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Poetry Is Not a Luxury - Ada Limon, "Bright Dead Things"

Sun, 2017-07-16 22:27

Poetry is Not a Luxury July 2017
A finalist for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Bright Dead Things examines the dangerous thrill of living in a world you must leave one day and the search to find something that is “disorderly, and marvelous, and
ours.”A book of bravado and introspection, of feminist swagger and harrowing loss, this fourth collection considers how we build our identities out of place and human contact—tracing in intimate detail the ways the speaker’s sense of self both shifts and perseveres as she moves from New York City to rural Kentucky, loses a dear parent, ages past the capriciousness of youth, and falls in love. Ada Limón has often been a poet who wears her heart on her sleeve, but in these extraordinary poems that heart becomes a “huge beating genius machine” striving to embrace and understand the fullness of the present moment. “I am beautiful. I am full of love. I am dying,” the poet writes. Building on the legacies of forebears such as Frank O’Hara, Sharon Olds, and Mark Doty, Limón’s work is consistently generous, accessible, and “effortlessly lyrical” (New York Times)—though every observed moment feels complexly thought, felt, and lived.

Ada Limón
Ada Limón is the author of four books of poetry, including Bright Dead Things, which was named a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry, a finalist
for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, a finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award, and one of the Top Ten Poetry Books of the Year by The New York Times. Her other books include Lucky WreckThis Big Fake World, and Sharks in the Rivers. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program, and the 24Pearl Street online program for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer splitting her time between Lexington, Kentucky and Sonoma, California.AudioHear Ada Limón reading 5 poems from the collection:   ReviewsKenyon Review Online review by Lisa Higgs:The needs and wants expressed by Limón in the four sections that make up her National Book Award nominated collection are anything but simple. She wants to retain her sense of self as she moves into the “we” of an abiding relationship. She wants life and death reworked into some spirit of “solve-able absence.” She wants the entirety of her physical past and its erasure. She wants to be her “own personal map of America,” love and wreck and all. Most importantly, Limón—a confessed autobiographical poet (see her 2014 interview at the online journal Compose)—wants readers to be intimately by her side, line after line. Reading this collection is like putting together each rung of a ladder that stretches toward the sky by sinking into its watery reflection.

Publishers Weekly review:
Limón goes into deep introspection mode in a fourth collection in which her speakers struggle with loss and alienation. As her poems move across varied geographies (New York, Kentucky, California), Limón narrates experiences in bewildering landscapes that should otherwise feel familiar. Perhaps feelings of alienation result from intersections of identity; perhaps they are the cost of memory, a theme woven through each of the collection’s four sections.

The Literary Review, review by Timothy LindnerEvery so often, I come across a poem that I share with everyone, even those not familiar with contemporary poetry.  “How to Triumph Like a Girl,” the opening poem in Ada Limón’s Bright Dead Things, is one of those poems.  Well, it was—until I read “State Bird,” and “Miracle Fish,” and just about every piece in this collection.  By the end of the first part I realized I might have been better off gifting the book to everyone for Christmas.  Content is typically the driving force for my mass poem-picture-text messages, but I wanted people to hear this voice.  It’s not one of a particular person, but of a consciousness.  It’s the voice people ignore in the in-between moments of life that races through sensations, emotions, memories and predictions.  Aptly fit into verse, all of these silenced flashes of human experience get their play time.

The Los Angeles Review, review by Brandon Amico
Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón is musical, emotional, and honest, its verse muscular and unflinching. Limón’s wears her heart on her sleeve, and in this collection that heart takes the form of a huge, pounding horse’s heart. In fact, images of horses and hearts, often together, appear multiple times in the collection, perhaps most notably in the opening poem, “How to Triumph Like a Girl:”…………………….As if this big
dangerous animal is also a part of me,
that somewhere inside the delicate
skin of my body, there pumps
an 8-pound female horse heart,
giant with power, heavy with blood.The Northwest Review of Books, review by Stephanie GlazierIn Bright Dead Things, we read poems of present grief, of her as a young besotted woman, stories of domestic happiness, of failure in and gratitude for love: the poet seems a woman in the middle of her life, reckoning her desires, for belonging, for victory, for getting the dead back. Limón’s poems read as if written by the daughter of Mary Oliver and Wendell Berry—spiritually attuned and redolent with blood. Instead of the poems ending in any settled wisdom, there’s consistently an uplift at the end of her works: as if a breath in. Here in “The Wild Divine” is a teenaged couple sitting in a yard after sex, when the neighbor’s horse wanders over: “and I thought, this was what it was to be blessed— / to know a love that was beyond an owning, beyond / the body and its needs, but went straight from wild / thing to wild thing, approving of its wildness.”

Categories: Bookstore Blogs

Jen's Five Books of Collaboration

Fri, 2017-06-30 16:19
The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland (William Morrow & Company, $35.00)
A brilliant new release! At 750 pages, D.O.D.O. is the longest book I've read in a long time. Initially daunted, I decided to poke my head in after reading the authors' collaboration statements:
"...If the writers aren't in sync, it unravels pretty fast, but if they share a clear vision of the characters and the story -- as Nicki and I did in this case -- then it can come together with surprising ease and swiftness. Once we knew who these people were and what they were going to do, Nicki made a first pass over the opening phase of the book while I ran tech support, tracking the timeline on a spreadsheet and spewing out gobs of techno-gibberish when that was needed. Then she tossed that over to me and I did my bit while she forged ahead. I won't say it was easy but I will say the collaboration went very well, with a lot of humor and a minimum of drama." -NS"This collaboration was great fun, in part because I got to witness Neal spew out gobs of techno-gibberish, which he does very elegantly. Sometimes I felt like Scout to his Atticus (if Atticus were a mad scientist). ... When we had differences of opinion -- which didn't happen much, given the scope of the book -- they were resolved, as Neal has said, with good humor and a minimum of drama. (Confession: I'm more dramatic than Neal.)" -NGFunny! So I read the first page, and then I jumped in and kept going. And it was totally worth it. I've since read it again. Read it, read it! It came out earlier this month, and it's a great take on historians, academics, time travel, magic, and shadowy government organizations.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Speak, $10.99)
Collaboration can work in all sorts of ways, of course. Will Grayson, Will Grayson is one in which the two authors each take a character and write their characters' alternating chapters. Two characters, same name, different stories, different angst, and a late-night meeting by happenstance, with dramatic and ultimately healing effects.

