Sunday, December 18, 2011

Oh, Christmas Tree

Dennis, over at Next Stop ... Decatur, posted this excellent art postcard of the 2011 Christmas Tree lighting celebration held on December 1st.

Thanks, Dennis!

You may have noticed that "there's a light on this tree that won't light on one side."  Actually, it was a bunch of lights.  We tried to fix it, but we can't tell if a bad string of lights is to blame or whether something got unplugged way up in the tree on one windy night.

Either way, I think it was probably caused by the Grinch.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

NYT Notable books of 2011

The next time you're in the shop, check out our display table just inside the door- it's full of titles from the New York Times' list of notable children's books for 2011. We can really get behind this list, as it has a lot of staff favorites, such as:

 I Want My Hat Back, which demonstrates the foolishness of stealing anything from a bear;
I MUST Have Bobo, which proves that no matter what, your cat will triumph over you in a contest of wills;
The Scorpio Races, which is sort of like Misty of Chincoteague, but with evil carnivorous horses (it's better than it sounds);
Me, Jane, which is about (among other things) how childhood toys can influence your career;
and my personal favorite book of ANY genre this year, Okay for Now, which is just a story about a kid who moves to a small town and likes baseball... but read it. You'll agree with me.

These books are good. So, so, SO good. Come in and look at 'em!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Attention, guys who read and those who shop for them!

Do you have a hard-to-shop-for fella? Or are you just a guy who likes to read? Pick up one (or all!) of our 2012 selections for the Guys Who Read! They are (drumroll please)...

January:  Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
February: Winterdance by Gary Paulsen
March: The Hobbit by Tolkien
April: Just Kids by Patti Smith
May: Rising Tide by John M. Barry
June: On Writing by Stephen King
July: Dune by Frank Herbert
August: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
September: City of Thieves by David Benioff
October: Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
November: The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima
December: Guards! Guards! by Sir Terry Pratchett

If you are unfamiliar with the Guys Who Read, they are the book group here at Little Shop for, well, guys who read (more specifically, those guys who are of legal drinking age). They meet at the shop on the third Thursday of each month and head over to one of our wonderful local pubs (most recently Mac McGee's) to have a few beers and talk about books and anything else they feel like talking about.

You don't have to be a member, or shopping for one, to pick up one of these great books, but book club purchases get a 15% discount, and the set of 12 books would be an awesome holiday gift for any guy (and he can return or exchange any he already has). 

On a side note, new book group members are always welcome! Let us know if you'd like to be added to the email list.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

EVERYTHING You Need to Know!

On The Same Page's
and special guest

Friday evening
December 9th
7 p.m.
Presser Hall
Agnes Scott College

Tickets: All tickets have been distributed.  If everyone who obtained a ticket shows up, every seat will be filled.  If you do not have a ticket but would still like to attend, you can come and get in line but we can not guarantee you a seat.  However, there is a considerable likelihood that some people with tickets will not be able to come to the event.  So if you're really, really interested, come early!

Seating: This event is, for those who have a ticket, first come, first seated.  Doors open at 6 p.m.  You must be seated by 6:50 p.m.  If you are not, we might be giving away your seat and you may not get in to the event.  Good News: We will not be using the overflow room.  If you have tickets for the overflow room, you will be admitted to Presser Hall.  As such, we will be treating blue tickets and beige (overflow room) tickets the same.  At 6:50 p.m., if there are empty seats, we will begin admitting people who do not have tickets.

The Event!!! The event will be in the format of an interview, with Mr. Marcus questioning Mr. Juster.  This will be followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Book Signing: Mr. Juster and Mr. Marcus will sign books following their presentation.  People wishing to get books signed will be called up by rows.  Mr. Juster will sign one book per family.  He will sign one additional book if that additional book is purchased from Little Shop of Stories for the event.

Books for Sale: We will be selling copies of the following at the event (all prices include sales tax):

The Phantom Tollbooth: the 50th Anniversary Edition, by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer ($25.68);
The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer, annotations by Leonard S. Marcus ($32.09);
The Phantom Tollbooth (paperback), by Norton Juster, illustrated by Jules Feiffer ($7.48);
Neville, by Norton Juster, illustrated by G. Brian Karas ($19.25);
The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, by Norton Juster ($10.69);

Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way, by Leonard S. Marcus ($42.80);
Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus ($23.53);
The Wand in the World: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus, paperback edition ($16.04); and
Nursery Rhyme Comics, introduction by Leonard S. Marcus ($20.32).

Please note that we will have a limited number of copies of each of these titles for sale. Also, it is our hope that there will be a limited number of pre-signed copies of the first two books listed available for sale.  So buy early and buy often.

