Once upon a time, in a land not too far away1, a not-so-little girl2 was a proud and faithful participant in the Book It program. She read piles and piles of books, frequenting her local Pizza Hut for the personal pan pizza that awarded her at the end of her journey. She was the holder of many fine jewels3 that left the other children in awe, wondering how she could possibly read so much fine literature. She never revealed her secrets.
1Okay, fine, I still live in the same town
2I may have been a little chubby
3otherwise known as Book It pins
And now that this little girl has grown, she has learned that not only do others still recall the Book It program fondly, the organization is still in existence. Not only that, they also have an alumni program where she can reminisce about those days of yore.
She was vastly tempted by the Book It store, with its alluring retro T-shirt (of which she regrets she cannot find the shirts of her youth). It was also necessary that she “follow” the program on a newfangled contraption called twitter.
She reveled in the idea that such a wonderful program could still exist, still encouraging the young to develop their reading skills. She did all that she could to spread the word to every corner of the land4, praying that her fellow readers would join her in such a glorious nostalgia.
4“the land” has since then been expanded to “the Internet.”
I couldn’t tell you how many of the Berenstain Bears books I owned. I read them until they fell apart. Thus it saddened me to hear that co-creator Jan Berenstain passed away on Friday. (I also hadn’t realized that her husband Stan died in 2005, though I was too busy with college to pay attention to news.)
The Berenstains wrote and illustrated over three hundred books, which were translated into twenty-three languages. Their first title, The Big Honey Hunt, was released in 1962.
Talk about a legacy. Not only had the duo built an impressive series, but their family is continuing the tradition. The couple’s two sons, also writers and illustrators, continue to work on the series in their parents’ passing.
I was browsing their twitter feed for updates, and it’s pages upon pages of thank yous for condolences. These are people that care about what they do, and care about their family. Stan and Jan are leaving a wonderful legacy behind, and their books have been loved by children all around the world. I’m just one of countless readers who have been influenced by the Berenstain Bears.
I would be lying if I said I could remember the first moment I picked up a book. If we’re being honest, I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t reading or storytelling. But if you ask my mother, the first book I read on my own was Stan & Jan Berenstain’s Old Hat New Hat.
I do remember reading this to death. My poor mother, having to flip through those same pages over and over again. It would be an understatement to say that book sparked something within me. Look at me now—I can’t even come up with a metaphor accurate enough to explain how that little book has defined my entire life.
After we moved, my parents located that old collection of children’s books. And that book was the one I yanked out of the pile, even though it’s been over twenty years since I’ve seen it. I half-joked that I was going to frame it. And then I found an old shadow box I wasn’t using.
I find this appropriate to proudly display on my desk. What can I say? I’m a sucker for nostalgia.
Yesterday was the release date for the new Dork Diaries book, and we had a little too much fun at work.
It was declared “Dork Day,” so there was a plethora of people walking around in their dorky t-shirts. I was excited I got to wear a t-shirt at work and have it be acceptable. I had a meeting at one point, and it amused me highly to see nearly the entire room in their pink shirts.
Magnolia Bakery also had custom cupcakes made up for us, with glitter sprinkles and the book logo and all kinds of fun stuff. (I’m still recovering from the sugar shock.) Cupcakes were on sale at the store, too, where they were also offering a book with a cupcake purchase. And let’s be honest—there are few things more perfect in the world than cupcakes and books.
The Dork Diaries books are ridiculously cute, so it excites me that we publish them (and I get to work on them). It’s just so fitting, if you know me. And while most people changed out of their dork t-shirts, I was sporting mine on my commute home. Now that’s dorkiness at its finest.
I pride myself in finishing basically every book I start. I won’t allow myself to start one without completing another, despite how much I dislike it.
However, I was doing some tidying this weekend and stumbled upon Grimm’s Fairy Tales, bookmark in place. I couldn’t tell you how long ago I started this book, or the last time I opened its cover.
Now that I’ve discovered it, it bothers me. The originally plan was to read one fairy tale per day, which I don’t think is all that difficult to do. Perhaps I’ll get back to it. If nothing else, I should finish it just so it can properly be shelved. Now that it has resumed its place on my nightstand, I can’t stand to think of it being there the rest of my life.
Which, at this rate, may be how long it will take to finish.
But to my knowledge, there has been nothing else I haven’t completed. If something is that bad, I may put it down and restart years later (Maybe I’ve done this twice?). Call me compulsive, but if something is sitting around that I haven’t read it drives me crazy.
I haven’t actually finished reading all the Harry Potter books, but at some point I plan to. Which means I obviously had to buy them all. And of course, I can’t buy a normal boxset. I have to scour the Internet to find the best of the best, and I’m pretty sure this is the one. It arrived at my doorstep this past week.
The UK deluxe edition. It’s a beautiful thing. Books are cloth-bound with gilded edges, each with a ribbon bookmark. They feature the original UK artwork on the front. As a fun bonus, Rowling’s signature is stamped in gold on the cover of each. See?
It wasn’t until I started photographing it that I realized Hogwarts Express etched on the side of the box. What fun!
This is probably the best-looking thing on my bookshelf.
I guess I should get on finishing the series, though I’m nervous to take these books out of my house. I’ll probably wrap it in a plastic bag before fitting it into my purse (you think I’m kidding). Hey, if you’re going to invest in a boxset, you have to do it right.
I stalked the Internet for a good month before I found it for a somewhat reasonable price. If you’re searching for it yourself, go to ebay. They have the best price I could find (and the seller is awesome, too). Trust me. It’s well worth the cash.
I have another photo of it as well over at DeviantART. I obviously had a good time with the camera yesterday.
If you follow my other blog, you may understand how much I adore The Decemberists. So imagine my surprise when I discover that Colin Meloy, lead singer extraordinaire, is coming out with a children’s book.
This cross-fandom is almost too much for my brain to handle. The Decemberists and children’s literature? Fantasy to boot? If that’s not awesome enough, Carson Ellis, the same one that designed pretty much all their albums, is doing the book cover as well. Gorgeous stuff. (Side note: She has a shop! Must… resist…)
If Meloy had signed with my company instead, I would be the one to work on this glorious title. I have no doubt it would have fallen under my imprint. But alas, he went with HarperCollins. Not everyone can be perfect, I suppose.
You can bet I’ll be waiting for Borders to open up on release day, just so I can grab my copy. I’ll be standing in line with all those middle-grade fantasy readers (and/or their parents). And probably a few Decemberists fans as well.
Per tradition, I’m sitting here watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in my PJ’s while everyone else in my house is doing something constructive. (It’s understood that I must watch the parade, though. At least, until I see the Rockettes.)
Imagine my joy when I hear that Diary of a Wimpy Kid will have its own balloon this year. And look at how adorable he is! I’m a little bit of a slacker in my love for children’s books, as I haven’t actually read them yet (shush). But the fact that a book series has become so insanely popular to warrant a balloon in the Macy’s parade is just awesome beyond words. (Photo copyright and courtesy of Abrams Books.)
Way to go, Jeff Kinney!
And happy Thanksgiving!