Friday, July 31, 2009

Board Books

I officially became an aunt at 12:06 am on July 28th, 2009, and I was thrilled beyond words. The only sad part of this situation is that little Autumn Malia, and her family, live in Hawaii. Not a bad place to visit, and I am already planning a trip to meet her. After the happiness somewhat subsided, I was on a mission to make my niece become a lover of books, just like her aunt. Not having children of my own, I am going to try my hardest to give this little one the gift of the written word.
Some of the books that I had waiting for her, before she even entered the world, were some of the children classics. Books I had growing up, that I believed help to shape my childhood, and my life. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendek, Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss, are just some of the books that were waiting as anxiously as I was for Autumn. All those books are pretty vulnerable to little baby hands, seeing as how they are paper, but Aunt Teresa was prepared for that as well. Working at Anthology, I was able to hit the children's section and find tons of lovely board books, that are impervious to baby hands. Some of these book that I grabbed we books that I had growing up, but many were "new" books to me. I was lucky enough to find Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and the new books to me, The Feelings Book by Todd Parr and Underwear Do's & Don'ts by Todd Parr.
As I boxed them to send to her, I also sent a long letter to my brother and sister-in-law with strict instructions to read to her everyday. I know that she won't really know what is going on, at least for the first few months of her life when she is being read to, but soon she will begin to understand.
Then, I can sit back, and watch her grow up with all the wonderful worlds that books provide to people, big and small. It has been a very long time since I read any children's books, so any of you that have recommendations or suggestions I am all ears! Hope to see you at the store :)

Books on Kindle

I've been considering getting a Kindle (an e-book reader from for some time now. Much as I love paper books (and an entire wall of my house attests to just how much I do!) there is something alluring about the prospect of carrying my library around on a single device. But I have some philosophical issues with the DRM (Digital Rights Management/"copy protection") scheme Amazon has put on these devices to prevent people copying, modifying, or using the books you buy. The EFF has some interesting (and funny!) videos up discussing the issues here.

The EFF has all kinds of cool stuff about how computers and the internet impact our creative life and cultural heritage, focusing on US copyright laws. The info on their site includes anything about intellectual property, copyright duration and public domain, patents and trademarks, fair use, DRM, network security, internet censorship, etc. They also provide legal assistance to people involved in lawsuits around intellectual property. I highly recommend checking them out.

Quotation of the Day (from Shelf Awareness)

Judging a City's 'Level of Coolness' by its Bookshops

"A good way to judge whether a city has the desired level of 'coolness' is to look at its bookshops. If there is more than one bookshop selling books in foreign languages on an extensive range of topics, from cookery to philosophy, if one can find what one is looking for there and, furthermore, if one is allowed to stroll through the books while having a sip of coffee from the bookshop's café, it is an ultimate plus for the intellectual outlook of the city, enticing for anyone considering moving to that city. Bookshops, with their design, their smell, their location and their staff are among the important visitor's attractions of a city, although not many people think about bookshops as 'places to visit.'"--From Today's Zaman, an English-language newspaper in Turkey.

Monday, July 27, 2009

For the Love of Books

I love books. This is a simple statement with a lot of meaning behind it. Books drive my life forward in a way that nothing else can. I work in an independent bookstore, I am a literature major, I am even getting ready to apply to graduate school so I can get my masters in library science. All the things that are important in my life are driven by books. Why? Because books are fantastic, beautiful, majestic, exciting, lovely, magical, compelling, and so very much more.

These are a few of my favorite things ....

I love old hardcover books with gilded spines, marbled endpapers, lovely lettering, beautiful line drawings, musty smelling pages, places where the binding and pages are worn because of loving caresses. I love tall, majestic books, with rough edged paper, pages that are smooth to the touch, bold lettering that indicates the beginning of the chapter. Large, old picture books, with beautiful colors and fading, because the reader could not bare to stop loving it. I love when you can see where the book sat on its shelf, near its contemporaries, it sat there so long because it was well loved. I love when I pick up a book that has been well loved because I know that I will love it and treasure it just as much as its previous owner. I love when a book that is obviously old has not been touched because I can worship it for its majestic pages. I love when you can close your eyes and feel the bumps from a book that was read and re-read because its contents are so wonderful. I love when I can sit down in a crowded room and be totally grounded by the words on the page. I love it when I cry because the writing is just so beautiful that you cannot stand the feeling that it has produced. I love it when I cry because I cannot find one of my best book friends. I love to let go of a book and share its glory with others. I love the smell of new books, the crisp smell that reminds me of sun warmed fall leaves. I love book cases where the contents are organized by size, shape, and color. I love coming home and realizing that my books are waiting for me to caress them once again. I love that I can stack books and make pillars that will hold me up when nothing else does.

