Monday, August 31, 2009

Elizabeth Dulemba Is Coming To DBF!!!

Elizabeth Dulemba
Target Children's Stage
Decatur Book Festival
Sunday at 12 p.m.

When we reopened at our new location last year, our first event was a Quatro de Mayo party -- the fifth of May fell on a Monday -- with Elizabeth Dulemba and the book she had recently illustrated, Paco and the Giant Chile Plant (aka Paco y la Planta de Chile Gigante).

Elizabeth has since realized her dream of both illustrating and writing with her soon-to-be-released book, Soap, Soap, Soap (aka Jabon, Jabon, Jabon). Like Paco, Soap is being released in both an English and bi-lingual edition, and we'll have it for the book festival.

So come on out and help Elizabeth (aka "e") celebrate celebrate celebrate!

For more information on e, please go to her website.

Who Else Is Coming To DBF???

My goal was to get at least a brief bio of every author appearing on the Target Children's Stage and The Escape stage posted prior to the start of the Decatur Book Festival. I'm trying, and I think I can do it. Of course, I am frequently overly optimistic. (As proof, I note that I am the co-owner of an independent children's bookstore.) I've still got time. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can ...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Terra's Interview with Maggie Stiefvater (Who is Coming to the Decatur Book Festival!)

Okay, so, when I went to New York with my Decatur Book Festival pals back in April to meet with publishers and try to convince them to send authors and illustrators down to Decatur for Labor Day weekend, the publicists at Scholastic threw this advance reader at me called Shiver. I had just told them about my idea to maybe have a Vampires vs. Werewolves smackdown--an audience-participation discussion about which books were better--and their eyebrows had gone half up their heads. They had just gotten these advance copies. They were really excited.

I, however, was not. I was happy to have a possible author for my smackdown of course, but it's no secret that I'm not the biggest fan of vampire-, werewolf-, unicorn-, elf-, faerie-or-any-other-magical-creature books. (There are of course exceptions. Stephen King's The Talisman is one of my favoritist books ever, and also I love love love Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin.) But this I started reading out of obligation. (I couldn't invite an author whose book I hadn't read, after all.)

About two paragraphs in, my scalp started to tingle.
Two pages in, and I was completely hooked (and half in love).
390 pages after that I was sad the book had ended, and I couldn't wait to share it with my friends at Little Shop of Stories.

I also really, really, really couldn't wait to meet Maggie Steifvater. And that was way before she hit the New York Times bestseller list in the #3 spot.

So in prep for her arrival (in 8 1/2 days!!!!) I thought I'd ask her some questions so that we could get to know each other a little more. Here is a little of what she had to say:

So, why werewolves?
Well, it’s not so much why werewolves as why wolves. I’m not a big fan of the whole drooling, shedding, slavering half-man, half-beast thing, but angst-because-you-are-a-human-
trapped-in-another-form? Oh I am all over that. Werewolves just happen to be an already existing convention. I like to tap into existing folklore when I can; I think old myths and archetypes speak to people on a subconscious level.

Shiver is not your first book. How does this one compare, for you, to your first one, both in terms of how the writing went, and also in terms of how it’s been having it out there in the world?
Um, insane. I knew that it was better than my first one -- or at least, more me -- but I hadn’t even begun to hope it would do this well. Honestly, my editor said “Shiver has a charmed life. Everything you want for a book, this book gets.” And that’s how it feels. Everything I dreamed about as a teen writer, it’s happening. I’m profoundly glad that it’s not my first book, so I can savor just how absolutely bizarre and wonderful this is.

I’ve had a couple of discussions lately with YA readers about fantasy fiction vs. reality-based fiction, and what the strengths and weaknesses are of both. Care to chime in?
Hm. I don’t really think it’s a valid distinction, if we’re talking about a novel of either variety that has been done exquisitely. The goal of any good fiction is to engage the reader and make them feel the experiences of the characters on a deep, personal level. When you put it that way, whether it includes paranormal aspects or not is like whether or not it’s set in Cleveland. Reality is just another device to be toyed with by the author as a means to an end. You make you reality. I just think your characters need to be as human as possible. The rest will sort itself out if you make your people real.

(Terra nods her head extremely enthusiastically to this answer.)

So if you had to become a faerie, a vampire, a werewolf or a person who mucked out unicorns’ stalls, which would you choose and why?
The person mucking out the unicorns’ stalls. Because if readers learn nothing else from my novels, let it be this: it is always better to be watching the supernatural instead of BEING the supernatural. To be the magical thing makes it ordinary. To merely witness it? Extraordinary.

