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, June 13, 2009

Book of the Week - Sucks to be Me

Vampires are hot. I suppose we have Twilight to thank for this, but other vampire books have caught on as well; Vampire Academy, Vampire Kisses, the Morganville Vampires. Curiously sales of Dracula have not picked up, but I guess that is just too traditional, there are no jean-wearing teen vamps in Dracula.

I have not read all the vampire books. And truthfully, I don't want to. Vampire sex is something I can do without, thank you very much! And, well, I'm not a teenager, so I don't really understand how pale skin and sucking blood is cool. Clearly, I was never cool in school. I'm okay with sex in teen books. I find it interesting that there is so much sex in teen books, but it is part of their lives, and I don't believe authors should act as though it doesn't exist. That said, a lot of the teen books are essentially romance teen trash (with sex), and I'm not such a fan of trash. Of course my trash is other people's general fiction - it is all a matter of taste.

There is one vampire book I do like - Sucks to be Me by Kimberly Pauley. This book takes off with the assumption that Vampires are cool, but then throws that on it's head by having very normal (thus uncool) parents be vampires. The main character must decide if she wants to be a vampire like her parents. The pros are that she could live forever and look hot (vampires ARE more attractive than mere mortal humans). The cons are that she would have to move and would never be able to see her best friend again. It isn't an easy choice, but with Kimberly Pauley telling the story, watching the main character decide is entirely entertaining.
And so, our book of the week this week is Sucks to be Me, where uncool vampires can be surprisingly cool.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Food For Thought

When is a YA book, not for Young Adults?

The bookseller's definition of young adult, is a bit of a misnomer. The category typically refers to books written for kids who are 12 - 17 years old, though wikipedia defines the age range as 13 - 19. A 12-year-old is definitely NOT an adult, but is a 17-year-old? Most 17-year-olds still live with their parents, they can't vote, they cannot legally drink alcohol, but they can drive. When I think of young adults I think of 20-year-olds, I don't usually think of high school students. But in bookselling, a young adult is a high school student.

So what should a high school student read? Well, if you look at the books assigned to them in school, they should be reading adult literature and non-fiction. The Grapes of Wrath, The Iliad, The Catcher in the Rye (which IS probably a YA book, but categorized as adult literature), Into the Wild, etc. Recognizing that the books "young adults" read for school are for adults, it shouldn't be surprising that the books written for their age range are filled with adult topics; sex, love, drugs, redemption. But where is the line, when is the topic so adult that the books are no longer for young adults, but simply about them?

I'm thinking of this because of the book Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. It is a YA book with a cover that seems to be geared towards middle grade readers. I haven't read the book, but I've read reviews. I know that in the book a girl is repeatedly raped by her father, forced to have abortions in the third trimester, and gang-raped by villagers. This is a YA novel?

Tender Morsels has won a number of awards:

WINNER 2008 - Booklist Children's Editors' Choice

WINNER 2008 - School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

WINNER 2008 - Horn Book Fanfare

WINNER 2008 - Kirkus Reviews Best Young Adult Books

WINNER 2008 - Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book

WINNER 2008 - Amazon Best of the Year (I almost deleted this one)

I haven't read this book yet, but I will; I don't understand how it is for kids, but I can't say it isn't until I have read it.
Here is a link to an excellent review in the Sci Fi Weekly.

Book of the Week - LOVE THAT PUPPY!

Every week now, I get to choose a "book of the week". This means I get to pick a book, put it on a special shelf, and tell people that it is 20% off. Of course I only choose kids books; I like kids books.

This week the book is Love that Puppy! by Jeff Jarka. As the cover will tell you, it is the story of a boy who wanted to be a dog. Love that Puppy! is a full size picture book, but a rather short story, only 26 pages; perhaps that is why it is only $12.95 where most picture books cost $17.99 these days. The story is told in a comic book-like format so that the words are secondary to the pictures, which are VERY CUTE. The sequence where Peter (the boy who wanted to be a dog) plays catch/fetch with his father is priceless.

I should note that I am a cat person; dog books don't usually catch my fancy. But Love that Dog! is different, it is really really funny.