A great summer read for grown-ups!

18-year-old Victoria Jones is an incredibly strong yet stubborn young woman who just aged out of the foster care system. Bounced around for most of her life, Vanessa finds herself unable to trust anyone who crosses her path, no matter their good intentions, and almost finds solace in being homeless. She is able to make her own decisions, and doesn’t have to deal with people, staying as far away from people as she can.

When her little bit of money runs out, Victoria manages to wrangle herself a job in a flower shop. Because she has always been fascinated with the “language of flowers,” she spends her days making the perfect bouquets for her customers’ personal situations. Still dealing with her past, Victoria is forced to come face-to-face with specific people and events she’s wanted nothing more than to leave behind.

The descriptions in this book are top notch and learning all about hidden meanings behind flowers, no matter how true or false they may be, was fun. The author has experience with the foster care system and it was apparent. She obviously knows how children who spend their lives in the “care” of multiple people might turn out and the issues they might experience. Victoria was haunting in the best possible way and her character, plus the intriguing plot, make for a great book club discussion.

Some heavy subject matter and situations make this most appropriate for grown-ups, but a great read for teens that has definite similarities with this plot regarding the language of flowers is Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White, one of our local authors!

A fun index of flowers is included, so you can look up all of your favorite flowers and their meanings. Very cool!

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh; $15.00; Ballantine Books

Where’s Waldo? In Old Town, Alexandria, of course!

Waldo is turning 25 this year, and to celebrate, the famous fellow in the striped shirt and black-rimmed specs is visiting 20 different local shops throughout the month of July. Those who spot him can win prizes, including buttons, books, and more. From Hooray for Books! at 1555 King Street to Monday’s Child at 218 North Lee Street, from Whistle Stop Hobbies at 130 South Royal Street to The Sugar Cube at 1218 King Street, Waldo figures are showing up in public areas of local establishments.

Anyone who wishes to participate can pick up a “Find Waldo in Alexandria!” search list with the names of all the businesses, and collect an “I Found Waldo at ___________” card for each Waldo they spot. Collecting cards in 16 or more businesses and turning them in at Hooray for Books! will win a Waldo button and an entry for other, larger prizes to be drawn at a Waldo party on July 31. The Grand Prize is a complete six-volume set of Waldo books! People who prefer a shorter version of the hunt can collect the cards from eight businesses and pick up a Waldo button at Hooray for Books!.

There is no charge to participate, and the game lasts for the entire month of July. For more information about hunting for Waldo in Alexandria, call Hooray for Books! call us at 703-548-4092 or email us!

Author event with Sharon Draper

This Thursday we are hosting Coretta Scott King award-winning author Sharon Draper at the store! She’ll be here to talk about the paperback release of her fantastic book, Out of My Mind. Several of us here at the store have read it and loved it and we recommend it to customers all the time. Now is a great time to pick up the book if you haven’t read it before (trust me, you want to), or if you’ve been a fan for awhile and want to ask Ms. Draper some questions. We’re really excited to have her!

The book centers on 11-year-old Melody, an incredibly smart girl with a photographic memory, who also happens to have cerebral palsy and is unable to speak for herself. Unfortunately, this leaves both teachers and her peers believing that she is functioning on a low level of learning, teaching her the same letters and numbers every day, rather than the math and history and science she loves and is perfectly capable of doing.

When Melody finally gets an electronic device that helps her speak, she’s able to communicate her thoughts and her intelligence to the world. She even earns a spot on her school’s quiz team, surprising everyone! The story follows Melody on her journey “out of her mind,” including the difficulties and triumphs she faces along the way.

It’s an amazing story of hope and perseverance  and could be used as an excellent classroom tool by teachers. Come hear Sharon Draper talk about the book on Thursday, 5/10, from 6:30-7:30. Let us know you’re coming at 703-548-4092.

The Pigeon has a new friend!

Everyone’s favorite pigeon is back! In this latest escapade, the pigeon meets a duckling who simply asked for a cookie and actually got one! The poor pigeon is used to asking for simple things like hot dogs, puppies, and a later bedtime , without ever being given anything. He decides that ducklings just get everything and it is just not fair! Super silly, as one would expect from a Mo Willems book, this new adventure will have pigeon followers and new fans alike laughing out loud. Guaranteed to make you giggle!
Amanda’s review was also featured in the Spring Children’s Indie Next newsletter! Tons of great book recommendations make their way into these newsletters, making gift giving and picking out books for your own readers super easy. Make sure to grab one next time you’re in the store!
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? by Mo Willems; $15.99; Disney Press; Ages 3+

Adults Read YA too! Join our club!

Don’t be shy, it’s ok to love YA! All of us here are adults (well, at least by number), and we love to read Young Adult books and recommend them to both teens AND adults. We even have a book club, especially for those like us!

Each month, Amanda, our YA book club moderator, is joined by a variety of members ranging in age from early 20’s to those well into their golden years. The range makes for incredibly interesting conversations! Past books have included The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, and Finnikin of the Rock by Marlina Marchetta.

This month, the club is reading My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve, one of Ellen’s favorite books of the year. Here’s how she described it:

If there’s a superlative for outstanding, apply it to this novel to the nth degree. Franziska Mangold, a young girl growing up in Berlin in the 1930s, is only half Jewish, but that’s enough for her family to be persecuted by Nazis. She is lucky enough to get a spot on the kindertransport, the train that secretly conveyed nearly 10,000 children out of Nazi territory to England. But being German in England isn’t easy, and it becomes even more difficult when Frances (as she becomes known) is evacuated from London. This middle-grade novel follows Frances as she courageously makes a new life for herself in a world filled with uncertainty.

