Thursday, November 20, 2014

Jeff Kinney at Brookline Booksmith!

Last sunday, if you have been walking through Coolidge Corner, you no doubt would have noticed the gargantuan Enterprise truck that was parked outside of our store, and the large cardboard cutouts that sufficiently bundled gentlemen were hastening to unload from it.

This would have been for our event with Jeff Kinney, author of popular "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series. This, however, was no usual event. This was a Jeff Kinney experience, complete with stations, games, photo ops, and finally, a signed copy of your favorite Wimpy Kid books and a handshake with Jeff Kinney himself. It was like nothing Booksmith has ever done before, and frankly, after seeing how sucessful it was, I think we should probably start holding such events for adult books, too!

Another day at the book store, complete with large fake pig

We were really worried you didn't have all the Wimpy Kid books....

In no time at all, folks started lining up and moving through the store. They visited all the booths, got to play 'Plinko', got a chance to guess the weight of a large paper mache pig. There was even a booth I didn't get to see in action, but consisted of a large table filled with old shoes. Curiosities were abundant! After interacting with, and having their picture taken by, numerous book store workers and event staff alike (some dressed up in top hats, coats and tails), event attendees found themselves outside Card and Gift, at the front of aisle 4. There, they got their books signed by Jeff Kinney, who was warm, welcoming, and engaging.

Clarissa and Zoe mug by one of the photo backdrops
This event was a great success! We are looking forward to what other crazy events the kids book world can send our way! Old shoes, fake pigs, and lake backdrops, oh my!!

You can follow our events series by checking out our events website,  which is kept painstakingly up to date. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook for updates on our upcoming events. Special thanks to Jeff Kinney and his team for making this incredible evening in our very own book store!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Hi! I'm Alex. Nice to meet you. I've been working in the kids section for a couple months and now I am going to blog to you, with book lists, and approximate age recommendations that you can totally disregard.

Today I am reading THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM by Christopher Healy *Kylie Recommends*. This is a funny book. No, it is: it's about a bunch of hapless fairy tale Prince Charmings wandering around the countryside trying to accomplish things but mostly just getting in trouble. It is also about fairy tale princesses having strong opinions. I am a big fan of ALL these princesses, including the mean one. There are polite giants, punk kid Bandit Kings, genius little sisters, and dragons. This book is great. (It is also good for ages 9+ and as of this writing you can find it in our intermediate fiction section.)

In keeping with this awesome book I am reading and enjoying greatly, here are a few more books you might like if you like...


The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch -- Was this the first book about a princess that does what she wants? It's definitely one of the best. Girl meets dragon, girl beats dragon, girl ignores a disappointed prince to run off into the sunset an independent hero. We usually have this as a board book and in our spinner rack. 2+

Beauty and the Beast and other fairy tale picture books by Ursula Jones and Sarah Gibb *Clarissa Recommends* -- Absolutely stunning illustrations over excellent, traditional fairy tale retellings. Check our folk lore/mythology section for these--they're often on display! 3+

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham *Alex Recommends* -- GO NOW AND READ THIS BOOK. Princess Magnolia is a dainty pink-wearing hostess with perfect manners...but she becomes the heroic PRINCESS IN BLACK to fight monsters and rescue sheep herders! You can find it in young chapterbooks--recommended ages 5+. Good for young independent readers.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede *Alex Recommends* -- Princess Cimorene doesn't want to embroider or get married to a boring prince. Or any other prince. So she runs away from home to work for dragon Kazul, fights a lot of wizards, and learns to make a mean cherries jubilee. 10+

Twice Upon A Time series by Wendy Mass -- Retold fairy tales by the author of The Candymakers. 8+

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine *Alex Recommends* -- Absolutely my favorite fairytale retelling ever. This Cinderella is "blessed" by a fairy as a obey every single direct order that's given to her for her entire life. Ella is brilliant. You will read this book over and over. 9+

Summer and Bird by Katherine Catmull *Alex Recommends* -- This is a weird, beautiful book. Two girls find their parents missing--their mother is the swan princess and their father took her feathered skin. They travel into a world of only birds, where a vicious, terrifying false queen is asserting her power--a queen Bird falls for like Edmund and the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 10+

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones *Amy Recommends* -- Everyone buys into the fairy tale stereotypes in Sophie's town, and it's clear she's going to be a docile hatmaking third sister forever. WAIT, NO SHE'S NOT. She's going to be cursed by a witch to look like an old woman and run off on an adventure in the moving magical house of the dread wizard Howl, who as it turns out is the most obnoxious wizard ever. Stop here for sentient scarecrows, fire demons, and wizards obsessed with their hair. 10+

Ever After High series by Shannon Hale -- Shannon Hale writes the best fairy tale retellings. This series is good for 10+.