Sorcery and Cecelia, Or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (Harcourt Brace and Company, $7.99)
Sorcery and Cecelia is an epistolary comedy of manners set in Regency England -- well, alternate Regency England, with magic added. It came into being by way of the "letter game," in which two authors become their characters and write letters back and forth to each other in real time, creating and refining the story along the way.

The Fall of the Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (Bantam, $7.99)
Hm. Oddly similar to D.O.D.O. in that it deals with the differing priorities of governance and scholarship, and it explores new ways of bringing history to life. Otherwise, it's rather different.
A sequel of sorts to Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint (and, later, The Privilege of the Sword), this book began with the authors dividing up spheres of influence to focus their writing (the City vs the University), and then they began reworking each other's writing, and reworking the reworkings. 'It is a pretty long book, and I wish I could tell you who wrote what,' says Ellen Kushner. 'But true collaboration is a funny thing: as Neil Gaiman recently told an interviewer (re. his work with Terry Pratchett on Good Omens), “I wrote 90% of the book. The only problem was, [s]he wrote the other 90%.”'

"Kushner and Sherman don’t spin fables or knit fancies: they are world-forgers, working in a language of iron and air." —Gregory Maguire

Welcome to Bordertown: New Stories and Poems of the Borderlands edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner
And, finally, here's a massive collaboration: five anthologies and three novels, set in a shared universe, with many recurring characters and many authors, some of whom started out as fans! Begun over thirty years ago, the Borderlands books were created and curated by an evolving community of authors, including at least three of the aforementioned collaborators. (Four, if you include Neil Gaiman.) They're not available at the Big Blue Marble, but they're worth trying to get your hands on. Here's what I said of Welcome to Bordertown after it came out in 2011:

In the ‘80s and ‘90s came a flood of books from the Borderlands, the newly created edge -- and its floodplain -- between our world and that of Faerie; a place where both magic and technology work ... sometimes. Basically, if you're gonna ride a motorcycle, you want to have some good spells on hand for when the engine cuts out on you. And vice versa. Bordertown is where runaways from both sides of the border go to start a new life. Now the birthplace of urban fantasy is back, and newbies are always welcomed...

Jennifer Sheffield, June 2017
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary - What's your first Harry Potter memory?

Tue, 2017-06-27 16:14
Harry Potter and Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone was first published on June 26, 1997 - 20 years ago! Can you believe it?
Big Blue Marble asked our staff and customers to share their first memories of reading Harry Potter and being seduced by J.K. Rowling's wizarding world. 
If you'd like to share your memory, email us at and we'll post your entry here and in our newsletter.

Deborah Zubow, West Philadelphia: Drinking butter beer at the release party for the second volume. Kids in costume, fake owls hanging from the ceiling. First taste of pepper jelly beans.

Kelly Kuwabara, Philadelphia:  I remember once talking to a stranger on the (NYC) subway, a young man who told me he had never had an interest in reading, but got completely absorbed in the Harry Potter series. He loved those books. He said that after that, he was a lot more interested in books and reading, and expanded to other types of novels and non-fiction. When we struck up our conversation, he was reading Notes of a Native Son.

Katherine Knorr, South Philly: Visiting the official Harry Potter bus with Elliott batTzedek! Also,  I remember having to take the 3am train back to Philly from New York and being salty about missing the earlier one. But then I noticed the Hudson Books was still open and they were setting out copies of the latest HP because it was now officially release day. I bought my copy and sat around Penn Station reading until my train arrived. 

Douglas Gordon, Philadelphia: My primary memory of HP is also a regret: that I've always intended to write a parody called "Larry Porter and the Crumpets of Doom" but have never gotten around to it. 

Nini Engel, Philadelphia: We were living in England for two years, when HP5 Order of the Phoenix came out. We had pre-ordered a copy, but there were five of us, my husband and I, and our three daughters (14, 11 and 7. We spent the entire day, into the night, taking turns reading it aloud to each other. We got several hundred pages in before the youngest went to sleep and the eldest ran off with the book. It was a magical experience, and really, one of my happiest memories of their childhood. 

Lorrie Kim, author of Snape: A Definitive Reading: I was part of a Usenet discussion group fighting an appalling troll. We were so tired of seeing her name that some people suggested we call her "She Who Must Not Be Named." Others had to explain to me that this was a reference to a popular children's series with an unspeakably loathsome villain. I just now realized that this is my very own "Troll in the dungeon!" story. :-)  Little did I know I would end up writing a book about this children's series. 

Elliott batTzedek, Event Coordinator, Big Blue Marble: I first found Harry Potter when I started working at Children's Literacy Initiative. While we only did books for pre-k to 1st grade, HP was on the staff shelf and all the trainers, who had been elementary teachers, talked about it endlessly. I finally read HP1 and HP2, and, honestly, I wasn't completely enchanted. Fun, yes, but they also felt redundant. Something happens in summer, train to school, feast, things happen, Quidditch, Halloween,  Christmas, things happen, more Quidditch, end of school year and dramatic things happen, tests, train home. But then HP3 came out and while the plot time line was the same for the first 3/4 of the book, the last 1/4 was amazing. Suddenly I cared passionately about Harry's parents and their few living friends, about the  people who had fought evil and paid a huge price, and how that after effects of that fight was totally shaping these kids' world in ways they were only beginning to comprehend.  After that it HP all the way, including the wonderful ritual of re-reading each book before the next one came out, and then going to the Midnight release.  I only discovered the Jim Dale audio books when they came out in Digital format and now they are my constant go-to if I need background for doing cleaning or chores or awake at night and needing the familiar to help me get my brain to shut up and go back to sleep.

