Archive for July, 2010
Friday, July 30th, 2010
Have a vacation planned for the summer? Those car and airplane trips can feel reaaal long if you don’t have plenty to keep your little ones occupied. I’ve pulled together a few of our no-fail entertainment book and toy recommendations for those desperate no-you-can’t-play-any-more-games-on-my-iTouch moments.
Mazescapes by Roxie Munro not only features a maze of streets on each page for the reader to navigate, but also hours of fun searching out the same car amid all the traffic, playing the “ABC Travel Game” or any of the many other games hidden in the pages of this book.
Round Trip by Ann Jonas is not only great the first time you read it, but also the second time around! The unique black-and-white illustrations tell the story of a road trip from the country to the city, but flip it upside down and read it backwards and it tells you about the journey back home. Both you and the kids will be in awe of how the illustrations manage to work so smoothly to be read both upside down and right-side-up!
Chances are you probably remember Richard Scarry’s Cars and Truck and Things That Go from your own childhood. This book is chock full of funny illustrations and lots of mini storylines to follow, making it one of those read-it-over-and-over books. See how many of these cars and trucks you can spot on your own road trip.
The Adventures of Polo by Regis Faller is a wordless picture book told in sequences of cartoon-like illustrations. This book is a hit with the 3-6 year old crowd because no one needs to read it to them, but entertaining and fantastical enough to keep their attention. Which, of course, makes it a hit with the tired, jet-lagged parents too.
This last recommendation came from a customer just today who told me that these Eric Carle Animal Lacing Cards kept their kids busy in the backseat for 3 hours straight. Can’t get a better recommendation than that!
I bet you have some favorite books and games to keep your kids entertained on long car rides. Share them with our readers in the comments below!
Thursday, July 29th, 2010
I was working at the cash register on a busy Saturday a few weeks ago. I asked my customer, “Do you have a membership to the museum?”
“Yes I do,” answered the friendly man with glasses and graying hair, “but I’ve never been to the museum before. I live in Minneapolis.” He was buying a hundred dollars worth of books and toys.
I gave him the 15% membership discount and said, “You’re a member but you’ve never been to the museum?”
“I’m visiting my cousin, who lives nearby.” He put his arm around the woman beside him and continued. “I’d been planning to visit the museum ever since I saw your exhibit in Washington last year.”
“Oh, you joined…online, after you saw the Stanford in D.C. show?”
“Yes. I bought that print online.” He pointed to the shop’s rear wall, where Eric Carle’s signed and numbered prints are displayed: the image of the Very Hungry Caterpillar creeping along the ground as a huge warm sun fills the background.
“You know, we sold quite a few prints because of that show in D.C.”
He became animated. “I bought that print just at the time my grandson was born. It hangs in the hallway. Whenever I pass it, I think that he is like the caterpillar, and I, his grandfather, am like the sun. So you can imagine, I was looking forward to finally visiting the museum.”
We continued to chat. Later as I thought back to this conversation—and to the way this reader identified with a secondary character (the sun) in a story I always considered to have only one character (caterpillar/butterfly)—I recalled a different conversation about the interpretation of Eric Carle’s most famous book.
It was 2003; a slow day in the store. Eric Carle had stopped in to sign some copies of his books. I asked him, “Did you have some moral in mind, when you began to write The Very Hungry Caterpillar?”
He said, “I was trying to make a book that would also be a toy. I wanted holes in the pages: I needed a character to move through the holes.”
I hadn’t heard this story, and I was surprised. I said, “I think of the story as redemptive, because the caterpillar eats all that junkfood and suffers a stomachache, but he still gets to turn into a butterfly.”
Eric smiled and said, “That’s what you see.”
I asked him, “You must have encountered so many interpretations. What was the strangest?”
He raised his eyebrows. “I was in East Berlin in 1989, at a library conference. I was seated at a round table with many East German librarians. They told me that good socialist children should never read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, because it is a tale of the Western consumer society; it teaches over-consumption. A capitalist parable.”
I suspect Eric Carle would get more pleasure from the interpretation of our museum member from Minneapolis.
Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
I hope you all were able to make it to The Carle for Lisbeth Zwerger’s visit, but if not, let us share some of the highlights from that wonderful weekend with you.
We were so excited to finally meet Lisbeth, after admiring her books for so long. Lisbeth flew to The Carle all the way from her home in Austria for the weekend and her publisher, Michael Neugebauer joined us from Hong Kong.
We launched right into the festivities Saturday night with a Members Exhibition Opening. There were appetizers, drinks and socializing in our Great Hall and the new exhibition to view in our gallery. Most importantly however, we got the opportunity to chat face to face with Lisbeth. She was sweet, charming and oh-so-humble. Andy and I got the chance to show her that her books were actually the very first entered into our Shop’s inventory in 2002. How’s that for a compliment?
