Reading Is Not Optional
Posted on July 11, 2014 by Faith
On July 1st, the book industry and the world lost a great man and wonderful writer, Walter Dean Myers. I was devastated. I didn't want to imagine a world of children's literature without him. His work was groundbreaking and award-winning, colored by both his brilliant writing and storytelling. Not only did he serve as a National Ambassador of Young People's Literature, he also spent two years touring the country to promote his "Reading Is Not Optional" campaign, promoting the idea that reading is key to success in life, and therefore not optional. I love that.
Because Myers did so much to promote reading, I didn't want to face the idea that readers would no longer get to experience the joys of getting their hands on his newest book. Then I remembered my first experience reading him, and how much I love to sell his books—like the National Book Award-nominated and Printz Award-winning Monster. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that while his passing is a source of sadness, the wonderful writer who penned over a hundred books is not really gone. Not only did he continue writing up until the end (so we can look forward to at least a couple more new books!), but all of his books are timeless. Which means booksellers like me will be able to introduce him to readers for decades to come. He will never be forgotten.
Myers' books have been, and always will be, loved and cherished by readers of all ages. I know he will live forever in the hearts and minds of every person who reads him.
As promised, another Myers' book, On A Clear Day, is hitting the shelves this year, on September 23rd. And believe me, it's wonderful.
If you'd like to pre-order the book or just talk about this amazing man, come on in to either one of our stores. We're always here, ready and willing to talk books with you.
Posted on June 25, 2014 by Faith
Everyone can agree that diversity in children's books is a good thing. Not because of some politically-charged motivation or because we feel guilty unless we make a token effort of inclusion, but because everybody has a story to tell — and the best come from reading as many as possible. The power of stories can make us feel interconnected and part of something, rather than just alone on our own journeys.
No doubt, we need more diversity. Yet outside of teachers, librarians, and booksellers, diversity in children's books tends not to be a popular topic of conversation. The topic often gets a token period of discussion and then fades quietly away after very little or half-hearted change. But recently, thanks to Walter Dean Myers' March article in the New York Times, Buzzfeed's April article and the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign on Twitter and Tumblr, this issue has once again been thrust into the spotlight.
Here at Changing Hands, we children's specialists are excited to see it prominently featured in the news. We have plenty of diverse children's books we'd love to hand sell you! Here is tiny sample of our favorite books, both new and classics, all featuring a diverse cast of characters. A couple of them may suprise you. . .
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
Through self-affirming rhymes and charming illustrations, a little curly haired black girl encourages kids to appreciate everything about themselves.
Little You by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett
This aboriginal Canadian author / illustrator duo uses second-person verse and spare graphic art to compose a lyrical ode to a newborn child.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
The popular author / illustrator team collaborate again on a modern nursery rhyme about all the things babies everywhere have in common.
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
This classic broke ground when it was originally published in 1962 for being one of the first picture books for young children to portray a realistic, multi-cultural urban setting.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
The story of a twelve-year-old mixed race genius, outsider, and orphan who rediscovers family with a high schooler named Mai, who lives in garage with her family behind the nail salon they own.
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
Local author Adam Rex fully illustrated this chapter book with photos, drawings, newspaper clippings and comic sequences. His protagonist is an eleven-year-old black girl named Gratuity Tucci (sometimes called "Tip") who must survive on her own after her mother is abducted by the aliens who have taken over Earth.
Geek Girls and Secret Identities by Mike Jung
Mike Jung offers up a superhero story for people who've read too many superhero stories, told through the eyes of Vincent Wu, a boy obsessed with Captain Stupendous, his hometown superhero.
N.E.R.D.S by Michael Buckley
The New York Times bestselling author delivers a three-book middle grade series about a secret spy society made up of a diverse cast of fifth grade misfits who use their unique nerdy skills to fight crime.
Hooked by Liz Fichera
The local author's first book about a Native American girl and the only female member of her school's varsity golf team.
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Although it's technically shelved in general fiction, not teen fiction, this is sure to please apocalyptic survival story fans. Wilson's sci-fi thriller is written as an diverse oral history of international cast of survivors who experienced humanity's desperate stand against a robot uprising.
Fated by Alyson Noel
Set in New Mexico, Latina protagonist Daire Santos has to learn to control her powers and navigate the worlds between the living and the dead.
My Double Life by Janette Rallison
Local teen humor author Rallison (who also writes fantasy and sci-fi books under the pseudonym C.J. Hill) writes about eighteen-year-old Alexia, the only half-Anglo half-Latino girl in her school, who happens to be a perfect doppelganger for a teen superstarlet — and has just been hired to pose as her in public.
We are always eager to hear from you about your favorite books, so stop by the store and let us know what multicultural books you love.
Look Out, John Green...
Posted on March 21, 2014 by Faith
There is no question that John Green has done great things for the world of contemporary young adult fiction. His books are fantastic, and his fans are far-reaching and loyal. Because of his popularity, we always have customers asking us to recommend other contemporary YA authors. The first three I always recommend are A.S. King, Erin Jade Lange and Tom Leveen — three of the most incredible authors currently writing.
A.S. King injects a small element of magical realism into her stories. It's her signature of sorts, which makes her stories just a bit different than most contemporary YA.
Erin Jade Lange manages to take subjects that some consider uncomfortable — like obesity and bullying — and write stories that will change the way you think about people in your life.
Tom Leveen, because of his theatre background, writes some of the best dialogue you will ever read. For that reason alone, everyone should read his books.
Whether they are writing about a girl remembering her past life as a pirate, a deadly zombie virus outbreak at a high school, or a student contemplating suicide, all three of these authors are able to consistently capture an authentic teenage voice.
King, Lange, and Leveen get better with each book they publish, and I look forward to reading their works for many years to come — and I hope you will too!