Mariangela Saavedra: I was working at a daycare center in North Carolina in 2000 and a boy there named Kyle was a 4th grader who I drove on my van from school to the center every day after school was out. Because he was so tall (and also well behaved) he was allowed to sit in the front seat. He had HP3, The Prisoner of Azkaban,  with him on day. It had just been released in the fall (of 1999) and I had never heard of  Harry Potter but he was glued to this book every day. So I asked what it was about. Kyle absolutely lit up when he realized I had no idea about the story and he would be able to tell me everything about it. Starting from the very beginning every day on our 15 min ride from school to the center he would tell me a little more, till one day we caught up to where he was in the book. Everyday after that as he read more he would keep me updated on the story till it was done. Not long after that the 1st movie came out and to my excitement it was exactly as Kyle had described the story to me. A book that could capture the attention of a 9 year old, whose details he could remember perfectly, even though he was now books ahead in the series? This was a book series I had to read for my self. I read the first three in time for HP4 The Goblet of Fire US release and I read every book from then on the weekend they came out. Engrossed by every single one of them. I have loved many a book series in my life. But none as much as I have loved every single book in the Harry Potter Series. I can read them over and over and never tire of them. When we take family vacations we listen to the audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale. I look forward to turning my niece and nephew on to them when they are old enough to read them. It will be a magical time indeed! 

Mary Gaia Prevost: I had initially avoided reading the Harry Potter books due to the “frantic fan frenzy”, but then a friend of mine who needed a distraction as her husband (who worked for the CIA) was going on a dangerous mission overseas. So we went to see the first H.P. movie…and I was HOOKED !!! I immediately went out and bought all the H.P. books that were out (the first 4 books) and was even more amazed. This was also the first time I had ever watched a movie before reading the book AND the first time (after reading the book) that the movie had captured the book almost perfectly. (P.S. the husband returned from the mission safely) 

Categories: Bookstore Blogs

Poetry is Not a Luxury - "Bartram's Garden" by Eleanor Stanford

Thu, 2017-06-15 12:43
Our June, 2017 selection is Philly poet Eleanor Stanford's Bartram's Garden. Eleanor will be joining us for the discussion!
From Brazil’s Bay of All Saints to Philadelphia, from Florida’s brutal humidity to the drought-scorched Cape Verde Islands, Bartram’s Garden takes in the pulse and ache of the natural world: the bittern balanced in the swamp, cashew fruit’s astringent flesh. With a gardener’s eye for color and motif, and a mother’s open-hearted sensibility, these poems explore vivid landscapes both intimate and foreign.

Eleanor Stanford is the author of the new book of poetry, Bartram's Garden (Carnegie Mellon University Press), a memoir, História, História: Two Years in the Cape VerdeIslands (Chicago Centerfor Literature and Photography) and of the poetry collection, The Book of Sleep (Carnegie).
Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, The Harvard Review, The Georgia Review, The Massachusetts Review, Brain, Child Magazine, and others. She is a 2014-2015 Fulbright Fellow to Brazil where she is researching and writing about traditional midwifery in rural Bahia. She is the recipient of a Hadassah Brandeis grant and  was a Henry Hoyns fellow at the University of Virginia, where she earned her M.F.A. She lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and three sons.

ReviewsAll live wonders of the world--humans, plants and animals--are citizens of meaning in these poems. Each poem is a tesseract which reveals the intimate connections between things seemingly at great distance in time and place."​Kazim Ali 
"Sometimes we hurry to grow up too soon, Rilke suggests in the Duino Elegies, and so we may find ourselves suddenly exiled from childhood as from a place we've called 'garden' and have forever lost. Yet such a garden...might still exist if only we could perfect a language to intuit it. Eleanor us that language, by turns synesthetic and elliptical, utterly transportive, reacquainting us with the deep mystery of our lives lived in the womb of the world, attuning us to its sweetnesses as well as its astringencies and to our great arduous task of finding one within the other."Gregory Djanikian 
Flora, fauna, the wild and the domestic, these poems sing gorgeously "with their glowing throats / and feathered tongues."Moira Egan

As luck and timing would have it, I come to Eleanor Stanford’s Bartram’s Garden just as a seemingly infinite number of Brood XXIII cicadas have emerged from their hidey holes in western Kentucky. I can’t imagine a better book to read to the accompaniment of the music of the spheres, as I keep calling the rattling surround sound produced in the resonant abdomens of the male cicadas clinging to the leaves of every tree, bush, and flower in our neighborhood. The last time I heard it — exactly thirteen years ago, in accordance with the periodicity of Brood XXIII — my children, who are now both almost out of the teenage years, were the same age as Stanford’s young children. If the home is a kind of garden, those are the years of near absolute retreat into its sanctuary.  keep reading Ann Neelon

        Late sown, they grow
thrifty; in this narrow
rowhouse kitchen,
we set their two-pronged
hearts in jars of water
on the windowsill.
We have little sun,
less earth, and yet
I want my sons to know
that what feeds them
grows from light.

In candle-lit flickering, you trace 
rib’s slope. Your bed
of dark strata, each seam a deeper
face. Not far from here, a town
built on a mine caught fire
fifty years ago and is still 
burning. Beneath the overburden
of those other lives—friable surface
where residents of small hope
and coal smoke make peanut butter 
sandwiches or bicker, or sing 
their coal-tinged lullabies—we move 
in upcast shadow. Lampless 
and luminous, breath crumbles again 
in the smoldering, the bitumen,
the glittering ore body.

