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, November 28, 2009


Of course I knew of Winnie-the-Pooh growing up. He was a bear, he liked honey, he had friends. Eeyore was a downer. Piglet was little and squeaky. Rabbit was Rabbit. And Christopher Robin was a little boy and I was never sure how a little boy was friends with forest animals or how the forest animals seemed to be stuffed animals but live in the forest...but I never really thought of it much. I saw Pooh on cartoons, and I maybe had some board books or something like that, but I don't believe I ever actually read (or was read) any of A.A. Milne's unabridged classic tales until last month. And after reading the actual tales, I now understand why they are famous. A.A. Milne is good, and Winnie-the-Pooh is FABULOUS!

If you like children's literature and you don't have A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh go out and buy it NOW. You can get a cheap paperback for as little as $5.99 new, or you can get a fancy hardcover with color illustrations for about $20. There is something to be said for the hardcover, because once you read the stories you won't want to give them up.

A.A. Milne's writing is not just for children, but for adults, particularly adults who are around children. From Chapter 1:

"When I first heard his name, I said, just as you are going to say, "But I thought he was a boy?"
"So did I," said Christopher Robin.
"Then you can't call him Winnie?"
"I don't."
"But you said-"
"He's Winne-ther-Pooh. Don't you know what 'ther' means?"
"Ah, yes, now I do," I said quickly; and I hope you do too, because it is all the explanation you are going to get.

It is Milne's style of writing, more than the facts of the stories themselves, that make Winnie-the-Pooh so pleasurable, and memorable. True the idea of a bear visiting his friend (Rabbit) and then eating so much he is not able to fit through the door is funny, but it is not as funny as Rabbit's response:

"It all comes," said Rabbit sternly, "of eating too much. I thought so at the time," said Rabbit, "only I didn't like to say anything," said Rabbit, "that one of us was eating too much," said Rabbit, "and I knew it wasn't me," he said.

The truth is we don't sell much of Winnie-the-Pooh in the store. We'll sell level readers and board books that feature his likeness, and pared-down versions of his stories. But it is not the same. The level readers we sell aren't bad, but sentences are missing, and well, I miss them. When you abridge Milne's writing, you abridge his humor; the story is still there, but the twinkle is gone.

Milne has written more than just Winnie-the-Pooh, he wrote The House at Pooh Corner. But I haven't read it yet. I never read any A.A. Milne until the publisher Penguin decided to publish a THIRD book in the Winnie-the-Pooh series written not by A.A. Milne (who died in 1956) but by David Benedictus. This book by Mr. Benedictus is called Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. I confess I haven't read it, but I will. I will also read Milne's When We Were Very Young and Now We are Six. But because I haven't read Mr. Benedictus' edition to the Pooh family I can't comment on it's worthiness, but I am curious.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Darn that Vacuum!

We've had some vacuuming fun tonight at spellbinder, which involved me pulling dirty ribbons & twigs out of a vacuum bag and into the trash because well, we couldn't find another vacuum bag and the one we had was full. I am now coated in a nice soft layer of black dust, but it makes me thankful that we have the vacuum for after all, all that dust was originally on the floor, and Oscar (my 11-month-old son) crawls around on the floor (yes even the bookstore floor). True the floor is still dirty and Oscar's hands after crawling about are not a sight a mother loves to see, but how much worse they would be if not for the vacuum!

Oscar is, of course, scared of the vacuum, as are many youngsters, so in response Linda Bryan Sabin has written a charming rhymer call The Sound Snatcher. The title character (a vacuum) sucks up all the sounds around him:

"He was made to eat dirt but some sound bites can't hurt so along with the dust and the fluffle he sucks in the sound he finds lying around. Each sweet taste for him like a truffle."

On each page he goes through the rooms, sucking in more noises:

"Is the telephone ringing? The parakeet singing? Has he swallowed the door buzzer's buzz? He ate without caring the radio's blaring and the only sound left is what was."

I love that last line - the only sound left is what was.

The book is published by peeking kitty press, and on every page there is a... well I'll let you guess. It is pretty cute. One of my favorite pages has few words, at the top is written,

"No sounds can out loud him..."
There are pictures of the kitty driving a fire engine with the sirens blaring, a lawn mower, an airplane, an ice cream truck, and a little boy in ear muffs. At the bottom of the page it reads,

"no ear muff can shroud him, as The Snatcher continues his prowling..."
I can see Oscar, learning his sounds and words pointing to fire engine and making the siren, and trying to make the sound of an airplane. We're not there yet, at 11 months all I get is a smile when I make the siren sound as he picks up his toy police car. But in the future this book holds great possibility for us. There is even a "LET'S TALK ABOUT THE BOOK" section in the back, with questions for readers to pepper the listeners with, such as remembering the sounds eaten in the book. There is also a "The Words I Heard" vocabulary section. I like the vocabulary section:

devour - verb (dEh-vaur) to eat or swallow, to eat greedily (as if you won't get anymore and you want all the food for yourself).

They are pretty cool definitions.

The book retails for $14.95, has library quality binding (meaning it will take a beating), and is printed in the U.S.A. This is nice. Two months ago I made myself a deal where I wouldn't buy anything new if it came from China, but when it comes to books this deal is impossible to keep. So being printed in the U.S.A. is pretty nifty. The Sound Snatcher is also printed on recycled paper with soy ink - very green; actually the cover is green (a yellowy green), it works.