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, May 30, 2009

Fairy School Dropout

The picture is too small to really read the blurbs on the cover, so let me just type them out for you (clockwise):

Pointing to Hair - hair isn't neat and shiny
Pointing to Backpack - backpack isn't full of perfect homework
Pointing to Wand - wand hasn't been charged
Pointing to Skateboard - fairies are not supposed to skateboard
Pointing to Pants - should be wearing itchy tutu, not cool jeans
Pointing to Wing - wings are showing - what if a human saw them?

This is of course the awesome cover to Fairy School Dropout. Also Fairy School Dropout is a fantastic title, every time I see it I hear the tune to Beauty School Dropout in my head, with an image from the movie Greece. I really liked the movie Greece, I think I saw it over 30 times in high school and college. It's been a while though, maybe I should netflix it. Tom (my husband) would be very annoyed if I did, the movie Greece was not made for men, and then neither is the book Fairy School Dropout. With it's pink cover and purple print inside (yes purple) this is a book for girls, youngish girls 7 to 10-year-olds will love it. And it isn't all packaging, it is a cute story too. Who can dislike a rogue fairy?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Potty Training Monsters?

Like every good bookstore we have a potty training shelf, but tired of seeing the same books day after day, year after year, I've been yearning to liven up this where to poop section. So I was very excited when I saw the arrival of a new book: How to Potty Train Your Monster, by Kelly DiPucchio. This picture book does not explain the basics of Potty Training, it makes fun of them.

The book has 10 basic steps you must follow to properly potty train your monster. For example step number five is Praise Your Monster. This page has a picture of three one-eyed monsters with helpful phrases like, "Attaboy Gloomy!" "Hooray for you Horrid!" and "Way to go Gruesome!". There is also the helpful tip "Throw a Potty Party to celebrate your monster's success."

Clearly parents will enjoy reading this books to their potty training human monsters, and there are a good number of little human monsters who will enjoy hearing it. I am thinking of a close friend's head strong and humor loving three-year-old who strongly resisted attempts to potty train. That little girl will like this book!

I do not think How to Potty Train Your Monster is a good stand-alone potty trainer, but it is a fun addition to some of the classics like Everyone Poops and Once Upon a Potty.

Below is a list of the potty books we have in our store:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

13 Reasons Why - the Cover Sells the Book

Two years ago I was doing an order for children's books from Penguin. Th1rteen R3asons Why was listed as a new book from their cool teen publishing division, with an intriguing little description. I can't share the initial description I saw, as that catalogue was thrown into recycling long ago, but it inspired me to ask the rep if she would send me an advance readers copy so I could review it and see if would be good for the store.

She sent me an advance copy, I read it, and I didn't know what to think. The book is about a likable girl, who moved to a new school, had some unfortunate experiences, and decided to kill herself. But before she takes her life she makes an audio recording of why she has decided to kill herself and sends it to one of the people she thinks caused her suicide, with instructions to listen and send it on to the next person she thinks caused her suicide. I wasn't sure I liked the story, but I was pretty sure it would sell (sadly teen suicide is almost a guaranteed sale) so I got a copy for the store. We have since sold 33 copies of Th1rteen R3asons Why in hardcover- not bad for a small town bookstore that serves of community of less than 10,000.

There is no staff pick for the book, I'm still not sure I like it, and it hasn't gotten any special treatment except that if I can, I'll face it out on the shelf, but the book sells. It sells because of the cover, there is something about a beautiful teen, wearing a pink knit hat, a pink sweater, a frilly scarf, a frilly skirt, and high heels with sheer socks sitting on a swing that make people pick up the book. Did I mention that there are bows on her high heels? Well there are bows on her high heels. Never mind that the main character of the book continually refers to her jeans, jeans don't sell a book, high heels with bows, those sell (apparently).

You see, I'm annoyed with myself, because I too find the cover appealing. It is just that when I look at the cover closely and I see how ridiculous it is (who wears high heels and sheer socks to a playground, or even to high school?) I wonder why, why is it appealing? I guess the truth is that pretty girls sell, and the girl on this cover is pretty, and not dressed like a prostitute (as a great many other pretty girls on book covers are).

In truth the cover doesn't sell the book on it's own, the cover only gets people to pick up the book. It is the intriguing concept of a teenager leaving audio tapes to all the people she thinks caused her suicide that sell the book. Jay Asher, the author, should be congratulated for coming up with a great plot line. Never mind that I wanted the throw the book against the wall when I was done; it is still a good plot line.

Ultimately I didn't like the book because I could not forgive the main character for killing herself for such STUPID reasons. But I am an adult. I gave the book to a teenage co-worker and her friend, and they both loved it. The teenagers loved the book, and thought the adults the book described were total jerks; I didn't really see what any adult did that was wrong. If nothing else the book is an excellent discussion starter, if a teen and their parent read it together, it would be GREAT. I'm not sure how many adults are going to read this with their teenagers, but still I comfort myself that if they do, it would be good for their relationship.

I can moralize that the book never really shows the heartbreak her suicide caused her family, but that isn't the point. The point of the story is that if you are a teenager, your interactions with your friends mean a lot, and you should be careful of how you treat others. It's not a bad point, I'm still not sure I like the book, but Jay Asher does have a point. The combination of a good cover and a good point sure do sell a lot of books.