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Thursday, January 27, 2011

So Much Depends On a Bookshop

Today was a teacher work day, and my teaching partner and I spent part of it at the Red Balloon Bookshop (where preschool storytime was in full swing during our visit). Our goal was to peruse the store in search of non-book items to offer at the school’s spring book festival, conducted this time independent of a national corporation. Ideas sparked more ideas as we imagined the possibilities and connections for families. The staff offered insights and suggestions that led to more ideas. This book festival topic deserves numerous posts, and I will offer them in the coming weeks.

As we left the store, my teaching partner commented that being at a bookstore is far more effective than reading reviews. We read hundreds of reviews. We read the books mentioned in those reviews prior to deciding whether or not to purchase them. But at the bookshop this morning, we found books we had not previously known, made connections with those books and curriculum needs, and bantered with the booksellers about their popular titles and ours. We picked up second copies of some ALA award winners, another Because of Mr. Terupt because it is so popular with teachers, and a Folkmanis alligator puppet for a teacher wanting to use it with greater than/less than in math.

For the upcoming fifth grade biography/wax museum project starting next week, we loved Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo (the first for children about Audrey Hepburn!) and Demi’s Alexander the Great. For those who have forgotten about the magical abilities of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, know that books about her are always off the shelf. Thus, we know readers are going to love Nancy and Plum, published originally in 1952. All those girls who ask for horse books will adore Holly Hobbie’s autobiographical picture book Everything But the Horse. We will read aloud Patricia Polacco’s latest title Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln, a time travel tale to the battlefield of Antietam.

Of course we never leave a bookstore without personal purchases…a board book copy of Inside Freight Train for a young boy she knows and my own copy of Moon Over Manifest to read again.


  1. Oh, perhaps sometime you will post a photo of the bookstore itself...and the steadfast booksellers?

  2. The Red Balloon is Wonderful. Yes, there is something about holding a book in your hand that is different from a review (though I appreciate reviews as well). And so many good books don't get reviewed prominently and slip under the radar, which makes me sad. Thank goodness for dedicated booksellers and librarians who champion those good books which aren't getting all the buzz, and get them into the hands of readers.

    P.S. I loved your allusion to William Carlos William's poem in this post's title!