Tag Archives: middle-grade readers

Indie Spotlight: Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh NC

Quail Ridge logoQuail Ridge Books & Music of Raleigh, North Carolina, now in its 30th year, has received, among other awards, the Publishers’ Weekly Bookseller of the Year Award and the Pannell Award for Excellence in Children’s Bookselling. We’re speaking today with Carol Moyer, Children’s Department Manager at Quail Ridge(www.quailridgebooks.com)Quail Ridge front

MUF: Please spell out for our readers what being an independent shop allows you to do at Quail Ridge Books?
Carol: Being independent means that we hand-select the inventory in the store, an inventory of the best books that is broad and diverse. We can decide what to display, how and where to display it. We decide which titles to promote in newsletters and other advertising. We decide which authors to invite for a program.

MUF: Customer reviews praise Quail Ridge Books as a place where booksellers lead you to the perfect books and can make you a book-source hero in a child’s eyes.   How do you do that?
Carol: The children’s staff stays up to date with children’s books and can recommend titles for all ages. We get to know our customers and their interests, and we help them find books for each occasion. Knowing books and knowing customers is the key.

Quail Ridge Book CakeMUF: I notice your shop extends this to personal shopping service online. How do you choose the books you carry in your shop?
Carol: We order inventory after reviewing pre-publication copies and other materials from publishers. We read reviews all the time and look for more books by our favorite authors.

MUF: Many independent bookstores combine books with or cards and gifts, but not so many with music. Tell us how combination of books and music works with your community of customers.
Carol: Our former owner added a classical music CD department to enhance the bookstore. Great music and great books make a winning combination.

Quail Ridge Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson

MUF: So many events every month at your store, some with signing line tickets!   What’s coming up that might especially interest middle-graders?Quail Ridge Brown Girl DreamingQuail Ridge Revolution
Carol: This month we’ve had Tommy Greenwald who writes the Charlie Joe Jackson series and Jacqueline Woodson with her brilliant new memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. Coming up Nov 5 is Deborah Wiles with her fascinating novel of the 60’s, Revolution.

MUF: You have some fun-sounding book clubs for our age group— First in Series and Middle School Girls Book Club. What have they been reading?
Quail Ridge Charly Joe JacksonCarol: First in the Series Book Club have been reading Tommy Greenwald’s book Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Making Money Deborah Wiles’s first book of the 60’s series, Countdown. The club meets before the author event and then stays to meet the author and hear the program.Quail Ridge Countdown
Middle School Girls Book Club read Brown Girl Dreaming and stayed for the program.

MUF: As middle-grade authors, we have to ask: what are some titles new and old, fiction and non-fiction, that you are especially recommending to middle-grade readers at the moment?  Also tell us about Wake County’s Battle of the Books.
Carol: North Carolina School Library Media Association selects titles for the Battle of the Books list each year. Quail Ridge crowdThis is a middle school reading incentive program that has been very successful over the years. The list includes are range of reading levels and interests, but all of the books have been well reviewed and are on recommended lists.   We are certainly recommending books by authors coming to the store, and then we all have personal favorites.

Quail Ridge-SkinkQuail Ridge BrotherbandQuail Ridge Gooseberry ParkWe like Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen, Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant, Wonder by R. J. Palacio, Paperboy by Vince Vawter, World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney, Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, Brotherband Chronicles by Flanagan, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, and the list goes on and on and on!Quail Ridge World according to Humphrey

MUF: And our readers’ to-read lists just got a little longer!
Carol, if a family visited Quail Ridge Books from out of town, would there be some place nearby where they could get a family-friendly snack or meal after shopping? And if they could stay awhile, are there other special family activities or sites in the area they might enjoy?
Carol: We are located in a shopping center with Whole Foods and a local restaurant, Tripps. Families are welcome at both places. We are between the North Carolina Museum of Art and downtown Raleigh where there are plenty of places to visit.Quail Ridge logo #2

MUF: Thanks so much, Carol, for telling us about Quail Ridge and recommending some good middle-grade titles. Readers, doesn’t this sound like a great shop to visit?

Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda Books 2011, Usborne UK 2012, HarperCollins UK 2014)

Hana Hou! Middle Grade Fiction About Hawaii

Fine and colorful picture books about Hawaii abound, as do adult books, both fiction and nonfiction, and there are a fair number of YA novels.  But what if a middle grader wants to curl up with a good novel set in Hawaii? These are few, but still there are some engaging choices.screenshot_1692

Graham Salisbury’s books stand out. Most are set in Kona on the island of Hawaii where he grew up, and they draw in part on family stories.   Under the Blood Read Sun (Yearling Reprint, 1995) is the story of a young Japanese American boy, Tomi, and his haole (Caucasian) friend Billy just before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Under the Blood-red Sun has just been made into a moving locally-produced and acted film that was featured at the Hawaii Book and Music Festival in May. I predict it will be the talk of film festivals all over when it is released  September 14. A twentieth-anniversary edition of the book will also appear in September.