With J., Discussing Grammar in the Anarchist Coffee Shop, West Philadelphia

There is only one kind 
of sentence, you insist:
declarative. Meaning,
when you ask—our hands 
conjugating each other 
across the table—do you
love me, what you are saying
is you love me. Meaning,
the basic unit can only be
affirmative: the soft 
gray rain fogging
the windows. Palm
on palm. Black coffee
in a small tin cup.

Categories: Bookstore Blogs

Poetry is Not a Luxury: Alicia Ostriker, "Waiting for the Light"

Tue, 2017-05-16 15:48
Poetry is Not a Luxury Book Club May 2017Waiting for the Light by Alicia Ostriker 
“‘Let us now praise famous cities,’ says Alicia Ostriker in Waiting for the Light. Indeed, let us now praise these poems, their ferocity, tenderness, intelligence, compassion, and joy. A seeker and seer in the tradition of Whitman, Ostriker searches for the ‘light that stabs me with joy’ amid the sidewalks, schoolyards, marketplaces, and many tongues of her beloved New York, spurred by ‘ancestors who remember tenements.’ A walker in the city and a walker in the world, she knows about the flow of dollars and blood through the streets, speaking fearlessly against whoever crushes the body and the spirit. Wait for the light no longer; the light is right here, in the pages of this book.”
—Martín Espada

“Ostriker so loves the world, its griefs, traumas, praises, mysteries, and joys, that she teaches us to love the world with her—sometimes desperately, heartbrokenly, never despairingly. Ostriker is an essential poet, writing at the height of her powers.”
—Daisy Fried

What is it like living today in the chaos of a city that is at once brutal and beautiful, heir to immigrant ancestors "who supposed their children's children would be rich and free?" What is it to live in the chaos of a world driven by "intolerable, unquenchable human desire?" How do we cope with all the wars? In the midst of the dark matter and dark energy of the universe, do we know what train we're on? In this cornucopia of a book, Ostriker finds herself immersed in phenomena ranging from a first snowfall in New York City to the Tibetan diaspora, asking questions that have no reply, writing poems in which "the arrow may be blown off course by storm and returned by miracle."

Alicia Suskin Ostriker is a major American poet and critic. She is the author of numerous poetry collections, including, most recently, The Old Woman, the Tulip, and the Dog; The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems, 1979–2011; and The Book of Seventy, winner of the National Jewish Book Award. She has received the Paterson Poetry Prize, the San Francisco State Poetry Center Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award, among other honors. Ostriker teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Drew University and is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Poems from Waiting for the LightWaiting for the Light Peaches 
 Biking to the George Washington Bridge
 Essays and Articles Craft Talk: How a Poem Happens  - Daffodils

Article: Alicia Ostriker on Emily Dickinson

Interview:Feminism, Spirituality, and Changing Mores: An Interview in Rain Taxi
Podcast: Commonplace: Conversations with Poets  Alicia Ostriker on the History of Poetry in the City
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

Jen's Five Recommendations for Mother's Day, or for Anytime

Sun, 2017-05-14 11:30
Philadelphia Trees: A Field Guide to the City and the Surrounding Delaware Valley by Edward Barnard, Paul Meyer, and Catriona Briger (Columbia University Press, $19.95)

Blueprint for Revolution: How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World by Srdja Popovic, with Matthew Miller
(Spiegel & Grau, $16.00)

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
(Knopf Publishing, $15.00)

Why I March: Images from the Woman's March Around the World (Abrams Books, $14.95)
Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope--Voices from the Women's March (Artisan Publishers, $14.95)

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman, translation by Henning Koch (Washington Square Press, $16.00)

Jennifer Sheffield, May 2017
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Tiffany Schmidt

Fri, 2017-04-28 18:45
Meet Tiffany SchmidtTiffany Schmidt is the author of Send Me a Sign, Bright Before Sunrise, and Hold Me Like a Breath. She’s found her happily ever after in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles.

You can find out more about her and her books at:,, or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.

Meet Tiffany Schmidt's BooksHold Me Like a BreathThe reviewers say:
 School Library Journal - “A crime narrative that satisfies a craving for suspenseful romance, entertaining adventure, and edge-of-your-seat survival drama.” USA Today - “Pretty dang awesome modern fairy tale. Add this to your must-read pile!”Bustle –“an organ trafficking fairy tale for the ages.”Paste – “a badass way to revamp a classic story.”

In Penelope Landlow's world, almost anything can be bought or sold. She's the daughter of one of the three crime families
controlling the black market for organ transplants. Because of an autoimmune disorder that causes her to bruise easily, Penny is considered too "delicate" to handle the family business, or even to step foot outside their estate.

All Penelope has ever wanted is independence--until she's suddenly thrust into the dangerous world all alone, forced to stay one step ahead of her family's enemies. As she struggles to survive the power plays of rival crime families, she learns dreams come with casualties, betrayal hurts worse than bruises, and there's nothing she won't risk for the people she loves.

Perfect for fans of Holly Black and Kimberly Derting, this first book in the stunning new Once Upon a Crime Family series from acclaimed author Tiffany Schmidt will leave readers breathless.
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Victoria Scott

Fri, 2017-04-28 18:27
Meet Victoria Scott

Victoria Scott is the author of eight novels including TitansFire & Flood, Salt & Stone, the Dante Walker trilogy, Hear the Wolves (March 2017), and Violet Grenade (May 2017). She is published by Scholastic and Entangled Teen, and is represented by Sara Crowe of Pippin Properties.

Victoria’s latest novel, Titans, received two starred reviews, and Fire & Flood has been selected as a 2017 Spirit of Texas Reading Program book. Victoria’s novels have been bought and translated in fourteen foreign markets. The author currently resides in Philadelphia, and loves hearing from her readers.

Here are a few things about Victoria you may want to know:1. She is deathly afraid of monkeys. No animal should look that much like a human.
2. She has a fiery passion for cotton candy. Her husband once drove herto seven different stores looking for the stuff. We they found it, she bought 12 bags.

