• From the Mixed-Up Files... > Indie Spotlight > Indie Spotlight: The Reading Reptile, Books and Tapes for Young Mammals
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    April 11, 2014:
    Fall 2014 Children's Sneak Peek
    A peek at forthcoming middle grade books (as well as picture books and YA books) in a round-up from Publisher's Weekly. First printed in the February 22 issue, but now available online. Time to add to your to-read list. Read more ...

    April 9, 2014:
    How many Newbery winners have you read?
    You could make a traditional list of all the Newbery Medal Award-winning Children's Books you've read, but there's something so satisfying when you check them off and get a final tally on this BuzzFeed quiz. Read more ...

    March 28, 2014:
    Middle Grade fiction is hot at 2014 Bologna Children's Book Fair

    For the second year in a row, publishers are clamoring for middle-grade, reporters Publishers Weekly. "I’ve been coming [to Bologna] for 12 to 15 years, and I’ve never had as many European publishers asking for middle-grade," said Steven Chudney of the Chudney Agency. Read more ...

    February 14, 2014:
    Cybils Awards announced
    Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada) wins the Cybil for middle grade fiction; Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion) wins for Speculative Fiction. Read more.

    January 27, 2014: And the Newbery Medal goes to ...
    Kate DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal for "Flora & Ulysses"; Rita Williams-Garcia won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "P.S. Be Eleven." Newbery Honor awards to authors Vince Vawter, Amy Timberlake, Kevin Henkes and Holly Black. For all the exciting ALA Youth Media Award News ... READ MORE

    November 12, 2013:
    Vote in the GoodReads semifinal round

    Readers' votes have narrowed the middle-grade semifinals down to 20 titles. Log in to your GoodReads account and vote for your favorite middle-grade (and in other categories, of course). Read more ...

    November 9, 2013:
    Publishers Weekly Top Children's Books of 2013

    Middle-grade and young adult titles selected by the editors of Publishers Weekly as their top picks of the year. Let the season of "top ten books" begin! Read more ...

    October 14, 2013:
    Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids debuts January 2014

    Shelf Media Group, publisher of Shelf Unbound indie book review magazine, will launch a new free digital-only publication for middle-grade readers. The debut issue features interviews with such notable authors as Margaret Peterson Haddix and Chris Grabenstein as well as reviews, excerpts, and more. Middle Shelf will be published bi-monthly beginning in January 2014.
    Read more ...

    September 19, 2013: Writer-in-Residence program at Thurber House

    Dream of time and space to focus on your own writing project? Applications now being accepted (11/1/2013 deadline) for The Thurber House Residency in Children's Literature, a month-long retreat in the furnished third-floor apartment of Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio. Read more ...

    September 18, 2013: Vermont College of Fine Arts Scholarship opportunity

    Barry Goldblatt Literary launches The Angela Johnson Scholarship, a talent-based grant for writers of color attending the MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults program at VCFA. Up to two $5,000 grants will be awarded each year. Read more ....

    September 16, 2013:
    National Book Awards longlist for youth literature

    For the first time, the NBA is presenting lists of 10 books/authors on the longlist in each category. The 2013 young adult literature list includes five middle grade novels and five YA. Read more ...

    Sept. 13, 2013: Spring preview
    Check out Publishers Weekly roundup of upcoming children's books to be published in spring 2014. Read more...

    August 21, 2013:
    Want to be a Cybils Award Judge?

    Middle grade categories are fiction, speculative fiction, nonfiction. Applications due August 31! Read more ...

    August 19, 2013:
    S&S and BN reach a deal
    Readers will soon be able to find books from Simon & Schuster at Barnes & Noble. The bookstore chain was locked in a disagreement with the publisher over how much it was willing to pay for books. Read more ...

    August 6, 2013:
    NPR's 100 Must-Reads for Kids
    NPR's Backseat Book Club asked listeners to nominate their favorite books for readers ages 9 to 14. More than 2,000 people nominated titles, and a panel of Newbery authors brought the list to 100. Most are middle grade books. Read more ...

     
    July 2, 2013:
    Penguin & Random House Merger

    The new company, Penguin Random House, will control more than 25 percent of the trade book market in the United States. On Monday, the newly formed company began to take shape, only hours after a middle-of-the-night announcement that the long-planned merger had been completed. Read more ...

    March 28, 2013: Big at Bologna

     This year at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, the focus has shifted to middle-grade.  “A lot of foreign publishers are cutting back on YA and are looking for middle-grade,” said agent Laura Langlie, according to Publisher's Weekly.  Lighly illustrated or stand-alone contemporary middle-grade fiction is getting the most attention.  Read more...

     

    March 10, 2013: Marching to New Titles

    Check out these titles releasing in March...

     

    March 5, 2013: Catch the BEA Buzz

    Titles for BEA's Editor Buzz panels have been announced.  The middle-grade titles selected are:

    A Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    The Fantastic Family Whipple by Matthew Ward

    Nick and Tesla's High-Voltages Danger Lab by Bob Pflugfelder and Steve Hockensmith

    The Tie Fetch by Amy Herrick

    For more Buzz books in other categories, read more...