A Few Words About the 50th Anniversary Edition: First of all, it is beautifully bound.  It contains a brief introduction by Norton, an appreciation by Maurice Sendak (which was written for the book's 35th anniversary), and celebrations written by, among others, Jeanne Birdsall (see below), Michael Chabon, Suzanne Collins, Phillip Pullman, and Mo Willems.

A Few Words About the Annotated Edition: This contains a 31-page history of the book, written by Mr. Marcus, and including photographs.  The annotations by Leonard are engaging, informative, and often humorous.  It is fantastic.  I loved it!

Both of these editions are treasures.

A Few Words About Norton Juster (from a Random House web site):
Norton Juster is one of the most influential, and beloved children’s books authors of our time. Perhaps best known for his children’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth, his writing has touched generations of young readers, sparking a love of literature in many of them. Reviews of the book have appeared in many national publications including The New Yorker, which hailed the book as “a classic”‘ and The New York Times, which said “Norton Juster’s amazing fantasy has something wonderful for anybody old enough to relish the allegorical wisdom of Alice in Wonderland and the pointed whimsy of The Wizard of Oz.” Norton has appeared at numerous schools, libraries, and conferences across the country, where he talks to students, educators, and parents about his life, his writing style, and much more. The year 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of The Phantom Tollbooth and the media is already preparing to feature this renowned book and author in anniversary pieces. The Phantom Tollbooth has currently sold close to four million copies since its publication almost 50 years ago.

Born in June of 1929 in Brooklyn, New York, Norton Juster was an architect and planner, and is professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College. In addition to The Phantom Tollbooth, he has also penned a number of other highly acclaimed children’s books, including The Dot and the Line, which was made into an Academy Award-winning animated film, and the recent The Hello, Goodbye Window, illustrated by Chris Raschka, which was awarded a Caldecott Medal. The musical adaptation of The Phantom Tollbooth, which was first introduced 15 years ago, continues to be performed in schools and theaters nationwide, and was recently produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, touring the country for eight months.

A father and a grandfather, Norton Juster resides in Amherst, MA with his wife.

A Few Words About Leonard Marcus (from Leonard's web site):
Leonard is a rare bird: a renowned historian and critic and one of the children's book world's liveliest writers and speakers.

His highly acclaimed books about children's literature and the authors and artists who create them include: Funny Business; Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children's Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way; Minders of Make-Believe; Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon; Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom; A Caldecott Celebration; Side by Side; Pass It Down; Storied City; and The Wand in the Word.

Leonard was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, where he attended the public schools. He holds degrees in history from Yale and poetry from the University of Iowa Graduate Writers' Workshop. In 2007, Leonard was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Bank Street College of Education. He and his wife, the picture-book artist Amy Schwartz, live with their son Jacob in Brooklyn, New York.  

I will be adding information to this blog post for the remainder of the week.  Keep coming back!

We're still holding your tickets, Mr. President.
Pick them up at your convenience.
However, please be aware that if you are not seated by 6:50 p.m.,
we may have to give away your seats.

Jeanne Birdsall is On The Same Page

(well, at least we're putting them On The Same Page)

about Little Shop of Stories being
On The Same Page

A special thanks to our partners who helped make all this happen:

Decatur Rotary Club

How On The Same Page Came Together

1. Determination - We at Little Shop of Stories had talked about doing a community-wide reading program for years.  Talking about it and doing are two different things.  But early this year Krista was determined that it would happen, and she made it happen.  Go Krista!

2. Selecting a Book - The Little Shop staff got together and came up with a wish list for our very first book selection.  Knowing that The Phantom Toolbooth would be celebrating its 50th anniversary, Diane easily convinced the rest of us to place this title at the top.

3. The Negotiations - An essential element of our program was to have the author visit us to talk about his/her book.  So we had to find out if Norton Juster would come to Decatur.  Krista spoke with Sarah, our Random House representative, and got her excited about the idea.  Sarah talked to her bosses and got them excited.  Diane and Dave went to New York to meet with very important people at Random House, the publisher of The Phantom Tollboth, and got them excited.  They talked to Norton Juster and got him excited.  The bottom line is that the negotiations were very exciting.  Getting Leonard Marcus, the author of the Annotated Edition, to come was a very exciting bonus.

4. The Name -  Lots of different possibilities were bandied about, but when Sunny came up with "On The Same Page" we all knew that she had nailed it.

5. The Logo - Rob, Little Shop bookseller extraordinaire and graphic artist with Mudhouse Design, came up with this.  We love it!

