Friday, March 28, 2008
No, not really. There are dozens. Hundreds. But, as a bookbuyer for an independent store, it sometimes it feels like there are just seven. Why? For several reasons.
First, (as you might expect) the big companies have bought the little companies. Little, Brown was bought by Time Warner. Time Warner was bought by Hachette. So, when I want to order a book by Little, Brown, I call Hachette.
Second, the big companies have tons of imprints. Arthur A. Levine Books (the U.S. publisher of Harry Potter) is an imprint of Scholastic. When I want to order an Arthur A. Levine book, I call Scholastic (except that HarperCollins does the distribution for Scholastic... see the next point... so actually I call HarperCollins.)
Third, a few of the really large publishers handle the ordering and distribution for publishing houses other than their own. For example, Random House handles the sales for National Geographic Books. Random House doesn't own National Geographic, they just take the phone calls, place the orders and ship the books. By contracting with Random House, National Geographic doesn't have to hire their own distribution staff.
If a customer asks if we have a book in our store, my first mental question is always: who's the publisher? And not just who is listed on the dust jacket. The copyright may say Dutton, but I know that Dutton is owned by Penguin. What I really want to know is: who do I call? You can't go by who the author is. Lots of authors have more than one publisher. For example, half of Sandra Boynton's books are published by Simon and Schuster, and the other half are published by Workman.
And even once you know who the publisher is, it's never straightforward. For Candlewick, you have to call Random House. For Scholastic, call HarperCollins. For First Second (which is an imprint of Roaring Brook) call Macmillan (which used to be called VHPS). And on and on and on. You get used to it after a while, but it's tough remembering who owns and distributes who. I've got a long spreadsheet with all this information on it and it's filled with cross-outs and additions.
Houghton Mifflin just bought Harcourt. Kingfisher moved from Houghton Mifflin to Macmillan. It never stops.
And, obviously, this situation exists outside of children's books. In a previous job, I worked with scientific and technical books and we dealt with hundreds of publishers. Still, there were about seven gigantic companies we were always calling. Interestingly, the major publishers in that field are completely different than the major publishers of children's books, so I had to learn a whole new set of imprints and distributors when I changed jobs.
So, to me, it feels like there are only seven children's publishers. Even though I know that's not true.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Question: Have you seen the movie Cars?
- A few times (9 votes)
- Nope (9 votes)
- Once (6 votes)
- Approximately 8 million times. I've lost count. (4 votes)
Question: My reaction to the Thursday, March 14 for Better or For Worse strip is:
- Bleah (14 votes)
- Finally (7 votes)
- Mixed (3 votes)
- Yay (2 votes)
Question: Harry Potter 7 is being released as two movies. What do you think?
- I love it. They'll have time to do it justice. (14 votes)
- I'm reserving judgment until I see it. (9 votes)
- I don't like it. Seems like an odd choice. (8 votes)
- I don't care either way. (5 votes)
There are two polls up now. One is based on this post about the ALA conference and the BookExpo. And I just added a new poll. I feel like I read a lot of books... but am always awed by how many books other librarians, booksellers and bloggers read. So, I'm curious. Taking this past week as an example of a typical week, how many new books (including picture books) have you read? They don't have to be newly published, just new to you.
Monday, March 24, 2008
- BookExpo America: May 29-June 1 in Los Angeles, California.
- The American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Conference: June 26-July 2 in Anaheim, California.
The biggest question I have for you is: what's your reason for going?
To get free books.
BookExpo, hands down. There are certainly free books at ALA, but nothing compares to the sheer quantity of books you'll stumble away with from BookExpo. Someone once told me that they associate Book Expo with physical pain because of how many books you end up carrying around. To give you an idea of what they're talking about: at ALA, I walked away with bags of books. At BookExpo I walked (and dragged) away boxes of books.
To attend sessions, workshops and programs.
ALA definitely wins out on this one. BookExpo is a trade show and the exhibits are the main event. ALA is an enormous convention, and the exhibits are only one part of it. ALA has every kind of program, awards ceremony, discussion group and meeting on the topic of libraries and books you can imagine. There are programs at BookExpo too, but they take up only a few rooms in the conference center. The programs at ALA take up the meeting rooms of nearly every major hotel within five blocks.
To network with colleagues.
