Posts Tagged independent bookstores

Happy Independent Bookstore Day!

Here at From The Mixed-Up Files, we’re all about celebrating indie booksellers, so April 28, 2018 has been on our calendars FOREVER! That’s the fourth annual Independent Bookstore Day, a “one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country on the last Saturday in April. Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different. But in addition to authors, live music, cupcakes, scavenger hunts, kids events, art tables, readings, barbecues, contests, and other fun stuff, there are exclusive books and literary items that you can only get on that day. Not before. Not after. Not online.”

The last Saturday in April is Independent Bookstore Day.

As longtime readers know, each month, MUF contributor Sue Cowling profiles wonderful booksellers across the country. We are taking a brief hiatus from our regular Indie Bookstore highlight because our bookstore champion Sue has experienced a flash flood in her home and will be without internet for a period of time. She was not injured in the flood and looks forward to coming back to the Mixed Up Files when she has a less mixed-up house. We hope you’ll enjoy the team’s prior indie bookstore spotlights. Wishing you and your favorite bookseller a wonderful April 28, and please check in with us to let us know what stores in your area are doing for #bookstoreday!

Book & Puppet Company, Easton, PA

Barstons Child’s Play, McLean, VA

Kids Ink Children’s Books, Indianapolis, IN

Iseeme African American Children’s Bookstore, University City, MO

Read With Me, a Children’s Book and Art Shop, Raleigh, NC

Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston TX

The Voracious Reader, Larchmont NY

TreeHouse Books, Ashland OR

Parnassus Books, Nashville TN

Prairie Lights Books, Iowa City IA

Booktenders’ Secret Garden, Doylestown PA

Second Star to the Right Children’s Books, Denver CO

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville NC

The Twig Book Shop, San Antonio TX

Learned Owl Book Shop, Hudson OH

Blue Bunny Books & Toys, Dedham MA

Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck + Millerton, NY

Once Upon A Time Bookstore, Montrose CA


and many more!

Find out more about Independent Bookstore Day here.

Indie Spotlight: Book & Puppet Company, Easton, PA

Sue Cowing for Mixed-up Files: Another new independent bookstore catering to kids!  Today we’re talking with Andy Laties and Rebecca Midgal, Co-founders of Book & Puppet Company in downtown Easton  Pennsylvania (www.bookandpuppet.com).
MUF: Most independent book shops are founded on their owners’ passions, which is what makes each one unique. How did your passions for books and puppets combine to give Easton its first bookstore?
Rebecca: Andy and I first began doing improvisational puppetry together at Bank Street Bookstore in New York City. It has been such a fruitful collaboration, we wanted to take it to the next level by putting a puppet theater in our own bookstore.
MUF: Book & Puppet has another, out-of-this-world founder, Boingustopheles. Tell us a bit about him.
Rebecca: Boingustopheles is our beloved founder, a philanthropic robot from the Intergalactic megalopolis of Mikmukdukporp who believes in the healing power of comedy and humor. We are very grateful that Boingustopheles has chosen to locate a store on this planet. Boingustopheles thinks that everything we humans do is hilarious. We haven’t had the heart to break it to him that most of the “jokes” are actually serious. Perhaps he would find that even funnier, however.
MUF: What atmosphere do you aim to create at Book & Puppet Co.? If a middle-grade reader comes into your shop looking for her or his next good book (or puppet) what happens?
Andy: This store is a fun and funny place to hang out—the large selection of fiction for middle-readers kind of sneaks up on kids. It’s not the first thing they notice. We are very low-key with middle-graders. They need to feel respected, and free to examine the books. After a little while, I check in very casually to see if I can provide any advice. I’ve been a children’s bookseller for decades, so I’m able to identify what most kids would be interested in, once they’re comfortable opening up to me about their current reading.

MUF:How do you choose what books to carry in your shop?
Andy: When I’m considering whether to buy a book, I imagine which customer would choose it. When it comes to children’s literature, I serve children, parents, teachers, grandparents—I need books for all of them. This bookstore also caters to adult readers: I do the same thing there—I visualize my customers and try to select books they would like.
MUF:As middle-grade authors, we’d love to know what titles new or old, fiction or nonfiction you find yourselves recommending to this age group these days?
Andy: I love to turn young people on to Joan Aiken, whose Wolves of Willoughby Chase books were a precursor to Steampunk. I recommend Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce whenever possible. I recommend series that compare to Harry Potter—I often pitch Maile Meloy’s Apothecary series and John Stephens’ The Books of Beginning series. I recommend the Family Fletcher series by Dana Alison Levy to kids who like contemporary family stories. For nonfiction I gravitate to Steve Sheinkin—I love his Jim Thorpe biography Undefeated in particular. And I enjoy showing kids and parents Jazz Day—The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill.