6. The Tollbooth - Marcy made it.  Everyone got excited! (Photo by Katie.)

7. The Boost - The Decatur Education Foundation wanted to be involved.  Yes!  The Decatur Rotary Club, as part of their literacy efforts, wanted to help and they really stepped up.  Yes!

8. The Announcement - We talked to the very important people at The Decatur Book Festival, and they got excited.  DBF agreed to co-sponsor the program, and helped us secure Presser Hall at Agnes Scott College for Norton's visit.  They also allowed us to make The Announcement on September 3rd on the Children's Stage at this year's AJC Decatur Book Festival.  So Krista got up on stage and made the big announcement and read from the book and kids acted out part of it and everyone got excited! (Photo by Ralph Ellis, Decatur-Avondale Estates Patch.)

8. Book Club Training - We wanted to work with existing book clubs (including several here at Little Shop), classrooms, libraries, and other groups (scouts, church groups, neighborhood groups) who might be interested in reading and discussing The Phantom Tollbooth.  We put together packets with discussion questions, bookmarks, a crossword puzzle, and other good things, and conducted a training session for discussion leaders.

9. The Proclamation - We were excited when the mayor of Decatur, Bill Floyd, issued a Proclamation declaring October 25th -- the official 50th anniversary of The Phantom Tollbooth -- as the On The Same Page Day of Reading!


10. Reading - People read The Phantom Tollbooth!  Lots and lots of people.  Hundreds upon hundreds.  Maybe thousands!  Even big time famous authors like Jeff Kinney (with Sunny), Rick Riordan (with Diane), Carmen Deedy (inside the phantom tollbooth), and James Dashner (inside Little Shop)!!!

11. The Movie - We screened The Phantom Tollbooth (1970) at Decatur High School on October 27th.  The live action / animated film was directed by the incomparable Chuck Jones.  Hundreds of people came to see the movie!

12. Halloween - Some kids couldn't resist.  Only in Decatur would a kid get excited about dressing up as Milo or Tock!

13.  The Phantom Tollbooth Extravaganza - Little Shop was excited to host a discussion, debate, and spelling bee on November 17th.  Rhyme and Reason were there.  We made people eat their own words!

14. The Visit - Norton Juster is Coming!  Leonard Marcus is Coming!  It's almost Friday!  Can you tell we're excited?!

Think about this: according to Wikipedia, there were a total of 288,355 new titles and editions published in the United States in 2009.  Logically, about the same number of books must go out of print every year.  Very, very few books stand the test of time.  It is a truly remarkable achievement to write a book that is on the shelves of virtually every library and most every bookstore fifty years after its initial publication.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The 2011 Decatur Christmas Tree

Here are the facts:

What: The Decatur Christmas Tree Lighting
complete with: hot chocolate, carols from the Voice of 5th Avenue, sweet treats,
and maybe even a visit from a jolly man in a red suit
Where: East Court Square
right in front of Little Shop of Stories
When: Thursday    December 1st     7 p.m.
Who: All of Decatur!
Why: Because we can't contain all this Christmas spirit!
How: See below.....

Here is the story:

We've found the perfect tree at Noel Forest Christmas Tree Farm, in Cartersville.

It takes a village to move a 30-foot Christmas Tree.
Thank goodness we had help from friends and the guys at
Atlanta Peach Movers!
Thad and Jugs trim down the base of the tree so that it will fit into the tree stand. (Last year we forgot to measure the tree stand and had to do this back at the shop. This year we learned our lesson.)

Transporting the tree to the truck.

Krista LOVES Atlanta Peach Movers. Check out this awesome jump shot. (This is what she was doing while the men figured out how to get the tree into the truck.)

Now we just have to get it into the truck.

Yes, we know. It's huge. Maybe we went overboard.

Here is the crew from Atlanta Peach Movers.
These guys were awesome.
Use them if you need to move something!
Efficient, hardworking, and friendly, too!

Here's the whole team who went to get the tree, happy that it's finally in the truck. But the work is just beginning...

Here we are on Tuesday morning, trying to figure out how to get the tree lifted and leaned against the building. We literally recruited people off the street to help lift it while six men on the roof pulled and grunted with all their might. When it was in place, Krista shouted, "It's a Christmas miracle!" Rob looked at her and said, "If it magically appeared up here it would be a Christmas miracle. This was just Christmas hard work."

Krista and Terra are ready to decorate!

Sunny was fearless on the 20-foot scissor lifts. Once we got into the tree, we forgot how high up we were, but at first most of us were pretty nervous. By the end of the day we were decorating like pros, though. It took six hours, 100 strands of lights, dozens of ornaments, and then we were ready for King Tree Experts to bring their crane and lift it onto the roof.
We really couldn't do this without King Tree Experts!
Those guys are fantastic!

