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.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Adios Oscar!!!

Last week, while working in the bookstore I found myself missing Oscar (my 4-month-old son) so I decided to look up books with his name in the title. There was lots on Oscar Wilde of course, but as I already have his fairytales, I let those go by. One book that I didn't pass up was Adios Oscar by Peter Elwell.

Oscar is a caterpillar who lives in a flower pot. One day a butterfly named Bob stops in on his way to Mexico. Bob has beautiful wings, and he tells Oscar that one day Oscar will have wings as well, and can fly to Mexico too. Oscar tells his caterpillar friends, who scoff at the idea, but Oscar prepares for his future life in Mexico by hanging out at the library and learning Spanish. Finally he builds a cocoon and goes to sleep - but when he wakes up, he's a moth.

Oscar's friends are having a great time flying around a light bulb for no reason, but Oscar gets bummed out ordering socks in Spanish. He gets a note from his library friend Edna that tells him to think like a butterfly, and Oscar does just that. He ignores the call of the moon and flies to MEXICO!

Some have said that my Oscar physically resembles the Oscar caterpillar illustrations in the book - I'm not sure how I feel about that - but I do love the idea of teaching my Oscar to think like a butterfly, and fly where he chooses. It is kinda like a Hans Christian Anderson tale in reverse - you can ignore the rules of nature and still be happy. Of course the Disney version of Hans Christian Anderson tales all end up happy, but well, they sure weren't written that way. With Adios Oscar, no meaning has been subverted for commercial gain - it is simply a cute fable that allows kids to follow their dreams. There is no lie that Oscar will become a butterfly, he won't, but he can think like one, and he can fly to Mexico just as they do. As a former traveller myself, this seems a grand idea.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

We Love Roger Priddy

Roger Priddy is a man, who happens to be an artist and book creator, who has his own publishing house - kinda; actually Priddy Books is a part of St. Martins which is connected to Macmillan Books which...well it is all a bit hard to keep track of.

Roger Priddy used to work for Usborne, a publisher that makes high quality inexpensive children's books. After working for Usborne he worked for DK, which also makes high quality books for children and adults, and has done a lot to improve the layout and graphic design of guide books. Now Roger Priddy works for himself at Priddy Books, and I must say he is doing a good job.

Roger Priddy's soft cloth book The Squishy Turtle and Friends, is Oscar's favorite. At first he liked to bop the front cover and make it crinkle, then he liked grabbing the octopus legs (it's really great, instead of two arms it has eight), and now he likes grabbing the entire book and thrusting it in his mouth. And sometimes, sometimes it even looks like Oscar is trying to turn the page.

Oscar likes board books too, but at this age (4 months) he has a hard time holding onto them for any length of time, and his fingers aren't yet agile enough to turn a board book page. Cloth books, on the other hand, are quite easy for his hands to grab; but he has some cloth books he doesn't like. Cloth books with a smooth overall feel, Oscar doesn't like those. Oscar is a fan of texture, and The Squishy Turtle has a lot of texture.

Oscar loves The Squishy Turtle so much he gave his girlfriend Amaya it's companion The Fuzzy Bee and Friends. The Fuzzy Bee is actually almost cooler than The Squishy Turtle, except for a line about a worm wanting to come out and play on a sunny day - I don't enjoy having mental images of dried-up dead worms when I'm playing with my son.

We were having an issue with forgetting to bring to Squishy Turtle back and forth from home to child care, so we decided we needed another soft Priddy book, and so we got Big Rex and Friends. Reciting hard to pronounce dinosaur names to a baby does strike me as a bit weird, but Oscar sure doesn't mind. In fact he seems to be enjoying the textures of Big Rex even more than The Squishy Turtle. New love is always the most passionate.

If you are interested Priddy also has a number of inexpensive board books that I just ordered for a local book fair. Most board books these days run $6.99 to $12.99 but for just $4.95 each you can get the touch & feel Priddy board books on Colors, Numbers, Shapes, Words, and even one for Halloween called Spooky. You can even get Spanish bilingual editions. I'm turning into a big Priddy fan.