A Book is the Best Valentine
Posted on February 11, 2014 by Faith
Ah, Valentine's Day. The holiday probably conjures images of cutesie little cards, unfortunately-flavored chalk-like candies, roses, chocolate, and—of course—hearts everywhere.
Every year at Changing Hands, we get a few people, usually parents, looking for a more literary alternative to candy and chocolate. (Not to say that adults don't buy books for Valentine's Day!) Speaking as Children's Book Specialist, these Valentine's Day shoppers are some of my favorite customers.
Here are a couple of our perennial favorites:
Duchess of Whimsy: An Absolutely Delicious Fairy Tale by Randall de Seve
This is a charming fairytale that proves that love is sometimes found where you least expect it. You'll like it all the more when you discover that author Randall de Seve drew inspiration from his own parents' relationship for this fantastic book.
Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell
McDonnell writes and illustrates an adorable book about a kitten, hugs, and love. This is a wonderful picture book for the cat-lover in your life, and a great alternative to a traditional Valentine's Day present!
Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Fantastic and sweet, this is the story of how a girl's simple act of love blossoms into something much bigger than she could have imagined.
Zombie in Love by Kelly S. Dipucchio
This is the hilarious and rather touching tale of a zombie and his search for a girlfriend. Like most picture books, the illustrations (by Scott Campbell) take this one to a whole new level.
Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton
You can't get much better than this small—yet touching—gift. This tale of the unlikely friendship between a hippopotamus and a penguin would make a great gift any time of the year.
So before the 14th of February rolls around, stop by Changing Hands and suprise your Valentine with a book that will capture both of your hearts!
The Best Books You've Forgotten
Posted on December 2, 2013 by Faith
We have noticed a new trend when it comes to baby shower gifts—the giving of a beloved childhood book instead of a card. Books like Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are and Brown Bear, Brown Bear are some of the most popular titles customers come in to buy for a baby shower. All are fantastic gifts to give any expectant parent—but there are other, equally as amazing books that you probably read either to your children or as a child that often get overlooked. Here are just a few of the best books you may have forgotten you loved!
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
It's a sweet story of a girl and a baby bear, both blueberry picking with their mothers, and the confusion that ensues when each ends up following the wrong mother. First published in 1948, it won the Caldecott Honor in 1949 and has been a staple of many a childhood for 65 years.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
A timeless story of Great-Aunt Alice Rumphius and the things she did to make the world a more beautiful place. First published in 1982, it has not been around quite as long as some of the others but it has always been a favorite of ours.
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
This wonderful story of Ferdinand the Bull who would rather smell flowers than bullfight has been around since 1936 and has been a staple in countless childhood libraries.
Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Published in 1938, this story of a cap seller still makes for a great read-a-loud and the repetitive text makes it easy to include the little ones in the story.
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlber
First published in 1978, this simple and charming look-and-find book combines repetitive text with soft illustrations to make a book that is as fun to read alone as it is to read out loud.
So next time you need a great gift, stop by the store and we will point out these as well as other treasures that may have been forgotten.
Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from a Children's Book, or Picture Books are the New Self-Help
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Faith
It's simple, children's books are good for you. This is something anyone who loves children's books will tell you. There is a kind of beauty in the simplicity of a book written for children. We live in an era of self-help books geared towards all manner of seemingly complex issues such as relationships, self-esteem and happiness. There are a plethora of adult books written every year that deal with these subjects. And yet, all these themes can be found in almost every children's book. What some books take hundreds of pages to say, a picture book says in just a few, and does so with fantastic artwork.
Take for example Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. This is a charming little story about a boy who finds a penguin, thinks it's lost, and decides to take it home to the South Pole—only to find out that the penguin wasn't lost, it was just lonely. At it's most basic, it's a story of friendship, but it's also about selflessly giving of oneself, about learning to appreciate what we have, and learning that home really is where the love is. All things some of us spend a lifetime trying to learn.
Or Goldlocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems. It's a wonderful and hilarious take on the traditional fable and it also contains a great message, "if you find yourself in the wrong story, leave". This is perfect for anyone facing difficult decisions. What a great lesson for adults and children alike. Who among us has never found ourselves in a less than ideal situation? The idea that we have the power to shape our own lives is a profound one, and yet in the context of a children's story, its so simple.
Or take Peace by Wendy Halperin. It is a stunningly rendered book about peace, but at it's very core, it's a book about self-esteem. If each of us loved ourselves individually, if we have "peace in our hearts", the world would be a better place. And is there anything more simple than that?
So next time you feel you need a boost or some self help, stop by the children's section of any bookstore. I guarantee there will be at least one book that will touch your heart.
"Read It Again!"
Posted on November 19, 2013 by Faith
How many of you have dreaded hearing those words at bedtime? After reading the book dozens and dozens of times, you are sick of it—but your kids aren't. Well dread no more. One of the things we at Changing Hands pride ourselves on is the ability to find picture books that keep adults as entertained as children. Here are a couple of our favorites.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
It's an hysterical story of crayons in revolt, each of them assuming they have it worse than all the other crayons. Each page has humor enough to keep both child and adults entertained. But, it's also a book about equality and it teaches kids the power of thinking outside the (crayon) box.
Dinotrux by Chris Gall
Quite possibly the best picture book in existence. It's dinosaur trucks! I have yet to have a child who has not fallen in love with this book. Over the years I have read it aloud numerous times, to kids and adults alike, and have yet to grow bored. It is such a creative idea. The illustrations are big and vivid and the text lends itself to some really great sound effects for those of us who really get into our storytelling. And there is a sequel, Revenge of the Dinotrux, in which the Dinotrux learn to be friends with humans. Another sweet and funny book you won't mind reading over and over.