It depends on who your colleagues are. Booksellers? Go to BookExpo. Librarians? Go to ALA. For everyone else... such as bloggers, teachers, authors, the answer to this question is a little more fuzzy. If you want to talk with people about literature, then ALA is the place for you. BookExpo tends be more focused on the business aspect of things.
To meet authors.
This one is a tough call, but I think that BookExpo wins out in terms of sheer quantity. Here's a sampling of authors I met, spoke to and got autographed copies of their new books in ONE DAY at BookExpo. They include: Marc Brown, Tomie DePaola, Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, Eoin Colfer, Lane Smith, Andrew Clements, Marc Teague, David McPhail, Mo Willems, Sandra Boynton, Ann M. Martin, Jon Muth, and Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket). The scary thing? That's only about half of the authors and illustrators I talked to that day.
In all fairness to ALA, there are an enormous number of authors there, too. If you're looking to hear authors talk, ALA is the place because of the plethora of fantastic and unforgettable speakers. They appear in workshops, give keynote addresses and beautiful award acceptance speeches. Plus, they're signing books all over the exhibit hall. You certainly won't lack for authors to meet at either conference.
To see every publisher in the known universe.
BookExpo. People who have only attended ALA may find this hard to believe, but there are even more exhibits at Book Expo than at ALA. How do I know? Both conferences were held at the D.C. Convention Center within the last two years. The ALA exhibits took up three ENORMOUS exhibit halls. The BookExpo exhibits took up all five exhibit halls.
On the other hand, I don't think that this really matters. Just about every major and minor publisher has a booth at both conferences. You'll see all the same publishers no matter which one you go to.
Are these conferences worth going to?
Absolutely. They're both wonderful, enriching and exhausting experiences. You'll meet more people (including famous authors) then you could have dreamed possible. You'll talk with countless people who love books as much as you do. You'll walk away with a ridiculous number of free books, pens and totebags. You'll get a terrific preview of the upcoming year in the book world and you'll feel prepared and on top of things as new books get released.
Which one should you go to?
That's a question you have to answer for yourself. It depends a great deal on where the conferences are located (in relation to where you live) and what your goals are. If you are a book lover, and in the book industry (or write reviews)... I'd recommend going to one per year, budget permitting. Alternate which one you go to each year, if you can. And if you're a librarian who has never been to the BookExpo, or a bookseller who has never been to ALA, give those conferences a try. You won't regret it and you may start looking at your industry from a different perspective.
Unfortunately, this year, both ALA and the BookExpo are in Los Angeles, only a few weeks apart from each other. This is great for people who live on the West Coast, but pretty depressing for the rest of us.
If you can't go this year, go next year. Here are the upcoming locations for both conferences:
2009: BookExpo in New York City, ALA in Chicago.
2010: BookExpo in Washington DC, ALA in Washington D.C.
2011: BookExpo in Las Vegas, ALA in New Orleans.
ALA actually has all their convention dates planned between now and 2014, but even I can't think that far ahead.
In the next few weeks, I'll post specific advice for each conference.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
The question: Which books mentioned in the Harry Potter series would you like to read?
- Tales of Beedle the Bard (11 votes)
- Enchantment in Baking (10 votes)
- Hogwarts: A History (10 votes)
- Curses and Counter-curses (Bewitch Your Friends and Befuddle Your Enemies with the Latest Revenges: Hair Loss, Jelly-Legs, Tongue-Tying, and Much, Much More) by Professor Vindictus Viridian (9 votes)
- Basic Hexes for the Busy and Vexed (6 votes)
- History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot (6 votes)
- Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore by Rita Skeeter (6 votes)
- Rune Dictionary (6 votes)
- Adventures of Martin Miggs, the Mad Muggle (5 votes)
- Charm Your Own Cheese (5 votes)
- Home Life and Social Habits of British Muggles by Wilhelm Wigworthy (5 votes)
- Powers You Never Knew You Had and What To Do With Them Now You've Wised Up (5 votes)
- Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts (5 votes)
- Saucy Tricks for Tricky Sorts (5 votes)
- Weird Wizarding Dilemmas and Their Solutions (5 votes)
- Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage (4 votes)
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (4 votes)
- One Minute Feasts: It's Magic! (4 votes)
