Wednesday, June 24, 2009

School's Out For Summer

Hurray for more reviews! Here's one from Osiris Hassan. The book he reviewed, School of Fear by Gitty Geshnavari, comes out in September, so look for it in a few months. Here's a preview of good things to come....

School of Fear by Gitty Geshnavari
Review by Osiris Hassan

Ok, so everyone is afraid of something right? These fears are called phobias, everybody’s got at least one. Nobody is fearless no matter how much they proclaim to be in fact these people are probably extreme phobophobics- someone who fears fear itself. I know that’s extreme but that’s just one of the less crazy phobias: abolutaphobia- the fear of washing or bathing, cacophobia- the fear of ugliness, asymmetriphobia- the fear of asymmetrical things, chorophobia- the fear of dancing, and weirdest of all: hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words.

In some cases, people take their phobias to an extreme level. Take Madeline Masterson for example: an extreme arachnophobe, she doesn’t go anywhere without her trusty repellents and veil, Or Theodore Bartholomew: an extremely overreacvtive, melodramatic, half-insane thantophobe who has to keep up with all of his family membersat all times. How about lulu punchalower? A snobby, stuck-up, stankin’ rich claustrophobe who gets queasy at the very mention of confined spaces, but she’d rather drop-spin-hammer fist- tornado kick you off the twin towers than admit it. These three these crazedextreme phobic 12 year olds along with extreme athlete/aquaphobegarrison Feldman make a very formidable group of students.

Out in the middle of nowhere there’s an exclusive school, only for the most extreme phobics. In order to be accepted your parents must complete 6 tons of paperwork and sign so many confidentiality agreements that if you laid them out in a line and walked on them you’d end up in the land of the lost. This place is called the school of fear. Run by an ex-pageant queen- who still thinks she is 16 even though she is really 65-, a half blind 80-year-old caretaker,and a
wager crazed lawyer. This school is dedicated to completely and totally eradicating extreme phobias in children. Thrown in the face of this adversity these four fear ridden 12 year olds will have toband together in order to save their only chance of normality.

I liked this book because it shows kids of any age how you can overcome
your fears.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bombs Away!

Not only do we love to post your reviews, we also love when you give us suggestions about books to carry in our store! A frequent customer, Anne Radford, came into the shop a few weeks ago and recommended Janice Earlbaum's (first) memoir, Girlbomb. So now it's a title we carry. Here's her review:

I hesitated to begin this book, fearing that my funny, caustic, warmwriting teacher, Janice Erlbaum, had a story that would be hard toread. I was right. However, once I began, I couldn’t stop.
As a young teen Janice Erlbaum was forced to make a terribledecision: stay in her mother’s home, a forced witness to domesticviolence, or leave. She left, and ended up on the streets ofManhattan; a jewish girl from Brooklyn, homeless and lost. In thismemoir, Erlbaum shares her story of growing up in the shelter system,and how she survived. While the facts of the story may be unique, andones to which a reader doesn’t directly identify, Erlbaum writes offriendships, pain, fear, sadness, addiction, love and loss, in a wayin which any reader can relate. The hardest part of this book, forme, was finishing it. She became someone I wanted to know, wanted tohear more from, and I was thrilled when her second memoir, Have You Found Her, following shortly. I encourage young teens, with parentalsupervision, and adults to read this book. I loved it, and hope you will too.

The Early Skinny on The 2009 AJC Decatur Book Festival

Daren and Tom held court last night at Eddie's Attic during the media launch of the 2009 Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival Presented by DeKalb Medical. The presentation of the highlights of this year's festival just kept going and going, with each new announcement seeming to trump the previous amazing announcement.

"How," you may ask, "did this book festival held in little Decatur grow to become the nation's fourth largest?" Quite simply, there are great people behind the scenes who pour so much energy into the project.

To give you an idea of the creativity, breadth, and sense of fun that the folks who run the DBF bring to their tasks, this year will feature novelist and journalist Michael Muhammad Knight in a wrestling match with Abdullah the Butcher, followed by a reading. Singers Mary Chapin Carpenter, Caroline Herring, Kate Campbell, and Claire Holley will be performing a Centennial Celebration of Eudora Weltly's 100th birthday. Emory science Ph.D. candidates will be presenting their research in a format similar to that of a poetry slam. The list goes on, and it's not yet complete. You can get a rundown of the events at

Little Shop of Stories organizes the programing for the Target Children's Stage as well as for The Escape. This teen stage will increase in length to cover two days of the festival.

I'll be blogging a lot more about the authors coming to DBF as the festival draws closer, but here are just a few of the highlights of the children's stage:

Kate DiCamillo - Her Tales of Despereaux won the Newbery Medal in 2003. In addition, she is the author of Because of Winn-Dixie, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and the Mercy Watson chapter books. Kate's new book is The Magician's Elephant. I just finished it last week, and fell in love. I reads like a classic fairy tale.

Jarret J. Krosoczka - We have absolutely loved his two Punk Farm books since we opened Little Shop. He will be releasing Lunch Lady, a graphic novel series for young readers, in July. It has already been picked up by Universal Pictures, with Amy Poehler set to star.

Eric Litwin and James Dean - The author and illustrator of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes will be on stage. Mr. Eric is a very talented storyteller and musician. James is a local artist best known for his Pete paintings. This was our top selling picture book in 2008 and again (so far) in 2009. We're excited about Eric and James' success and thrilled to have them on the children's stage.

Loren Long - Loren is an illustrator with a long list of accomplishments, including the 2005 edition of The Little Engine That Could. He is the author and illustrator of the upcoming Otis, and will be the Grand Marshal of this year's parade.

