruinmark" can lead her to much more. She begins learning magic, and she is soon swept up in a journey that could very well be the end of her.
Runemarks is a great book! There's action, magic and secrets to be revealed. It could even be the next Harry Potter! Once people read it and realize how good it is, it will be the next big craze!

Editor's Note: Runemarks is an epic fantasy that reads part Pratchett, part Faerie tale, part something completely new and fresh. Nick is the Jaded Offspring of a Bookseller. However, he refuses to let this title interfere with his love and enthusiasm for truly great books. He has claimed Runemarks to be one of the best books he read in 2007- despite the fact that the book was published in 2008- because he was privy to an advanced copy. You see, Nick, there are advantages to being the Offspring of a Bookseller. Don't tell you mom we said that, though!

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Post Whose Subject is So Phenomenal as to Elude a Title Worthy of Its Awe

Does anybody remember, long long ago, back before anybody bought kidlit in hardback? Back when even the publishers of the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Boxcar Children, et al gave up the ghost on hardbound expectations?

Then came along Lemony Snicket and his Series of Unfortunate Events. Wow, those books made hardbacks retro and cool and I remember picking up the first one and saying to myself, "these things are the bees knees!"

So when we started getting the paperback versions earlier this year, I thought, "eh, Who wants those in paper? What's the point?"

BOY WAS I WRONG! I don't mean to shout, but I need to say it again: I WAS DEAD WRONG!

Flipping through them the other day, I discovered the most incredible hidden gem of 2007. I discovered this:

What is that, you say? Why it's a serialized comic by Michael Kupperman, one of the most hilarious and fun cartoonists out there. It turns out that each and every volume of the paperback editions of A Series of Unfortunate Events has a supplement entitled "HarperCollins's The Cornucopian Cavalcade", with comics and a serialized story by Stephen Leacock, and a self-help column entitled "What Shall I Do, Lemony Snicket?"

It just goes to show, you never know what kind of great things are hiding between the covers of even those books you think you know!