The tree is decorated and ready to go on the roof!
If you want to see it lit, come to the tree lighting event on
Thursday night at 7 pm.
See you then, and Happy Holidays!

Also, we want to add that while the pictures shown are of the physical work it took to get the tree on the roof, this wouldn't be possible without the sponsorships of local businesses. So many businesses contributed to make the tree a reality, and we are so appreciative! So thanks to the following for their support in getting this tree up on the roof! Apolinsky & Associates, Atlanta Peach Movers, The Bakery at Cakes & Ale, Cafe Alsace, The Cookie Studio, The Cook's Warehouse, Decatur Downtown Development Authority, Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop, Fidelity Bank, Greene's Fine Foods, Harry Norman Realtors, Homegrown, King Tree Experts, Leon's Full ServiceMcCurdy & Candler, LLC, Mingei World Arts, Mudhouse Design, My Own Bookkeeper, Joan Rau, LMT, Sherlock's Wine Merchant, Squash Blossom, Starbucks Coffee, Townsend Concrete Services, Veritas Planning Group, and Wild Oats & Billy Goats.

I still don't know what "plotz" means.

First of all, let me admit: I do not celebrate Hannukah. So in that way, I am not at all qualified to make this blog post, seeing as it's all about Hannukah gift giving. However, I AM an avid gift-giver, and with some friends who celebrate Hannukah, I had to do some research, and those of you in my same situation may benefit from it.

First of all, do not be intimidated by Little Shop's Giant Wall of Christmas (check out the picture). If you're looking for books that are actually about Hannukah, they are all the way on the right- very easy to find.

I have three books that I enjoy giving as sort of accompaniments to the holiday books- not actually about Hannukah, but very funny and appropriate. The first one is Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to be Kosher, by Laurel Snyder. If not already stashed with the Hannukah books, it will be found in the picture book section.

The other two are board books, so they are located in the purple house at the back of the store, with the other board books. There are BabYiddish, also by Laurel Snyder, and Let's Nosh!, which is part of a series about different kinds of food.  They are both fantastic, and small enough to pair with another gift.

Happy shopping!

Monday, November 28, 2011

President Obama Is On The Same Page!

On Small Business Saturday, President Obama went shopping with his two daughters, Malia and Sasha.  "Where did they go?" you might ask.

To a bookstore!  The president and his kids made purchases at Kramerbooks & Afterwards CafĂ© in Dupont Circle, not far from the White House.  "And what did they buy?" you might ask.

Among their purchases was Norton Juster's, The Phantom Tollbooth, the first selection in Little Shop of Stories' community-wide reading program!

They're now On The Same Page!

President Barack Obama is On The Same Page

How cool is that!

Little Shop of Stories is now holding FOUR tickets to the Norton Juster event on December 9th for the First Family.  The limit is normally two tickets, but what the heck.

You can pick them up at the will-call table, Mr. President.

Besides The Phantom Tollbooth, they also purchased the following books: Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz; Tails, by Matthew Van Fleet; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever, by Jeff Kinney; Zen Shorts, by Jon Muth; The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht; Descent into Chaos, by Ahmed Rashid; and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick.  (An excellent mix of great books.)

Here's the AP video!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ok, so I am loving this picture book. My Bear Griz, by Suzanne McGinness, is about a boy named Billy who loves bears. As you might infer from the picture, I can totally relate. However, while I have to settle for a hat, Billy has a grizzly bear friend named Griz, and they do all kinds of fun stuff. I would normally contend that gold-sequined bears are far superior to other, non-sequined bears, but Griz kind of takes the cake for awesomeness. I particularly enjoy the scribbled notes on the margins of the illustrations. Come in and read it today!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Norton Juster is Coming Soon!

and special guest

Friday evening
December 9th
7 p.m.
Presser Hall, Agnes Scott College

No, he's not Santa Claus.  It just kind of feels that way.

We couldn't think of a better present that a visit by Norton Juster, the author of The Phantom Tollbooth.  As an incredibly special extra gift, Norton will be joined on stage by Leonard Marcus, perhaps the most knowledgeable person alive on the subject of children's literature and editor of The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth.

This is the culmination of our On The Same Page community-wide reading program that was originally designed to be a Decatur thing, but has caught the imagination of schools and libraries around DeKalb County as well as in Gwinnett County, Atlanta, and Cobb County.  We couldn't be more thrilled.

