Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A grown-up recommendation


Dave says:

I was going to write a great review for Denis Lehane's Any Given Day, which came out yesterday, but the New York Times beat me to it. There is very little to add to what they had to say, except that even though 704 pages usually stretches the limits of my patience, I, too, found that this book is excellent. - Dave

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Birthday Parties at Little Shop are Back!

Once upon a time, in a location far, far away (or, well, only just on the other side of the square, but still), Little Shop of Stories had a private back room. Inside this magical room they would host many special events, including, best of all, BIRTHDAY PARTIES for kids of all kinds of ages. There were paper goods. And refreshing juices. And welcomed decorations of all kinds. And STORYTIME for a half hour--any type of stories the birthday person wanted! (Whether she was 2, or he was 9, or any age really) And more!

Now that your favorite children's bookstore in all of Atlanta has finally re-settled into its new location, we are happy to announce that BIRTHDAY PARTIES ARE BACK!! Yes, upstairs in our big, bright open mezzanine space you too can throw a terrific birthday party! Once again we are providing paper goods for everyone, low-sugar juices, setup & breakdown, and a themed storytime, but this time around you also get CUSTOM INVITATIONS included in the package! We can also offer some exciting add-ons like putting together gift certificates or books to include in your party favor bags, plus the possibility of delicious cupcakes from Button Cakes Bakery!

More detailed information (including prices) can be found on our website.

Call us to book your upcoming party today!

Updated to include links

Friday, September 12, 2008

Guest Review: The Hunger Games

Walker Downs, a student at Renfroe Middle School, sent in this review for The Hunger Games, the first book in author Suzanne Collins' newest series. Her previous series, The Underland Chronicles aka the Gregor books, is one of our favorites here at Little Shop.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a great book. It is about our world in the future. The world is divided into twelve districts, all under
one ruling "capital" with very strict rules. Every year the capital picks two children from each district to compete in the hunger games, a fight
to death.

I liked this book because it is very intense and has a cool perspective. This book is different because in this future there are good changes and bad ones. In so many other books set in the future everything is either great or disastrous. The Hunger Games would be good for most middle school students.

If you liked the Gregor books, Suzanne Collins' first series, then you will love this one.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Check it out! People are talking about us!

In a good way! And by people, I mean authors. And by authors, I mean Sarah Prineas, whose book The Magic Thief was a huge surprise hit at the Decatur Book Festival, and Laurel Snyder, author of two books coming out this fall: Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, a middle grade reader that we will be hosting a release party for this weekend (scroll down here to see our September event schedule), and her soon-to-be-released picture book, Inside the Slidy Diner.

Anyways, on Sarah's blog today, she interviews Laurel about lots of stuff, including their favorite bookstores--and we get a big shout-out. Thanks, and we love you too!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dave recommends

My own personal nonfiction reading - the kind that has little or nothing to do with working in a bookstore - revolves around the mid-20th century American West. On May 30, 1854, a huge expanse of land roughly defined by today's southern border of Kansas, the Missouri River, the Canadian border, and the Continental Divide was open to settlement. How we, as a nation, went about dealing with the consequences of the Kansas-Nebraska Act is fascinating (Bloody Kansas, Homestead Act, trans-continental railroad, Wounded Knee, etc.)

I am currently reading The History of Nebraska Law, edited by Alan G. Gless (Ohio University Press). We don't keep it on the shelves of Little Shop, but we'll gladly place a special order. You would have to be really interested in the details of the subject matter for me to recommend this one. The same goes for Locust, by Jeffrey Lockwood. It is a thorough history of the Rocky Mountain Locusts and deals with one of the great entomological mysteries of modern times: how a species that numbered in the trillions and created the largest plague of insects known to recorded history became extinct in a matter of 20 years. I liked it, but it's my thing.

On the other hand, I just started American Buffalo, by Steven Rinella (a correspondent for Outside magazine). This book has much wider appeal. The narrative concerns Rinella's hunt in Alaska for one of the great beasts after he won a treasured permit from the U.S. government. Within the story are historical and ecological accounts of the bison. The subject matter doesn't lend itself to storytelling in the manner of Jon Krakauer, but Rinella is a superb writer with a vast wealth of knowledge who can be funny, ironic, and dive into minutia all in the same paragraph.

Before I get you too excited, the book won't be released until December. (A more detailed review will appear at that time.) I'll try to convince Al to get the Guys Who Read book group to meet (meat?) over at Ted's to discuss this one.

Dave

(note from Justin: Steve Rinella also wrote one of our popular and highly recommended titles from last year: The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine, a really fascinating look at hunting down (literally) all the ingredients for a 45 course meal, all recipes taken from a two hundred and fifty year old hunter's journal. Another great book to look at next time you're in the store!

Update: Uh, I'm a dummy and had to go back and add a title -Justin

Monday, September 8, 2008

Decatur Book Festival: Original Art!

