Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Frugal Shopper

We here at the George totally understand budgeting concerns in these troubling times, which is why we're going to try to highlight toys and gifts that are particularly fun and affordable in this new feature. Whether you're a grandma who likes to bring a little something to the little (and not so little) relatives when you visit, or you're buying for your child's schoolmate's birthday party, or any other occasion where you just don't want to go empty-handed but can't break the bank, we have some surprisingly awesome affordable and quality options.

Gifts Under $ 20

Klutz activity books are renowned for their fun factor and easily understood instructions.
For girls who like to make jewelry, try Friendship Bracelets, which comes with embroidery floss, beads, and instructions for over a dozen kinds of bracelets. If you have a comic fan, try Quick Draw Flip Books, which contains an assortment of mini flip books with scenes to fill in.

For the more advanced jewelry aficionado, Alex's Native American Bead Loom is a kit to create gorgeously detailed beaded rings and bracelets. The loom and beading needle come with easy instructions and over 2,000 seed beads.

Watches are a safe, fun bet for children you don't know very well. We carry a few brands with designs that run the gamut from sports, horses and spiders, to trucks, puppies, and flowers.

Upstairs in our newly relocated games case, you can find I Spy Eagle Eye, Junior, a pre-reading I Spy matching game, great for families with some siblings that can read and some just learning.

In the baby room, the musical, light-up, spinning Bump'n'Go Alien from International Playthings has inspired many an impromptu dance from toddlers and staff alike. We dare you not to dance.

Gifts Under $ 10

Klutz, that super fun activity kit company I mentioned above, also makes a line of easy and safe craft kits for the younger crowd, called Chicken Socks (the line is Chicken Socks, I mean, but you could call your honeybunny crawler that too, I suppose). The possibilities range from a Superhero Starter Kit (comes with cape!) and a pop-out, scary Build Your Own Monsters to doll lovers' Clothespin Cuties and a fold-out Mermaid Palace.

Older artistes will enjoy the classic craft of Shrinky Dinks from Alex, with cool themes like robots, pirates, and cars & trucks. This activity requires adult supervision during the oven baking, but younger siblings can participate, too, as the shapes do not require cutting.

Who doesn't love stickers?? How about stickers you can reuse again and again? Peaceable Kingdom's Sticker Activity Fun Totes contain two scenes and dozens of reusable stickers, in many themes, including dinosaurs, farm animals, pirates, and horses. They also have sticker scenes for characters too: Curious George (of course!), Thomas the Tank Engine, and Dr. Seuss.

For the budding musician in your life, we have an assortment of instruments. For the classicist, try Schylling's Mini Piano, or Toysmith's Song Flute. For those wanting more unusual sounds, JackRabbit makes adorable yellow and purple Pufferfish Shakers. Schylling's tin music boxes, either decorated in primary colors or with farm scenes, are also fun for beginning slo-o-ow can you play Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata or the Farmer in the Dell?

Move over, Rubber Ducky, the coolest toy for getting clean are Alex's Draw In The Tub Crayons! These crayons come in your basic six colors and can write on (and easily come off!) bath tiles and toddler bodies. Also try the Star Crayon, one graspable star with six different colors to create bathtub masterpieces.

Gifts Under $ 5

On those sunny, windy days that are soon upon us, nothing beats a Balsa Wood Glider soaring in the park. These simple planes are easy to assemble and easy to fly, and come in different styles, including Sky Streak Airplane, Starfire Glider, and Biplane Glider.

Toysmith's Scratch Board Art are great to entertain kids at restaurants or traveling: these lightweight boards don't need too much room or make a big mess. Scratching at the black and white lines reveals colorful designs. (I remember my babysitter used to make these with crayons, it was awesome scratching off the black to see what she'd drawn underneath.)

One of our biggest hits is one of our smallest items: Hogwild's colorful, animal-themed joined chopsticks! These are great for any kid (or adult) who has trouble with sushi, or for any picky eater. You can choose from dinosaurs, zoo or farm animals shapes.

I've saved my very favorite for the end: a lobster desk set! This small lobster opens up to reveal a crab paper clip, which in turn opens to reveal a frog eraser. No school supply box or executive corner office should be without this handy crustacean.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

February Vacation Doldrums?

