Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy "Thanksliving!"

Everyone here at the George would like to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving! Whether you're most excited for the football, the mashed potatoes with gravy, or finally getting back at your brother for years of noogies, we hope you enjoy the holiday...and are well rested for Black Friday! (I know I'm looking forward to Katie's Tofurkey and a few highly competitive rounds of Pictionary.)

Our extended holiday hours go into effect this Friday. For your holiday shopping convenience, we will now be open from 10am until 8pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

And don't forget-- Marcella Comerford, the silhouette artist, is returning this Sunday from 10am until 6:30pm. There are still 10 minute slots available, so please call in and reserve a sitting! You can reach us at (617) 498-0062.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fabulousness All 'Round (and Round)

There has been all manner of excitement in the world o' George this week: some in-house, some in the wide world of books, and some things that we can only hint at!

First, we would like to congratulate Judy Blundell on receiving the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for What I Saw and How I Lied. The past few years have seen some fairly serious realistic or historical fiction take the proverbial cake: what a jump from 2005's Penderwicks to 2006's Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation! I wonder if this says more about the children's literary climate as a whole, or what award committees want to see in said climate...

For a full list of the other winners and their interviews, head over to The National Book Foundation.

Also, if you didn't get to hear our general manager, Bindy, on UMass Lowell's Sunrise Bookshelf on Tuesday morning, you can get the podcast here. She gives her take on the most popular and most unusual George items we carry, and just why this good little monkey has had such an enduring appeal to children everywhere.

This was not the only interview this week; we actually had cameras in here, too! We can't say more about it yet, but stay tuned! You may be seeing more of us soon...

A few staffers high-tailed it out of the store Tuesday night to turn an eager ear to authors/illustrators David Wiesner and Susan Meddaugh, renaissance woman and Houghton alum Anita Silvey, and school librarian Susan Moynihan, at a panel discussion about the wondrous James Marshall. To round out the celebrity circuit, the Horn Book's Roger Sutton moderated -- and made a few hearts pitter-patter with that jaunty bowtie. The conversation ranged from anecdotal to academic; my favorite moment had to be when Wiesner, a three time Caldecott winner, two time honoree, was put on the spot to elucidate why Marshall only ever received a Caldecott Honor for Goldilocks and the Three Bears. All agreed that is quite unfortunate that humor often gets the short stick when it comes accolades, considering the skill required for pitch perfect delivery.

For further reminiscences and tributes, come in and peruse the collector's edition of George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends, with contributions from Meddaugh and Wiesner as well as Maurice Sendak, Jon Scieszka, Jack Gantos, and others. If you prefer the classic cover styles, we have the original individual books and early readers, too.

In honor of the original funny man, here are some of our all-time favorite chuckle-fests:
Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
While no one actually wants to chase the stinky cheese man, you should certainly chase down these ridiculous (and occasionally meta) short stories. Make sure you catch the secret ending!

Dav Pilkey: The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Combining a superhero created by fourth graders with potty humor = pure genius. The comic book style is great for reluctant readers.

Arnold Lobel: Owl at Home
I like to think of earnest Owl as a forerunner of Mo Willems's Pigeon: beginning readers just want to yell out to him, "those bumps at the end of your bed are your FEET, silly owl!"

Ogden Nash: The Tale of Custard the Dragon
Told in verse, this tale of a cowardly dragon (he cries for a "nice, safe cage") who saves his "brave" friends is a hoot! Pirates beware!

Russell Hoban: How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen
Hoban doesn't just do adorable badgers! This story, illustrated by Quentin Blake, is sure to please fans of Roald Dahl's cheeky humor.

Shel Silverstein: Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book
Billed as a "primer for ADULTS ONLY," Silverstein reveals a flippant side unseen in The Giving Tree: "L is for Lollipop! Lollipops are good to eat just before supper!"

Holiday Wish Lists!

Do you find yourself walking around our store, making mental lists of what gifts to buy, and then when you come back later, you forget? We've got the solution! Just pick up a Wish List at any register, write down the items you want to remember, and come back before December 14th to receive 10% off your listed items!

To make it even easier, we've put our Wish List right on the blog for you! Just click the image below to get a printable version!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Curious George visits a radio station!

Tomorrow morning at 8:40, CG will be featured on the local radio show "Sunrise Bookshelf"!

Our general manager Bindy will be chatting with Bookshelf's host Henri about Curious George creators Margret and H.A. Rey, the history of the store, recommended new books and toys for fabulous Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, and lots more. If you miss the 8:40 broadcast on UMass Lowell's WUML 91.5 FM, you can catch it streaming on the WUML website or download it as a podcast on Friday.

We have plenty of other surprises planned for the holiday season, so stay tuned -- you don't want to miss any monkeying around!

Friday, November 14, 2008

The holiday countdown begins...!

With promises of snow for this coming weekend, it's beginning to look a little bit like...Christmas here in the Square! It's hard to believe -- as a little boy looking at our turkey stories in the chapter book room said so yesterday: "But it's just been Halloween!" Yet we have crates full of adorable polar bears in bows and tiny rattle Santas practically bleating to be stocking stuffers. Some of you may have noticed the appearance of bookcases, bedecked with green and red, already displaying the newest in Christmas and Hanukkah books and activity kits. It has only just begun, so be prepared for all kinds of holiday goodies from sweet (Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit Holiday Collection in a red and gold box set) to funny (Lemony Snicket's Lump of Coal, winging its cheeky way to us as I write).