Judy Schachner - The author of the Skippyjon Jones books returns! Judy came to DBF in 2007 and absolutley wowed everyone. We knew we had to have her back. Skippyjon Jones: Lost in Spice is due out this fall! We love Skippy. We love the books. We love Judy.

Jon Scieszka - A partial list of great books authored by Jon Scieszka (rhymes with Fresca) include The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales, Math Curse, Seen Art?, Time Warp Trio books, Trucktown books, Guys Write for Guys Read (editor), and Knucklehead. Jon, an enthusiastic advocate for reading, is also the Library of Congress' National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He came to Little Shop a couple of years ago and we are thrilled he is coming to DBF.

Wow. Any one of these authors would have made this a great festival for families. Having each one here, as well as a long list of other writers and illustrators, will make for a phenomenal festival.

Keep reading this blog!

- Dave

Monday, June 22, 2009

Come Say Goodbye to Rick!

Rick, our resident Sunday Storytime dude, computer whiz, newsletter writer, and all-around good guy, is leaving us. Sniff. There’s simply no way for us to express our level of sadness. Rick has been with Little Shop for nearly 3 ½ years -- which is most all of our existence – and has been a great co-worker and a friend right from the start.

Coming here from Seattle to spend some time with their daughter and new grandson, Rick and his wife are moving to Portland to spend some time with their other daughter and new granddaughter.

Rick’s last day will be Sunday, June 28th. He’ll be doing his farewell storytime at 3 p.m. We’ll have food and kid drinks for the kids and adult drinks for the adults. Stop by!

- Dave

The Life and Death of Edgar Allan Poe

A Little History

Edgar Allan Poe was born 200 years ago, in 1809, the second of three children and the son of impoverished actors. His father either died or ran off in 1810; if he abandoned his family, it is unknown what became of him. His mother died in 1811, possibly from tuberculosis. She was 24. The children were raised separately in foster homes - Edgar to a childless couple, John and Frances Allan. (Thus, his middle name.)

His older brother died, possibly of cholera or of tuberculosis and alcoholism. He was 24. He had a younger sister who was apparently stricken with meningitis and left mentally and/or physically debilitated. She later lived at a charitable institution where she died in 1874.

Poe married the daughter of his father's sister (his first cousin) when he was 27 and she was 13. She would die of tuberculosis at the age of 24. They had no children; it has been suggested that they never consummated the marriage.

Poe died in 1849 at the age of 40. The cause of death was unclear but, as noted by the ultimate authority known as Wikipedia, has been variously attributed to alcohol, brain congestion, cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other agents.

People back then were not necessarily tougher than us. But they had tough lives.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

More Reviews!!!

We have another review today, and this one comes from Kellie McCollum. Thanks, Kellie!

All Other Nights by Dara Horn
At first glance, All Other Nights by Dara Horn is a romance set during the Civil War. You could read this novel because you want a romantic story. You might also be looking for an imaginative story of the Jewish community’s struggles in this formative time of America’s history. You could read it purely as a Civil War buff or as a lover of early American politics. I believe any of these desires would be satisfied.

However, as you seep down through its pages and become immersed in its characters and the history of the time, you will discover that it is much more than that. I believe what you will find is a story deeply involved in its characters, their lives and lies; a story intertwined in subterfuge and politics set against the backdrop of the Civil War. Before long you will begin to wonder if any of the characters are telling the truth. Each is enthralled by his own struggle, both internal and external, and it is these struggles that point to the underlying theme of motivation for devotion and, through devotion,
glory. The questions it seems to ask are: Can you obtain glory through devotion? Is glory a sin as pride is a sin, or does devotion to a cause cleanse the sin of self glorification once the goal of the devotion is attained?

All Other Nights is thought provoking and beautiful. It will hold your attention through to the very end of the novel and keep you asking questions and thinking about it for a long time to come.
--Kellie McCollum
Decatur, GA

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Looking for Marco Polo & grk Smells A Rat

Guest reviews of Alan Armstrong's Looking for Marco Polo and Joshua Doder's grk Smells A Rat

Reviews by Anjing Xionyzou

When Mark and his mother lose touch with his father's Gobi Desert expedition, the two go to Venice, Italy where Mark learns about Marco Polo's journey to China.

Looking for Marco Polo is a very heart pounding mystery and adventure book. I highly recommend it to any person because it is well written description of Marco Polo. The book is due out on September 22nd.

In grk Smells A Rat, Tim and his dog, grk, along with Tim's parents and friends Natasha and Max, travel to India. Max plays in the Vijay Ghat International Lawn Tennis Association Champtionship, where they face the evil, infamous Blue Rat gang. What will they do?

grk Smells A Rat is a very adventurous and humerous historical fiction book.

Friday, June 5, 2009

New York, New York

I recently returned from Book Expo America in New York. This is a combination American Bookseller Association conference/industry trade show/vacation. It's an opportunity to find out new things happening in the publishing world, attend workshops, generate ideas, mingle with authors, and to get revitalized.

It is always a great experience. Each trip generates highlights. Among this year's standout moments include hearing Julie Andrews and Tomie dePaola talk and having tea with Rosemary Wells. I spoke briefly with Sherman Alexie (author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian), who is a phenominal writer and a walking inspiration to everyone in the industry. I stood next to Dave Barry (under conditions where I had to stare straight ahead and could not talk -- it's a guy thing). And I got to hear Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame) sing and had an opportunity to meet with him. He spoke fondly of Atlanta, of working with former Atlanta mayor Sam Massell, and of his admiration for former senator Max Cleland. In addition to the Puff, The Magic Dragon book, Peter has a new one coming out this fall based on his song Day is Done. Great guy.

So now I'm all reinspired. It helps every now and then to realize how great it is to be working in a children's bookstore.

- Dave