3. She likes old, creepy-looking trees so much that she actually house-hunted by scouting streets with the best ones.
4. Music. If it’s not loud and angry, she wants no part of it.
5. She was a cheerleader in high school. Like a hard-core competitive cheerleader you see on ESPN(2).
6. It upsets her when YA books feature mean cheerleaders.
7. Her favorite color is yellow. She doesn't feel like it gets near enough street-cred.
8. She can twirl a baton like nobody’s business.
9. Movies with giant, robotic aliens scare her to her core. It could happen. She just knows it.

Meet Victoria Scott's BooksHear the WolvesSloan is a hunter.

So she shouldn't be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it's been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight - it makes her too scared to be on her own.

When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she's already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn't stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that's tied there - their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town.

But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That's when the wolves start hunting them. . .

TitansEver since the Titans appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan's world has revolved around the mechanical horses. It's not just the thrill of the race. It's the engineering of the horses themselves and the way they're programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she'll ever touch.

She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid's who wager on them.

But when Astrid's offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year's derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it's more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Justina Ireland

Fri, 2017-04-28 18:07
Meet Justina Ireland

Justina Ireland enjoys dark chocolate, dark humor, and is not too proud to admit that she’s still afraid of the dark. She lives with her husband, kid, and dog in Pennsylvania. She is the author of Vengeance Bound and Promise of Shadows. Visit her at

Justina has a blog in which she posts anonymous reviews of YA books - anonymous because authors can suffer very real blow-back for calling out racist and other stereotypes in YA books. All of the reviews are deeply thoughtful, and raise important questions. Intrigued? Start with these:
Writing is Hard: Redemption Arcs for Racist Characters
Mulan as an important cultural narrative

Meet Justina Ireland's BookAdjectives most often used in reviews: snarky, sly, darkly funny, ominous, dynamic, tantalizing, diverse  A teen who is half-god, half-human must own her power whether she likes it or not in this snappy, Kirkus Reviews calls “a dark, slyly funny read.”

Zephyr Mourning has never been very good at being a Harpy. She’d rather watch reality TV than learn forty-seven ways to kill a man, and she pretty much sucks at wielding magic. Zephyr was ready for a future pretending to be a normal human instead of a half-god assassin. But all that changed when her sister was murdered—and Zephyr used a forbidden dark power to save herself from the same fate.

On the run from a punishment worse than death, an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend upends Zephyr’s world—and not only because her old friend has grown surprisingly, extremely hot. It seems that Zephyr might just be the Nyx, a dark goddess that is prophesied to shift the power balance: for hundreds of years the half-gods have lived in fear, and Zephyr is supposed to change that.

But how is she supposed to save everyone else when she can barely take care of herself?
snarky novel with a serving of smoldering romance that
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Sonia Belasco

Fri, 2017-04-28 17:36
Meet Sonia Belasco

I have spent much of my professional life working with teenagers as a mentor, tutor and therapist, and I'm often inspired by their passion, creativity and strength. I write because I love stories and I love sharing them. Truly great stories transport you to other places, let you live other lives and be a part of worlds only limited by the scope of your imagination. It's the most affordable way to travel.

Other things I love: TV shows about high school, baking, travel, mysteries where everyone is very British. Hip-hop of all types and flavors (ask me about Tupac vs. Biggie and be prepared to hang out for a while). Attempting cooking experiments. Analyzing pop culture. Photography. Going to live theater. Putting on a show.

Notable accomplishments include: I think I've probably seen every contemporary movie that involves dance battles or superheroes. My cat Moo Cow, a sassy Maine Coon/Angora mix from the mean streets of West Philly,  has an Instagram. I once spent way too much time cataloging my personal library on LibraryThing. I make a killer mix tape, and everything I write has a soundtrack.

I'm a native of Washington, D.C., and I currently live in Philadelphia, PA, where I keep (valiantly!) trying to acquire a taste for cheesesteaks.

Meet Sonia's Highly Anticipated First BookHighly? Who's been anticipating it? Teen Vogue, Bustle, HerCampus, Bookpage, School Library Journal, Girls' Life
Melanie and Damon are both living in the shadow of loss. For Melanie, it's the loss of her larger-than-life artist mother, taken by cancer well before her time. For Damon, it’s the loss of his best friend, Carlos, who took his own life.

As they struggle to fill the empty spaces their loved ones left behind, fate conspires to bring them together. Damon takes pictures with Carlos’s camera to try to understand his choices, and Melanie begins painting as a way of feeling closer to her mother. But when the two join their school’s production of Othello, the play they both hoped would be a distraction becomes a test of who they truly are, both together and on their own. And more than anything else, they discover that it just might be possible to live their lives without completely letting go of their sadness.

Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Margo Rabb

Fri, 2017-04-28 17:17
Meet Margo Rabb Margo Rabb is the author of the novels Kissing in America and Cures for Heartbreak. Her essays, journalism, book reviews, and short stories have been published in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic, Slate, The Rumpus, Zoetrope: All-Story, Seventeen, Best New American Voices, New Stories from the South, One Story, and elsewhere, and have been broadcast on NPR. She received the grand prize in the Zoetrope short story contest, first prize in the Atlantic fiction contest, first prize in the American Fiction contest, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Project Award. Margo grew up in Queens, New York, and has lived in Texas, Arizona, and the Midwest; she now lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and children. Visit her online at

 Meet Margo Rabb's BooksAcclaimed writer Margo Rabb’s Kissing in America is “a wonderful novel about friendship, love, travel, life, hope, poetry, intelligence, and the inner lives of girls,” raves internationally bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). 
 In the two years since her father died, sixteen-year-old Eva has found comfort in reading romance novels—118 of them, to be exact—to dull the pain of her loss that’s still so present. Her romantic fantasies become a reality when she meets Will, who can relate to Eva’s grief. Unfortunately, after Eva falls head-over-heels for him, he picks up and moves to California with barely any warning. Not wanting to lose the only person who has been able to pull her out of sadness—and, perhaps, her first shot at real love—Eva and her best friend, Annie, concoct a plan to travel to the west coast. As they road trip across America, Eva and Annie confront the complex truth about love. 

