Archive for August, 2008


Review by Kristen McLean


Savvy by Ingrid Law

Penguin; May 2008; 352 pp; $16.95 HC


Core Audience: Readers 12+ and folks who love predicting award winners

Strengths: Completely original from cover to cover and then some

Twelve-year-old Mibs Beaumont has been counting down the days till her thirteenth birthday—the day her “savvy” will make itself known. Will she be able to create hurricanes like her brother? Or capture wonderful sounds in canning jars like her grandmother? Then Mibs’ father has a terrible accident just before her birthday, and Mibs feels sure that her savvy will be to help her dad. When she stows away on a traveling salesman’s pink bus to try to get to her father’s distant hospital, she finds herself on a madcap odyssey in the heartland of America—one that is as full of unexpected adventure and friendship as Mibs herself. Like some of my other favorite offbeat books of recent years, this story is absolutely original, with detail and a richness in the writing that paves its own way. This novel is also remarkable in the fact that it combines matter-of-fact bible belt imagery and fantastical super-powers in the same story in a way that manages to be neither off-puttingly dogmatic or overly fantastical, but rather sort of dreamy and lyrical. A book as unexpected as its main character and anyone who reads it seems to love it, no matter where they are coming from.



August 17, 2008 at 9:27 pm Leave a comment

Agate:What Good is a Moose?

Review by Kristen McLean

Agate cover

Agate: What good is a moose? by Joy Morgan Dey, illustrated by Nikki Johnson

Lake Superior Port Cities; April 2007; 32 pp; $17.95 HC


Core Audience: Children 4-8; Anyone who has ever felt outshined

Strengths: Luminous artwork; great message

If you have been reading pixiestix for awhile you are probably aware of my feelings about marginal books that are either self-published, or that are produced by small presses that don’t quite get how to put the total package together. I receive hundreds of unsolicited pitches every year for these kinds of books, and when you combine that with the thousands of mainstream books that flow across my desk in a given year, it really takes something to make me sit up.

And this, my friends, is that something.

Meet Agate, the hero of this wonderful and unexpected picture book from a pair of artists and a small regional press from Duluth, MN. Agate is in a metaphysical quandary. “What good is a moose?” he asks when he compares himself to all of his other “birthstone” friends, like Garnet the Crocodile, Emerald the Lion, and Sapphire the Hippo.


He has a big case of the inferiors, and any child who has ever felt dull will recognize themselves here. At the back of the book, there is a nice appendix that talks about birthstone gems. The writing and rhymes here are very sweet, but what really makes this book is the incredible watercolor illustration presented on a sparkling white ground.



These are just quick scans. For the full effect, get a copy and check out how eye-popping they really are. I particularly like the way Nikki Johnson has let the natural flow of the paint create the rich texture of the animals in motion.

This book really has it all: clean uncluttered design, a nice story, a good message, a eye-catching cover, fresh art, and the element of surprise. This proves the point that a small press with no background in kid’s books really can do a great job. Amazing books can come from anywhere, which why it is SO important that people setting off to make a picture book (or indeed any book) for the first time really understand what it takes, and know the market.

Apparently the author and illustrator brought the project to the press. Bravo to Lake Superior Port Cities for recognizing that Agate really is a gem of the highest order.

agate stone



August 17, 2008 at 9:01 pm Leave a comment

Go Home Mrs. Beekman

Once Upon a Story ….
Saturday story time 11:00AM

Author Ann Stampler read from her new book this week at our Saturday storytime. We have signed copies in the store. This is a perfect story for those little ones heading off to school for the first time.

Go Home, Mrs. Beekman!
K-Gr 2—Emily is heading off for her first day of school, and she insists that her mother stays with her. “Forever!” “I promise….And a promise is a promise. I’ll stay at school for a million gazillion years with my Emily right on my lap.” Mrs. Beekman is true to her word. Even when her daughter discovers that school is actually a fun place, the woman won’t leave. Teacher Sue nicely but firmly insists repeatedly that it’s time for all adults to go home, but Mrs. Beekman is not deterred. She resorts to disguising herself as a coatrack and, on subsequent days, as a big purple hat, green dog, yellow bird, and oversize hula hoop. Finally, Emily kindly convinces her mother that she wants to be in school by herself. Careful readers will note that Mrs. Beekman’s disguises match items Emily mentions in the book’s first pages. The illustrations work perfectly with the text. The characters’ facial expressions are spot-on, and Carrington captures the feel of kindergarten, the love between Emily and her mother, and a child’s first steps toward independence. This enjoyable if slightly familiar tale would work well for one-on-one sharing or storytime.—Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH
Author Ann Stampler / illus. by Marsha Gray Carrington.