For all of you, like me, who are unfortunately not traveling to warmer climes this month, there are some pretty AWESOME things happening right here in Boston to take your mind off of sleet and vacation homework...

Two of the most beloved early reader series, Frog and Toad and The Magic Tree House, have been made into Broadway musicals and will be in town this month.

Based on Arnold Lobel's stories about two quirky amphibian friends, A Year with Frog and Toad will be up at the Stoneham Theatre from February 26th through March 15th. Directed by Caitlin Lowans, the music is by Robert Reale and the lyrics were adapted by Willie Reale.

Over at the Colonial Theatre on February 21st and 22nd (that's this weekend!), you can see Magic Tree House the Musical. Based on the series by Mary Pope Osborne, the story (an extension of the Merlin Missions) was written by Will Osborne, (who also writes the Magic Tree House Research Guides) and the lyrics co-authored by Mr. Osborne and composer Randy Courts.

I don't know about anybody else, but I am so there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

She likes us! She really likes us.

Saturday's valentine reading lovefest was a hit! My favorite guest was this little girl in a giant pink coat who asked me, "Is Grace Lin here yet?" She'd apparently been practicing drawing the dog from Year of the Dog, and was excited for a drawing lesson from the author herself! Mary Brigid Barrett had postcards kids could fill out to send to the President to go along with Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out, Nancy Viau brought rocks and egg cartons to demonstrate how to start a rock collection like Sam's in Samantha Hansen Has Rocks In Her Head, and Laya Steinberg had word and picture searches as in her books Thesaurus Rex and All Around Me I See. Thanks to all the authors, illustrators, editors (et al) and the folks at IndieBound who orchestrated Kids Heart Authors Day, and to everybody who came out for it!

In addition to being one of our honored authors for Kids Heart Authors Day, Miss Lin also wrote an incredibly sweet bit about the store, and her time working here, over at the Blue Rose Girls blog. I won't spoil her eloquence or sweetness, I will merely leave you with the title: "The bookstore that changed my life." (Melt.)

Remember my hint last week about the e-newsletter Daily Candy? The article about Ruth Gordon's Potty Caddy is up now, and you can read it right here, along with other bathroom tips, products, and recommendations. And of course, you can always come in and check out the caddy itself right in our baby room's potty section.

Good news on the George T-shirt front! It is still very sad that we can longer get the old shirts (So many adults still ask for the ether shirt), but we have new ones with the PBS Kids Curious George on them, in those much-asked for toddler sizes. The yellow "Big City Fire Dept" depicts George carrying a big firefighter's helmet. The other shirt is pale blue featuring a full color George with an outline of George's face as the background. Both shirts come in sizes 2 T through 4 T (subject to availability). Curious George shirts can be found in the chapter book room downstairs, with other youth shirts from the PBS Kids series, the few that remain from other lines (Music Monkey, Teacher's Pet, to name a few) and yellow George raincoats in infant sizes. You can also order them from the store's website.

Staff Pick Pupu Platter

Need a great read for your spring break? Never fear, the CG blog is here with another installment of staff picks to help you find just the right one! From horror to humor, fantasy to mystery, and some books that bend and blend genres, you're sure to find something here for that long plane ride or lazy day in the sun.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Bookseller: Michelle
Genre: contemporary fiction/graphic novel; for fans of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Suggested reading level: age 12 and up

The three narratives of new-kid Jin Wang, TV's Chin-Kee, and the legend of the Monkey King come together in heart-breaking and hilarious ways to spin a new tale on the age-old theme of figuring out just where one fits in.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Bookseller: Katie
Genre: mystery
Suggested reading level: age 9 and up

Melanie and April are obsessed with Ancient Egypt, and a vacant lot seems the perfect place to create an Egypt of their own. "The Eygpt game" catches on with other neighborhood kids -- until a local murder adds unexpected danger. A Newbery Honor book; look for the sequel The Gypsy Game.

Barnaby Grimes: The Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart
Bookseller: Bindy
Genre: horr
Suggested reading level: age 9 and up

Manipulation of high society, explotation of social miscreants as practicest in the poshest and poorest parts of Victorian London set the bleak and shadowy mood for this "kill-the-beast" mystery, where readers are kept guessing at who the beast really is. Human, werewolf, or something worse?