Cures for Heartbreak A heartfelt novel that Michael Chabon called “sad, funny, smart, and endlessly poignant.” 
Less than two weeks after fifteen-year-old Mia Pearlman’s mother is diagnosed with cancer, she dies, leaving Mia, her older sister, and their father to face this sudden and unfathomable loss. As Mia struggles to navigate her grief, she’s also forced to examine the truth about her parents’ rocky marriage, her unexpected feelings for a guy with leukemia, and the nagging health phobias that plague her on a daily basis. Ultimately, her journey down this road slowly paves the way for hope amid immeasurable loss.

Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids's Lit Fest Author Amy Ignatow

Fri, 2017-04-28 17:02
Meet Amy Ignatow

Amy Ignatow is an illustrator and teacher who has also been a farmer, a florist, a short-order vegan cook, a dancing chicken, an SAT prep instructor, a telefundraiser, a wedding singer, a ghost-writer for internet personal ads, a reporter, and an air-brush face and body painter working under the name "Ooga". She graduated from Moore College of Art and Design and lives in Philadelphia with her husband Mark and their cat, Mathilda, whom they believe to be well-meaning despite all evidence to the contrary.  Her first series of books, The Popularity Papers, is a Big Blue Marble bestseller, with legions of middle-grade fans.

 Meet Amy's New Series! The Mighty Odds is The Breakfast Club for a new generation.
From the renowned author/illustrator of the Popularity Papers series, Amy Ignatow, comes the first installment in a new series about a diverse crew of middle school kids who develop very limited superhero powers after a strange accident and manage to become unlikely friends on the adventure of a lifetime.

When a sweet nerd, an artsy cartoonist, a social outcast, and the most popular girl in school are involved in a mysterious bus accident, this seemingly random group of kids starts to notice some very strange abilities they did not have before. Artsy Martina can change her eye color. Nerdy Nick can teleport . . . four inches to the left. Outcast Farshad develops super strength, but only in his thumbs. And Cookie, the It Girl of school’s most popular clique, has suddenly developed the ability to read minds . . . when those minds are thinking about directions. They are oddly mighty—especially together.

This group—who would never hang out under normal circumstances—must now combine all of their strengths to figure out what happened during the bus accident. With alternating narratives from each of the heroes, including illustrated pieces from Martina, and featuring bold female superheroes and a multicultural cast, The Mighty Odds is The Breakfast Club for a new generation.
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Julie Fortenberry

Tue, 2017-04-25 22:14
Meet Julie Fortenberry

a portrait of Julie by her husband DonI'm part of a family of artists. My husband is a painter. My son is also an artist, and my daughter is a choreographer and dancer.

I have an MFA in painting from Hunter College. My abstract artwork has been exhibited in solo and group shows in galleries including White Columns and the Whitney Museum of American Art. 

For information on how I work, please see my conversation with Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. To read my essay on the value of public libraries, please visit the Children's Book Council.

Meet Julie's Book
Lily's Cat Mask  Armed with a vivid imagination and her trusty cat mask, Lily can take on anything--even a new school...

But when her teacher tells her no masks allowed in class, Lily worries, can she make friends without it?

Anyone who has been daunted by a new experience, or struggled to put on a good face, will relate to Lily. Whimsical art brings Lily, her father, and her new classmates to life, with text that begs to be read aloud. Perfect for Father's Day, back to school, and even Halloween--Lily and her grinning cat mask are sure to make you smile back.
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Sandy Asher

Tue, 2017-04-25 21:46
Meet Sandy Asher
One of my happiest childhood memories is of the many hours I spent in the children’s reading room of the Free Library at Logan Square in Philadelphia, PA, where I grew up. Way back then, I thought there could be nothing more wonderful than to write a book someone would love as much as I loved my favorites. I still think so.

And I still love to visit libraries.

I began creating plays in second grade at James G. Blaine Elementary School.  That was my idea of “let’s pretend” — making up stories to be acted out, telling my friends where to stand, what to say, and when to say it.  I guess they enjoyed it as much as I did, because we rehearsed a lot and performed for our class and, eventually, the entire school.   My teachers were always encouraging, even those I lampooned mercilessly in my script for the senior class play, “My Fair Bear,” at Germantown High.  They let me graduate anyway.

Sandy's cat FridayMy professional writing career began with the publication of poems in literary journals and stories, poems, and articles in children’s magazines, including Highlights for Children, Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine, and Weekly Reader.  The playwriting continued, too, with several plays in Plays Magazine.  My first book for young readers, SUMMER BEGINS, was published in 1980. Since then, I’ve written 25 more — YA novels, chapter books for middle schoolers, and picture books for the very young.

Meet Sandy's Books
Chicken Story Time

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to story time at the library, of course!  The children like the chicken, the chicken likes the children, and everyone loves story time. So it’s no surprise that more children (and more chickens!) get in on the fun until there are more kids and critters than the librarian knows what to do with. Luckily, she comes up with a creative solution and manages to find little R & R for herself.

Too Many Frogs
Rabbit lives alone. He cooks for himself, cleans up for himself, and at the end of the day, reads himself a story. It's a simple life, and he likes it. But one evening, Froggie shows up at his door. He wants to listen to Rabbit's story, too. While eating a snack-or three. While lounging on a pillow-or ten. And bringing over his family-dozens and dozens of frogs! Rabbit has finally had enough; Froggie will have to go! But when he sits down alone to read himself a story, Rabbit realizes something is missing: someone to listen; someone to share a wonderful story.
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Mônica Carnesi

Tue, 2017-04-25 19:56
Meet Mônica Carnesi
Mônica grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She has always loved drawing and painting, and everything related to illustration: paint, brushes, pencils, color pencils, blank notebooks, art supply stores, libraries, bookstores, picture books, you get the idea.

