Our First Blog Giveaway!

In celebration of Grammar Week here at Boxcars, Books, & a Blog, we’re doing our first Blog Giveaway.  As you may have heard via Twitter, as a fun promo we made silly bands.

We’ve called ours “Book Bands,” and they’re shaped like golden retrievers (from The Buddy Files), winged sneakers (from Zapato Power), and boxcars (from The Boxcar Children) — two of each band in a pack.

Here’s Wendy first work as a hand model:

Now for the Blog Giveaway

The first 10 teachers or librarians to send an email to online[at]albertwhitman.com with the words “Book Bands” in the subject field will receive 25 packs. Please be sure to include the name of your school/library and a shipping address in the body of the email. Send your email now.

and please enjoy the rest of Grammar Week!

Our First Blog Giveaway!

Bookstore Visit: Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

Albert Whitman & Company has been located in the Chicago area for most of its 90-plus years in business. As such, we’ve been blessed – both professionally and personally – with a wonderful assortment of independent bookseller for decades. Happily, this remains true today. In a semi-regular blog series, we will visit “Chicagoland Indies” for your information and enjoyment.

Women & Children First has a long history in Chicago. Opened in 1979, it’s one of the largest feminist bookstores in the country and serves a diverse community with books and sidelines for both adults and children. When Wendy in Editorial and I arrived at the store on another lovely summer afternoon in Chicago, the store had shoppers in every department and our talk with co-owner Linda Bubon was interrupted (gladly) numerous times by people looking for just the right book for the children in their lives (including a very enthusiastic uncle looking at lift-the-flap books).

Of course, we checked out the Boxcar Children shelf — and right nearby were The Buddy Files. Linda says she did not prepare the shelves in the children’s department for our arrival, so it was lovely to see so many of our Fall 2010 books on the new arrivals shelves — and face out!

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The store is very well known for its preschool storytime – in existence for 20 years! In addition, they do a “big kids” storytime for 5- to 10-year-olds during the summer. One of this year’s best big kids storytimes (according to Linda) was for The Boxcar Children.  She had to do a little summarizing to finish in 45 minutes, but the kids loved it and some went looking for more titles in the series.

Owners and staff alike are very proud of the store’s feminist agenda, but really want the public to know that they will find all kinds of books on their shelves. In the children’s section, their feminist focus allows them to include any book they believe will appeal to and/or serve children and their caregivers. In addition to a great new books display and very complete fiction and board book sections, they have one of the largest “issues” section I’ve every seen in a bookstore. From adoption to bullying to divorce — there are books on every topic a kid (or parent) could need. I’m proud to say that a large number of those books come from Albert Whitman & Company.

Women & Children First is located in the Andersonville neighboorhood of Chicago and shares the neighborhood with a lot of great stores and restaurants.  Visiting the store and its neighbors is a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

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Bookstore Visit: Women & Children First, Chicago, IL

Bookstore Visit: Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

Albert Whitman & Company has been located in the Chicago area for most of its 90-plus years in business. As such, we’ve been blessed – both professionally and personally – with a wonderful assortment of independent bookseller for decades. Happily, this remains true today. In a semi-regular blog series, we will visit “Chicagoland Indies” for your information and enjoyment.

I walked into Anderson’s Bookshop on a sunny, summer Friday afternoon – and the children’s section was hopping! Kids and parents were perusing the shelves, playing together, reading, and having fun.

After checking out the Boxcar shelf (my first stop in every store), I met up with Jan Dundon, Anderson’s Children’s Coordinator.

Jan has been with Anderson’s for many years and has produced some of the best children’s book events in the country. Among her big projects is their Mock Newbery program – schools from all over the area participate. We exchanged thoughts on this year’s crop of contenders – which I can’t share with you, but the list is looking pretty good.

Which brings me to my favorite part of talking to booksellers – the recommendations. The staff read as much as they possibly can before the books hit the shelves, so they can do more than just hand you the latest bestseller (although they’ll do that too). Jan made a point of telling me that ALL of the staff members really just work there to feed their book habits.

That’s when I asked her the tough question: What are you favorite Albert Whitman books to handsell? Jan immediately answered, “MISS FOX! I love her.” She also mentioned The Buddy Files and Zapato Power, our two new early chapter book series.

      

I rarely (well, really, almost never) leave a bookstore without making a purchase – and this time was no exception. Upon Jan’s recommendation (although she’s a children’s specialist, she does help out with grown-up recommendations too), I purchased The Miracles of Santo Fico by D. L. Smith (a remainder title she’s been handselling a lot). Her other recommendation for adults was The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall (which is now on my “to be read” list).

The most common question from customers (other than book recommendations) is “How do you get so many authors!?” I already knew the answer to that one – because they do great events. They know how to organize the logistics and treat the authors – and they do one heck of a job at publicizing. But she pointed out that the relationships they have with the publishers is key too.

So why has Anderson’s survived – and thrived? In addition to doing the hard work mentioned above and being a fifth-generation family-owned business, Anderson’s is located in the heart of downtown Naperville – in the thick of the shopping and dining district. The owners are active in the community and work with the other business owners to keep their downtown active and viable.

They also have an impressively detailed mission statement:

  • To share a passion and knowledge of books to create lifelong readers.
  • To provide a place where exchanges of ideas and thoughts have a diverse playing field.
  • To open the door for journeys of the mind and spirit.
  • To be a destination for our community to keep open the dialogue of free speech and free expression.
  • To be a part of our greater community in support of education and the greater good.
  • To be a place of good company, great reads and engaging conversations for all ages.

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Bookstore Visit: Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL

What Children’s Book Editors Do on Their Summer Vacations

Years ago, I remember reading a post on children’s writers’ online message board (yes, we editors lurk) about how slow things are at publishing houses during the summer months. “All the editors are at their vacation houses in the Hamptons!” a writer complained.

HA. Here in Chicago, there are no jaunts to the Hamptons for us, only trips to the Lake Michigan beaches.  But sometimes we manage to escape to other fabulous Midwest destinations, such as Mankato, Minnesota. I’m a big fan of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, so when the first-ever LauraPalooza academic conference and fan fair was announced at Minnesota State University, I knew I had to go.

A LauraPalooza Lecture

The conference was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some, with more than two dozen  presentations and a field trip to one of the Little House homesites in Walnut Grove, MN. I met scholars, book authors, independent researchers, teachers, illustrators, librarians, and even a meterologist who gave a great talk on the weather conditions behind The Long Winter. (And yes, I met some people who were wearing sunbonnets, too.) Continue reading “What Children’s Book Editors Do on Their Summer Vacations”

What Children’s Book Editors Do on Their Summer Vacations