Saturday night was a wonderfully, star-studded evening as many artists, authors and children’s book industry members came to pay their respects to Lisbeth.
Here is Lisbeth Zwerger (left) with Nick Clark, Chief Curator (middle) and Jerry Pinkney, Caldecott Award winning illustrator (right).
And here’s Lisbeth (center) with Leonard Marcus, author and children’s literature scholar (left) and Etienne Delessert, illustrator (right).
Then we joined Nick Clark, our Chief Curator here at The Carle, Lisbeth and her publisher, Michael Neugebauer in the auditorium for a wonderful Q & A about Lisbeth and Michael’s long-standing publishing partnership.
(Left Photo) Nick Clark, Lisbeth Zwerger, and Michael Neugebauer on stage. (Right Photo) Lisbeth Zwerger and Michael Neugebauer.
On Sunday, Lisbeth was back again to give a slideshow presentation to a packed auditorium of fans about her journey and development as a picture book artist. Lisbeth showed us one of her first illustrated books, The Nutcracker and contrasted it with a more recent re-illustrated version twenty years later. When the two books’ images were placed side by side we could see the transformation of her artistic style over the years, from the theatrical and subdued, to dramatic and surreal. And Lisbeth made no effort to hide the fact that she prefers this newer version. She described this version as “more concentrated, with more atmosphere.” Lisbeth said that illustration for her is “to entertain myself because, of course, I have to have fun.” Well, Lisbeth, we are having fun right along with you.
Lisbeth followed the presentation with a book signing outside of our store with a line that wrapped around our Great Hall! While we were sad to see her go, we are thrilled we will have more time with her artwork on the walls of our gallery. If you haven’t gotten the chance, plan a visit and see the exhibition for yourself. It’s open until September 26th.
Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
Otis by Loren Long
In the tradition of Virginia Lee Burton’s Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Long’s lead character is a lovable anthropomorphized machine. The tractor Otis befriends a lonely calf and the two romp across the farm with great jubilation until Otis is put out to rust and the forlorn calf stumbles into a mud pond. Children will cheer as Otis outdoes other would-be helpers to come to his friend’s rescue. Rich red-and-brown tones flow across the pages in scenes reminiscent of Burton’s sweeping spreads.
Buy Otis or to read more of Top of the Shelf books.
Monday, July 26th, 2010
Can you name these books? I’ll give you the opening line and you tell me what well-known picture book it came from in the comments below. Enter your guesses before Friday, August 30th for a chance to win a $5.00 gift certificate to be used in our bookstore online.
- The kids in Room 207 were misbehaving again.
- Sylvester Duncan lived with his mother and father at Acorn Road in Oatsdale.
- Once upon a time in a little French town lived an old lady whose name was Madame Louise Bodot.
- On the night before Tim’s birthday, he found a strange envelope under his pillow.
- We were all sitting around the big kitchen table. It was Saturday morning. Pancake morning.
- Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, it was the custom of all fathers and mothers in China to give their first and honored sons great long names.
- I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair…
- Not so long ago, before she could even speak words, Trixie went on an errand with her daddy…
- It was late one winter night, long past my bedtime, when Pa and I went owling.
- A happy school of little fish lived in a corner of the sea somewhere. They were all red.
So, how well do you know your picture books? Tell us as many titles as you can identify in the comments below.
Saturday, July 17th, 2010
Summer is here and camps are in full swing!
A customer recently ordered a stack of Eric Carle postcards to have shipped to her son at summer camp. I thought that was a super cute idea because not only does it feel really exciting to be one of those kids who gets mail at camp, but now Mom will look forward to receiving little colorful notes from her son the whole time he’s away.
That got me thinking how special it really is to get mail or care packages from home when you’re away (sometimes for the first time) from Mom & Dad. Even though camp keeps you busy with friends, sports and activities, I remember there was still always that down time in the bunk that got you thinking about home. Having a stack of postcards handy is a great way to let friends from school or relatives know what a great time you’re having at camp.
If you’re putting a care package together, don’t forget those homebaked cookies (if you can sneak ‘em in) and maybe some temporary tattoos or stickers to share with bunkmates. And even if your child’s just going to day camp, a little spiral-bound journal or sketchbook is perfect for drawing, pressing flowers, or passing around between camp friends to create a scrapbook. Colored pencils (our metallic ones are a big hit) make a nice addition to a care package.
Looking for picture books about camp? My favorite book to recommend is Marla Frazee’s A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. While the text often says one thing, Marla’s hilarious cartoon-esque illustrations tell the story like it really is. Either way, these two boys have the BEST week ever, even if nature camp is a little boring.
Is your child worried about sleepaway camp? Local author, Diane deGroat tackles these fears in Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite! And, even though it’s not about camp, Bernard Waber’s Ira Sleeps Over is great read-aloud for anyone nervous about that first sleepover.