Kit's Wilderness by David Almond
Bookseller: Miruna
Genre: magical realism
Suggested reading level: age 12 and up

The Watsons move back to Stoneygate to care for Kit's grandfather. Here Kit meets John Askew, a dangerous boy who teachers Kit the game called Death. A novel full of suspense, mystery, and magic, this is probably my favorite book in the store -- enjoy!!

The Mouse and His Child by Rusell Hoban
Bookseller: Rachel
Genre: toy fantasy
Suggested reading level: age 9 and up

When a toy wind-up mouse and his son are discarded, their real adventure begins! Follow them on their quest to become self-winding, through danger, separation, and philosophy to a hopeful end. An attentive reader will find something new in this book and its vivid cast of characters every time.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Candies of All Kinds

I have overheard from a little bird that Daily Candy, a free e-mail newsletter and website, may feature a potty-training product we carry in their Kids edition next week. Even if potty-training advice isn't what you need right now, check out their helpful blog--it covers all the latest, hottest, and handiest in kids' products, fashion, food and kid-friendly restaurants. There is a general Kids Everywhere weekly edition, but also a Kids Boston, featuring local finds and hidden gems.

It was a rough two weeks there without Greg and Rowley, but The Last Straw, the third installment in Jeff Kinney's hilarious Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is back in and in pride of place in the chapter book room. Just in time for your young valentine...

The store set-up has been undergoing a few switcheroos lately! I think one of the most successful alterations has been putting American Girl character books, kits, and guides on a spinner next to the bench display of the craft sets. Collectors can find the new girl Chrissa's books here. There is so much to look at and play with everywhere, we hope that the changes will make finding exactly what you need that much easier. Of course, if there's a particular something you can't find, we're happy to offer alternative suggestions or special order it for you!

Lastly-- you only have two days left to get a Cupid's bow and arrow and a pink plush monkey to capture your little love's heart, so come on over or give us a call! Still searching for the perfect gift? Check out Katie's post for some ideas.

Don't forget--(how could you with my plugs for it inundating the internet?)--Saturday is Kids Heart Authors Day! Over 40 independent bookstores and more than 160 authors and illustrators across New England are participating in this event to celebrate reading. We will be hosting authors Grace Lin, Nancy Viau, Laya Steinberg, and Mary Brigid Barrett, who will answering questions about writing, signing books, and leading activities. The event starts at 10 am and goes until noon. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Best of the Graphic Novels Section!

Hello! Roving reporter Rachel here, to tell you all about what's new and cool on our Graphic Novels shelf!

The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard by Eddie Campbell and Dan Best follows the bizarre adventures of Etienne as he assumes the identity of his dead uncle--The Amazing Remarkable Leotard, famed throughout Paris as the original flying trapeze artist. Each hilarious episode is filled with circus hijinks, Forrest-Gump-esque historical allusions and fantastic art, making this pick a great read for the young adult crowd. You'll find something new to laugh about every time you read it!

Skim by Marika Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki should be familiar to those of you who follow our blog--we posted briefly about it here, when it made the New York Times' Best Illustrated list for 2008. Of course, the art is only half it's appeal--exploring all the hearbreaks and triumphs of high school, from depression to sexual identity to cliques and crushes, Skim paints the roller-coaster world of teenage life with keen observation and insight. Set at a private girls' school, this story appeals especially to those of us (like me) who've had an all-women education ourselves.

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan isn't exactly a graphic novel--more like a collection of illustrated short stories. Tan's work has such a great imaginative and narrative quality to it, though, that it fits in very well with the rest of the graphic shelf! This assortment of strange and fantastic tales pairs the unusual with the everyday, from an omniscient water buffalo that lives in a vacant lot of tall grass to a stranger in a barnacle-covered diving suit who has some connection to old Mrs. "Bad News" Katayama. Each story is like a new world of its own, told through simple, eloquent prose and illustrations in a wide variety of artistic styles. This title makes a great read-aloud, and will engage readers of just about any age! Also, anyone who thinks this book sounds great should check out Shaun Tan's The Arrival, a wordless graphic novel that uses fantasy illustration to portray the immigrant experience.