Just like, um, witnessing Maggie Stiefvater is pretty extraordinary, I think. You can catch her on The Escape stage (at Several Dancers Core) with Richelle Mead on Saturday, September 5th at 2:30. (She is also going to be at Dragon*Con Saturday night at 8:30 PM!)

Check out this review by one of our comics campers!

At our Comics camp this summer, I encouraged all the kids to read tons of comics in addition to drawing tons of comics. Some were so enthusiastic, I asked them to write reviews. Well, now one of those reviews has made its way around the web in a few places. Check out what our very own Auguste had to say about the manga* series Iron Wok Jan over at the book blog Guys Lit Wire!

*manga is the Japanese word for comics. If you haven't seen them, they're typically imported as small books, read right to left, with black and white art. Next time you're in the shop, just ask, we've got several interesting series we carry in our graphic novels section.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Charolotte Riley-Webb and Frank Morrison Are Coming To DBF!

Charlotte Riley-Webb
and Frank Morrison
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage

Saturday at 12pm

Charlotte Riley-Webb and Frank Morrison both contributed illustrations to
Our Children Can Soar: A Celebration of Rosa, Barack, and the Pioneers of Change.

Frank is not only an illustrator of children's books, but has also produced CD covers, calendars, and shoes, among other things. His use of color and exaggeration create memorable images that have brought him acclaim, having received
a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor award. You can check out his work here.

Charlotte's art has evolved to incorporate vivid abstract images. You can view some of this Atlanta area's work here and read more about he
re. Besides Our Children Can Soar, Charlotte has illustrated several other children's books including Rent Party Jazz and Sweet Potatoe Pie.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aimee Friedman Is Coming To DBF!!!

Aimee Friedman
Decatur Book Festival
The Escape stage
Saturday at 2pm
(Along with As You Wish author Jackson Pearce)

Aimee Friedman has got about the best giggle of anyone I know. She also has a terrific sense of style, a work ethic that baffles me, and a string of bestselling novels that are all delicious reads. (South Beach, Hollywood Hills, French Kiss, The Year My Sister Got Lucky, and her newest, Sea Change.)

Because she is a friend of mine (and not just a fabulously dressed, superstar author), I am mega-extra enthusiastic about her appearing on The Escape stage this year at the AJC-Decatur Book Festival. I want you to be excited too, so here's a little interview I did with Aimee back in June when Sea Change was fresh from the sea and served up on shelves everywhere.


1. Sea Change is a novel that takes place in the South, whereas you yourself are a Northerner. What was it like writing about a different area of the country, and what kind of research did you have to do to bring Selkie Island to life?

I am a born and bred New Yorker (just like Miranda in Sea Change), but I have always been fascinated by the South. This may be due to the fact that my mother let me watch Gone with the Wind when I was about five, and I fell in love with all the romance and allure and rich history of Dixie (the same thing happened all over again when I read the book at fourteen!). When I got the idea for Sea Change, there was no doubt in my mind that it would take place on an island off the coast of Georgia; the heat and lushness and mystery of the South all seemed to lend themselves to the feel of the story I wanted to tell. Before I started writing, I took an amazing trip to Savannah, and to beautiful Tybee Island. Those places helped me enormously in my creation of the fictional Selkie Island. (In fact, the Discovery Center in Sea Change is based on a similar place on Tybee Island). I am also lucky enough to have good friends who hail from the South, and my editor has family in the South, so as I wrote, I would often email them questions and get their expertise.

2. Miranda's grandmother plays an important role in this book. Can you talk a little about grandmothers and how they influence us, both positively and negatively?

My maternal grandmother, Margaret, was one of the great influences in my life, and we were incredibly close. She actually passed away a few months ago, at the ripe old age of 95, and it has been very difficult for me, dealing with her loss— and a small part of that is knowing how much she would have enjoyed Sea Change. She liked all my books, no matter how racy! My paternal grandmother, Civia, is—knock on wood— still very vital, but I do not get see her as often, since she lives overseas. But I cherish the fact that I was and am fortunate enough to know my grandmothers, to hear their stories and take in their wisdom. To me, grandmothers are about stories — about the tales and legends and histories that make up your family, that make up who you are. They are a link to the past, to what has passed and is now intangible. Grandmothers are also about the complicated bond that exists between women, and I wanted to explore all these themes in Sea Change. It was for this reason that I dedicated the book to my two grandmothers.

3. Sea Change is a bit of a departure for you, genre-wise. How was it writing a slightly-fantastical book compared to your other novels (The Year My Sister Got Lucky, South Beach) that are grounded more in real life?