Well okay, maybe Under the Blood Red Sun is technically YA because the main boy characters are thirteen, but the actor who plays Billy first read and loved the book when he was eight.  Also launching September 14 is the fourth and latest book in that WWII series, Hunt for the Bamboo Rat.  In it a 17-year-old Japanese  boy from Hawaii undergoes harrowing experiences as an undercover agent for the U.S. Army in the Philippines during the War.screenshot_1691

Among my other favorites of Salisbury’s books are Jungle Dogs (Yearling, 1999) in which a boy must overcome his fear of the wild dogs along his paper route and learn to hold his own with troublemakers at school, and Night of the Howling Dogs (Wendy Lamb Books, 2007), based on a true story of a boy whose courage

Hawaii MG #5 Hawaii MG #8Hawaii MG #6and leadership are put to an extreme test when his Boy Scout troupe is caught first in an earthquake and then in a tsunami while camping in a remote spot below the volcano.

Throughout his career, Salisbury has worked with one editor, Wendy Lamb, and this has proved a winning collaboration. In addition to MG and YA novels, Salisbury has written a collection of stories called Island Boyz (Wendy Lamb Books, 2002), full of the rich flavor of island life and the inter-kid relations and negotiations that are so much part of growing up in the islands. For those on the younger end of Middle Grade, he has also recently published an amusing series of books about Calvin Coconut, a boy character who lives in Kailua on the island of Oahu, where Graham also once lived and went to school.

Shan Correa’s Gaff (Peachtree, 2010) gives a glimpse into the semi-secret world of cockfighting, a rural island tradition Hawaii MG #7many visitors are hardly aware exists. Seventh-grader Paul Silva, whose disabled father raises fighting cocks for a living, thinks the birds are magnificent. But he has been sheltered from the nature of the fighting, and once he sees it first-hand, he vows to get his father out. A poignant story of courage and coming-of-age.

For mystery/thriller-lovers, try P.J. Neri’s Hawaii Chiller series (Bess Press) if you can find them, or Elaine Masters’ Thief in Chinatown (Island Hertiage, 1998).

Want something intriguing kids can sink their teeth into (or vice versa)? Don’t miss the exciting new Niuhi Shark Saga trilogy. Hawaii, with all its myths and ghosts and traditions, would seem an ideal fermenting ground for middle-grade fantasy, but whoever writes it needs to be well versed in the stories already here before making anything up or they’ll be off-pitch. HawaiiMG #3

Now we have we have Lehua Parker who grew up in the islands, knows the old tales, knows island people and life, and lets all reverberate through her own very original, page-turning books. MG Hawaii #2Two have been published: One Boy, No Water (Jolly Fish, 2012) and One Shark, No Swim (Jolly Fish, 2013).  A third will come out in 2015. In the series, 11-year old Zader has been adopted as a newborn under strange circumstances into a family of surfers and fishermen. Trouble is, he’s allergic to water, and when he eats raw seafood he has haunting dreams. His Uncle Kahana, a marvelous combination of mystic and down-home, no-nonsense elder, knows a lot more than he’s telling about Zader’s origins and destiny. Suspense and humor guaranteed.

Let’s hope, with the success of these books, there will be many more in the future for middle-grade readers to enjoy!

 

Sue Cowing is the author of the puppet-and-boy novel, You Will Call Me Drog (Carolrhoda 2011) and My Dog Has Flies, Poetry for Hawaii’s Kids (BeachHouse, 2005)

Indie Spotlight: Bank Street Bookstore, New York City

Bankstreet storefront Many independent children’s bookstores cooperate closely with educators and provide resources for them. Today we’re talking with manager Ann Levine 0f Bank Street Bookstore in New York City(www.bankstreetbooks.com),which has actually been linked with  a famous college of education from the beginning.

Sue Cowing for Mixed-Up Files: Describe the atmosphere of your store.  What do you hope people will experience when they visit?

Ann: Bank Street Bookstore is located in Morningside Heights, a wonderful New York neighborhood filled with many cultural and educational institutions. The store has two levels: picture books, early readers, puzzles, and games are on the first floor; fiction, science, biography, history, poetry, and chapter books are on the second floor.  bank street interiorBy New York City standards, the store is quite large, but we still manage to fill every square inch with wonderful books and toys for children. Our front window display changes regularly to reflect seasons, holidays, events, local authors/illustrators, and community events of interest to our customers and neighbors. Upstairs are several window seats for cozy reading, and chairs for small reading groups that can be placed in the open space between shelving units. We always try to look up when customers enter the store so they feel they are being greeted personally. Customers are usually genuinely happy to enter the store, especially after they are greeted by a friendly staff member. Young shoppers are given lots of book ideas and much independence to browse and read for long (or short) stretches.

