About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thank You Fairies!

Thank you to all the Fairies that came to Spellbinder's Fairy Day! The cards you made for Mollie made her day! http://allaboutmollie.blogspot.com/2008/09/fairy-day-in-box.html

Friday, September 5, 2008

Paperback Love

So Many Cool Picture Books
in Paperback!
T is for Terrible by Peter McCarty
Tyrannosaurus doesn't want to be terrible, he would be a vegetarian if he could. Would it be better if he was pink? A quirky and hilarious book with FANTASTIC illustrations.

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp by Carol Diggory Shields, illustrated by Scott Nash
Dinosaurs party until the Cenozoic age in this fun, rhyming story with bright and goofy illustrations.

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

by Julia Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
A Beautiful tale of a young fox's love for a tree. Fletcher tries to help the tree keep all his leaves, but wakes up to a winter surprise. The sweet story is well complemented with Beeke's soft watercolor illustrations.
Meet Wild Boars by Meg Rosoff & Sophie Blackall
A story that defies description, but I'll try. Wild boars are mean and nasty, and though you can try to be nice to them, they'll be nasty still. Rhythmic words and fun illustrations with truly ugly boars keep you turning pages.
Monkey Business by Wallace Edwards
I know I've written about this one before, but it is really really good. Edwards illustrates common idioms in their bizarreness - playing musical instruments by ear, dogs eating dogs, etc. Each illustration is so incredible you'll want to put the entire book in a frame.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Frankenstein Takes the Cake

Feel like a chuckle? Click here to see why Adam Rex made a sequel to last year's Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich with this years Frankenstein Takes the Cake. Being an Adam Rex fan I of course own both books. At first I was bummed that Frankenstein Takes the Cake didn't have as many oil illustrations as Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich (more was done with photos & cartoons), but I have to say, the poems are better than ever! I especially like the Official Blog of the Headless Horseman, whose pumpkin head starts rotting.

Great books, but I'm still waiting for a full-length novel to follow-up The True Meaning of Smekday!

Moving onto the Irish!

(An Irish Castle, A Russian Castle, and A French Castle)

Well, I've loaned out my book of Russian Fairytales, so lately I've been reading my fetus Myths and Folk-Lore of Ireland, by Jeremiah Curtin. I like the Irish tales, lots of humans turning into animals in the daylight, only to return to their man form (and their wives) at night. Also, I wonder if the Irish ever had daughters that didn't come in threes.

Speaking of three sisters, this morning I read an Irish tale that was suspiciously like a Russian tale I read some weeks ago, both of which are suspiciously like Cinderella. In the Russian tale there are three sisters, the youngest of whom is not allowed to go to church with the older two. One church-day morning she is crying into a well, when a magical fish takes pity on her, and grants her the finest clothes to go to church in. Well, all the church men are smitten of course, and as she leaves after church one grabs her shoe, and the hunt is on for the woman it fits...

In the Irish tale there are three sisters, the youngest of whom is not allowed to go to church with the older sisters. A henwife with a cloak of darkness gives her a dress, a horse, and shoes and off to church she goes, leaving as all else arise from mass. The next church day she is given a different outfit and a different horse, and escapes before the other church-goers leave the building. The third church day she is given yet another set of clothes and another horse, but the prince (who previously had wanted to marry her oldest sister) waits outside the church and grabs her shoe as she is riding away. So of course we then have the hunt for the woman who fits the shoe, but this time when she is found the prince must battle all the other princes of the world for her. They then marry, and she has a child. She invites her oldest sister to the castle to help her recover from labor, and her sister pushes her into the ocean where she is swallowed by an enchanted whale. Each day the whale vomits her onto the beach, but she cannot escape without the princes help, so she gets a young boy minding cows (the cowboy) to tell the Prince of her plight, and the Prince comes and shoots the whale with a silver bullet in a special place under the whale's fin, thus freeing the Irish Cinderella. As punishment the evil sister is put out at sea in a barrel with provisions for seven days. The Irish Cinderella gives birth to a daughter who is promised to the cowboy as a wife. Ta Da!

The Irish Cinderella tale was pulled from Gaelic in the late 1800s, the Russian Cinderella was recorded in the mid 1800s. It was Perrault's French version of Cinderella (from the late 1600s) that inspired the currently popular Disney version of the tale. All I can say is that people traveled a lot before the advent of airplanes.

Here is a fun website, discussing the Cinderella myths, and the tragedy of the feminist ideal they support: http://www.kstrom.net/isk/stories/cinder2.html . This website made me realize that maybe Drew Barrymore was trying to do something real when she re-wrote and made a Cinderella movie where Cinderella saves herself. I do have to give kudos to the Irish version, the Irish Cinderella makes the decision that the cowboy should have her daughter, and the Prince husband can do nothing to change it.

Anyway, I think my fetus and are going to be enjoying the Irish Fairytales for a while. The translation is superb, the stories flow beautifully with a delightful almost random whimsy. AND so far there hasn't been any spousal abuse! (Their has been child abuse as one Woodcutter traded all his three daughters for their weight in gold, but their animal/human husbands treated them well). Also, no one other than evil magical beings has yet to die. I guess Ireland was more politically correct than Russia.

And in line with modern fairytales let me mention one of my favorite young adult authors, Robin McKinley, who has not only created fantastic new tales with books like The Hero and the Crown and (my personal favorite) The Blue Sword, but has also done some decent fairytale retellings with books like Beauty. She is really great, I mean even her description of herself (stolen from her blog) is great:

"I am a writer. Mostly I write fantasy: wizards, dragons, enchanted swords, retold fairy tales and, er, vampires. Mostly my stories feature Women Who Do Things, as opposed to women who sit around waiting to be rescued by guys, or who aren’t in the story at all because the story is conspicuously about not sitting around. Most of my stories are so-called High Fantasy, laid in various la-la-la never-never lands, although I’ve written a few that are happening somewhere similar to this world with additional bugs/features, and I like being able to say I also write Low Fantasy. Mwa ha ha ha ha ha."

As I've been writing this post I've enjoyed listening to Irish fiddle & guitar music on http://www.pandora.com/ , if you haven't visited their site it is a MUST. Fantastic music from all over the world, and it's FREE!