The idea for Sea Change came to me pretty fully-formed; I love mermaid stories—from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale to the movie Splash— and I liked the notion of switching up the gender roles. So I knew the book would have a touch of magic, and the challenge therein excited me. It was definitely tough in parts, conveying those fantastical elements in the story. I have the utmost respect for fantasy authors, and I do not fancy myself one! To me, Sea Change is ultimately a love story, and the magical aspects are almost incidental…but read it for yourself and see!

4. You work in publishing as an editor, but are also a writer. Can you talk a little about how you balance these two aspects of your life?

I don’t sleep very much! And I have very, very understanding friends. Juggling what are essentially two different careers means making a lot of sacrifices, whether it’s the gym (sigh), seeing friends, sometimes even, well, sanity. But overall, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think being a writer has actually made me a better, more sensitive editor; many of my authors tell me they appreciate that I know what it’s like to be on the “other side” of things. However, I think that when my editor brain creeps into my writing, that can be a little troubling. Yes, I’ll often catch things and make tweaks that improve the story. But self-editing while you write is a surefire way to slow down the process and suck you into a whirlpool of self-doubt. Not. Fun.

5. There's a lot of great references to mermaid mythology and lore sprinkled throughout Sea Change. What's some of your favorite mermaid stuff you learned while writing this book?

I had a lot of fun researching Sea Change. Just when I’d decided to write the book, the Museum of Natural History (which plays a small role in the book!) opened their exhibit on Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids. So that exhibit was my first stop in terms of research, and I took lots of notes on mermaid lore that existed around the world. Probably my favorite mermaid myth that I discovered was the tale of Glaucus, a Greek sea-god. Glaucus was a fisherman who was transformed into a merman, and he fell in love with a beautiful nymph. I liked the Glaucus story so much that I managed to work his name into Sea Change.

6. Were there any surprises for you in writing this book?

I was surprised to discover, in my writing, that I wanted to leave the ending of the book open-ended. I won’t spoil it too much for those who haven’t read it, but Sea Change leaves a lot of room for interpretation (which I know has driven some readers crazy!). I think a lot of that had to do with my decision to maybe expand the book into a sequel; I fell in love with the characters as I wrote them and realized that I didn’t want to close out their story just yet. So we’ll see!

7. Miranda is on the cusp of a lot of change in her life in this book. Some of it we see, and some of it is only hinted at. What do you hope Miranda will be like in five years?

I hope Miranda becomes someone who is still passionate about science and math —the science world needs more women!— but yet remains open to the possibilities of magic and mystery. I won’t say much more than that since I hope to write a sequel one day! (see above).

8. There are some interesting upper-class-versus-working-class dynamics in Sea Change. What do you think can be gained by hanging with the ritzy kids? What about those with callused hands?

I definitely wanted Sea Change to touch on class divisions. It was important to me that the ritzy kids not come off as necessarily the “bad kids”— vapid Gossip Girl types—but to also have redeeming qualities. The thing is, you really never know where you will find a true friend, whether it’s in the upper-class realm into which you may have been thrust unwilling, or the working-class realm you may feel more at home in. Everybody is going to have their flaws, and I think growing up is in many ways about being open to possibilities, regardless of society’s divisions.

9. There are also some smoky kisses in Sea Change, and also some duds. What do you think it takes to make a kiss one of mythic proportions?

Wow! I love ending the Q&A on such a romantic note! I think a kiss has everything to do with—as Miranda herself might say—chemistry. If you have chemistry with someone: if there’s an emotional click and spark, if you “get” each other and have great conversation, it’s USUALLY a pretty surefire bet that the kisses you share will be magical. On the other hand, if you lack that intense connection, that missing spark can come across in a kiss as well. Then again, kisses and chemistry are as unpredictable as love itself. There’s certainly no scientific formula for falling in love, and I hope readers of Sea Change will find that idea in the book’s pages.

Robyn Hood Black & Donna Bowman Are Coming To DBF!!!

Robyn Hood Black
Donna Bowman
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Sunday at 2pm

Robyn Hood Black's second book and Donna Bowman's first book have been published by Intervisual Press. Wolves and Big Cats are great books, beautifully illustrated and informative. Parents have been impressed with them, and kids are captivated.

Robyn and Donna both live in the Southeast and are active in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Both of them are braver than I.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Half-Bloodiad, pt 4

This Week: The rogue Demigods Return!