Stone Rabbit: Pirate Palooza by Erik Craddock is the perfect title for reluctant readers, who'd rather watch TV than pick up a book. The full-color art is cartoony and bright, and the plot is packed with wild adventure and piratey goodness. When Stone Rabbit and his pal Andy break the leg of a table, our heroes decide to replace it with a cursed pirate's peg leg they buy at the local comic shop. Of course, ghostly buccaneering adventures ensue--but will the table ever get fixed?

Babymouse the Musical by Jennifer and Matthew Holm, the latest installment in the Babymouse series, is just as witty and sparkling as the previous nine. When a new student flatters Babymouse into trying out for the school musical with him, a whirlwind of fun and hilarity ensues! Between Babymouse's vivid fantasy life, her real-life tribulations in rehearsal and the Narrator's name in lights, young readers will love this homage to musical theater. Can you spot all the different references? I counted 15. :D

Don't forget about these other graphic novel favorites, reviewed elsewhere on our blog (just click the titles to see what we said about them!): American Born Chinese, The Merchant of Venice and Persepolis.

Staff Pick Snack Pack

Here's another round of our favorites from the chapter book room, spanning, but not limited to: kick-butt heroines, rock revolutions, lemonade slush, monologues, men trapped in the figurehead of a ship, and fabbity-fab-fab snogging...

The Merchant of Venice (Graphic Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare
adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds
Bookseller: Rachel
Genre: graphic novel, classic drama
reading level: ages 13 and up

Shakespeare's story of trickery, love, racism, and disguise comes vibrantly to life in this graphic adaptation. Any teen reluctant to read Shakespeare will be relieved by this version, as Gareth Hinds makes Merchant's inherent drama and wit immediately accessible.

Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
Bookseller: Bindy
Genre: realistic fiction

Suggested reading level: ages 11 and up

Bridget-Jones-esque diary of Brit teen Georgia Nicholson. Laugh-out-loud funny, Georgia insists on sympathy from her readers as she navigates life with her demonic cat, infantile sister, intolerable parents, and questionable friends and snoggers.

Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes
Bookseller: Michelle
Genre: school
story, humor, for rock fans
Suggested reading level: ages 12 up

This spunky faux-"anthology" of a freshman band combines Konigsburg's The View from Saturday's kind of quirky interchanging cast of voices with Spinelli's Stargirl's noncomformity to champion high school underdogs, lemonade slush, and plain great rock'n'roll. Warning: may make you want to learn to play the ukulele.

Sabriel, sequels Lirael and Abhorsen by Garth Nix
Bookseller: Katie
Genre: dark high fantasy

Suggested reading level: ages 12 and up

Necromancer Sabriel sets out to find her missing father in the magical Old Kingdom. Lirael's longing to be special leads her to attempt magic far beyond her ability and discover an unexpected destiny. Together, the two women fight a danger greater than either has known before.
Look here for Katie's love of the Abhorsen trilogy omnibus!

(And since I couldn't decide which cover to go with, the classic, with the bells I loved to examine as a kid, or the new, minimalist, edition, you have both!).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sweets for your sweetie (with a bonus multiple choice quiz!)

Well, we've got just under a week to go until (choose one)
a) the most romantic day of the year,
b) a day for single people to live it up with their single friends,
c) a holiday for card and chocolate companies to go into hyperdrive, or
d) a day to celebrate your love of books with our Kids ♥ Authors event!

I generally feel that the sweet-but-misguided men who come in February 13th at 6:45 desperate to buy the perfect pink teddy bear for their loved ones are beyond our help -- seriously, guys, head over to Cardullo's for a bottle of red wine and some nice chocolates, then to Brattle Florist for some long-stemmed roses, and swing into Pyara for a massage gift certificate. (Best Valentine's gift ever, I promise.)

However, if your Valentine is your son or daughter, or you're looking for an amazing book/an adorable stuffed animal to supplement your bottle of wine/box of chocolates, you've come to the right place. We have so many great books, toys, decorations, and jewelry for Valentine's that you should just come in and be wowed by our displays (really, it's hard to articulate the awesomeness of the whistling Love Birds plush on the blog), but here's an assortment of our Valentine's Day best.

