Winter is on the way!

It’s taken quite a long time this year, but the air is finally chilly enough outside to start reading books about winter. One of my favorites of this upcoming season is Eileen Spinelli’s Cold Snap. It’s perfect for sharing with your loved ones as a fire roars in your fireplace (or, if you’re like me, the electric baseboard heaters warm the room) and you sip on some toasty hot chocolate.

The story is the perfect mixture of cozy and sweet, perfect for reading on a chilly day. Included is a recipe for Miss Dove’s Sugar-on-Snow Candy, which would be great to make after reading the story! Yum! The temperature in Toby Mills is COLD and as each day passes, it just gets colder and colder. Icicles are hanging from the General Toby’s statue and no one can seem to get warm. Everyone is discouraged and lonely and COLD, until the Mayor’s wife has a brilliant idea, bring the entire town together for a fun surprise to ride out the cold snap.

Stay warm, Amanda

Cold Snap by Eileen Spinelli; $ 17.99; Knopf; Ages 4+

A new Elephant & Piggie book is here!

We love the Elephant & Piggie characters and are always excited when we open up a shipment to find a new adventure inside. Luckily, author Mo Willems is able to write books about as fast as we can read them!

The latest Elephant & Piggie story follows the lovable pair as they attempt to make a plan to go on a drive. They want to have a super fun adventure, but cautious Gerald wants to plan out each very important step before they head out. Steps like finding a map, buying sunglasses, and eventually realizing neither one of them knows how to drive!

Their plan may go awry, but the process is still incredibly fun!

These books are great for read alouds, because both the audience and the adults can laugh along. The illustrations are bold and simple, yet the facial expressions on both Elephant and Piggie are often giggle-inducing without even reading the text!

I love the Elephant & Piggie series and hope there are many more to come!

Enjoy,

Amanda

Let’s Go for a Drive by Mo Willems; $8.99; Hyperion; Ages 6+ 

The End of Your Life Book Club

Every once in awhile, we like to send out a reminder that we love grown-up books too! We all try to read as many books as we can, fitting in a grown-up book here and there, and The End of Your Life Book Club is one that has recently stuck out to me. I love a good memoir and with this one focusing on books and reading, I know a lot of you will really enjoy it too!

Though the reason for the rather unconventional book club between author Will Schwalbe and his mother is a sad one, the concept is brilliant. Sharing books between parent and child, at least in this way,  is typically an event that stops when childhood is over. Sure, if our parents are readers we’ll recommend books to them and they to us, or we’ll purchase books for each other during the holidays. But, really discussing a book and what it means to us is a whole different story, and Will and his mom manage to do that very well in the time they have left together.

From Khalid Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns (two of my personal favorites) to A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, the pair read a wide range of books, each teaching them a bit about each other in the process of reading and talking about the plot, the characters, and what the story means.

The power of books and what they can do for people and relationships is at the forefront of this book and I absolutely loved learning about the personalities, hopes, and wishes of both Will and his mother, as well as adding many books to my own pile. One can never have too many books waiting to be read.

If you love books about books, I highly recommend picking this one up!

Enjoy,

Amanda

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe; $25.00; Knopf; Grown-up Non-Fiction

Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure

Let’s just get the truth about this book out of the way now: if you’re a Star Wars fan, you MUST have it for your collection. Absolutely must! Each page is full of fun activities to remind you of your favorite parts of all three Star Wars prequel movies. Pull-tabs, two working lightsabers, and huge, detailed pop-ups make the book visual awesome

The trivia is great for all fans and even for the true Star Wars buffs there are little known facts that are fun to read and share. And did I mention working lightsabers? How much fun is that?! . The paper engineering of the pages is just amazing.

Definitely a necessary addition to any Star Wars collection or for those pop-up collectors out there.

Have fun playing with this one!

Amanda

Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure by Matthew Reinhart; $36.99; Orchard Books; Ages 8+

Kids’ Next List: Autumn 2012

Every season IndieBound puts out “Kids’ Next” a newsletter featuring recommendations from Indie booksellers around the country. We’re invited to write reviews throughout the year for books that we get a chance to read in advance (a perk of being a bookseller) and occasionally, reviews from our staff are featured!

In the Autumn 2012 edition of Kids’ Next, three reviews from Hooray for Books! staff made it in. Check out our recommendations:

In the section for ages 4-8, Amanda said this about Bear Has a Story to Tell:

“The Caldecott-winning team who created A Sick Day for Amos McGee is back with another utterly charming story. The quiet-yet-strong demeanor of a bear wanting to tell his friends a story is subtly sweet, and the selfless acts of help he gives those friends in their preparation for winter instead of telling them his story is lesson for all of us. The soft and detailed illustrations give soul to the animals. Just lovely!”

