Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Learning Groove Music Classes Start Monday!

Mr. Eric, aka Eric Litwin (author of Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes and co-founder of The Learning Groove music classes for kids), is starting up another ten-week session at Little Shop of Stories on March 1st.

The 10:30 class is full, but there is still some availability at 9:30.

You can find more information here, or you can call us at the Shop.  404-373-6300

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Because you haven't seen Mo until you've opened the paper...

Mo Willems just hit us with three Cat the Cat books, his newest series in his ongoing attempt to take over the universe with awesomely illustrated, early reader funny picture books. However, you may have also noticed him in the newspaper. That's right, this past week, Mo Willems took over "Rhymes with Orange," the comic strip by Hilary Price. It seems Mo and Hil are pals, and Hil was looking for a week off. Enter friend Mo Willems!

"Orange" is funny, offbeat, and zany--a very good fit for the author of The Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Start here and read forward for a week of Mo funny!

Monday, February 22, 2010

"Percy Jackson" v. Percy Jackson

Percy Jackson & the Olympians:
The Lightning Thief Movie Review

Fantasy series books that are full of action and adventure are always difficult to convert into good movies, no matter how awesome the book. That being said, "The Lightning Thief" did a good job in capturing the attention of both fans of the book and those who have not read the series. Considering the length of the book, it would have been very hard to include everything that was in it.  This explains why the movie took on a completely different plot. I expected that this would be annoying, but they actually did it pretty well. The film incorporated events from a number of the books and casted the characters pretty well (except for the fact that Annabeth doesn't have blonde hair! Is it that hard to find an actress with blonde hair?)

I don't think that the complexity of the book translated well to the movie though. Not much was explained and if I hadn't read the book I think that I would have been very confused. Considering the difficulty of the task of creating this film, I think that it was done adequately and will probably improve with each film. Compared to the first Harry Potter movie, this was better

I give it six stars out of ten. Read the book before the movie though!

What did you think?

- Cal

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Best Author You Never Heard Of

... if only because he or she does not yet exist.

In honor of Jean-Baptiste Botul, the non-existent philosopher who recently made news, I have decided to create a non-existent author.

Before this author can write anything, I need to create background.  You know, simple things like a name -- or names, since this person can also have a nom de plume -- and some history.

I'm open to suggestions!

- Dave

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

We will be closing today at 4pm so that we can spend the evening with our own special Valentines!

We hope that each of you who came to our Fancy Storytime had a great time.  Everyone of us at Little Shop of Stories had a wonderful afternoon.  Thanks for coming!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Battle of the Prisonbreak Books

So, a few months ago, Krista and I were talking about the whole vampire fever that's swept the nation, and she said, "I wonder what the next rage is going to be." Halfway out of nowhere, and halfway because I'd just read a great book on the subject, I said "Teens in prison, trying to break out."

And darned if I wasn't (kind of) right.

I've read two already: Lockdown: Escape from Furnace, by Alexander Gordon Smith, and Incarceron by Catherine Fisher--and thought I should compare them for you. (You may also want to check out The Maze Runner and Icecore by Matt Whyman.)

Now, Incarceron is getting a lot of hype out there, and at first look, you can see why. A prison that's alive? A boy with a mysterious tattoo trapped on the inside, and a girl (about to be married in an arranged --and highly unpleasant-- wedding) with a crystal key (that matches his tattoo!) working on the outside? Terrific stuff, right? And for those of you who are really into futuristic technology, crumbling distopias, and a world made up of more traditionally fantastical elements (sages, Victorian clothes, ancient prophesies), this is definitely the book for you. My favorite parts of the whole thing involved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, many of them poems or snippets from the legends of Sapphique--the mysterious hero who is the only known person to escape from Incarceron. This gave the whole book an even more ancient-legend kind of feel, which I thought was cool.

Admittedly, to me however, Lockdown was cooler. Yes, there's still a crumbling futuristic distopia. Yes, there are fantastically weird (and very scary) not-real creatures, and yes there's a boy trapped inside. But in Lockdown the action is a lot faster paced, the consequences the characters face are much more realistic and threatening, and the rules of the prison are a lot more clear-cut (and therefore the action's a lot more suspenseful).

You'd get a good read out of either of these books though, and if my hunch is right, you'll be at the forefront of a trend whose wave is just about to crest! 


Neither Rain nor Snow nor Sleet nor Hail will Keep us From Fanciness!

Fancy Storytime is still on!
Join us today at 3 pm!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Swiss Roots

Justin has blogged about my fictitious life that was in a book.  Sometime before that I blogged about my book roots in Ireland.