Buy it here

August 11, 2008 at 7:21 am Leave a comment

No library for those who need it most?

Learn more about the proposal to close our main library

click here

August 10, 2008 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

Is Long Beach at war with books?

Ray Bradbury writes in the Press-Telegram:

Over the years I have had a love affair with Long Beach and frequently visit.

A few weeks ago I was in your city to mourn the pending forced closure of Acres of Books. Since 1934 this unique cultural heritage landmark bookstore has been a destination for book lovers from around the world with its inventory of over 1 million books. The current city leadership has forced its closure and will bulldoze the site to develop a strip mall and parking lot, an action they call progress.

I recently learned of the pending forced closure of the Long Beach Main Library from public access to balance the city budget. This is heartbreak and an outrage. Libraries are also an essential core public service. How can a major city not provide public access to a civic center library?

City Hall decisions will remove access to over 1.5 million books from one square mile of the city! Is Long Beach at war with the printed word and books?

I have great love for public libraries and received my education there. It was in the library stacks I discovered centuries of human thought and mined those stacks for mind-expanding experiences to fuel my writing. There the great authors were standing shoulder to shoulder on the library shelves just waiting for me to discover them. In fact, it was in the basement of the UCLA Powell Library I wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a pay typewriter.

Forward-thinking citizens established the Long Beach Public Library in 1908 with the help of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie believed anyone with the right inclination and desire could educate himself if a free public library was available. A Long Beach Main Public Library has stood in the park for 100 years. Your Long Beach Friends of the Library when formed made national headlines by facing down community pressure to remove blacklisted books, including Fahrenheit 451, from the library shelves with Blanche Collins, librarian, in a three-year stand against censorship.

The Long Beach Friends of the Library and Library Foundation continue their work to ensure free, equitable, and accessible library services for every community in Long Beach

Tell City Hall NO to the threatened closure! Long Beach residents and children deserve nothing less than access to a downtown library with ready access to books and programs to help them achieve their goals and aspirations.

Ray Bradbury

Los Angeles

August 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm Leave a comment

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
  by Bill McKibben

 The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

“Masterfully crafted, deeply thoughtful and mind-expanding.””–Los Angeles Times”

In this powerful and provocative manifesto, Bill McKibben offers the biggest challenge in a generation to the prevailing view of our economy. “Deep Economy “makes the compelling case for moving beyond “growth” as the paramount economic ideal and pursuing prosperity in a more local direction, with regions producing more of their own food, generating more of their own energy, and even creating more of their own culture and entertainment. Our purchases need not be at odds with the things we truly value, McKibben argues, and the more we nurture the essential humanity of our economy, the more we will recapture our own.

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Challenging the prevailing wisdom that the goal of economies should be unlimited growth, McKibben (The End of Nature) argues that the world doesn’t have enough natural resources to sustain endless economic expansion. For example, if the Chinese owned cars in the same numbers as Americans, there would be 1.1 billion more vehicles on the road—untenable in a world that is rapidly running out of oil and clean air. Drawing the phrase “deep economy” from the expression “deep ecology,” a term environmentalists use to signify new ways of thinking about the environment, he suggests we need to explore new economic ideas. Rather then promoting accelerated cycles of economic expansion—a mindset that has brought the world to the brink of environmental disaster—we should concentrate on creating localized economies: community-scale power systems instead of huge centralized power plants; cohousing communities instead of sprawling suburbs. He gives examples of promising ventures of this type, such as a community-supported farm in Vermont and a community biosphere reserve, or large national park–like area, in Himalayan India, but some of the ideas—local currencies as supplements to national money, for example—seem overly optimistic. Nevertheless, McKibben’s proposals for new, less growth-centered ways of thinking about economics are intriguing, and offer hope that change is possible.

August 8, 2008 at 11:37 pm Leave a comment

Fundraiser 4 Books – Recycle 4 Literacy



Fact:  If improperly disposed your cell phone or ink cartridge can pollute up to 132,000 liters of drinking water.
Your donation will help protect the environment and enrich the lives of children here in Long Beach.
It’s simple.
1. Donate your used cell phones and ink cartridges.
2. Phones and cartridges get recycled.
3. We get books for our schools.
In the past we have donated books to the Bethune Transitional Center for Homeless Students in LBUSD. In order to keep serving schools like Bethune TCHS, we need your help. 
Your unwanted cell phones and inkjet cartridges will be recycled in accordance with EPA regulations or refurbished and reused.
Schools and organizations that need books for kids may apply for a grant to Once Upon a Story.

August 7, 2008 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

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