Lilly's Chocolate Heart, a board book confection by Kevin Henkes, would make an excellent companion book to a bag of those ubiquitous Valentine's Day candies. Henkes's spunky heroine Lilly goes through a Goldilocks-like quest for the right place to stash her last chocolate heart, but everywhere is too hot, too dusty, or somehow just wrong. Luckily, geniusy Lilly thinks of the perfect place at last: her mouth. This sweet little story is a great gift for any chocolate lover (or Lilly fan) in your life.

Also from the baby room comes Sandra Boynton's Snuggle Puppy; as Michelle said in her snow post, a round-up's just not a round-up without a little Boynton. Her unmistakable illustrations, accompanied by a parent-child love song in a rhythm that just begs for repeat sing-alongs, make Snuggle Puppy a perfect valentine for a snuggable infant or toddler. And what's not to love about a book that ends with a "BIG SMOOCH!"?

Boynton fans who have graduated from the baby room (for example, my parents, who love her on the scale of my Gaiman love) might appreciate the more philosophical Consider Love: Its Moods and Many Ways. Boynton's inimitable cats, dogs, pigs, elephants, hippos, rhinos, turtles, and even dinos cavort through Consider Love in pairs, illustrating rhyming couplets on the many forms (good and not-so-great) love can take. Just when the myriad "moods and ways" of love begin to feel overwhelming, the narrator singles out a love "devoted, steady, and true... my love for incredible you." As you can tell, our love for Sandra Boynton is fairly devoted, steady, and true as well.

Author Sandol Stoddard Warburg and illustrator Jacqueline Chwast's I Like You is short but sweet (and occasionally strange). Simple, straight-from-the-heart declarations like "I like you because / I don't know why / but everything that happens / is nicer with you / I can't remember when I didn't like you," accompanied by Chwast's lively line drawings, make this the book that "Romeo would have given Juliet, Charlie Brown would have given Snoopy," and you can give to somebody you like very much.

Nine-year-old author Alec Greven's New York Times best-seller How to Talk to Girls offers advice to would-be schoolyard Casanovas that could -- perhaps should -- as seriously be taken by the aforementioned pink-plush-buyers. Greven addresses male insecurities about romancing the opposite sex with truly ageless words of wisdom like "Comb your hair and don't wear sweats" and " When you hang out, try not to say anything inappropriate."

Revisit Rob Scotton's quirky cat character in Love, Splat. When Valentine's Day comes around, Splat makes valentines for his whole class -- but he makes an extra-special one for Kitten. There's only one problem: whenever Kitten sees Splat, she pokes him in the belly, ties a knot in his tail, and calls him smelly. Actually... make that two problems: Spike likes Kitten too, and his valentine is much bigger than Splat's. What's a Splat with a crush to do? This picture book about puppy kitty love will have you and your Valentine feeling warm and fuzzy.

Down in the chapter book room, you can find Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers, which offers young adults' own perspectives on the subject of romantic love. By turns funny, tragic, angry, and ecstatic, these hundred poems explore the relationships of real teens -- straight, gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered, all around the world -- with a freshness and vulnerability that will break your heart.

Love is Hell is a short story collection for those of us who selected option "c) a holiday for card and chocolate companies to go into hyperdrive," or who may have (gasp!) even more cynical feelings regarding Valentine's. Five short stories by the likes of Scott Westerfeld and Gabrielle Zevin put a supernatural spin on love; objects of affection range from ghosts to selkies, while relationships range from magical hand-fasting gone wrong to (fan)fictional romance come off the page.

Also showcased in our downstairs display is the anniversary edition of Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind. It's lovely, with a gorgeous new photographic cover in rose tones and an interview with the author, and the novel itself is a groundbreaking work of LGBTQ young adult fiction. The story is breathtakingly beautiful as Liza and Annie's friendship deepens into romantic love, and heartwrenching when the discovery of their love by the outside world creates terrible consequences for the girls and those they care about.