MUF: Tell us about some of the regular activities at Books & Puppets, including puppet shows for all ages. Both of you are also graphic novelists and share your skills in workshops at the store. Do you have workshops and events coming up that would appeal to ages 8-12?
Rebecca: Our puppet shows are great for kids of all ages, and children ages 8-12, if they can be induced to come, seem to enjoy them a good deal. We also have arts and crafts project for older kids.
MUF: You also put on some events aimed and political and social action. Any coming up?
Rebecca: We just had an info-shop event about the feminist revolution in Rojava, Syria, and we plan to do more programs like that in the future. On an ongoing basis, Mangled Myths, our weekly improvisational puppet shows for grownups, often include political satire.
MUF:If a family from out of town came to visit your shop, would there be family-friendly places in the neighborhood where they could get a snack or meal after browsing? And if they could stay a little longer, are there nearby sites or activities they shouldn’t miss?
Rebecca: This is a fantastic place for families to visit. We are right in downtown Easton, PA, close to the Easton Public Market, an indoor, indie-style food court that is a destination in the region. The Public Market was established in 2016 as a year-round home for the vendors who congregate every Saturday, April through December, at our eagerly anticipated Farmers Market, which is the oldest one in the country. There are many dining options in the neighborhood, notably the State Café right around the corner from us, and nearby Terra Café, both of them frequented by families.
We are only two blocks from the Crayola Experience, which is a popular family destination that draws visitors from throughout the nearby states, and the State Theater is across the street from us, offering national acts including many family-friendly shows. Also close by are the Sigal Museum, the Canal Museum and other historic attractions. Easton has frequent weekend outdoor festivals in the Summer and Fall, such as the Bacon Fest and the Riverside Arts Festival.
We stand at the gateway to the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos, offering a wealth of arts festivals, outdoor adventures and other amusements. All this makes Easton a great family vacation destination.
MUF: You have said that, contrary to the conventional assumptions, now is a good time to open an independent bookstore. Why do you think so? You’re just getting started. What are your hopes and plans for Book & Puppet Company in the future?
Rebecca:  It’s true that this appears to be the time of the “retail apocalypse” with big stores and shopping malls closing, due to the growth of online retail. But everyone still wants to go out and enjoy our communities. Children especially need to be surrounded by books in order to get excited about reading—they can’t simply shop online. Independent bookstores can be successful if we serve as gathering places for neighbors. Many of the new crop of bookstores have raised start-up money using crowdfunding websites, which enable local supporters to participate and show their enthusiasm.
Our hope is that Book & Puppet Company becomes an anchor for community life in Easton, playing a part in the city’s economic and cultural revival. We hope to run bookfair fundraisers in local schools, host authors and performers, and support the reading practice of our neighbors for many years to come.

Thanks Andy and Rebecca for introducing us to your lively shop!  Readers, if you’ve visited Book & Puppet or would like to, please add your comments.

New releases for perfect Valentine’s gifts for children!

Here are some great ideas for Valentine’s gifts for middle-grade children. Hot off the press and ready for the special readers in your life!

The first two were actually released in January, and since ghost-written by one of our contributing members, we wanted to highlight them!

Taking Chances by Kelsey Abrams, illustrated by Jomike Tejido, (Jolly Fish Press)

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Grace has always rushed headlong into things often landing her in trouble. Her elderly neighbor (and close friend), Miz Ida, reminds her to think before she acts. Grace tries to be thoughtful and responsible when helping with Miz Ida s prize-winning cat, Chances, but it isn’t easy. Can Grace slow down enough to keep the people (and animals) she cares for safe? Or are there times when taking chances can be a good thing? At Second Chance Ranch, the Ramirez family cares and works to find homes for all kinds of animals on their 200-acre ranch in Texas. Sisters Natalie (12), Abby (10), and twins Emily and Grace (9) all do their part to help out and give each animal the second chance it deserves.

Wild Midnight by Kelsey Abrams, illustrated by Jomike Tejido

(Jolly Fish Press)

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Emily has her heart set on rescuing a wild mustang, but her family gets outbid at an auction. Instead she settles for helping a nearby ranch muck out stalls where some of the mustangs now reside. She quickly earns a reputation as a horse whisperer for her ability to calm Midnight, a horse that others cannot control. But even Emily cant help when a tornado blows through the area and Midnight gets loose. Or can she? At Second Chance Ranch, the Ramirez family cares and works to find homes for all kinds of animals on their 200-acre ranch in Texas. Sisters Natalie (12), Abby (10), and twins Emily and Grace (9) all do their part to help out and give each animal the second chance it deserves.