VIII. Diane, wise daughter of Athena, and the staff of Camp Half-Blood had news of Medea, though they knew it not. Not more than a fortnight before, the halfbloods of Decatur had been dealt a grave blow. In facing the twisted plans of the League, they confronted their own betrayal—Nick, son of Diane, son of Hermes, grandson of Athena, and Aliya, daughter of Athena, had both found themselves the victims of lies perpetrated by the League. Misled into believing falsely as to the intentions of the League of Machines and Monsters, they had laid traps for the Half Bloods of Decatur, attempted to thwart the camp’s quest to stop the League, and even sought to take demigod life by poisoning their feast. But the two saboteur’s were found out, and escaped to the state of Texas to seek refuge with their allies the League, whereupon the two young half bloods found themselves punished and their lives threatened for their failure to stop Camp Half-Blood Decatur.

IX. Should you see Nick Capriola, should you perhaps encounter Aliya Schecter, do not question them directly about what happened there in the lair of the League of Machines and Monsters, in the wilds of the hill country of Texas, west of Austin. Their memories of that time are fractured, broken, the memories of heroes pushed to the brink of death. They recall little but their near torture at the hands of the League, and their rescue by nereiads who spirited them away to Camp Half-Blood Austin. Upon finding the two stray demigods, the staff and campers of Austin took them in, revived their health, and bore witness to their delirium, for in their recovery, in their near-death state they hovered betwixt this life and the Underworld, and it was there that they sensed the escape of Medea, and her plot to retrieve the dragon’s teeth and use them to raise the Spartoi, that unbeatable army with which to destroy all heroes upon the Earth, beginning with those of Camp Half-Blood.

X. Camp Half-Blood Austin brought light and truth to Nick and Aliya, The scales had fallen from their eyes—they saw the League of Machines and Monsters for what they truly were, and were sorry for what part they played in the Leagues plans. The two demigods returned to Camp Half-Blood Decatur with news of Austin’s dedication to the destruction of the League, and with the additional news of their visions near death, of Medea’s plot, though they knew not what these meant. And the staff of Camp Half-Blood Decatur was happy indeed for the return of their own, happy to see the wayward ones return, especially Diane, for Nick was her own child, and had wept many a night at the loss of her eldest, thinking him gone forever into the baleful arms of the League.

XI. But seeing her son, returned to her arms, she rejoiced, embraced her wayward progeny, and celebrated this boon of the gods. Aliya, too, was celebrated by the woman she claimed as mother, Vicky, elder at the camp and daughter herself of Demeter. But her return was overshadowed by her failure to acknowledge Athena, the goddess who birthed her, and this would lay like a stain across her life, leading to the tragic death recorded in the annals of history. But that too is a tale for another time.

Vampires Vs. Werewolves Smackdown at the Decatur Book Festival

Forget Edward and Jacob. On Saturday, September 5th at 2:30 on the Escape stage at Several Dancers Core, the fight between vampires and werewolves is going to get way, way deeper. Moderating (or shall I say feeding on) this blood-beats-fur, claw-beats-fang smackdown where you get to chime in about which novels are better --those filled with the Children of the Night, or those focused on the Manbeasts-- will be supernatural superstar Richelle Mead (author of the NYT bestselling series, Vampire Academy, among others), and so-cool-she-gives-me-chills author Maggie Stiefvater, whose new book Shiver just hit #5 on the NYT bestselling list last week.

I am so personally completely psyched about this discussion, and I don't even like books about vampires or werewolves (or unicorns or faeries or anything like that). I hope that you will sharpen your fangs and claws, bring your best backup arguments, and get ready to see who is left standing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Art Roche Is Coming To DBF!

Art Roche
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Saturday at 3:30pm

Art (how did his parents know?) appeared at the very first Decatur Book Festival when the children's stage was under a very small tent and Decatur was receiving a very large amount of rain. So we moved the stage into the bookstore and Art presented amid the heat, rain, and chaos of Little Shop of Stories.

And he wowed everyone.

Art is a graduate of the Fine Arts program at the University of Georgia and is a former creative director for Cartoon Network New Media. He is also the author of two great books on cartooning.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Kate DiCamillo Is Coming To DBF!

Kate DiCamillo
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Saturday at 1pm

Kate DiCamillo is the absolutely amazing author of picture books, including Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken, and the Mercy Watson chapter books. But Kate is best known as a writer of great novels for children which are equally loved by adults. These include Because of Winn-Dixie (a 2001 Newbery Honor book), The Tale of Despereaux (2004 Newbery Award winner), and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

I could go on and on about her, but you can read about Kate here, here, and here.

Instead, I'll go on and on about Kate's newest work. The Magician's Elephant has the feel of a classic, 19th century European fable translated into English. The book concerns Peter Duchene, an orphan who takes money meant for fish and bread, but instead asks a fortuneteller how to find his sister. The response (an elephant!) sends Peter on an amazing life-changing adventure.

Your grandchildren will be reading The Magician's Elephant to their grandchildren.