- Practical Defensive Magic and Its Use Against the Dark Arts (4 votes)
- Standard Book of Spells by Miranda Goshawk (4 votes)
- Blood Brothers: My Life Amongst the Vampires by Eldred Worple (3 votes)
- Dark Forces: A Guide to Self-Protection by Quentin Trimble (3 votes)
- Invisible Book of Invisibility (3 votes)
- Men Who Love Dragons Too Much (3 votes)
- Numerology and Gramatica (3 votes)
- Ancient Runes Made Easy (2 votes)
- Death Omens: What To Do When You Know The Worst Is Coming (2 votes)
- Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard (2 votes)
- Dragon Breeding for Pleasure and Profit (2 votes)
- Flying With the Cannons (2 votes)
- Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger (2 votes)
- Moste Potente Potions (2 votes)
- One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore (2 votes)
- Sonnets of a Sorcerer (2 votes)
- Unfogging the Future by Cassandra Vablatsky (2 votes)
- Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch (1 vote)
- From Egg to Inferno, A Dragon Keeper's Guide (1 vote)
- Intermediate Transfiguration (1 vote)
- Jinxes for the Jinxed (1 vote)
- Magical Me by Gilderoy Lockhart (1 vote)
- Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling (1 vote)
- Monster Book of Monsters (1 vote)
- Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp (1 vote)
Twelve Fail-Safe Waysto Charm Witches (1 vote)
- Voyages With Vampires by Gilderoy Lockhart (1 vote)
- Wanderings With Werewolves by Gilderoy Lockhart (1 vote)
- Appraisal of Magical Education in
- Break With a Banshee by Gilderoy Lockhart (0 votes)
- Flesh-Eating Trees of the World (0 votes)
- Fowl or Foul? A Study of Hippogriff Brutality (0 votes)
- Gadding With Ghouls by Gilderoy Lockhart (0 votes)
- Gilderoy Lockhart's Guide to Household Pests (0 votes)
- Handbook of Do-It-Yourself Broom Care (0 votes)
- Holidays With Hags by Gilderoy Lockhart (0 votes)
- Magical Water Plants of the
- Nature's Nobility: A Wizarding Genealogy (0 votes)
- Prefects Who Gained Power (0 votes)
- Spellman's Syllabary (0 votes)
- Travels With Trolls by Gilderoy Lockhart (0 votes)
- Year With The Yeti by Gilderoy Lockhart (0 votes)
I'd also love to get a copy of all the cookbooks in Mrs. Weasley's kitchen. Enchantment in Baking and One Minute Feasts: It's Magic! would both be a real asset in my ridiculously busy life.
I'd like to read all the Gilderoy Lockhart books (although it appears that no one else would)... simply because I need a good laugh. Think of the humor value of those books!
I'm surprised that Defensive Magical Theory by Wilbert Slinkhard got any votes... it was the assigned book in Professor Umbridge's class and sounds very boring.
I'm curious about the rest of The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, particularly the chapter about Harry and Dumbledore. But I also think this book would drive me crazy and I'd end up flinging it across the room before long.
If I lived in the wizarding world, I think I'd be the only person (other than Hermione) who would have read Hogwarts, a History from cover to cover.
For those who voted for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander and Quidditch Through the Ages by Kennilworthy Whisp you're in luck. J.K. Rowling has published these books and they're very funny (and useful when reading the Harry Potter series). I highly recommend them for die-hard Harry Potter fans.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I'll go first.
The rich community of children's literature bloggers.
When I started, I had no idea how many blogs there were about children's books. I've been delighted to find such a bright, talented and generous community. I've learned so much about children's books and blogging from all of you.
How many people read my blog.
I thought that maybe a couple of people would read my blog occasionally. I've been overwhelmed (in a very nice way) with the number of people who read, comment and subscribe to Wizards Wireless. There have also been far more links to Wizards Wireless from other blogs than I would have dreamed possible, and I consider each one a huge compliment.
Who reads my blog.
Friends and family members from all over the country. People who have never met me. Librarians. Parents. Teachers. Authors. My brother. More people than I could have imagined.
That I still have something to say.
My main concern about starting a blog was that I'd run out of things to say after about a week. It's been nine months (and over 200 posts) later... and there's so many things I still want to talk about. Looks like I should keep writing.
Your turn. What's surprised you about blogging?
Monday, March 17, 2008
Paperback books are important for several reasons. They’re lighter (makes a difference when you’re lugging tons of books around). They travel better. And, they’re cheaper… usually a third the price of a hardcover book. Quality paperbacks last longer than you’d think. I have some well-loved ones from my childhood that I’m currently reading with my son.