Now here are my book roots in Switzerland.
This is Cal and I in front of a superb children's bookstore in the city of Thun, located on Lake Thun in Canton Bern at the base of the Swiss Alps.  Thun is amazingly beautiful.  Though fewer than 100,000 people live in the area, it not only has Kinderbuch Paradies, but two other bookstores as well.

Thun is the closest city to my ancestral homeland in the beautiful, bucolic Emmental Valley.  We were there on a somewhat rainy day.

The Shallenbergers presumably lived in the area near Schallenberg Pass.

One wonders what might have prompted them to leave this region, taking the treacherous trip abroad in 1727, settling in Pennsylvania and purchasing land in what would soon become Lancaster County.

The Shallenbergers were Mennonites, a group frequently subject to persecution.  Many Swiss Mennonites fled to the Palatinate section of Germany.  Many more to America.  We became a land of religious tolerance.

Cal likes to do stupid things, like climbing a Via Feratta high above the town of Stechelberg in the Swiss Alps.  I'm the idiot right behind him, taking this picture while shaking in my boots.  This was an easy part of the climb that included three cable bridges.

Reilly, who operates at my speed, enjoys a playground.
That's Eiger Mountain just to her right.
She could be Heidi!

Put Down That Harlequin Romance: Love Books Worth Reading

Love is in the air these days, and I'm here to help you find a good love story to curl up with on Valentine's Day. So many people think of love stories as cheap paperback books with a half-dressed vixon swooning in the arms of a chisled pirate...or Revolutionary soldier...or French aristocrat. But really there are so many other books about love to read. Here's my V-Day run down on the myriad tyes of love celebrated in literature.

Love That's Too Close for Comfort
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates is one of the most gut-wrenching love stories I've ever read. You'll find yourself cringing at Frank and April's bitter and biting insults, hoping to God you've never sounded as vindictive while fighting with a partner...but knowing you probably have. The horrifyingly realistic portrait of a marriage in shambles makes you feel like a fly on the wall of a broken home. As a reader, you have to decide if the pain and heartbreak that comes along with reading this gritty, tragic love story is worth the payoff of having read something substantail and amazingly well-written. And I can assure you it is.

Love with Man's Best Friend
If you're feeling scorned by love with people (or just extra loving toward Fido), turn to your dependable furry friend and read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This wonderful story about the ups and downs of family life is told from the perspective of the loyal dog, Enzo, and will make you certain that no one could love you better than the dog who wags his tail with excitement when you get home from work.

Forget love letters and happy endings--Sideways by Rex Pickett is a man's man kind of a book. This story about best friends on a bachelor weekend is a drunken romp through wine country, full of random hookups, wild boar hunting, and enough Pinot Noir to convince you it's the only wine worth drinking. Through it all, Miles and Jack watch each other's backs and cover for each other's (incredibly stupid) mistakes, and by the end, you'll find this crass story about platonic guy-love more than a little endearing.

Love Hurts (and so will you)
Move over, Lady MacBeth. The newest femme fatale on the block is Serena by Ron Rash, and she is a force to be reckoned with. After marrying the owner of a logging business in 1930s North Carolina, Serena arrives on the scene, training eagles to do her bidding, banishing her husband's illegitimate child, and getting rid of anyone who stands in her way. She makes the perfect compliment to her already ambitious husband and the passionate pair expands their empire, until he makes an unforgiveable mistake and has to face her consequences.

Run Around Love
I'm not a fan of adultery in real life or in fiction, but my book group just read Loving Frank by Nancy Horan about the affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and the wife of one of his clients, Mamah Borthwick, and I have to recommend it. You might disagree with the couple's selfish decisions, but the consequences and repercussions of the path they take will stick with you for a long time. I'll leave to you to judge or applaud their actions.

Generational Love
The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett is about a woman who doesn't want to be a mother, so she leaves her husband and goes to a home for unwed women who plan to give their babies away. But when the time comes, Rose rethinks her decision, keeps her baby, and stays on at the home as a cook. All is not well and good, however, because the aloof Rose holds her daughter at bay and keeps her secrets and her love at a distance. This book is such an enjoyable read because it features a woman with real and conflicting emotions, but it's devoid of the cloyingness present in some other mother-daughter stories.

Love that's Satisfying Time After Time After Time
My all-time favorite love story is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which you probably already know about. It's the story of love over time, and time travel, and two flawed but in-love individuals. I never get tired of this book, no matter how many times I read it.

So Happy Valentine's Day to you and all your loved ones--pets, angry spouses, mistresses, daughters, and friends!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Reblog

Normally we don't reblog.  Normally we don't blog about books that have spent over a year hovering around the top of the New York Times Best Seller List, have already received fistfuls of great reviews, and most everyone seems to have some degree of familiarity.  Normally I don't read books that most everyone in the Shop has already devoured.  Curiosity finally got the better of me, and I just finished Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games.  It is that good.