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead and illustrator Erin E. Stead; $16.99; Roaring Brook Press; Ages 4+

In the section for kids ages 9-12, Ellen talked about the latest Adam Gidwitz book, In A Glass Grimmly:

“This is a bloody marvelous, wonderfully horrible companion to Gidwitz’s award-winning debut, A Tale Dark & Grimm. In this Mother Goose-meets-the-Brothers Grimm version of ‘Jack and Jill,’ the two children will meet a talking frog – he’s a good guy – and lots of murderous giants, twisted mermaids, gruesome goblins, and other scary bad guys. But that’s okay, because what’s the point of going on a life-or-death quest if it’s easy-peasy?? A must-read for middle-graders!”

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz; $16.99; Dutton Juvenile; Ages 9+

Finally, in the section for teen readers, Megan raves about Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick:

“Bick’s follow-up to Ashes is another heart-pounding, frantic, action-packed adventure for those who can’t get enough of the zombie-apocolypse. As protagonist Alex fights to survive in a world gone seriously haywire, she begins to piece together just how dangerous her situation is. These are not the walking dead we know from television and film; they are cognizant beings, fueled as much by shrewd instinct as by animalistic blood lust. Bick keeps her complicated plot moving with plenty of twists and turns, creating a cringe-inducing, fascinating, and utterly entertaining read.”

Shadows: The Ashes Trilogy by Ilsa J. Bick; $17.99; Egmont USA; Ages 14+

We love IndieBound and can’t wait to see what makes it into the future issues of IndieNext and Kids’ Next. We have plenty of copies of this season’s newsletter, as well as back issues, at the store for your taking!

Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds

Marisol is in charge of painting the sky for the class mural, but she can’t find the color blue! She isn’t sure how to create the perfect sky without the perfect blue color and is worried she won’t be able to make a beautiful mural.
 
When she sees has the opportunity to watch the sky change from day to night — while riding home on the bus and then sitting on her front porch — Marisol realizes that the sky doesn’t HAVE to be blue. It can be whatever she wants it to be, while still becoming something absolutely beautiful.
Peter Reynolds is one of my absolute favorite authors. Sky Color is going to inspire kids AND adults, making for an awesome picture book. Just because we’ve been taught that the sky is blue doesn’t mean it has to be blue all the time. Sometimes it’s purple, pink, orange, grey…lots of colors. Marisol will help everyone realize that you don’t need the color blue to make a sky…be creative!
I also love the other books in Reynolds’ Creatrilogy series: The Dot and Ish. They also will help to spark a great sense of creativity in any child. Love them!
Sky Color by Peter H. Reynolds; $14.00; Candlewick; Ages 3+
Enjoy!
Amanda

A great new read for grown-ups: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Harold Fry and his wife Maureen live in a quaint English village. Harold is recently retired and not quite sure what to do with himself, but appears to be somewhat content with his life.  Maureen, on the other hand,  is a cold woman, easily irritated with her husband and quite obsessed with cleaning the house. You can instantly tell they do not have a typical marriage (and the house cleaning is a bit comical, tinged with a more than a bit of sadness).
When the mail arrives one afternoon, Harold receives a letter from his former coworker, Queenie, stating that she is dying of cancer. Not quite sure what to say to Queenie, a woman he hasn’t heard from in years, he manages to write out a quick note and plans to walk down to the post office box and deliver it. Instead, Harold keeps walking. He decides to walk all the way to her hospice facility, hundreds of miles away, in a pair of boating shoes, and without any supplies. This is the story of Harold’s walk to Queenie.
I loved the entire idea of the novel and the description reminded me a bit of Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, a book several of us here at the store were totally charmed by last year. Harold is an incredibly likeable character and you want him to make it to Queenie, so badly, even though you aren’t quite sure why. You only slowly learn Queenie’s part of the story as Harold walks.
Harold becomes a media sensation — walking across the English countryside as he is — never knowing if Queenie is still waiting for him to arrive or if she has passed away. He meets incredible characters along the way, each interesting and inspiring in their own way.  Every time it seems like he should just give up, the right person comes along to convince him otherwise.
Maureen was the most complex of the characters and I found her journey my favorite part of the book. Her husband just walks out of the house one day and decides to walk to another woman, making Maureen’s life instantly more complicated, as well. She is a hard woman, but you can slowly see her interior emotions breaking through as the story progresses, and it’s her breakthroughs that I kept looking forward to the most.
This was an utterly charming story and perfect to gift to those hard-to-buy-for friends and family. There is so much to like about Harold’s story that everyone could learn a thing or two from him. It’s quirky, inspirational, and a wonderful read.
-Amanda

 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce; $25.00; Random House.