We will be pre-selling The Magician's Elephant at the Decatur Book Festival. Kate will be signing book plates. You can then pick up your copy of the book at Little Shop of Stories a mere three days later on September 8th. (You can come to Little Shop at your convenience; we'll keep one for you.)

Review of Dave Eggers' Zeitoun

When Dave Eggers wrote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, a hilariously depressing (depressingly hilarious?) autobiography about taking care of his younger brother after both his parents died, he was thought of as the next big thing. With successive books, he began sinking into that "too clever for his own good" category. Then Eggers found his voice.

Eggers has always been a great guy, and has created writing and tutoring centers for underprivileged youths (826 Valencia), but his writing did not keep up with his philanthropic endeavours.

Then in 2006 he wrote What Is the What, a book about Valentino Achek Deng that puts a human face to the Lost Boys of Sudan in the same way A Diary of Anne Frank did for Holocaust victims. The writing was straightforward and elegant, as if Eggers knew the story was remarkable enough that it needed no embellishments.

Eggers continues that trend with Zeitoun. This true story about what happened to a Muslin-American trying to save himself and others in post-Katrina New Orleans should be required reading in all American History classes. In Abdulrahman Zeitoun, Eggers again puts a face to one of the greatest tragedies of our time. Make that two. After surviving the hurricane, what Zeitoun is forced to go through as a Muslim is as reprehensible as what we did to Japanese-Americans in World War II, possibly more so. The fact that the rest of the country has hardly even heard of these atrocities only adds to the depravity of this part of American history. You owe it to yourself to read this book. When you are done, you will feel angry and exhausted, but will continue to have faith in the human spirit. This is a masterpiece.

- Al

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Half-Bloodiad, pt 3

This Week: How the Teeth got to Decatur, and how Camp Half-Blood got involved!

V. [Stephen] Decatur brought the teeth to America’s shores, far, he hoped, from those who would use them for evil purposes. It was only by the greatest of luck that another son of the gods, Napoleon, had not found them. In his hands, surely, all of Europe would still be under his thumb. But a craven act by a dastardly villain took Decatur from this world before he could settle the matter of the dragon’s teeth, thus President James Monroe, under advisement by those demigods among the founding fathers, and Dolly Madison, daughter of Hestia, split the teeth up into small sets of no more than four, and sent these to the hinterlands of the new nation, to places marked by the name of the great hero who had found them.

VI. Nearly two hundred years passed before any disturbed the teeth of dragon slayer, founder of Thebes, and dragon himself—Cadmus. Each generation a son or daughter of Dionysus had come to guard the teeth, in Illinois, in Georgia, in Alabama, wherever a Decatur city stood from those early days of the Republic, there, hidden, lay the potential for a great and fearsome army. But then, the League of Machines and Monsters enacted their plan. Composed of rogue demigods, they ever seek to overthrow and supplant the gods. This plan utilized the animus of artifacts, monsters, and demigods to power a machine to rival the abilities and powers of the gods themselves. They were foiled by the combined might of every camp half-blood, but not before their actions loosed the hold death had on Medea. Hecate, knowing the roads between this one and the next, helped guide the spirit of Medea out while the league attempted to draw infernal energies from that fearsome and infernal guardian of the Underworld, Cerberus. Distracted, fighting off the assault, he took no notice of the sorceress’ spirit as she slipped by.

VII. It was Nico DiAngelo, son of Hades, who alerted Chiron to what had happened. He knew of some spirits’ escape, and that Medea was amongst those missing. Chiron, familiar with her history, immediately alerted the children of Dionysus as to what may come. Unfortunately, he heard nothing from Decatur, Georgia and knew he must act quickly to have the teeth secured from Medea’s long conniving reach. He reached out to Diane, daughter of Athena, head counselor and principal actor in all things Camp Half-Blood Decatur. Though they had recently lost two campers to the underhanded schemes of the League of Machines and Monsters, though they were exhausted and low on staff, Chiron knew of no other souls he could depend on to retrieve the teeth of the dragon Cadmus and resist the otherworldly grasp of Medea’s magiks.

Next: the Rogue Demigods return to Camp Half Blood!

Laurel Snyder Is Coming To DBF!

Laurel Snyder
Decatur Book Festival
The Escape
Saturday at 4:30pm
Target Children's Stage
Sunday at 3:30pm

We love Laurel. She comes into the store and she's a mom (we love Mose & Lewis, too!) and a book lover and a customer and an author and we sell her books, so there's a lot going on. And with Laurel, it all ... just ... flows.