So here, once again, is Marcy's blog about the book.

I've heard others at the shop rave about The Hunger Games so often that I finally picked it up, just so I would know what all the fuss is about. And now, predictably, I will also rave about it :) This book has EVERYTHING that I like in a young adult book:

1. A unique, non-cliched premise: In a futuristic America, the capitol entertains its own people, and punishes the outlying districts for a long-ago rebellion, by demanding a yearly "tribute" of a boy and a girl  for a last-man-standing fight to the death in the televised Hunger Games (think WAY hard-core reality tv show);

2. A strong girl protagonist: Kat has been the main provider for her family since her father was killed, even though hunting and trading are highly illegal in her poverty-stricken district, and now will be forced to leave them to be her district's tribute;

3. Just enough of the mushy stuff- There are definitely  a few interesting romantic angles in this book, but not enough to be overwhelming;

4. Tension, action and adrenalin (although I won't say any more than that for fear of ruining any of the plot);

aaaand, MOST importantly....

5. A sequel! I did NOT want this book to end, and was extraordinarily pleased to discover that the sequel, Catching Fire, starts up right where Hunger Games leaves off, so I had more story immediately. Yay!

- Marcy

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

JD & Earl were inspired to draw about Beanworld!

This is a picture of Earl Harris's review of the Beanworld series of graphic novels by Larry Marder. This guy really likes his Beanwrld books. It may be hard to see, but here's what he has to say:
"I liked the Pod'l pool cuties and Heyoka; they were funny. Heyoka was upside down and backwards. Bean World is crazy!"

His brother likes Beanworld too! J.D. did this review:

He says: "I like the Pod'l Pool Cuties. Bean World is neat-- It's neat because it's neat how the world works."

What is Beanworld, you ask? I don't know how to describe this series of adventures of the beans and other creatures of Bean World, but J.D. and Earl are right. Beanworld is fascinating--the world they live in is wholly unique, fascinating, and bizarre. And Bean World is crazy! Check out this indescribable series next time you're in the store!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sitting at Storytime with Andrea Pinkney!

Last night at Thursday storytime, to help kick off our celebration of Black History Month, we got to share our milk and cookies with a very special guest. Andrea Pinkney came all the way down from New York City to tell us about her brand-spanking (and most-excellent) new picture book, Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up By Sitting Down, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the famous sit-in at Woolworths in Greensboro, NC. We learned a lot about the research Mrs. Pinkney did for this book, plus the interesting ways the illustrator (and her husband) Brian Pinkney worked to show the peaceful persistence of these four students, plus all the other students who participated and helped with this important, nonviolent resistance movement.

We will be showcasing a lot more fantastic books this month (many of them by Andrea Pinkney, or with the illustrations of Brian Pinkney) by and about important African Americans who have worked to make our lives and country so great. Stop by to check them out, and pick up a signed copy of Sit-In while you're at it!


We must meet hate with love. 
--Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'll Race You To Bed!

When I was little I did everything in my power to avoid getting into bed.  I'm sure my parents would have loved to have had a secret weapon to magically have me out like a light.  Sadly, my bed time story days were well before the release of Bob Shea's book, Race You To Bed.

What is Shea's secret?  He's taken a fresh approach to the regular sleepy time stories. Instead of cute lullabies and peaceful poems, Race You To Bed is chock full of action till the very last page.  The premise of the book is pretty much how the title sounds -- whoever happens to be the lucky reader has to race the rabbit to bed.  After paddling to bed, seeing the rabbit's Uncle Ted, and other things like splish-splashing to bed the book ends with the rabbit losing (luckily!) and everybody ending on an extremely sleepy note.
And, as if this book couldn't get any better, the illustrations are to die for. Super-vibrant and very busy -- it's full of the kind of images I'd love to have hanging up in my room.  Added bonus?  There's a tiny resemblance of the artist Mary Blair who illustrated I Cay Fly along with other beloved titles.
Over all, Race You To Bed is the perfect bed-time story that will have your night owls excited to get under the covers.  Who knows? You may even enjoy it too!

- Sydney

Monday, February 1, 2010

Bill Watterson Talks!

(old photo, but doesn't he look like one very happy dude?)

Bill Watterson, the creator of the dearly missed Calvin and Hobbes, gave an interview to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  This is news because Mr. Watterson hasn't done an interview in like 20 years.  He talks about the strip's legacy, what it is like to be a former rock star, and the new Calvin stamp to be issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

Fifteen years after Calvin and Hobbes rode their sled into the sunset, the compilations are still big sellers for us.  Parents want to share the wonder that the strip created with their kids.  Nothing has come along to replace it and, given the state of newspapers, nothing probably ever will.