What is your store’s connection with Bank Street College of Education? 
Ann: The bookstore is an affiliate of Bank Street College of Education, as is the Bank Street School for Children for students from pre-k through grade 8. Through the years the mix of merchandise has changed and adapted. We used to carry far more text books, but that part of the business has changed fairly dramatically so we carry fewer books for coursework than in the past. We maintain a wide range of books for educators on theory and practice as well as many parenting books. Some of the teacher resource books are published by Bank Street College. Classroom materials are available, especially in the fall as teachers return to their classrooms.

MUF: How do you choose the books to carry at Bank Street?  What are some titles, fiction or nonfiction, that you are particularly recommending to middle-grade readers at the moment?
Ann: The selection is finely curated by manager Andy Laties, whose experience is broad and deep.  Andy is assisted by an able staff who know and love children’s books.  Our staff members love children and books, and they apply their experience with both each time they read, review, and recommend a title. Not content to stick to the bestsellers, our staff members are constantly reading in an effort to find the perfect books for each customer and every situation. broad and deep. We maintain a solid back list while keeping current with many new titles. Customers are encouraged to attend special events featuring authors and illustrators Bank Street Counting by 7swho have new releases. Bank Stfreet Real BoySome favorites at the moment are Bank Stree Capurnia Tate“Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, “The Year of Billy Miller” by Kevin Henkes, “Flora and Ulysses” by Kate DiCamillo, “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, “When You Reach Me” by Rebecca Stead, “The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate” by Jacqueline Kelly, “Counting by 7s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan, and “The Real Boy” by Anne Ursu.

MUF:  Ann, yours is the first shop we’ve seen that regularly puts on puppet shows.  Please tell us something about “Fractured Fables.”

Yippee SkippeeAnn: Andy Laties is also our number one storyteller and puppeteer. “Fractured Fables” are staged every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. They are popular with all ages and have become a welcome activity for families in the neighborhood. Andy and Rebecca Migdal are seasoned pros who use their talents to improvise with well-known tales. They also add musical accompaniment. Children get to pick the stories by pulling a title from a hat, which helps engage their interest and participation. Often special guest authors or illustrators interact with the puppets. Please visit the Fractured Fables Facebook Page for announcements and updates. To see entire shows, go to the Yippee Skippy Puppet Theater Website.

MUF: Any special events for middle-graders coming up?

Julie Sternberg

Julie Sternberg

Carol Weston

Carol Weston

Bank St. Carrot JuiceAnn:  Next week on Saturday, April 5 we’ll have “Novels About Girls,” with guest authors Carol Weston and Julie Steinberg.  Carol Weston’s novel about sisters, Ava and Pip, is first in a series that is charming and full of humor and word play.  Carol has written an advice column for screenshot_1351Girls’ Life magazine since 1994. You will have the chance to “meet” the main characters.  Like Carrot Juice on a Cupcake is the third in Julie Sternberg’s middle-grade series about  a thoroughly modern girl adjusting to change.

MUF:  There is so much to see and learn in and about New York!  If a family comes to Bank Street Bookstore from out of town, what are some of the books and games you carry that could help them enjoy their visit?
Ann: We always carry interesting books about New York — and many of them are by New York authors and illustrators.  Out-of-towners often find just what they need to help them understand the “New York Bank St. Hello New Yorkstate of mind.” Among the many are A Walk in New York by Salvatore Rubbin; Mannahattan: A Natural History of New York City, by Eric Sanderson and Markley Boyer; Hello, New York: An Illustrated Love Letter to the Five Buroughs,by Julia Rothman; Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton; and New York City Guided Activity Journal, by Mariko Jesse.   We also have New York themed toys and games including subway train models, New York City Yahtzee, and New York City Monopoly.

MUF:  Are there family-friendly places nearby where visitors could stroll or get a snack or a meal after browsing at Bank Street Books?
Ann: Just outside our door is a wide range of choices for families: from Pinkberry frozen yogurt to the Columbia University campus; from Riverside Church to the Hungarian Pastry Shop; from Morningside Park to the Hudson River.

Bank Street Book Card

MUF: Thanks, Ann,  for talking with us!  Readers who’ve been fortunate to visit this fine bookstore, or those who think they would like to, please leave a comment below.

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