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.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Hand Sales

Hand selling is a bookseller term for when we direct customers to a particular title that we like. In truth it is done automatically, when you work in a bookstore, you like books, and if a customer asks for recommendations you do your best to help them. Lately I found that I have been hand selling two titles that I haven't blogged about! They are both great new summer reads, one romance and one science fiction thriller.

First the romance:

The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

This teen summer romance is written in the he said / she said format with the alternate authors writing alternate chapters from different characters point of view. I admit that this is one of my favorite formats for character driven books; it is easy to read and it keeps stories interesting where books written in straight linear formats often get bogged down somewhere in the middle. There is no bogging in The Half-Life of Planets.

Liana is an aspiring scientist from a well-off unhappy family. Hank is an aspiring musician from a not-so-well-off unhappy family. Oh, and Hank has Asperger's, a form of Autism that is not so severe that he cannot interact, but does interfere with his ability to relate to other teenagers, and it makes his musical aspirations seem more like obsessions. Actually it was his Asperger's that first drew Liana to Hank. She met him in a women's bathroom and thought he must be mature because he didn't seem embarrassed. Hank wasn't embarrassed, he wouldn't think that one would need to be embarrassed if they were found in a women's bathroom...

Liana knows Hank is different, but she doesn't know why, and for much of the book she doesn't know WHAT is wrong with him. It is an interesting plot device. The Half-Life of Planets is a classic teen romance, with a twist, and it is lots of fun!

Now for the Action:

Much of the continents have fallen into the sea, forcing humanity to cram into cities that grow higher and higher. Space becomes valuable and unattainable, inspiring some to colonize the sea. These colonists live in fantastic undersea jelly houses and farm the ocean floor. But no one knows yet how living undersea will affect humans, or how to stop a gang of raiders from attacking the colonist's homesteads.

Ty, the first child raised undersea, is desperate to hide the powers he is developing. Gemma, a topsider, is searching for her only family, a long-lost brother who was last known to be an ocean miner. Together they try to outwit the raiders and save their families.

The adventure keeps you turning the pages, but in truth it is Kat Falls' utterly believable and super techno cool creation of an undersea wild-west-world that makes Dark Life fantastic!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Woo Hoo New Books!

Every month (well, almost every month) I get to bring in new books to the childrens' section. Opening a box of new childrens' books is like candy for me, and this month's candy is particularly delicious. So I'm sharing some of the tastiest treats with you here.

by Lesley Hague
While not a suspenseful page turner, Nomansland is a succinct vivid tale that will stay with you forever. Nomansland tells the story of Keller, a young woman training to be a tracker in a future society where men are not allowed, meaning male babies are not permitted. Women rule the land (an island) with a cold iron fist; societal jobs are prescribed at an early age, deviation is not allowed, and names ending in "i" or "y" are illegal.  No Mandi,  Tracy, or Brandi will be found in Nomansland, because those names are symbols of the past, when women were weak, and when the world was nearly destroyed. The trackers are the warriors of this society, the strongest, the hardest, the best. But when a group of trainee trackers, including Keller, discover an old house, hidden under bushes and vines, and filled with alluring glossy magazines showing pictures of women with bright red lips and strange shoes, their faith in the culture of Nomansland is destroyed, and their lives are endangered. The final climax to Nomansland is heart-pounding, and the images it creates are so vivid, you won't be able to get them out of your head.

by Kimberly Pauley
In an unusual twist I like a SEQUEL BETTER than an original. In Sucks to be Me Mina has to decide if she wants to be a vampire and keep her family, but then loose her best friend. She chose the vampire route, and in Still Sucks to be Me the real adventures begin! Her family is relocated (expected) to a small southern town with EVIL vampires (ooohhh). Mina's vampire boyfriend is out of town, and one of the cute evil vamps takes a liking to her, and well, shenanigans abound...A great summer read!

By Tabori Fried
If I had this book when I was pregnant with Oscar, I might have kept better track of things. This is a combination of a typical baby book, with spots to place pictures, but it also works as a calendar where you can write in doctor's appointments and play dates, and it has folders on the front and back covers to store relevant papers. Basically it is the best baby book I have yet seen.

by Joe Dumpty as told to Jeanie Franz Ransom
illustrated by Stephen Axelsen
"Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
Humpty Dumpty was pushed.
At least I think so. Who am I? I'm Joe Dumpty, Humpty's younger brother."
A hard boiled detective picture book filled with Mother Goose's offspring. Who can resist?

by Donald Crews
The most creative counting book I've seen in a long time. The black dots increase in number while the pictures behind them change. " One dot can make a sun, or a moon when the day is done."

by Pippa Shaw
illustrated by Andrew Grey
based on the works of A.A. Milne and the artwork of E.H. Shepard
I'm a fan of Pooh Bear, and this new board book does the Pooh justice. The artwork is fabulous, the words are simple & sweet, and the focus on weather is fun!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Air Show!

Planes, trains, and automobiles.... Little boys love them. Even Oscar's close friend Amaya (currently 20-months-old) has a weakness for things that fly through the air or roll along the ground. So it is understandable that they would like books about our big adult toys.

When I first received a review copy of Treat Williams' and Robert Neubecker's children's picture book Air Show! I thought it was okay, but I didn't think it was anything to blog about, Oscar disagreed.

Air show was not made for 18-month-olds, it is a large hard cover book with paper pages and a decent amount of text. As a bookseller I would think it was for ages 2-6, except that my 18-month-old CANNOT get enough of Airshow! Soon I will have the book memorized. Air Show! is about planes, and Oscar likes planes. In the book Ellie and her family are flying to an airshow, where they get to look at planes (lots of planes) and Ellie gets to fly in a stunt plane. The fact that a little girl is the main character in a plane book is cute, her older brother is there too, but as the story says, "he was just a know-it-all." The book has a bunch of pilot talk in it, and I am absolutely sure that when I read:

"Directional gyro?"

Oscar has NO IDEA what I am talking about, because I have NO IDEA what I am talking about. But, it doesn't matter. That text is on a page with a picture of an airplane's control panel thingy, the two pilots, and Ellie and her brother. I sound official reading it, and I guess that is enough for Oscar because he LOVES the picture.

Oscar loves EVERY picture in this book, including the spectacular center fold-out of the air show with 22 different airplanes illustrated and labeled with their name and the year they were made. Even I enjoy looking at the fold-out, and I'm not a plane person. When I got the review copy, it wasn't bound, so I put holes in it and tied it together with yarn to read it to Oscar. That binding might have been okay if I read it once or twice a week, but it didn't withstand 5 readings a day. So we bought the hard cover. Air Show! is the FIRST hard cover picture book I have bought for Oscar, it probably won't be the last, but Air Show does earn a special place in our family for being the first. 

As I mentioned before, I'm not a plane person; I'm also not a car person, but I will profess a weakness for trains. So, Treat Williams and Robert Neubecker, can you work together on a book about trains for me? Thanks. - Genevieve