     

    February 20, 2013: Lunching at the MG Roundtable 

    Earlier this month, MG authors Jeanne Birdsall, Rebecca Stead, and N.D. Wilson shared insight about writing for the middle grades at an informal luncheon with librarians held in conjunction with the New York Public Library's Children's Literary Salon "Middle Grade: Surviving the Onslaught."

    Read about their thoughts...

     

    February 10, 2013: New Books to Love

    Check out these new titles releasing in February...

     

    January 28, 2013: Ivan Tops List of Winners

    The American Library Association today honored the best of the best from 2012, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz awards, along with a host of other prestigious youth media awards, at their annual winter meeting in Seattle.

    The Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Honor books were: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz; Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin; and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

    The Coretta Scott King Book Award went to Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award,which honors an author for his or her long-standing contributions to children’s literature, was presented to Katherine Paterson.

    The Pura Belpre Author Award, which honors a Latino author, went to Benjamin Alire Saenz for his novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which was also named a Printz Honor book and won the Stonewall Book Award for its portrayal of the GLBT experience.

    For a complete list of winners…

     

    January 22, 2013: Biography Wins Sydney Taylor

    Louise Borden's His Name Was Raoul Wallenberg, a verse biography of the Swedish humanitarian, has won the Sydney Taylor Award in the middle-grade category. The award is given annually to books of the highest literary merit that highlight the Jewish experience. Aimee Lurie, chair of the awards committee, writes, "Louise Borden's well-researched biography will, without a doubt, inspire children to perform acts of kindness and speak out against oppression."

    For more...

     

    January 17, 2013: Erdrich Wins Second O'Dell

    Louise Erdrich is recipient of the 2013 Scott O'Dell Award for her historical novel Chickadee, the fourth book in herBirchbark House series. Roger Sutton,Horn Book editor and chair of the awards committee, says of Chickadee,"The book has humor and suspense (and disarmingly simple pencil illustrations by the author), providing a picture of 1860s Anishinabe life that is never didactic or exotic and is briskly detailed with the kind of information young readers enjoy." Erdrich also won the O'Dell Award in 2006 for The Game of Silence, the second book in theBirchbark series. 

    For more...

     

    January 15, 2013: After the Call

    Past Newbery winners Jack Gantos, Clare Vanderpool, Neil Gaiman, Rebecca Stead, and Laura Amy Schlitz talk about how winning the Newbery changed (or didn't change) their lives in this piece from Publishers Weekly...

     

    January 2, 2013: On the Big Screen

    One of our Mixed-up Files members may be headed to the movies! Jennifer Nielsen's fantasy adventure novel The False Prince is being adapted for Paramount Pictures by Bryan Cogman, story editor for HBO's Game of Thrones. For more...

     

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Indie Spotlight: The Reading Reptile, Books and Tapes for Young Mammals

Indie Spotlight, Tweens

It’s our delightful task in these Indie Spotlights to feature an Independent children’s bookstore each month and to share the well-kept secret that children’s bookstores aren’t going away.  In fact they are thriving all over the country because we love them and support them and because no on-line or chain store can match the things children’s bookstores do best.

screenshot_508This month we’re talking with Debbie Pettid, founder/owner of The Reading Reptile—Books and Tapes for Young Mammals in Kansas City MO (www.readingreptile.com)

Sue Cowing for Mixed-Up Files: There’s nothing like a great bookstore name/logo to make us want to visit, and Reading Reptile doesn’t disappoint.  How did the name, and the store, come about?screenshot_501

Debbie Pettid: The name came about brainstorming with friends long ago. The idea for a store began after working at Eeyore’s in NYC. The staff was hardworking and knowledgeable and my time there inspired me to open my own store. I was young, naive and determined so went for it.

MUF: Take us inside your shop and describe the climate you’ve created “for young mammals.”screenshot_499
Debbie: The store itself is very organic and always changing. I never purposely set about trying to create a look or feeling, but had a general idea of wanting it to be the “best bookstore ever.” When I look at and read books they inspire me to create, so I do.  When you walk in the store, if you look back you realize you have walked through a large mouth (Zabajaba Jungle) The front left of the store is a George and Martha playroom and to the right is our in store bakery Le Petit Rouge which is designed to look like a fairy tale forest. Then depending which way you look you may see… up… a mural on the ceiling from Babar the king and all the vices, posters covering most of the ceiling, a U.S. map just like Scrambled States of America and lots of pieces hanging – Fortune from Fortune Cookies, the gorilla from Goodnight Gorilla, Max from Where the Wild Things Are, the Bear from Milos Hat Trick, Arnie the Doughnut, the boy from Meanwhile plus an assortment of origami, homemade paper, and miscellany. screenshot_500Each wall alcove has a scene from a book such as Go Dog Go, Dr. Desoto, My Father’s Dragon, Snowy Day and on top of shelves or tacked in different places you could find JLo from True Meaning of Smekday, Frances, Doll People, Fire Cat, Tin Tin, Moomins, Caps for Sale, Camille, Frog and Toad, Bill and Pete, Lily and Chester, David, plus others.   There are all sorts of stuff nailed, glued, and hung everywhere, crafts kids have made, some dioramas, (Wump World, etc.) some miniature scenes. Most everything is made large and in papermache. Our goal is to cover every surface!

