Monday, September 28, 2009

Happy Banned Book Week!

Pull out your fire extinguishers!

Every year in September we celebrate Banned Book Week to honor all the books that have been censored, argued against, removed from libraries, generally frowned up and sometimes even burned.

Books that have made the list include:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman
Forever by Judy Blume
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

For a more complete list of banned books, click here.

Join us this Saturday night (October 3) at 7 pm for an adult storytime! We'll drink wine and read some of our favorite banned books.

In the meantime, enjoy reading the Banned Book Manifesto, written by Ellen Hopkins (author of Crank, Glass). It'll give you chill bumps and make you raise your fist against book bannings everywhere.


To you zealots and bigots and false
patriots who live in fear of discourse.
You screamers and banners and burners
who would force books
off shelves in your brand name
of greater good.

You say you’re afraid for children,
innocents ripe for corruption
by perversion or sorcery on the page.
But sticks and stones do break
bones, and ignorance is no armor.
You do not speak for me,
and will not deny my kids magic
in favor of miracles.

You say you’re afraid for America,
the red, white and blue corroded
by terrorists, socialists, the sexually
confused. But we are a vast quilt
of patchwork cultures and multi-gendered
identities. You cannot speak for those
whose ancestors braved
different seas.

You say you’re afraid for God,
the living word eroded by Muhammed
and Darwin and Magdalene.
But the omnipotent sculptor of heaven
and earth designed intelligence.
Surely you dare not speak
for the father, who opens
his arms to all.

A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.
— Ellen Hopkins, bestselling author of Crank and newly published Tricks
Banned Books Week.
Fight With Us.
September 26-October 3

--Krista Gilliam

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ayyyy! Well, Blog Me Down!!!

Argh!! As many of you know (or maybe you don't) September 19th was National Talk like a Pirate Day. Little Shop of Stories happens to love pirates so it was natural that we threw a party!


Captain Marcy and myself encouraged all our pirates in training to dress the part and on arrival everyone received their customary pirate tattoos. The crew also scored pirate earrings and a menacing skull and cross bones eye patch. To top it all off, we created what every good pirate needs at one point or another: hook hands!

Looking the part can only get you so far. The next step was to learn the speak the language. We gathered around at the secret pirate headquarters, don't tell - it's the couches upstairs, and learned some important vocabulary. Do you know the art of 'walking the plank'? Once we were well versed in "Argh"s and "Blimey!"s we had a pirate themed story time. There are many great pirate books but the two that made the cut were How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and Pirate Girl by Cornelia Funke.

All this hard work was leading up to one thing: a treasure hunt. The pirates broke up into teams, boarded their ships, and sailed downstairs. Captain Terra came up with some challenging questions which included things like: "If you could turn our frogs, Atticus and Miss Readalittle, into pirates, what would their pirate names be?". My favorite answer for that question was "Scurvy The Frog and Green Beard". The competition was fierce and, in the end, everyone walked away with at piece of the elusive treasure. What did the treasure consist of? Chocolate gold coins, of course.

Here's some pictures of our fishing-pole-wielding-book-reading-pirates:

Over all it was a great swashbuckling day!

- Captain Sydney

Coming in October!

Soooooooooooooo much stuff is happening in October! Here's just a partial list:

A Winnie-the-Pooh Party in anticipation of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, the first new Pooh book in 80 years;

Lego Star Wars Party!

Wild Thing Storytime in anticipation of the movie;

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days release party;

The Halloween Party to end all Halloween Parties.

Not on our e-mail list?  A newsletter goes out around the first of every month with details of all our events.  You can sign up here!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SkiipyJon Jones: Lost in Spice - A Deconstruction

This is a book about a cat who thinks he's a dog. I can certainly understand the psychology of any cat projecting canine qualities upon himself. After all, dogs are superior and even an animal as dumb as a cat still has aspirations.

But this cat (who thinks he's a dog) thinks he goes to Mars. The planet. By going into his closet and blasting off.