This is a ticketed event.  Tickets -- limit two per person and absolutely free -- can be obtained in person at Little Shop of Stories.  Tickets are now also available over the phone.  We'll hold them at will-call until the event.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jeff Kinney is Coming, and He's Bringing Snow!!!!!!

This is the truth.  Honest.  We couldn't make this kind of stuff up.
Jeff Kinney
author of the outrageously popular
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 
series, is coming to the Decatur Square this Saturday, November 19th.

This is guaranteed to be one bizarre event.

First, Jeff is bringing snow.  More accurately, he's bringing a truck of ice and another truck with a snow making machine.  He'll be turning part of the Square into a blizzard aftermath.  The snow area is free and open to the public starting at 11 a.m.

Pretty cool, eh?

Actually, the forecast calls for partly cloudy and 62 degrees.

Jeff will be speaking at the gazebo at noon.  After that, he'll start signing books.

You will need a ticket to get in the book signing line.  There are a limited number of tickets, but that number happens to be 1,000.  (Jeff is a very generous guy.)  One ticket is good for one family.

To get a ticket, go to Little Shop of Stories and purchase a copy of Jeff's newest book, Cabin Fever.  It just came out today!  Then you'll get a free ticket.

On Saturday Jeff will sign every book that you purchase from Little Shop of Stories for this event.  He'll also sign up to two books brought from home.  In the interest of keeping the line moving, Jeff will be signing only -- no personalization.

If available, remaining tickets for the signing line will be given out the morning of the event, while supplies last.

This should be a blast.  Everyone at Little Shop had a great time with Jeff when he was here a couple of years ago.  (He only brought a pen.)  Jeff didn't come last year, but he did send a Popsicle frozen sugared confection truck to Decatur to give out free purple frozen sugared confections to promote Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, and we gave out a lot of those free purple frozen sugared confections.  This year, it's both Jeff and a winter wonderland.

Wahooooooo!!!  We look forward to seeing you all!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Dear Little Shop of Stories blog readers,
You may or may not know that I (Marcy) am a big fan of chickens. Right now I am particularly chicken-obsessed because I have some brand-new baby chicks at home. In my defense, my chickens are SO cute that there would have to be something wrong with me if I didn't have chickens on my mind. Look at the picture- I took that in my dining room. I mean, really. Irresistible. BUT my job is telling you about awesome books, not my pets. However, I can multitask.

So without further ado, I present to you my favorite chicken books.

1. Tillie Lays an Egg by Terry Golson. Mr. Golson is a real keeper of chickens, and is goofy enough to have written a book documenting the crazy places (like laundry baskets and the driver's seat of a truck) his hen Tillie lays her eggs. It's full of fantastic pictures (not illustrations) of his house and farmyard, and he even provides a page with picures of all the hens in his flock, and their names.

2. Coop by Michael Perry is a sequel to Truck: A Love Story and is a wonderful book to read if you like your philosophical ponderings couched in terms of funny country living misadventures. This is a man who turns his endeavors at building a chicken coop and pigpen and garden into an epic journey of the mind and spirit. If I didn't already want to live on a farm, I would have begun to want to by the time I was halfway through this book- plus, he doesn't hold back on the gritty (and often hilarious) workings of the reality of life on a small farm.

3. Extraordinary Chickens is, well, extraordinary. Just as a hypotehtical, let's say that you want to keep chickens- maybe you're even a little obsessed, not that we know anybody like that, of course- but people look at you funny when you say so. I suggest that you leave this gorgeous, gorgeous book on your coffee table. It's a collection of photos (with handy-dandy information included) of all the fun and crazy breeds of chickens you can keep. It's also a fantastic gift for anyone who is already a fan of chickens, even if they don't keep them.

4. Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, by Gail Damerowe, is the quintessential book for anyone actually wanting to keep chickens. I could go on and on about it, but if you're into chickens it would be super boring, and if you ARE into chickens, you just need to get a copy, right now, and read it immediately. It's not something we typically keep in stock, but if you call ahead we can order it for you.

5. The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez is the first in a trilogy of gloriously quirkly picture books documenting the complex relationship between a fox and a chicken. Theer are no words, so you are left to interpret the story based solely on the drawings. The bookstore staff has had many lively discussions- is it true love? Stockholm sydrome? What's the significance of the frying pan? Join us in loving this goofy book!

6. Busy Chickens is a great way to start off your little people on the route to chicken-craziness. It's sort of the board book version of Extraordinary Chickens, with rhymingly-captioned photos of chickens doing silly things. There's a whole series, with Busy Doggies, Busy Piggies, et cetera, and they are all delightful.