Here's one of the most awesome things about DBF--the illustrators who were so happy with the Decatur Book Festival and Little Shop of Stories that they gladly contributed a sketch to our Wall of F(r)ame*!

Here's the wall as seen by the all and sundry who visited us last weekend (with Dave):

And here's the sketches from the visiting illustrators (apologies for the sad phone-taken pics):

Adam Rex (Frankenstein Takes the Cake and The True Meaning of Smekday) lays down some Frankenstein:

Andy Runton's sketch of his title character Owly is over-the-top awesome. You can't see this, but he did the initial layout in blue pencil--

You also can't see just exactly how fantastic this Patrick McDonnell (creator of the comic strip Mutts as well as several great picture books) sketch is, but if you did, you would spontaneously yell "Yesh!"

Doreen Cronin (writer of the super-fun Click, Clack, Moo and Diary of a Worm series) even got in on the act. If you can't read my blurry photo, she wrote: "Why I don't illustrate my own!"

Unfortunately, my pictures of Rob Scotton's fantastic illustrations of Splat the Cat and Russell the Sheep were too blurry, so you'll just have to come in the shop see them when we add them to the Wall of F(r)ame!

*hopefully you hear that phrase in a booming Don LaFontain** echo chamber.

**you will be missed, sir.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Decatur Book Festival blogging continues!

Okay, I'm really behind in my DBF blogging, I know. Check out what the great Ben Towle had to say about the Decatur Book Festival here and here (especially his comparisons between comics conventions and book festivals).

That second link has some great pictures of Patrick McDonnell's presentation at the Target Children's Stage on Sunday.

Thanks, Ben!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Attn: Recall Notice

We just received a recall notice from the Consumer Product Safety Commission: Haba, a children’s toy company based in Germany, has recalled the rattles, stroller toys, puzzles and pacifier holders that have small mirrors in them. If you have purchased one of these please return it to the store for an exchange or refund. For more information on the recall you can visit Haba’s web site at: www. HABAusa.com/safety.

Decatur Book Festival report: comics!

Well, we're finally recovering from the huge blowout that was the Decatur Book Festival! The store was packed with people from even before opening on Saturday until we closed on Sunday... All in all, it was a huge success!

I'd like to talk about the whole thing, but there was so much, I'm going to have to break it up into bite sized chunks. First off, all the great cartoonists who came to DBF. Why them first? Because I can.--JCE


On Saturday, at the teen stage (called The Escape) there was a panel with Rich Tommaso, artist on the brilliant Satchel Paige biography from The Center for Cartoon Studies, and Hope Larson, whose Chiggers evokes the dreamy, wonderful days of summer camp. (Update: check out the "extra" Chiggers story on her website!

Rich and Hope discussed their careers, how they approach projects, tools of the trade, a whole lot more. Two very cool folks, and I'm so excited they came. Hope Larson had what I thought was one of the most provocative comments of the whole festival, saying, "If it were up to me, everything would be available on the web. I don't think online and print compete with each other, but publishers don't like that idea." (apologies to Ms. Larson if I butchered the quote)

Sunday, Rich also participated in a graphic novels panel with Ben Towle, whose historical novel Midnight Sun is a cool look into a failed attempt to reach the North Pole, and Robert Venditti, wearing two hats: that of employee of comics and graphic novels publisher Top Shelf and writer of the graphic novel thriller The Surrogates. Each of them discussed their histories, how they got into the comics business, the ins and outs of writers working with artists and vice-versa, and answered audience questions. A really interesting panel over-all. Interesting side note: Ben is working on an Amelia Earhart biography for the Center for Cartoon Studies, part of the same line of books as Rich's Satchel Paige book.

Also on Sunday, Patrick McDonnell, creator of the comic strip Mutts, "read" from his new picture book South. It's a wordless book, but it was fascinating watching him walk the audience through his book and his process. I had a really cool conversation with him afterward, in which we discussed his movement toward picture books (I asked him if that was intentional, considering the current sad state of newspaper comics pages--he said he'd always wanted to do picture books, but it was fortuitous that he was heading that way at this time...), and some of the other cartoonists at DBF this weekend.

Which brings me to the funniest moment of DBF for me: I mentioned Andy Runton (creator of the Owly series of pantomime graphic novels and comics) to Patrick McDonnell, who reacted favorably.

"Oh, yeah--I know Owly. Those are great books," he said. Or something to that effect. I don't remember exactly, which led to the grilling I got when, later that afternoon, I mentioned this to Andy.

"What did Patrick McDonnell say about Owly? What were his exact words?" Andy asked. I kind of shrugged, and said he liked Owly a lot, or something like that. I've got a horrible memory, to be honest. Andy, the nicest cartoonist on the planet, got as close to a growl as I've ever heard from him. "I need to know! My Mom's going to ask and I want to tell her that he likes my books!"

Tomorrow: picture books, plus photos of original art!

Update: artist links added!