Even I didn't think that cats were this stupid. But it's evidently true and I'm not really surprised.

I liked this book because it exposed cats for what they really are. It's also surprisingly fun to read (for a cat book).

- Scrappy

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Pure Review

Terra Elan McVoy's Pure has won over lots and lots of readers, critics, and bloggers. One of the best critiques I've read comes from Paul Goldschmidt of Middleton, Wisconsin.

"A few reviews back, I said I was laying down a gauntlet for a YA writer to address conscience and religious faith in a mature and respectful fashion. Had I realized that the challenge would be answered so quickly (and in fact was already sitting in my to-read pile), I would have just hurried off to read this book! McVoy really hits the subject soundly and firmly."

"There are a lot of other elements to this story and I imagine that this would make an excellent book for discussion. That in itself should be considered a mark of approval."

You can read it in its entirety here.

My very favorite review comes from former Decatur resident and Columbia Theological Seminary graduate Adam Copeland. I still read his blog, A Wee Blether, though Adam has since moved to one of those square-shaped states where it is probably already snowing.

"... if you work with high school youth, read this book. If you have high school children, read this book. If you’re in high school yourself, I totally recommend it even more."

(In the interest of full disclosure, Adam admits that while growing up in Tallahassee, Terra was his babysitter .)

You can read excerpts from more reviews at Terra's website. (This is a rare feat of self-promotion and I can feel the angst she experiences in posting these; what can I say, she's confident, but modest.)

Have you read Pure? Don't be shy. Stop by Little Shop and tell her how much you loved it. Or write a blog about it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Let Us Pause And Reflect

On What A Great Bookstore We Have Become.

We at Little Shop of Stories have no trouble being humble. Trust me. But sometimes we have to congratulate ourselves as well.

Check out the latest New York Times Bestsellers Lists for Children's Books.

Little Shop has been fortunate enough to have brought many of the authors (and one illustrator) on these New York Times lists to Decatur -- most in the last two years.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Oh, I believe in yesterday

I'm taking my time for a number of things
That weren't important yesterday

You think you lost your love,
Well, I saw her yesterday.
It's you she's thinking of
And she told me what to say.

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah
And with a love like that
You know you should be glad.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


There must be some word today

It was twenty years ago today,
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play

I read the news today, oh boy

If I could get my way
I'd get myself locked up today

Someday when we're dreaming,
deep in love, not a lot to say,
then we will remember
things we said today

I don't wanna say that I've been unhappy with you
But as from today well I've seen somebody new

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way

I think I'm gonna be sad, I think it's today, yeh
The girl that's driving me mad, is going away

The Magical Mystery Tour is dying to take you away
Dying to take you away - take you today

You're thinking of me
The same old way
You were above me
But not today

One sweet dream
Pick up the bags and get in the limousine
Soon we'll be away from here
Step on the gas and wipe that tear away
One sweet dream came true today

Imagine all the people
Living for today

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What A Great DBF!!!

The heart of the Decatur Book Festival -- the reason 75,000 or so of us came this Labor Day weekend -- is the authors.

There are far too many for me to name, but I would like to thank each and every writer and illustrator who came to the Target Children's Stage and The Escape.

The soul of the Decatur Book Festival is the collective 75,000 or so of us who came out to see the authors. I would like to thank each and every one of you for attending. To those of you who had to wait in a sometimes long line to get a book signed, I thank you for your patience. To those of you who purchased books from Little Shop, I thank you for your support. We hope you all had a great time.

Little Shop of Stories does have a limited number of books that were signed by authors appearing at the Target Children's Stage and The Escape for sale. In particular, Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant went on sale today. Kate signed them while she was here, though we were unable to actually distribute them before now.

Below is a small sample of what we have available.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Terra Elan McVoy Is Coming To DBF!!!

Terra Elan McVoy
Decatur Book Festival
The Escape
Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Yes, it is Terra. Our Terra. THE TERRA!