Ash by Malinda Lo *Anna Recommends* -- A YA Cinderella story with POC main characters, beguiling fairies, personal strength, and a Cinderella who falls in love, not with a prince, but his Huntress. 13+

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge *Clarissa Recommends* -- A sharp, fierce, beguiling Beauty and the Beast story about a demon prince and one angry beauty. 14+

Poisoned Apples by Christine Hepperman *Alex Recommends* -- This poetry collection uses the language of fairy tales to take on the pressures and pains of being a teenage girl. Watch out--there's some dark and personal stuff in this little book--but its intensity is full of truth and Hepperman has a excellent grip on her language. 14+

Cinder by Marissa Meyer *Kylie Recommends* -- Welcome to cyborg Cinderella. This is a very cool scifi take on the story, and the first of a series. 13+

 Happy reading!

Monday, November 3, 2014

They're All Kind of a Blur, Aren't They?

On the bright side, it was snowing when I did this so it felt like winter. Also, I got to put out Llama Llama Holiday Drama and that is a great favorite of mine.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thank You Rick Riordan

Three brilliant books that arrived in the Kids section since last we spoke:

1. Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Oh man. Maggie Stiefvater is brilliant. We all know that already. Now she's given us the third book in her Raven Cycle. It's brilliant and now I might die before the last one comes out.

2. Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers
It's Oliver Jeffers. He does a little story for each letter. V is my favorite. Hands down.

3. My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss, is enough of a sell but with authors like Kelly Link and Holly Black this is the perfect winter anthology.

I spent most of my Saturday working the Booksmith table at the Boston Book Festival. This was the third year I worked it and we had, by far, the best weather and, by far, the biggest crowd.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Three other booksellers and I arrived down at Copley Square just after 8 AM. It was chilly and early. Coffee was much needed and I was barely functioning. We shuffled tiredly into the beautiful Trinity church and were welcomed by a most glorious sight.

1,000 Rick Riordan books sitting on tabled primed for signing.

I was not so tired anymore.

This wasn't a particularly thrilling sight to Peter and Clarissa who'd been there the day before to set them up but I was pretty excited about it. I've never been fortunate enough to be in the store when Rick Riordan has come in to sign stock so I was ready. Two things happened.

1. He signed 1,000 book in 30 minutes. He. Is. Magic.
2. I didn't say a word to him until he left and then it was a hurried "Thank you so much!"

Doesn't matter. I spent about 35 minutes in a room with Rick Riordan.

And that half an hour is what made the festival for me. Not just because I'm nothing if not a fangirl and I got to be there. It kept us busy most of the day. I got to stand at the end of the table and just keep refilling piles of his books. I got to talk to people about the books. I got to see the kids in Camp Halfblood/Jupiter tee shirts and camp necklaces and the one girl fully dressed as Annabeth. They were excited and that plus the adrenaline was way better than the coffee.

The kids book person in me was just so thrilled. We had a line for a solid two hours after Riordan's keynote and sold somewhere around 700 of his books and a lot of them were to people who already had them. It was amazing. And I loved that it was a kids author.

It's so easy to get discouraged when you're a kids book person. There are so many people who are determined to write it off and say that it doesn't count as "real literature" or that it's not worth anyone's time. When a book gets big then come all of the articles ripping it to shreds and explaining to us why it's not teaching kids anything. Sometimes that makes it hard.

To see people, most but not all kids, standing in line twice for Rick Riordan, the first to get into his talk (there was a line when we arrived at 8) and the second to buy tee books, was brilliant. It makes me a little more proud of what I do.

And I just really wanted a kids event to win this not-competition competition.

We totally did.

Thank you, Rick Riordan.

P.S. We still have signed copies of Blood of Olympus and Percy Jackson's Greek Gods come and get some!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Nonfiction Section is All Around You

Today is my last day working at Brookline Booksmith! Starting next week I will be working in a building in midtown Manhattan, at a new job about as far away from my Idaho origins as I could have ever imagined.

Furthermore, I will be not working at Brookline Booksmith for the first time in just shy of 4 years. That is just about the longest I have ever worked at one place (I'm young!) and has comprised the bulk of my life in Boston. I have met the most amazing people here, read the best books, shared them with you all, met lots of celebrities and learned the city inside and out while I was here!

This place is the craziest mix of unique staff, and we're incredibly lucky to be in a neighborhood full of die-hard buy-local bookworms that keep us around. It's also a place I've learned a lot about working hard, communicating with people, and being surprised daily by people you think you know. It's been a fertile training ground for my next endeavor, a place I've been nurtured in the book industry and will carry with me as I set off for the Big City!

Thanks so much for everything, take care of each other, and shut off your computer (after this sentence) and pick up a book :D

With Love,

P. S. Read Arto Paasilinna! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October Destination of the Month

From the amazing food beautifully melding sweet and savory, to the diverse natural landscape encompassing deserts and lush forests, mint tea and Berber music, beaches and arabesque arches, Morocco would be a perfect escape in October, as the weather cools but the vibrant artistic culture that has drawn expatriates for decades (notably Paul Bowles, William S. Burroughs and Tennessee Williams) is alive and well. Time to come stock up on guide books, maps and books inspired by Morocco!