Here's Laurel's description of Laurel from her web site:

"I have written for a very long time. I have two amazing sons, Mose and Lewis. I hate fish, but sometimes I pretend to like it because I am a grownup now and that’s what grownups are supposed to do. Especially at dinner parties. I like black licorice a lot. I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I grew up in Baltimore, MD. I cry when I see the ocean. I am a terrible gardener. I am very very very very impatient. I talk too much. I believe in being truthful. I wish I could meet you. I’d talk too much and offer you licorice but then get impatient if you took too long getting it out of the bag. Honestly."

Here's my description of Laurel:

Laurel Snyder is a very talented writer. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is the double-threat author of picture books (Inside the Slidy Diner, Baxter the Kosher Pig (not out yet!)) and chapter books (Up and Down the Scratchy Mountain and Any Which Wall). I envision her as an incredibly intense writer, pounding out manuscripts in fits of creative rushes and editing revision #12 in the still of the night. While eating black licorice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Galloping to DBF from Terra's Hometown: Jessica Burkhart!

People rarely remember that Tallahassee, FL (my hometown), is the capital of Florida. Usually they think of somewhere more glamorous like Miami or even Jacksonville: somewhere with palm trees instead of live oaks, sand dunes instead of Seminoles, orange blossoms instead of rolling hills.
Which is part of why I am SO glad that for the AJC Decatur Book Festival we'll be welcoming Jessica Burkhart (author of the Canterwood Crest series), a 20-something former equestrian-turned-writer who happens to currently live in Tallahassee.
But I'm not just excited because another hometown girl will be here. I'm excited because her series, Canterwood Crest, is smoking hot. (Think Lisi Harrison's Clique series goes to equestrian school.) It's full of juicy drama, delicious (and detestable) characters, and lots and lots of horse action, but still remains a good read for girls in the 9-13 age bracket. (Meaning, not too mature in any of those tricky categories.)
So if you dig highbrow horseback riding and some complicated friendship (and enemyship) issues, check out Canterwood Crest now, or when Jessica's on the children's stage at 2:30 on Saturday September 5th!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Laura Vaccaro Seeger Is Coming To DBF!

Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Saturday at 11am

Cooper is the top-billed star of the Dog and Bear series of books. He lives in Rockville Centre, Long Island and is the owner of four humans. One of them is named Laura, who is Cooper's personal biographer and portrait artist.

Cooper's latest, Dog and Bear: Three to Get Ready, the third book in the series, will be released just in time for the book festival.

We think Cooper's books are great! Hey, The New York Times agrees with us.

When Laura is not busy attending to Cooper's needs and wants, she writes and illustrates other books including Lemons Are Not Red, First The Egg (a Caldecott Honor book!), and One Boy (a Theodor Geisel Honor Book!).

For more information about Cooper's biographer, click here.

Chris Schweizer Is Coming To DBF!

Chris Schweizer
Decatur Book Festival
The Escape
Saturday at 12pm

Chris is an amazingly talented artist, cartoonist, and creator of graphic novels. Crogan's Vengeance has been a Little Shop best seller. In the past, Chris has made guest appearances at our Comics Camp. His comics have been published by Oni Press, Top Shelf Productions, Image Comics, Evil Twin Comis, and Nickelodeon Magazine. In addition, he is a certifiable good guy.

Appearing on The Escape stage, Chris will be moderating a discussion about making mini-comics with some of the best cartoonists in the Southeast.

Chris lives in the Atlanta area and is a professor of Sequential Art and Animation at SCAD-Atlanta. For more on Chris, click here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Loren Long Is Coming To DBF!

Loren Long
Decatur Book Festival
Saturday at 9:30am
Target Children's Stage
Saturday at 10am

We are delighted to have Loren Long leading the Children's Parade at this year's Decatur Book Festival, thrilled to have him be the first author presenting at the Target Children's Stage, and ecstatic at having the opportunity to be the first to introduce Otis, Loren's new book!

Loren has Long been an award-winning, best-selling illustrator of great children's picture books such as ...
I Dream of Trains, by Angela Johnson;
Mr. Peabody's Apples, by Madonna;
When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer, by Walt Whitman;
2005 edition of The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper;
Toy Boat, by Randall de Sève; and
Angela and the Baby Jesus, by Frank McCourt.

In an exceptional bit of DBF cross promotion, Loren is also a co-illustrator (along with David Shannon and David Gordon) of Jon Scieszka's Truck Town series! (Jon is also coming to DBF!)

More recently, Loren has been both writing and illustrating, including Sluggers, a series of chapter books co-written with Phil Bildner, and Drummer Boy.

, the story of a tractor who becomes uncertain of his usefulness in this world, is Loren's newest picture book. It's national, international, and intergalactic unveiling will be at the Decatur Book Festival!

