Oct 17, 2007

Wild About Books

We kicked off our plan to visit as many children’s bookstores as we can during our RV travels with a stop in Kansas City at The Reading Reptile. Wow – what a fantastic store! Large scale paper mache characters from favorite children’s books abound, hanging from the ceiling or resting on the floor -- Peggy Rathmann’s Gorilla, Cassie from Tar Beach, My Father’s Dragon, a Giving Tree. There’s a HUGE map of the US on the ceiling, each state brightly colored. A spacious room is divided into smaller spaces through the arrangement of bookcases, tables and chairs, as well as the giant characters, and there are many alcoves brimming with unique touches and decorations – dioramas embedded in the shelves, sticker and bead trimming , a small table lacquered with illustrations and verse from Eloise Greenfield’s Daydreamers. We’ve never seen a store with so many personal touches that reflect the owners’ sensibilities. Many titles were displayed face-out, inviting easy browsing. I discovered a new title by Patricia Maclachlan and her daughter Emily, Fiona Loves the Night ; a delightful picture book with pitch perfect rhythm matched with bold art. Bobbie was pleased to find a copy of Byrd Baylor’s I’m in Charge of Celebrations which she was just talking about the day before. She read the passage about coyotes aloud to me.

We introduced ourselves to Pete who owns the store with his wife Debbie. He told us we could see Chris Crutcher the next day if we were in town. Darn! We need to continue heading west to make it to Reno in time for the AASL conference. He gave us bumper stickers anyway.

The store is so welcoming to both adults and children and creative in both appearance and programming. Be sure and visit the web site for more info and the irreverent musings of Bitterman.

Oct 13, 2007

Open Books, Open Roads, Journey On

It’s official! We Love Children’s Books is out on the road. Our plan is to work and travel for the next two years. Our mobile home/office is a 30 foot Jayfeather Ultralight trailer, which we’re pulling with a Chevy Tahoe. We hope to see many of our friends in the children’s book industry along the way, and we’ll chronicle many of those visits here.
So if you have a farm, extra long driveway or just want some company, drop us a line.

BTW, our friend Desiree is the ultra-talented graphic designer who created our logo -- isn't it great?! That's our dog, Molly, in the back seat.

Oct 3, 2007

Pop, Pop

Two pop-up books recently made their way to our review stash. I'm a mild fan of pop-ups and I like one very much, not just because it's awesome to look at, but because it also engages readers in different ways. The book is How Many ? spectacular paper sculptures by Ron van der Meer (Robin Corey Books/ Random House.)
On five double-page spreads, four featuring shapes -- triangle, circle, square, and star -- and the fifth using a line, remarkable pop-up structures amaze and delight readers. Multiples of each shape form the brightly colored structures paired against white backgrounds. Looking from the top and sides produces different views. Many questions pertaining to shape and color appear on each spread – for instance How many circles are formed by words? How many squares overlap? How many star points touch the pages?
You can check your answers on the Internet at www.howmanypopups.com. van der Meer is truly a master paper engineer; he’s created pop-ups for adults and kids. I think kids eight and older will be fascinated with How Many ? A limited edition signed by the author is also available; for more information go
The other pop-up I didn't like because I felt it was too contrived and just didn't work, so I won't say more about that.

Oct 2, 2007

Weekend in New Hampshire

We haven't posted much because we are (still) sorting, packing and preparing for our move at a frantic pace. But over the past weekend I was with college friends near Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire and had a fun, relaxing time -- that easy way of being with longtime friends. I've known these women for 35 years! Just before leaving, I received a review copy of Tuttle's Red Barn by Richard Michelson and illustrated by Mary Azarian (Putnam.)It's the story of America's oldest family farm, relating pieces of the country's history along with the story of twelve generations of family farming in Dover, New Hampshire.
Azarian's fine woodcuts are a perfect complement, capturing the people and the New England landscape with a rustic air. I haven't visited the Red Barn yet, and until I do, this book will provide me with a feeling of it's place in New Hampshire life and culture.