26 July 2013

From Paris with Bookstore Love

I've just returned from a week in Paris, where I visited many fabulous sites (Notre Dame! Sacré Couer! La Conciergerie!), ate and drank well, and even saw the final stage of the Tour du France as the peleton raced along the Champs Elysees and around l'Arc de Triomphe. My friend was on a Julia Child pilgrimage, which took us to a hardware store and kitchen shop as well as Julia's apartment building and a favorite cafe. But the stops I always love best when traveling are book stores!

Shakespeare and Company in Paris

Hello, YA section!
How lovely it was to visit the YA section at the famous Shakespeare and Company, located across the Seine from the Notre Dame Cathedral. The original English language bookstore and lending library was opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919 at a different location. It moved to a larger space in 1922 and thrived there as a gathering place for artists and writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The shop closed in 1941 during the German occupation of France and never reopened. In 1951, American George Whitman bought a small apartment across the Seine from Notre Dame Cathedral, and turned it into a bookstore with 13 rooms upstairs to house writers. Originally named Le Mistral, he renamed it Shakespeare and Company as a tribute to Sylvia Beach in 1964 after her death.

Bonjour, Calpurnia!
Shopping this famous English bookstore in Paris was a treat, but perhaps even more delightful was perusing the YA sections at French bookstores and finding the French translations of favorite books such as Calpurnia (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly).

Some day, I hope to find my own books in translation on foreign shelves! 

07 July 2013

Today's Library Loot, and the Amazing Effects of a Dazzling Book Spine

My nine-year-old daughter and I paid a visit to our local library this afternoon, to sign her up for the Summer Library Reading Program. I had also placed a few titles on hold athat were ready for pick-up. In addition to my three choices (LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger, REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver, and THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND by Margo Lanagan), we selected six books from the middle grade section for her as well. 

When choosing library books for my daughter, I am often attracted by a shiny metal sticker on the cover. Today, it was the Newbery medal on A YEAR DOWN YONDER by Richard Peck. I also picked two others that looked like good summer fun. My daughter selected THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS by Francis O'Roark Dowell (who wouldn't want to sit barefoot in the grass with those girls on the cover?). Then, she practically dove across the aisle lunging for a book that looked particularly good (it even elicited an excited little gasp). She read the first page and plopped the book in our bag. Can you tell which spine won her enthusiastic attention?

Yep, it was RATTLED by Debra Galant. I'm sure book spines with pink and purple squares with curlicue lettering do not appeal to ALL nine-year-old girls, but it certainly hooked mine. 

I know readers judge books by their covers, but I hadn't fully realized how important a spine can be to the equation! 

What do YOU look for in a book spine design??