What better way to jumpstart your holiday spirit than with an advent calendar (or two, if you really need that sugar kick)? We have traditional manger scenes, a fold-out Nutcracker stage, and all kinds of sticker and chocolate ones, too. One of these days I'm going to break down and get the 24 Penguins Before Christmas calendar, regardless of my kitchen's red schemata. It's a pop-up! It has at least one penguin per day! What more could you want from life? (visions of singing chocolate penguins that pay my bus fare...move over, sugar plums.)

If you're trying to just take it one holiday at a time, we still have pilgrim bears, harvest beanbags (no matter how many people try to tell me it's a pear, it's a squash to me), and of course, a range of Thanksgiving stories. Early and middle readers everywhere can rejoice over Peggy Parish's new book, Amelia Bedelia Talks Turkey, as well as old standbys It's Thanksgiving! by Children's Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky and The Hoboken Chicken Emergency by Daniel Pinkwater. A particular staff favorite is Lydia Maria Child's poem Over the River and Through the Woods, illustrated with gorgeous woodcuts from Christopher Manson.

In addition to holiday joy in all shapes and sizes, be sure to keep your eye out for some new features right here, we three wise monkeys are cooking up a few tricks and treats for you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

We're all winners here.

With 2008 drawing to a close, it's time to start thinking about annual book awards. The National Book Award finalists were recently announced; yesterday's New York Times included their fall children's book special, with the 10 best illustrated books of the year (click for a slide show of double-page spreads from each title!):
- A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Eerdman's)
- We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson -- a particular favorite of ours! (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion)
- Ghosts in the House! written and illustrated by Kazuno Kohara (Roaring Brook)
- Wabi Sabi written by Mark Reibstein and illustrated by Ed Young (Little, Brown)
- The Black Book of Colors written by Menena Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faria (Groundwood/House of Anansi)
- The Little Yellow Leaf written and illustrated by Carin Berger (Greenwillow/HarperCollins)
- Wave written and illustrated by Suzy Lee (Chronicle)
- A is for Art written and illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster)
- Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City written by Janet Schulman and illustrated by Meilo So (Knopf)
- Skim written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki (Groundwood/House of Anansi)

Meanwhile, the internet is buzzing with speculation about contenders for the upcoming Newbery and Caldecott medals. (Okay, maybe the entire internet isn't buzzing -- but the children's lit corner of it definitely is!) Many book clubs and libraries host mock Caldecott or Newbery award committees; here are some sites to catch you up on the front-runners so you can make your predictions -- or host a mock committee of your own!

Fuse #8 (a School Library Journal blog)'s predictions
Eva Perry's Mock Newbery Club -- voters are kids and teens weighing in on their reading!
Child Lit List Serv -- hotly debating all things children's lit, all hours of every day
Children's Literature Book Club

Let us know what your choices are -- we'll be posting our picks too!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Got a Reluctant Reader?

It can be difficult and time-consuming to buy books for a reluctant reader -- though, of course, we staffers here at Curious George are always happy to help you find the perfect book for the non-bookish child. Kiera Parrott over at the Association for Library Service to Children recently posted a few things to keep in mind on the ALSC blog. We thought we'd pass along her Reluctant Reader's Bill of Rights, to help you keep your reluctant readers sustained while they're out of school over the holidays!

A (Reluctant) Reader’s Bill of Rights

I’m a big fan of Daniel Pennac’s Reader's Bill of Rights. As a librarian -- but mostly as a reader -- it comforts me and has often empowered me to put down a book I wasn’t enjoying. In case you haven’t seen it in a while:

1. The right to not read

2. The right to skip pages

3. The right to not finish

4. The right to reread

5. The right to read anything

6. The right to escapism

7. The right to read anywhere

8. The right to browse

9. The right to read out loud

10. The right to not defend your tastes

I often find myself invoking these rights when encouraging reluctant readers. The right to skip pages, the right to browse, the right to reread (and reread and reread) are all tenets that have helped me begin to unite young (often reluctant) readers with books they will enjoy. A few months ago, however, I found myself wanting more. I began positing the creation of a Reluctant Reader’s Bill of Rights. I posted the idea on my personal blog and encouraged visitors to add their own additions. Here’s what we came up with:

The right to read at your own pace.

The right to choose whatever book you want.

The right to read graphic novels and manga.

The right to read magazines.

The right to read non-fiction.

The right to not like a book.

The right to read books published for different age levels

This is a project I still consider a work in progress. I’d love to open up a wider dialogue about reluctant readers and how to best reach out to them. I believe the first step is to inform them of their options and then empower them to make a choice.

If you've got rights to add, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post them here, or jet on over to the original post to leave comments directly!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hut cam post #1

Here are the first of the pictures from our Halloween party! Check back in soon for more shots of George and friends.

Notorious picture book divas Fancy Nancy and Olivia prove they can get along quite nicely, thank you. do Raggedy Ann and Eloise.

Then again, everyone knows Nancy is plenty fancy all by her fabulous self.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Don't forget!

Today from 3-4, cast members from Emerson College's stage adaptation of The Hundred Dresses will do a sneak-peek reading in our chapter book room! Don't miss our preview of this exciting theater production.