I guess you could say I am obsessed, but I think it is great for kids and adults to recognize characters from their favorite books or want to read the book of the character they see.  Books are exciting, art is exciting and there are a million ways to enjoy both.  I’m in the store every day, as is my husband and five kids and I want them to be interested in the world around them and be open to possibilities and interpretations and so I have tried to create an interesting world. Mostly I like to make stuff.screenshot_504

MUF: You hold an annual writing contest for young writers ages 5-12, and the deadline is coming up on Monday, January 21st.   What role does this contestplay in your shop’s philosophy?
Debbie: With that event we have local illustrators who are nationally published judge the stories. They pick their favorite and illustrate a scene from the story which the child receives. The only rule is don’t plagiarize. The focus is creativity and uniqueness. We have upwards of 500 kids entered each year, and many amazing stories. It is one of our favorite events.

MUF: Tell us about your D.N.A. fest.  Curious title.  Looks like you’ve established a major annual literary event in Kansas City that engages the community, both kids and adults.screenshot_498
Debbie: The festival is hard work, expensive and definitely worth it. We do our best to make sure everyone involved, (presenters, kids, adults, volunteers, etc.) has a really great time, and are able to leave with lots to think about. We think it’s important to have an event where everyone involved with books from readers to creators can have a chance to exchange ideas and build off that excitement. We also enjoy bringing some of the best authors and illustrators and introduce them to new readers.

MUF:  One fan describes your books as “lovingly curated.” You seem to make it a point of pride to introduce readers to great books and authors that aren’t current best sellers but shouldn’t be forgotten. How do you do that?screenshot_497
Debbie: Our books are chosen after having experienced them. Reading them ourselves, reading them out loud, having others read them. We look at the artfulness of the book, the content, the language, the craft. I don’t feed my kids McDonalds so why would I want to hand them the equivalent in a book? Content does matter when you read. “At least my kid is reading” doesn’t cut it. Anyway, if it is something I like a lot, I get it for the store.

MUF: What makes your day as children’s booksellers?
Debbie: Having an inspiring conversation with a customer, making something cool, reading something interesting, eating a cupcake, not wiping up any bodily fluids.screenshot_495

MUF: If readers and their adults from out of town come to visit your shop, are there some favorite family-friendly places in the neighborhood where they could get a snack or meal after browsing?
Debbie: Bella Napoli for lunch or Blue Grotto for dinner. Le Petit Rouge for a treat.  A little farther away, Aixois for lunch or Chai Shai for dinner.

MUF: And if they could stay in town for the weekend, can you recommend some unique sights and activities they shouldn’t miss while they’re there?
Debbie: Kemper Museum of Art, Little Freshie, Broadway Cafe Donna’s Dress Shop, Shop Girls, Local Pig, Artist and Craftsman, Loose Park Rose Garden, Kauffman Gardens, Berkeley Park for a bike ride.

 Readers please note:  A very special event coming right up on Reading Reptile’s calendar is an appearance by Minneapolis-based duo The Okee Dokee Brothers, playing songs from their Parents Choice Award-winning CD, Take it Outside,on Saturday, January 7 at 11 AM.  USA Today calls the Okee Dokee brother’s music “authentic bluegrass for your little brother.”screenshot_489

If you have been to Reading Reptile, or if reading about it here makes you think you’d like to go, please leave a comment here for Debbie.  And if you’ve never visited a real children’s bookstore, why not make it a 2013 resolution to give yourself and a child that unique experience?

Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda Books 2011 and Usborne UK 2013).

 

 

 

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 27, 2012 @6:08 am

    Sue,
    This is one cool place. Thanks for sharing this with us! I wish I could scoot over for a visit, but it’s a far piece from my home. I do plan to check the website. I also want to tell a friend about the writing contest for children. Thanks again! Go Reading Reptile!

  2. Dianna Winget  •  Dec 27, 2012 @9:17 am

    Congratulations on your wonderful store, Debbie. It sounds like such fun for kids (and adults too!) I wish I lived closer so I could come in and browse and get one of those yummy looking cupcakes.

  3. Linda Andersen  •  Dec 27, 2012 @2:44 pm

    Sue,
    I selected From the Mixed-Up Files for The Sunshine Award. See my post at http://www.lindamartinandersen.wordpress.com.

  4. Sue Cowing  •  Dec 27, 2012 @11:11 pm

    So I see. That’s great, Linda!