Here are several popular children's books and series that are currently available only in hardcover with no plans (that I know of) for paperback versions. As a children’s bookseller at an independent store, I get asked for one of the books below in paperback at least once a day.
This is an early reader series… and books in this genre usually sell for $4 to $6. The Mercy Watson books sell for $13 each. As beautifully produced as the books are, most people aren’t willing to pay that much for early readers. Books in this series include:
- Mercy Watson to the Rescue
- Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride
- Mercy Watson Fights Crime
- Mercy Watson: Princess in Disguise
- Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig (being released in July 2008).
Books 1-28 of this series have been released in paperback. So have books 33-36. But for some reason, the following books are still only available in hardcover. I get asked for the paperback versions of these Magic Tree House titles more than any other books on this list. Books in hardcover only:
- #29: Christmas in Camelot
- #30: Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve
- #31: Summer of the Sea Serpent
- #32: Winter of the Ice Wizard
This is a wonderful picture book series for the 3-5 year old crowd that I wish were in paperback. A few titles are available as board books, but they’re really too lengthy for babies. Books in this series include:
- Bear Snores On
- Bear Wants More
- Bear’s New Friend
- Bear Feels Sick
- Bear Feels Scared (being released in August 2008)
These titles have been released as board books, as books and CD combinations, as collections, as oversized books and in Spanish, but not as paperbacks. The first one was published in 1985. Please, oh, please, the time has come to put these books in paperback. Books in this series include:
- If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
- If You Give a Moose a Muffin
- If You Give a Pig a Pancake
- If You Take a Mouse To The Movies
- If You Take a Mouse To School
- If You Give a Pig a Party
This is a very funny series of books that unfortunately are only in hardcover. I attended the White House Easter Egg Roll last year, and was impressed to hear Duck for President being read aloud by Lynne Cheney. It's nice to see that Duck has finally made it to the White House. Books in this series include:
You may have not heard of these, but you should. The Moose and Hildy books are a series of funny early chapter books that are unfortunately only available in hardcover. The first book originally appeared as a picture book, and I applaud the publisher for repackaging it as an early reader. I wish they could go one step further and release these books in paperback. Books in this series include:Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems. Published by Hyperion. Actually, there are currently no Mo Willems books available commercially in paperback. I really wish there were.
And here’s some excellent news. As I was making this list, I originally put at the top Toys Go Out, a lovely early chapter book by Emily Jenkins. But I just saw that the book is in fact being released in paperback in September 2008, and there’s also a sequel appearing at the same time.
Wait a second, you say. You’ve seen some of the books listed above in paperback… you’re sure of it. Yes, you’re right. Some of these titles have been produced in cheap paperback editions for Scholastic book fairs. But, these versions are flimsy and not available commercially to bookstores.
I'm sure there a lot of reasons why the books I’ve mentioned haven't appeared in paperback. They probably have to do with budgets, artistic issues, the price of manufacturing the books, and many other things. But, as a bookseller, all I see is the books getting put back on the shelf repeatedly because they’re too expensive. Maybe if the publishers knew how many times this happens with books that would be flying off the shelves otherwise, it might upset them as much as it upsets me.
Of course, if I ruled the world, all books would simultaneously appear in hardcover and paperback. Wouldn't that be lovely?
Friday, March 14, 2008
I'm reading an absolutely enchanting book with my son. It's about a bear named Pooh and his friends Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo and Christopher Robin. (We haven't met Tigger yet. He isn't introduced until the second book.)
You've heard of it, you say?
My son hasn't. It's just wonderful to watch him discover these incredibly famous characters for the very first time. Also, I'm realizing (as countless other parents have realized) what a fantastic book Winnie-the-Pooh is to read aloud. It's filled with poems, songs, creative text arrangements (in a pre-computer era) and short chapters, all of which work well with a young crowd. Also, Ernest Shepard's immortal "decorations" break up the words nicely and keep my son interested.
Since today is Poetry Friday, here's one of my favorites poems from the book. It's a song that Pooh hums to himself as he climbs up the honey tree in chapter one.
"It's a very funny thought that, if Bears were Bees,
They'd build their nests at the bottom of trees.
And that being so (if the Bees were Bears),
We shouldn't have to climb up all these stairs."