I love books. Its very simple. There is nothing better.

Happy reading!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Minds of Children BECAUSE of Books

There is a place inside every books store and every library that I can't wait to explore. The section in which young minds find magic, hope, adventure and the answer to the most important question: You are not alone.

The Children's Books. I adore this section most of all because it is the most influential, the most colorful and the most passionate, in my opinion. Where else do you find the literature that will make, break or change the future? Children are what will keep this Earth turning and bring forth new ideas inspired from the past and present to the future.

From books like Matilda by Ronald Dahl to Green Angel by Alice Hoffman, I believe that the very ideals and essences of these pages influence in such a way that is to inspire any child to soar and believe in something bigger than themselves and also how to teach their hearts to grow in love and respect for all as well as themselves. There is a depth there that no adult can touch, a world that is all there own.

Some begin with classics like Black Beauty, others with the very early picture-learning books by the ingenius Dr. Seuss. Whatever introduction to the great and magical world of books (Mine was the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. :O) ) there will be that ONE book or that ONE series that will mold and frame their lives forever. Those are the books I am interested in reading, studying and experiencing most of all. May our children experience the most precious and essential conclusions for life to be fully, happily and completely lived: To feel known, understood and strong in a world that is created by and only for them. That is where true growth breathes and lives!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Story Telling through Art

When I think of being a small child there a specific images that flow through my mind. These images are connected to picture books that I read and treasured. Picture books started my love of reading and my love of books. Great picture books, just like fine art evoke feelings of happiness while making us see the beauty that the world has to hold. All of the books that I held dear are still close to my heart as an adult. I love to go back and read them and look at them just as I would look at a beautiful piece in the Denver Art Museum. I don't think children's books have to be critically acclaimed or analyzed in the same way art pieces are evaluated. This is part of what makes them so beautiful. Enjoying them for their simplicity and complexity is part of what makes picture books so magical.

One of the most beautiful books I remember from my younger days is The Maggie B. by Irene Haas. The illustrations done for this book are absolutely fantastic. The tale it tells needs the pictures to rival it in magic and wonderment. The illustrations are incredibally detailed, while the lines are soft. This makes it easy on the eye while drawing the reader into the story. I will always remember this book due to the lovely art that it houses.

Another book that I loved at about the same time as The Maggie B. is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. The illustrations done in this book also have a soft feel. The colors are vibrant and well incorporated to flow with the different places mentioned in the story. What makes this book so special is the fact that Cooney has a wonderful message imbedded in this book. She wants her young readers to always remember to make the world a better place to live. This is a wonderful story and the illustrations bring it to life.

The Minpins by Roald Dahl is another picture book that I loved as a child. It was one of the books I read many times up until my teenage years. What makes this book special is the fact that it is a longer picture book written for beginner readers or written so a parent and child can enjoy it together. The illustrations include a lot of trees with the Minpins disguised within the leaves of the trees. This lends to the anticipation that builds up when one wants to know what is going to happen. It is an excellent picture book that all Roald Dahl fans should read.

Another one of my favorite childrens books is Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. I did not add this book to my collection until very recently. It is beautifully illustrated combining Japanese styles with soft American styles. Stillwater the panda is a gentle and wise creature who teaches children that it is always important to think about a situation and be aware of the world around us. The illustrations are rich in detail with soft lines and vibrant colors. It is the perfect childrens picture book.

All of these books are wonderful for the young and the young at heart. They have beautiful stories that are made even better with beautiful illustrations. They are some of my favorite pieces of art. They make me love books and love the art of a book as a package deal. I hope you enjoy reading these to your children and reading them to yourself.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these books at your local, independently owned bookstore, or borrowing them from the local library here are the ISBN numbers:

The Maggie B. by Irene Haas, ISBN: 9780689500213

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, ISBN: 9780670479580

The Minpins by Roald Dahl, ISBN: 9780142414743

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth, ISBN: 9780545040877

Happy reading for you and your little ones!