Not sending your kid to camp but want to get in that summertime camping spirit? S is for S’mores is an alphabet book by Helen Foster James and illustrated by Lita Judge (who we were lucky enough to have visit us at The Carle this March). It covers everything from hiking canoeing to campfire songs and, of course, yummy gooey s’mores.
Rebecca Emberley (daughter of the fabulous Ed Emberley) has a great activity book called Adventure Girls that I would have LOVED when I was a girl. It’s a handy guide to building treehouses, making tincan lanterns and maps and tons more activities for a bold and crafty adventurista.
And while it might be too dark to read books around the campfire, don’t forget lots of books for your summer car ride – wherever your summer may take you.
Do you have a favorite book about summer camp or camping? Let us know in the comments below!
Friday, July 9th, 2010
A few hours ago Lisbeth Zwerger walked into the The Carle and I told her the fairy tale story of why she is responsible for me being here, running The Carle’s bookshop. She was surprised, because we had never met before!
Twenty-five years ago, in May of 1985, my partner Christine Bluhm and I visited Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) in Madison, Wisconsin—directed by Ginny Moore Kruse—to research independent presses specializing in children’s books. Our new business—The Children’s Bookstore—was due to open that September; we wanted to carry books that customers wouldn’t see at other stores.
The CCBC small press collection was marvelous. One company in particular caught our eye: Alphabet Press, based in Northampton, Massachusetts. This new house was doing English-language editions of European picture books developed by the adventurous publisher Michael Neugebauer. The Alphabet Press/Neugebauer book-production values were remarkable. Their lead author was a young illustrator named Lisbeth Zwerger whose fairy tale picture books had an evanescent, luminous quality that won our hearts.
One month later we attended the American Booksellers Association convention in San Francisco to place the initial orders for our new bookstore. We sought out the Alphabet Press booth and told the two young people there—Motoko Inoue and Rick Richter—of our warm feelings for their new company. In fact, we got so enthusiastic that we did them the favor of buying all the books on their trade-show racks, after the convention was over, for shipment back to our store in Chicago. On opening day, September 7, 1985, a large Alphabet Press display graced our shelves.
Over the years, in several successive bookstores, we sold many Lisbeth Zwerger books. Meanwhile, the publishing industry changed around us. Alphabet Press became Picture Book Studio, and in 1994 was acquired by Simon & Schuster. Some of Lisbeth Zwerger’s titles are still published by Simon & Schuster, while some are with minedition (Michael Neugebauer’s current company), and others are with NorthSouth Books.
Rick Richter was hired to lead the launch of the brilliant children’s book publisher Candlewick Press in 1991, then in 1994 became top dog in charge of children’s books at Simon & Schuster; Rick supervised the arrival there of the books first published by his alma mater, Picture Book Studio.
In April 2002 I learned about the upcoming November opening of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. I decided to seek the opportunity to develop the museum’s bookshop. I knew that Eric Carle had, back in the 80s, joined Lisbeth Zwerger on the Picture Book Studio author roster, and that in 1994 Eric Carle’s Picture Book Studio titles had moved to Simon & Schuster. I realized that my old friend Rick Richter–with whom I hadn’t spoken in ten years–might in his role as Eric Carle’s publisher at Simon & Schuster be able to help me land the bookstore job at the new Eric Carle Museum. When I contacted Rick to ask this favor, he told me Motoko Inoue was directing Eric Carle Studio, the entity that manages Eric Carle’s business activities. I reached out to Motoko.
My back-channel lobbying bore fruit. My family and I moved from Chicago to Western Massachusetts in August 2002. And so it is that eight years later, with the opening of our exhibition, An Exquisite Vision: The Art of Lisbeth Zwerger, I am able to thank Lisbeth Zwerger for creating the fairy tale books that led to my fairy tale life: as bookshop manager at The Carle. (Click here to buy Lisbeth’s books!)
Monday, July 5th, 2010
Animal Crackers Fly the Coup by Kevin O’Malley
A clever, reconstructed Bremen Town Musicians tale, awash in puns and jokes, finds four robbers at the mercy of Chicken, Dog, Cat, and Cow who won’t be deterred from starring in their own comedic nightclub act. O’Malley’s expressive faces and use of deep-hued colors brings the characters up front on the page, enhancing the involvement between story and child. Plus, they will crack-up over the one-liners.
Click here to purchase Animal Crackers Fly the Coup or to see more Top of the Shelf books.
If you’re looking for more retellings of The Bremen Town Musicians, make sure to pick up a copy of Lisbeth Zwerger‘s beautifully illustrated edition or stop by our galleries to see Zwerger’s original artwork. If you’re in the area, you might also be interested in Castle Hill Theater’s performance of The Bremen Town Musicians in our auditorium this Saturday, July 10th.
Do you have a favorite edition of this Grimm tale? Tell us about it in the comments below.