Lucy’s Lab: The Colossal Fossil Fiasco by Michelle Houts, illustrated by Elizebeth Zechel, (Sky Pony Press)

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

In this third book in the series, Lucy accidentally overhears her parents talking about the family getting a second pet. But what pet should they get?

At school, Lucy’s class is learning about fossils and the plants and animals that left them behind.

One afternoon, Lucy finds a special rock, and Miss Flippo gets very excited! But when Lucy’s precious fossil goes missing, everyone in Room 2C is a suspect. . . .

My Hero Academia, by Kohei Horikoshi, (Viz Media)

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Midoriya inherits the superpower of the world’s greatest hero, but greatness won’t come easy.

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks”? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

I Survived the Children’s Blizzard, 1888, by Lauren Tarshis, (Scholastic)

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Eleven-year-old John Hale has already survived one brutal Dakota winter, and now he’s about to experience one of the deadliest blizzards in American history. The storm of 1888 was a monster, a frozen hurricane that slammed into America’s midwest without warning. Within hours, America’s prairie would be buried under ten feet of snow. Hundreds would be dead, thousands terrified and lost and freezing.

John never wanted to move to the wide-open prairie. He’s a city kid, not a tough pioneer! But his inner strength is seriously tested when he finds himself trapped in the blinding snow, the wind like a giant crushing hammer, pounding him over and over again. Will John ever find his way home?

Bravelands #2 Code of Honor, by Erin Hunter, (HarperCollins)

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Set in the African savannah and told from three different animals’ points of view, Bravelands will thrill readers who love Spirit Animals and Wings of Fire, as well as the legion of dedicated fans who’ve made Erin Hunter a bestselling phenomenon.

A baboon who has uncovered an act of treachery.

An elephant uncertain of her fate.

A lion poised to strike.

The code of the wild has been broken. The elephant leader known as Great Mother has been murdered. And Bravelands is on the edge of chaos. Now a young baboon, elephant, and lion must come together to discover the truth—before the fragile balance of Bravelands is destroyed forever.

Dragon Bones (The Unwanted Quests) by Lisa McMann, (Aladdin)

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Ten years after Alex and Aaron Stowe brought peace to Quill and Artimé, their younger twin sisters journey beyond Artimé in the second novel in the New York Times bestselling sequel series to The Unwanteds, which Kirkus Reviews called “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”

The Artiméans have suffered some devastating blows.

After years of peace, the recent daring adventure of twins Thisbe and Fifer Stowe have brought about dire consequences. Thisbe has been captured, Fifer is injured, and Sky is lost at sea. The twins’ older brother Alex, head mage of Artimé, is paralyzed with fear of losing anyone else he loves. Fifer must convince him to finally trust her to help in the battle ahead now that their true enemy has been revealed.

Meanwhile Thisbe is trapped underground in the catacombs, where the ancient dragon rulers are buried. Along with fellow prisoners, Thisbe’s job is to transport dragon bones from her crypt to the extracting room, where others extract the magical properties dormant in the bones. When it appears no one is coming back to rescue her, Thisbe must train in secret, trying to learn how to control her fiery magic and use it to escape. As her situation becomes more grave, she might even have to align herself with the ultimate evil.

Unfortunately it’s a risk she has to take.

Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August, (Roaring Book Press)
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Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire is the first book in a spellbinding fantasy adventure series by screenwriter John August.

Some trails lead to magic. Some lead to danger.

As Arlo looked around, the walls of his room began to vanish, revealing a moonlit forest. Only his bed remained, and the frame of his window, through which he saw the girl. The world on her side of the glass was sparkling with silver and gold, like a palace made of autumn leaves. 
She looked off to her right. Someone was coming. Her words came in an urgent whisper: “If I can see you, they can see you . . . Be careful, Arlo Finch.

Arlo Finch is a newcomer to Pine Mountain, Colorado, a tiny town of mystery and magic, but he’s already attracted the attention of dark and ancient forces. At first he thinks these increasingly strange and frightening occurrences are just part of being in Rangers, the mountain scouting troop where he learns how to harness the wild magic seeping in from the mysterious Long Woods.

But he soon Arlo finds himself at the center of a dangerous adventure, where he faces obstacles that test the foundations of the Ranger’s Vow: Loyalty, Bravery, Kindness, and Truth.