If you’re interested in joining the YA Book Club for Adults, please send Amanda an email! We would love to have you! amanda@hooray4books.com

Easter is coming!

If you can’t tell by the absolutely gorgeous weather we’ve been experiencing, both Spring and Easter are definitely on the way! Here are a few books that center around traditional Easter themes:

Very First Easter by Paul Maier; $7.99; Concordia Publishing; Ages 7+

Focusing on Christ’s death and resurrection, this one is great for explaining the true meaning of Easter to school-age children. Scripture verses are used, which are helpful for memorization and helping children to remember the story throughout the year. The illustrations are beautiful and the content is simple enough for your kids to understand, yet complex enough for them to believe in the tragedy and miracle of Christ’s death and rebirth.

The Easter Story by Brian Wildsmith;$20.00; Eerdmans Books for Young Readers; Ages 5+

A very simple telling of the Easter story, through the eyes of a donkey. This would make a lovely selection as a gift book or for a child to treasure in his collection forever! The paintings are gorgeous and the traditional nature of the story is perfect for this time of year.

First Prayers, A Celebration of Faith and Love by Troy Howell; $12.95; Sterling; Ages 4+

Such a lovely book, perfect for an Easter basket! Included are all sorts of traditional prayers and Psalms, intermixed with beautiful poetry. The illustrations are soft and light, perfect for Springtime, and the simple nature of the text is wonderful, even for your little ones.

Wordless Picture Books with Emily

I love wordless picture books for a few reasons. I love their focus on art, and I love how thoughtfully created they are. They kind of have to be – without text, the pressure is on for illustrations to show us the story clearly. Good wordless picture books flow from one page to the next like a movie. But the best wordless picture books – and all of the books on this list – use their textlessness as an opportunity to take off on ingenious artistic flights of fancy. These are a few of my favorites right now.

Shadow by Suzy Lee

Shadow, by Suzy Lee, Chronicle Books, Ages 3-6

A little girl turns on the attic light and entertains herself by making shadow puppets. Her fantasies take over the whole room, and soon she’s swallowed up in a shadow adventure full of princesses, elephants, and monsters who may not be as scary as they seem. Shadow is mirrored into two, split along the spine of the book, with the left-hand pages depicting “real” world, and the right-hand pages depicting the shadows. Everything is in black and white, except for when the little girl starts to use her imagination – then things take on a glowing yellow aura. Done in smoky charcoal and spray paint, Lee’s shadows positively smolder with that dark, magical shapeless feeling that real shadows give. This is a great book for practicing comprehension skills, since in addition to following the shadow adventure, the young reader can point out which real-life objects, such as ladders and bicycle wheels, correspond to which palm trees and moons.

Sea of Dreams Dennis Nolan

Sea of Dreams,by Dennis Nolan, Macmillan Publishing, Ages 3-6

Sea of Dreams follows the secret journey of a tiny family fleeing the crumbling sand castle where they lived before the tide came in. Nolan’s soft, sumptuously colored illustrations give this story the air of a fairy tale. One of the most magical aspects of this book is the scale: we get to reexamine familiar things from our world from the point of view of someone very small. The towering seagulls and megalithic cliffs really help create a sense of wonder. Nolan’s art conveys a great deal of movement, so that although the story is quiet, high-action moments like the huge wave that threatens their boat, or the rescue of a boy overboard by young mermaids, are breathless encounters. This is the perfect bedtime book: exciting enough to hold the young reader’s attention, but calm enough to encourage that sleepytime hush.

The Conductor by Laetitia DevernayThe Conductor, by Laetitia Devernay, Hachette Book Group, Ages 3-6

A conductor enters a forest, climbs a tree, and begins to conduct the leaves. First one, then two, and then countless leaves peel off the trees and fly away like birds under the conductor’s direction. Framed like the movements in a piece of classical music, each double-page spread in this visually breathtaking book shows the flight of the leaf flock. Some pages show only one or two leaves, drawn in large, intricate detail; some pages are flooded with wings. The Conductor is one of the best visual representations of music I’ve ever seen in a book. For musically inclined children, or those in the process of trying to understand music, this book would be a great tool for explaining the different aspects of a piece of music. It could even be read while music is playing, so that the child could connect the pictures with sounds. For attention span reasons, I’d recommend this for children on the older end of the 3-6 scale, but if your child can sit through a story that’s more art than plot, don’t hesitate to pick up this gorgeous book.

Chalk by Bill Thomson

Chalk,by Bill Thomson, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 3-6

Swathed in rain gear and armed with a bag of chalk, three children go to the playground on a rainy day. They quickly realize that the things they draw come to life, which is all fun and games until someone draws a dinosaur. This vividly photo-realistic adventure is painted from dramatic perspectives and drenched with light so that all the colors really pop off the page. Even in the rainy beginning, the colors are warm and strong. The art is really amazing; Thomson used reference photographs, but Chalk is painted entirely, and painstakingly, by hand. That realism makes it even more magical when the chalk drawings come to life. It’s like it really happened! Bonus point for suggesting that drawing is the source of incredible experiences. Here’s hoping that Chalk inspires a lot of young ones to enter the arts, and here’s hoping it leads them on imaginative journeys as fun as this one!