Saturday, October 25, 2008

Did you see Chen Jiang Hong?

Chen Jiang Hong, author and illustrator of a number of picture books in his home country of France, was visiting the International School not far from here in Buckhead, teaching students art all week. We were lucky enough to have been contacted by his U.S. publisher, Enchanted Lion Books, to see about a possible store visit.

I'm so happy we jumped at this rare chance to meet an international master of picture books. he came for our milk and cookies storytime, and read from his book The Magic Horse of Han Gan. His books are gorgeous, and range from the poetic to the historical. But the most amazing part of his visit was the individual attention he gave to each of the children in the audience. The pictures here are all photos I took with my phone of the personalized nature of his signings.

Yes, he did take the time to do a portrait of the two kids he signed for. With the brush and ink he brought.

There was a teachers conference/lecture taking place in our upstairs space, and as the attendees began to file out, they saw Mr. Chen painting in the books here on the couch. Each one gasped, and I don't think a one of them walked out without a personalized book by this phenomenal artist.

I'm only sorry he didn't have more time, or I would have had him paint in every book we had. I truly count myself lucky for having met this wonderful author and artist, and we extend our warmest thanks for his visit.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekend update

Wow! There's a lot that's been going on this past week that exciting and new, so I'm just going to try and hit the highlights!

First, October's turning into a busy month for author visits. First, Michael Scott, of The Alchemist fame, Joseph Delaney, whose Last Apprentice series is a perfect kick-off to the month, and author/illustrator Daniel Kirk had awesome school and store visits! If you're looking for autographed copies of their books, we still have a few...

Now we're really looking forward to John Green coming Tuesday on his Paper Towns tour, as well as picture book author/illustrator Chen Jiang Hong this coming Thursday and local author Danny Schnitzlein next Sunday. Whew!

Second--some of our favorite authors have new books that have come into the store, and we're so excited. David Almond is my favorite middle grade and YA author ever, and his new book The Savage has just come in. It is fantastic! It inspired me to write several days' worth of blogging over at guyslitwire.

We also got in the Diary of a Wimpy kid do-it-yourself journal. This thing was to biggest hit at comics camp this past year. The publisher was kind enough to send every camper an advanced copy, and if that were the only thing some of the campers got to do all week, I think they would have been delighted: it's got questionaires, do-it yourself comics, and even some hysterical Jeff Kinney color comics in the book that weren't in our advanced copies we got last summer! AND, if you're feeling like you might be funnier than the Diary author, then there's also a contest you can enter!

Finally, I feel like an idiot for not mentioning this inspiration for The Graveyard Book when Dave and I reviewed it a few weeks ago!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Where Picture Book Illustrators come from

Our good friend Elizabeth Dulemba stopped in the store the other day and saw this book on display. Her reaction?

"This is the book that made me want to be a children's book illustrator. I stared at the images for hours wishing I coudl travel into them. Garth Williams is the master!"

She wasn't the only one with fond memories of this--we've sold out (and have more on order), and every sale is to somebody who seizes it off the shelf, yelps with glee, and says "Oh my gosh! My copy of this is falling apart! I can't wait to show this to my kids!"*

The cool thing is how great these reprints are from Golden Books. I'm normally pretty suspect about nostalgia and kidslit, but I've really enjoyed what they've selected to re-release, whether it's classic anthologies like this, or the wonderful Little Golden Books done by artists like Tibor Gergely (love that name!) or legendary Disney designer Mary Blair.

*Not an exact quote. Some people insist their copies fell to pieces years ago. It must be said, different people love their books in different ways--and that's okay.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Graveyard Book: a conversation

Neil Gaiman's much anticipated The Graveyard Book has just been released, and Dave and I have both read it. So, for anybody wondering about it, here's a little exchange the two of recently had:

Justin: Let me kick off this conversation by saying flat out I think the book is great. The amazing thing about the book is not just how exciting it is as a premise (boy grows up in graveyard, raised by ghosts), but how well Gaiman builds on that premise. I can't think of another book that delivers quite as precisely and as completely on the ideas it churns up as this one. I could go on and on, but how about you--What did you think of it Dave?

Dave: I thought it was one of the five best books I've read in the past year. This includes everything from picture books to adult fiction. Graveyard is creative at every turn without ever going too far over the top. If anything, I wish he would have spent more time developing some ideas he mentioned only in passing. For example, are there generational divides among the residents of a graveyard? Parts of the book are downright creepy; this is not too surprising given Gaiman and the subject matter. To whom would you recommend this book?

Justin: Well, I think it makes a great read for October and Halloween. Yes, there are creepy bits (especially the opening, which some might find harrowing), but I think it's such a great adventure, I'd recommend it to the 10+ crowd. I think teens will love it--heck, I even think adults will really enjoy it. Of course, I think that's probably Gaiman's biggest fan base. I'm really glad that older kids and teens are getting his attention--he's one of today's finest fantasy writers, and I think this book proves it. It' funny that you wondered about generational divides among the ghosts... I wondered about things like how many other dimensions can the ghouls go to? What's the back story on Bod's guardian? I mean, I think we can guess...

: Guessing was a fun part of the book - figuring out who was what, exactly. Another great part was the interaction between the living (besides Bod, the main character) and the dead. Actually, there are just all kinds of great parts. Justin, can we sum this one up by simply saying that we highly recommend this book to just about anyone with a pulse?

Justin: I give it a resounding YES!