Peaceable Kingdom Press makes many of the games, puzzles, stationery, posters, and stickers featuring kids' lit characters you'll see in CG. They also apparently make wicked awesome valentine kits, because the other day we received several different types of their SUPER Valentine Fun Packs (no joke; that's the official product name) in addition to the Valentine Fun Packs we've carried in past years. We currently have Valentine Fun Packs -- containing 20 valentines, a teacher's valentine, 21 envelopes, and 30 stickers -- featuring Thomas, Hello Kitty, and Dr. Seuss characters. If your valentines must go beyond mere fun, pick up some SUPER Valentine Fun Packs in one or more of these varieties: Cootie Catcher Fortune Tellers, Temporary Tattoos, and Colorful Henna Temporary Tattoos.

If you're dressing up for a Valentine's Day gala, or if you haven't yet found a Valentine and you'd like to, make sure to pick up that quintessential Cupid accessory: a bow with a heart-tipped arrow. Dashing and daring more your style than cutesy and cherubic? We also have heart-shaped Love Pirate Eye Patches so you can make like the Dread Pirate Roberts and sweep your sweetie off his or her feet. (Psst... Get some love pirate pointers from my hands-down favorite adventure-romance, The Princess Bride, located in the chroom.)

Finally, breakfast in bed for your Valentine -- whether kidlet or grown-up -- gets the finishing touch with the I ♥ YOU Toast Stamper. Serve up some cinnamon toast stamped with this heartfelt message, add some raspberry jam on the side, and snuggle in for a cozy morning meal before heading out to meet our authors and illustrators. Grace Lin, Laya Steinberg, Nancy Viau, and Mary Brigid Barrett will be here signing their books, answering questions, and leading activities from 10-12 on Valentine's Day, so we'll see you then!

I'd like to take a second to offer a fifth option for defining Valentine's Day,
e) V-Day: a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.
Please consider donating some of your resources, time, or talents to this amazing organization, which is dedicated to making the world a safer and happier place. What better way to show the world you love your Valentine, your mom, daughter, aunt, niece, grandmother, sister, friend, mentor, or self than to help protect her from violence?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Many Fetes of February

First, a few updates on the award winners...
Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book is already back with us, and with that shiny gold Newbery Medal gleaming from its cover. (Hooray!)

The Caldecott winner, The House in the Night, is reprinting and expected back on our shelves the first week of March.

This is such a great time of year for topical displays! Our winter display, full of snow and penguin books, is still
going strong. Head over here for a recap of some of our favorites and bestsellers. That post was so long, yet I didn't even mention the whimsical and imaginative Danny's First Snow by Leonid Gore, the bilingual gem about a mother and daughter, Tarde de Invierno: Winter Afternoon by Jorge Lujan, or the endearing biography of the man who photographed snowflakes, Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Martin, but as groundhog Phil predicted, our winter books will be sticking around for a little bit longer for your perusal.

We have Chinese New Year books, as diverse as What the Rat Told Me by Catherine Louis, Marie Sellier, and Fei Wang, Demi's Happy Happy New Year, and Grace Lin's Bringing In the New Year. (Psst! Grace Lin will be here on Valentine's Day!) And--of course!--there are dragon puppets! Grab these fiery creatures while you can and enjoy the celebrations as long as you like.

In preparation for Presidents Day and the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, come see our collection of picture book and chapter book levels of biographies of Lincoln and Washington. The Horn Book raved about The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary by Candace Fleming--and what higher praise do you need? We also can't go without mentioning how gorgeous (as usual) Kadir Nelson's paintings are in Doreen Rappaport's Abe's Honest Words.

February is also Black History Month! There are bountiful biographies, covering figures from Martin Luther King, Jr. to W. E. B. Du Bois. Coretta Scott features the poetry of Ntozake Shange and the paintings of Kadir Nelson. Even with Kadir in the running, The Negro Speaks of Rivers takes my vote for most breathtaking. E.B. Lewis's paintings complement Langston Hughes's poem, expanding the narrative without overpowering or changing the power of the words. We will try to feature more books from this topic as the month goes on and more books come, so check back here or pop in the store to see what else we have.

Katie is working on a grand Valentine's Day book and merchandise round-up, so I will save the pink and red goodies for her. I will just leave you with a few teasers of what to expect: Rob Scotton's cat, Splat, is back, and in love; teen love poems; and valentines that can really stick with you...