Her love of illustration and of books led her to another career: she's a librarian at The Free Library of Philadelphia.  A perfect fit for her interests!

She loves dogs too. Growing up, her first dog was a little mutt named Snoopy. Now she and her husband have a silly little terrier mix name Giovanni

Curious about how to pronounce her name?  Click here.

Meet Mônica's Books Sleepover with Beatrice & Bear

When Bear sits on Beatrice's carrots while beehive watching, he doesn't make a very good first impression. However, despite a rocky beginning, the bear and the bunny become great friends sharing adventures all through the spring, summer, and fall. Then one day Beatrice can't find her pal, and Squirrel informs her that he's hibernating—a long winter sleep. Beatrice loves the idea and soon joins Bear. "Really? Bunnies hibernate too?" "Definitely!" said Beatrice. "Bunnies are GREAT hibernators." 

But as Bear drops off to sleep, poor Beatrice can only toss and turn. Finally giving up, she leaves the den declaring, "Winter is ruined!" But with the help of Squirrel, Beatrice puts her friendless time to good use, and when Bear awakens, she greets him with a scrapbook of the season. This wonderful book is filled with pictures, drawings, and notes that they can read together again and again. - School Library Journal

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic This dramatized version of a true story involves a little brown dog that was spotted in 2010 floating on a chunk of iceberg down Poland’s Vistula River toward the Baltic Sea. Children summon firefighters, and a human chain is made to try to save the animal, but the current pulls too quickly. Night comes but yet the mutt survives: “Dog’s thick fur keeps him warm. But Dog is wet and tired and hungry. And he is scared. Don’t be scared, Dog!” Finally a research vessel spots the dog and, despite a tense moment when Dog slips into the water, succeeds in bringing him aboard, where, to this day, he remains a happy crew member. 

 Though delivered simply, this tale is intrinsically powerful—kids know how slippery ice can be, and Dog’s loneliness and helplessness is similarly relatable. Carnesi’s soft, comforting watercolors make great use of wide tableaux of tiny Dog almost lost among the huge sea of blue water and white icebergs. A short but informative author’s note closes out this inspirational, heart-tugging offering. - Booklist
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Judy Schachner

Tue, 2017-04-25 19:28

Meet Judy Schachner
 Judy Schachner was born into an Irish Catholic working class family from New England. Money was as tight as their apartment was tiny and though she may not have had the easiest of childhoods, she credits her imagination with helping her survive it.

She can’t ever remember a time when she was not drawing and like most budding artists she doodled on everything, including her father’s bald head. She drew herself into stories where she was the smartest in her class and into a family where mothers lived to be a ripe old age. In many ways, Judy feels that her own life has resembled the fairy tales she loved reading as a child, complete with a happy ending. And the best part of this author/illustrator’s story? She married a prince of a guy and they had two beautiful daughters and just like the mothers in her earliest tales, she plans on living to a ripe old age.

Described by the New York Times as “…something like the James Joyce for the elementary school – set…”, Judy Schachner is the #1 NY Times Best Selling Author/Illustrator of over 23 books for children including Bits & Pieces, the Skippyjon Jones series, Yo Vikings, The Grannyman and Willy and May. She has won many awards including the first E. B. White Read Aloud Award.

Meet Judy's Books 
Skippyjon Jones! Need we say more? Who would have guessed books about a Siamese kitten who dreams he is a crime-fighting Chihuahua could have won over a generation of parents and kids?

Whenever Judy visits the store her young fans come out in droves, so come early on the 20th to meet her and get your signed books!

Between now and then, you can feed your Skippyjon frenzy with these great webcasts of his adventures.

The GrannymanThe Grannyman is one of Event Coordinator Elliott's favorite picture books ever  - that story of Simon, a very old cat who's just about ready to give up after a long and fulfilling life. But his family has a creative solution to get rid of Simon's doldrums: a new kitten! The unexpected companion lifts Simon's spirits and gives him lots to do and lots to look forward to. Simon's caring ways with the kitten earn him a nickname, and a place in the hearts of readers of all ages.

As much as she loves the book,though, Elliott does advise that getting her 16 year old cat a kitten did NOT create the inspiration for a sweet children's story.
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author Ame Dyckman

Wed, 2017-04-19 21:16
Meet Ame Dyckman 

Ame Dyckman is short, loud, mischievous, and often dresses like her book characters. (SEE?!) She’s also the award-winning, internationally-translated author of the fantastically illustrated (THANKS, illustrators!) picture books BOY + BOT, TEA PARTY RULES, the New York Times bestselling WOLFIE THE BUNNY, HORRIBLE BEAR!, YOU DON’T WANT A UNICORN! (on sale February 14, 2017!), and more picture books and board books in the works! 
According to Dyckman, she was the type of child who always had her nose in a book. “And Band-Aids on my knees, ’cause when your nose is always in a book, you run into a lot of stuff,” she adds. Her favorite books from her childhood include Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, the  Frog & Toad stories by Arnold Lobel, and the George and Martha stories by James Marshall. 
“Something about highly-emotional characters and friendships despite differences appealed  to me even when I was little,” she says. Although Dyckman was always interested in becoming a children’s author, it wasn’t the first profession she tried. “I had a bunch of pre-author jobs ranging from serious assistant at a world-famous institute of higher education to not-so-serious costumed character,” she says. “I rocked Daffy Duck!" 
Ame lives in central New Jersey with her family, ridiculously big-eared cat, book collection, closet full of hair dye colors, and of course, the characters from her stories. (For reals! She’s currently building a homemade swimming pool for the protagonist of her upcoming series, MISUNDERSTOOD SHARK—mostly so she can have her bathtub back.)