Loren will be leading this year's Children's Parade. If you would like to be in the parade, meet at the Fidelity Bank at 160 Clairemont Avenue (at the corner of Clairemont and Commerce) at 9 a.m. The parade will begin at 9:30, ending at the Marta plaza and the site of the Target Children's Stage. Wear your best tractor clothing! Loren will present at 10 a.m.

For more information about Loren, click here.

Review of Fire: Tales of the Elemental Spirits

Fire: Tales of the Elemental Spirits
by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson
Publish date: October 29, 2009
Review by Cricket Stauss

This is a descriptive multi-story book of mysterious and mystical creatures, each dedicated to fire. Phoenix, Hellhound, Firework, Salamander Man, and First Flight are five magical stories that seem to pop right out of the book. Whether present or past, dreams or real life, this book plunges you into adventure!

Friday, August 7, 2009

James Dean Is Coming To DBF!

James Dean
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Sunday at 5:30pm

What a way to end the book festival!

Join James Dean, along with Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael as they present Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes!

James Dean is the artist behind Pete the Cat, the ubiquitous blue icon of Atlanta and the illustrator of the best-selling book in the history of Little Shop of Stories.

But life was not always this easy for James.

A native of Marion, Indiana, James' family moved to California when he was young, but was sent back to Indiana to live with his aunt and uncle after his mother died when James was nine. After high school, where he excelled as an athlete, he enrolled in Santa Monica College before transferring to UCLA to major in drama.

Inspired by early success in obtaining acting jobs, James Dean dropped out of school and moved to New York, where he enrolled in Lee Strasberg's legendary Acting Studio. Television appearances were soon followed by lead roles in major motion pictures, including East of Eden, Rebel Without A Cause, and Giant.

On September 30, 1955, James Dean was driving his Porsche 550 Spyder on US Route 446 when he was involved in a ... no, wait a minute here, that's the wrong James Dean.

Sorry. For information about this James Dean, click here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

mElissa conrOy is cOming tO dbf!

mElissa conrOy
dEcatur boOk fEstival
targEt childrEn's stagE
saturday at 12:3Opm

mElissa was bOrn in bEaufOrt, sOuth carOlina, raisEd in atlanta, geOrgia (yOu knOw, that nEwEr city to thE wEst), and wEnt tO schoOl at thE rhOdE island schoOl of dEsign in rhOdE island, the univErsity Of geOrgia in geOrgia, and philadElphia univErsity in pEnnsylvania, whEre shE nOw livEs.

pOppy's pants, which mElissa wrOte and illustrated, is hEr first boOk. it cOmbinEs hEr lOve of sEwing, dOlls, family, and writing. pOppy's pants has it's Origins frOm back whEn mElissa was a yOung girl and sEwEd hEr fathEr's pants.

mElissa's fathEr, pat, is alsO a writEr. pErhaps yOu havE hEard Of him. (thE grEat santini, thE princE Of tidEs and OthEr boOks.)

yOu can find Out mOrE infOrmatiOn abOut mElissa at hEr wEb sitE. shE alsO makes woOberry dOlls.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

David Lubar Is Coming To DBF!

David Lubar
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
saturday at 4:3Opm

David Lubar is an author. David Lubar is a game programmer. But, believe it or not, David Lubar much prefers to write books rather than video games.

Want to know more about David? Just click here.

His latest book was JUST RELEASED YESTERDAY! It is called My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie.

As the regular readers of the Decatur Metro blog understand all too well, zombies are a staple of local culture. (Click here, here, here, here, here, and here.) So David's book will fit right in.

Little Shop of Stories will stock Zombiology, which is quite likely to be the next book in the "ology" series. You know, Dragonology, Egyptology, Wizardology, Pirateology, Monsterology, Spyology, Oceanology... In the meantime, read My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie.

And come see David Lubar at the Decatur Book Festival this Labor Day weekend. As any good zombiologist (kids, don't click on that last link) can tell you, it's the time of the season.

Half-Bloodiad pt 2

This week: our villain's history, and events that led to our camp quest:

I. It came to pass that a secret league, intent on overthrowing the gods through the manipulation of machines and monsters, sought an infernal battery to power a terrible construct with which to bring down the gods. And this tale is a great one, with many heroes and fraught with mighty dangers, but it is another’s tale to tell. Yet their plans and misdeeds did not go unnoticed, for their manipulation of the spirits and animus of magic, yea, even the gods themselves, wreaked harm on the wards and guardians of the Underworld. And, her bonds weakened, the ancient sorceress Medea reached out from beyond the grave to return to the world of the living, to harm the children of the gods, and to raise an invincible army to do her bidding and to cast all heroes, all half-bloods, into the dark pits of Tartarus.