The Poetry Friday round-up today is at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup.
And, see this post for more about my face-to-face encounter with Christopher Robin Milne's stuffed bear at the Central Children's Room in the Donnell Library Center.
If I'm not ready for Halloween, let me tell you, I'm definitely not ready for Christmas.
Question: Do you have a blog?
- I have two or more blogs. (14 votes)
- Yes. (13 votes)
- I contribute to a group blog. (4 votes)
- No. (3 votes)
- I'm thinking of starting a blog. (1 vote)
- What's a blog? (1 vote)
To the person who voted for "What's a blog?"... you're reading one. Here's a brief description from Blogger, and incidentally, the page also contains a link for you to start your own blog.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
The Los Angeles Times has just confirmed a longtime rumor that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be split into two movies. The movies will be filmed at the same time, but will be released in theaters six months apart.
You can read more about it here at The Leaky Cauldron.
What do you think? See the new poll.
Here's the results from a recent poll I posed for readers of For Better or For Worse.
Question: "When do you think Anthony is going to propose?"
- In the next two weeks (8 votes)
- Never (I hope), but I'm being realistic, so I voted for one of the other choices too. (6 votes)
- In the next two months (3 votes)
- In the next six months (1 vote)
- In the next year (1 vote)
And check out the new poll I just added.
Monday, March 10, 2008
As for today's For Better or For Worse strip... I think Anthony is about to propose. He just realized that there are other people interested in Liz, and he should act now. I think that's what's going to happen when they meet the next day. What do you think? Leave a comment or see the new poll in the sidebar.
Sunday, March 9, 2008
Category 1: Parent or grandparent of a boy between the ages of 2-5. Your first thoughts were probably along the lines of: "there are BOOKS about Lightning McQueen? Really? Where can I get them? Is rush shipping available?"
Category 2: Everyone else. You probably asked yourself: "who is Lightning McQueen?"
For those of you who fall into the first category, yes, there are books about Lightning McQueen. See the specifics below. And for those of you in the second category, he's the main character in the Pixar movie Cars. Here's a picture of him:
I've done some informal observation and have found that just about every little boy I've met is obsessed with this movie. I think it's for two reasons. One, it's about cars. (I guess that's rather obvious from the title). Two, it doesn't have any scary parts. (If you think that's also obvious because it's a movie for kids, then you probably haven't watched a lot of kids' movies lately. Almost all of them have inexplicably scary parts).
Please keep in mind that I'm recommending the books below only for Cars-crazed kids. I'm not endorsing them as good literature, but here are some resources if you're looking for them. I usually hate this kind of commercial stuff, but I also recognize that sometimes a kid just wants to read about something they're interested in. And, the important thing is that they're reading.
Disclaimers aside, here are the (relatively) good books I've found on the subject. And, yes, I'm the parent of a Cars addict.
Old, New, Red, Blue! This is a basic opposites book using the Cars characters, and it's a good choice for the 2-3 year old crowd. There are only a few words per page, which is just right for that age range. It's a small paperback so it travels well. I highly recommend it.
Cars Little Golden Book: This book retells the movie. The paragraphs are a bit too long, but the illustrations of the various cars (which is really all my son is interested in) are pretty good. My main quibble with this book is that it cuts off the story well before the ending and doesn't include the all important final race.
Cars Ultimate Sticker Book: DK has tons of sticker books, and this one is fairly typical. I think it has way too much text and it's a little advanced for the 2-3 year old age range. But, it has 60 stickers of Lightning McQueen and friends, and works well as a travel activity.
Cars Resuable Sticker Book: I like this sticker book better than the DK sticker book, because it has a lot more stickers. Plus, there are tons of activities. My main issue with it is that it's oversized and it's difficult to fit into a diaper bag, purse or backpack. Also, we found the stickers to be reusable only a few times each... after that they stopped working.
The Fast Lane: A basic coloring book featuring Cars characters. The pictures are large and easy to color. It's 64 pages, which is a good size for a coloring book.
Have you come across any other Cars books that you'd recommend or that your kids liked?
Have I lost all my credibility as a reviewer by writing this post?
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Subject: Urgent Memo
No book that I like should ever go out of print. This includes books that I read when I was a kid, books that I saw once at a used book sale and meant to buy but didn't, and any book that anyone has ever mentioned to me that sounded cool.