Her book, Pure, published this year by Simon & Schuster, is selling so well, it is going to a second printing. They have already announced that it will eventually be published in paperback.

And now she's a star of the Decatur Book Festival! YEA!!!

In case you don't already know all about Terra, you can find out more here.

Eric Litwin Is Coming To DBF!!!

Eric Litwin
Target Children's Stage
Decatur Book Festival
Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

"Mr. Eric" Litwin, musician, storyteller, teacher, and now, author, will be reading and performing from his new book, Pete The Cat, I Love My White Shoes.

He'll be on stage with illustrator James Dean to close out the children's stage on Sunday. We're really excited about this.

Pete is the best selling book in the history of Little Shop of Stories.

There's no typo there, folks. It is our #1 best seller, even though the book has only been in existence for one year. And for part of that year, all the books had been sold and everyone was waiting for the second printing.

Eric and James have performed in the shop a few times already, and we always have good crowds and everyone has a great time.

For more information about Eric, click here to go to his website.

The weather should be great. The Saturday evening Concert on the Square will be held on Sunday at 7 p.m., so come early and listen to Pete.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Guess What? It's Not Going To Happen

I had all kinds of good intentions of blogging the biographies of everyone coming to the Decatur Book Festival. It's not going to happen.

When I wrote these late at night, I found myself spending just as much time editing the next day.

My apologies to all the authors who did not get included. We do love you, and we do thank you over and over for coming to coming to Decatur!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Judy Schachner Is Coming To DBF!!!

Judy Schachner
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Sunday at 12:30 pm

SkippyJon Jones is one confused Siamese cat. You see, El Skippito thinks he's a Chihuahua who leads a gang of friends known as Los Chimichangos.

His latest adventures are chronicled in his fifth picture book, Lost In Spice, which is being premiered at the Festival on Sunday!

The special brunch is all sold out. However, if you would like to visit with Skippy, come to El Tesoro restaurant on Church Street (just a couple of doors south of Twain's) at 12 noon on Sunday. There will be a Mariachi parade from there heading to the Decatur Square where Judy Schachner will be presenting at the Target Children's Stage at 12:30.

Judy last visited two years ago at the Book Festival. Her books are wonderful. She was wonderful ... even though I kept spacing out everytime she asked if she could go get something to eat. At least this time I know she'll be fed.

(Here's a secret about authors of wonderful children's books: they tend to be even more wonderful than their books.)

You can find out more about Judy if you click here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Jon Scieszka Is Coming To DBF!!!

Jon Scieszka
Decatur Book Festival
Target Children's Stage
Sunday at 1:30 pm
The Escape
Saturday at 3 p.m


Jon Scieszka was named the Inaugural National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. Yes, this sounds like a big deal. But really, if it was a big deal it would have been done long before now. Like, let's say that Jon had been named Ambassador to the Court of St. James's. (That's what we officially call our ambassador to the United Kingdom. The U.K. consists of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Great Britain consists of England, Wales, and Scotland. So one person is the ambassador to England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.) Now that would have been important. John Adams first held that title (back in 1785!), and he went on to become the president of the United States as did James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, and James Buchanan. Other famous people have held the job, like Robert Todd Lincoln, Andrew Mellon, Joseph Kennedy, W. Averell Harriman, Walter Annenberg, and Elliot Richardson. That's an impressive list.

To answer the question you are undoubtedly thinking: Yes, you have to address him as "Mr. Ambassador." At least to his face. Then there's this ring thing, but you don't have to kiss it right now because Jon is a bit paranoid of the flu. He likes to be carried around in a chair, but we understand that this is optional.

So please humor Jon by showing up at one of his two speeches. (I know, you're asking, "why does he get to give two speeches." The answer is, "because.") We might ask you to help lift his chair and carry him around in a circle for a while. It depends what kind of mood he is in. And do tell him that he might someday be president.

We also hope he has a sense of humor.

For more questionable truths about Jon Scieszka, please see his website.