II. Medea’s history stands as a monument to conflict, especially with those heroes chosen by the gods. She sought the love of Jason and was betrayed. She sought the love and legacy of king Aegeus and was thwarted by Theseus. And, while her magiks kept her nearly immortal, her legion of Barbary pirates were thwarted by Stephen Decatur, child of Dionysus, nearly two centuries ago. And it was their conflict that took her life, as Decatur wrest from her hands a precious treasure, the dragon teeth of his great-grandsire Cadmus, and threw Medea into the sea from the bow of that ancient of ships, the Argo.

III. Decatur was known throughout the fledgling United States for his bravery, his triumphs at sea, but what remained unknown was his status as a demigod, and the quest he undertook. Then, in that age, Olympus still remained of the old world, and America was yet an unknown frontier to the children of the gods and the cultures and countries they spawned. Stephen Decatur was charged with venturing to the old world to find the ancient dragon teeth of his deceased ancestor, and bringing them back to the Americas, so that a terrible army of Spartoi would not be used to upset the balance of history and power in Europe. This he did gladly, setting off with a small fleet of ships to undertake this quest.

IV. It was Medea who discovered the resting place of Cadmus, that ancient hero, founder of Thebes, wretched and cursed to the end of his days until the gods took pity—or mocked him—by transforming the withered and exiled king into a dragon. Medea claimed the Argo, used sorceries to seduce the noble ship, and it was the Argo who spoke to Medea in the ancient tongues, revealing secrets of the gods and the island where the teeth were hidden. But the gods witnessed her plan, and sought to block it. Dionysus sent his old mentor Silenus, who disguised his Satyr body and appeared before Stephen Decatur. He revealed to the young sea captain Medea’s plan and purpose, and Decatur set forth, called by his country to defeat the Barbary pirates at Tripoli, but in truth to reach Malta before the sorceress. This he failed, but caught her before the Argo took shore, and the brave son of Dionysus stormed the Argo, and seized the teeth of his great grandfather from her grasp, and threw the sorceress to her death in Poseidon’s grip.

Next week: how the dragon's teeth got to Decatur, and how Camp Half-Blood got involved!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Very Special Skippyjon Jones Brunch!!!

Yes, it will be A Very Special Skippyjon Jones Brunch!!!

September 6th
10:30 a.m.
El Tesoro

Announcing a very cool and special part of the Decatur Book Festival!

Come have brunch with your favorite sword-fighting kitten, Skippjon Jones, and creator Judy Shachner on Sunday morning at Decatur's El Tesoro restaurant. For $25, your child will receive a special brunch and a copy of Schachner's latest, Skippjon Jones: Lost in Spice, signed in person by Schachner. Skippjon Jones will also be there, clapping along to a mariachi band. Parents are welcome to dine with their children for the cost of their brunch. Through a partnership with Decatur's Mingei World Arts, proceeds from the event, and any additional donations you care to make, will benefit Libros Para Pueblos, an organization that builds free public libraries in Oaxaca, Mexico. Tickets for the brunch, which begins at 10:30 a.m., are available through event presenter Little Shop of Stories. Tickets go on sale on Wednesday, August 5th.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tim Byrd Is Coming To DBF!

Tim Byrd
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children’s Stage
Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Chapter 1
Tim Byrd lived in the Atlanta area when AMAZING THINGS HAPPENED!

Chapter 2
A fan of pulp novels in the swashbuckling vein, Tim wrote Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom. What would happen next?!?

Chapter 3
G.P. Putnam published Doc Wilde and the Frogs of Doom! And then …

Chapter 4
Lots of great reviews of Tim’s book came in … from people like Daniel Pinkwater! But perhaps the greatest thing is going to happen next!

Chapter 5
Tim Byrd is coming to the Decatur Book Festival!!!

To find out more about Tim and Doc Wilde, click here!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Alan Gratz is coming to DBF!

Alan Gratz
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Sunday at 3 p.m.

Former Avondale resident Alan Gratz, who currently hangs out in the mountains of western North Carolina, returns to the Decatur Book Festival with a new book. The Brooklyn Nine follows nine generation of a family and their connection to baseball. Alan had preiously written one of my all-time favorites, Samurai Shortstop, which also combines sports with historical fiction, and Something Rotten and Something Wicked (something of a combination of Shakespeare and Raymond Chandler).

Alan's a great writer and a cool guy. He is also a cool author and a great guy. We're thrilled to have him back. Check out his web site to learn more about Alan and his books.