Also, please keep the exact same cover, illustrations and font that the book had the first time I read it. I can't tell you which edition I read... maybe it was the first, maybe the 21st.... but I'm sure you can figure it out telepathically.
All books that you publish should be in hardcover because they're really prettier that way, and more durable for libraries. Please also publish all your books in paperback, because that would make me so much more likely to buy them. I would appreciate if you would publish both hardcovers and paperbacks at the same time, because I really hate waiting a year or more for the cheaper copy to be released.
My library (like all libraries) takes a little while to process new books, so I end up waiting months for the hot new book that everyone is talking about. By the time I get the book, everyone has stopped talking about it. If you would kindly send all new books to libraries about 3 months before they're released... that would just be lovely.
Books that I don't like can go out of print whenever you feel like it.
Thank you for your attention to these important matters.
Question: Which sources do you consult the most when deciding what books to read?
- Blogs (17 votes)
- Friends (15 votes)
- Award lists (10 votes)
- Libraries (9 votes)
- Word of mouth (8 votes)
- Reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble (7 votes)
- Reviews in professional journals (7 votes)
- The blurb on the book's dust jacket (7 votes)
- Your book club (5 votes)
- Bookstores: independent stores (4 votes)
- Reviews on Goodreads or LibraryThing (4 votes)
- Reviews in newspapers or magazines (4 votes)
- Bookstores: chain stores (3 votes)
- Conferences (3 votes)
- Websites: other than those listed above (2 votes)
- Your kids (2 votes)
- Your parents (2 votes)
- Other (2 votes)
- All of the above (0 votes)
And, continuing on this tangent for a moment... if blogs are really that powerful... that is to say, if more people consult them more than any other form of marketing or word of mouth... then that is really intriguing. And if it is true, do you think publishers are aware of this trend?
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
We're gearing up for a big "let me tell you why Anthony is so much more reliable and stable than you" speech and a "since Anthony is so wonderful, maybe it's time to get married and snatch him up" realization. And then, a "hey, I wonder if Mike and Deanna have an old wedding dress in their attic that I could use?"
Is it just me, or has Liz looked like a lot like Elly and Michael in the last week? And, why do both Anthony and Warren feel they have "no hoooome" without Liz... when neither of them has ever had a home WITH Liz?
Really, though, I'm just thrilled to see the plot moving forward.... wherever it goes.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I have an article this month in ALSConnect. It's the newsletter of The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA).
Except, ummm... you can't read it unless you're a member of ALSC, because you need a password to access it. So, if you are a member, you can log in to see my very short article on the last page of the newsletter with advice for attending the ALA annual conference. And, if you're not a member, check out this post (one of the first ones I wrote on this blog) which contains a much, much longer version of the same advice.
Hey, it's a start, right?
Monday, March 3, 2008
I saw the book in October very briefly during a meeting with a publisher rep and loved it instantly. It has great rhythm, bounce, repetition and is perfect for little kids. Hopefully, one day soon it will be released as a board book.
A few months later, I was lucky enough to visit Powells, the legendary independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon. And, as I walked into the children's section, what did I see but Monkey and Me? I knew wasn't being published by Simon and Schuster until March so I did a little checking. I found out that what Powells had for sale was the British edition of the book, which had already been published by Macmillan. I was thrilled to see it so early, and I snapped it right up. I've been reading it to my son since and he loves it.
It's March now, and the American edition has finally been released. I eagerly took it out of the box when it arrived at the store I work at, and went to show it to my colleagues. And you know what? When I got to the last page, I found that it was different than the British edition I've been reading with my son. There's a very small change, but it's a change nonetheless.
The British edition ends like this:
We went... (turn the page)
...home for tea."
The American edition ends like this:
We went... (turn the page)
The illustration on the last page is the same, and it shows the protagonist (a cute little girl) fast asleep in front of her snack. But the "ZZZZZ" changes the rhythm of the original, and doesn't work as well when you're reading it aloud.
I don't know why this bugs me, but it does. I think American kids could figure it out... and books are precisely where you learn about customs from other countries. Mr. Gumpy's Outing, a wonderful classic by John Burmingham (a British author) mentions tea at the end, and I've never heard of anyone being confused by it.
Regardless, if you have little kids, definitely check out Monkey and Me. It's a great storytime and read aloud book for ages 1-4.