Meet Ame's Books  You Don't Want a Unicorn
Watch the hilarious trailer!
"Climo's rainbow-bright illustrations take Dyckman's silly premise to a whole new level of absurdity.... This is a crowd-pleaser, complete with cupcake poops and rainbow burps, and...a welcoming and unobtrusive gender-nonconforming vibe."―Horn Book
When a little boy throws a coin in a well asking for a pet unicorn, he has no idea what kind of trouble he's in for. Unbeknownst to him, unicorns make the absolutely worst pets: they shed, they poke holes in your ceiling, and they make a big mess. With a knowing wink from Ame Dyckman, creator of Wolfie the Bunny and cheerful illustrations from Rory the Dinosaur creator and Tumblr star Liz Climo, this rollicking story shares all of the ways a pet unicorn can ruin your life, and is sure to have readers in stitches.

Wolfie the Bunny

When the Bunny family finds a little bundle of joy—that happens to be a wolf—on their doorstep, they are smitten. Well, except for little Dot, who exclaims repeatedly, "He's going to eat us all up!!" Even her friends agree, but Dot's parents are captivated by the adorable baby—he's a good eater, sleeper, and drooler, they note. As Wolfie grows, Dot's worry is compounded with annoyance as he follows her everywhere in typical little brother-style. Having to go to the store for more carrots with Wolfie (who ate them all up!) makes Dot less than pleased, and she is on guard lest he tries to eat her. The fact that Wolfie is wearing an endearing bunny outfit does not make her feel better, but it does make the bear at the market think that Wolfie would make a yummy meal. Rather than run for safety, Dot terrifies the bear with tough talk of eating him up and saves Wolfie, who thanks her by pouncing on her with a big hug. The now-bonded siblings walk home hand in hand. The text is seamlessly integrated with the illustrations and uses various fonts to good effect. OHora's acrylic paintings are the heart of this tale. They clearly show everyone's feelings from fear to sadness to joy to anger to love and everything in between, and there are brilliant bits of humor and whimsy added to the mix. VERDICT A great book for one-on-one sharing that's also sure to be a storytime hit.— School Library Journal, Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH 
A Bank Street College Best Children's Book of 2016 Parents Magazine Best Fictional Picture Book 2015 ASLC Notable Book for Children SLJ Best of the Year NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing The Huffington Post Best Picture Books 2015 Wilde Award Best Picture Books Ages 4-8

Categories: Bookstore Blogs

2017 Kids' Lit Fest Author C. Alex London

Wed, 2017-04-19 20:29

Meet Alex London

C. Alexander London (Alex) has written books for children, teens, even a few for grown-ups. He’s the author of The Wild Ones series, Dog Tags and Tides of War series, as well as the Accidental Adventures and two titles in The 39 Clues series for young readers.

His young adult debut, Proxy, was an American Library Association Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Readers and included on their 2014 Best Fiction For Young Adults list. Proxy is a 2015 Texas Lone Star Reading List and TAYSHAS Reading List selection, a 2016 Intermediate Sequoyah Masterlist selection in Oklahoma, and has been on many state reading lists including Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri. The sequel, Guardian, is available now.

His books for adults include One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War and National Jewish Book Award finalist Far From Zion.

Alex was born in Baltimore, Maryland and moved to New York to attend Columbia University. He graduated with a degree in philosophy and earned his Masters Degree in Library Science from Pratt Institute.

At one time a journalist reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he has recently moved from Brooklyn, NY, to Philadelphia, PA where he can be found wandering the streets talking to his dog, who is the real brains of the operation.

5 Fun Facts About Alex, From Alex

  1. I spent a month as the Maryland State Jr. Skeet Shooting Champion because I was the only one entered in the “Junior” Category. It might actually have been in Delaware. My triumph didn’t last.
  2. My full name is Charles Alexander London because my parents saw the monogram “CAL” on a towel in Macy’s and liked how it looked. They did not buy the towel that I am named after.
  3. I was born three months premature and lived in an incubator for quite a while. I weighed less than two pounds and slept on a Ziploc bag filled with water that the nurses could jiggle when I forgot to breathe. I think I’ve been drawn to those breathless moments in life ever since. Also, I still love Ziploc bags.
  4. I don’t remember how to write cursive.
  5. I quit my job as an assistant to a movie agent in order to get a Master’s in Library Science because of a speech Chris Crutcher gave. At the time, I hadn’t read a single one of his books.

  Meet Alex's Books Proxy “Put down what you’re doing and read this book. Right now. The complex characters, intricate world, and blistering pace are off-the-charts amazing.” —Marie Lu, author of the Legend trilogy
Marie Lu and Alex discuss debt and dystopias

Syd’s life is not his own. As a proxy he must to pay for someone else's crimes. When his patron Knox crashes a car and kills someone, Syd is branded and sentenced to death. The boys realize the only way to beat the system is to save each other so they flee. The ensuing cross-country chase will uncover a secret society of rebels, test the boys' resolve, and shine a blinding light onto a world of those who owe and those who pay.This fast-paced thrill ride of a novel is full of breakneck action, shocking twists and heart-hammering suspense that will have readers gasping until the very last page.

Whipping Boy + Blade Runner with a sprinkling of The Hunger Games (plus, of course, a dash of A Tale of Two Cities) = a treat for teen SF fans.” —Kirkus Reviews

The Wild Ones 
Raccoon hero Kit and his ragtag community of creatures will sneak their way into your imagination and steal your heart. They may pick your pocket, too, but they’ll take you on an adventure you won’t soon forget. This is a fantasy that kids will adore (and quick-of-paw parents will steal). A wild ride from a wildly imaginative author.”–Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan and the bestselling Animorphs series

Kit is a young raccoon who has lived his whole life under the Big Sky. But when a pack of hunting dogs destroy his home and kill his parents, Kit needs to escape.

He finds himself in Ankle Snap Alley, a city in the midst of a turf war between the Wild Ones and the people’s pets who call themselves The Flealess. There he uncovers the secret that they died for–an ancient truce that gives Ankle Snap Alley to the Wild Ones. But the Flealess will stop at nothing to keep that secret buried forever, and Kit is in serious danger. Only the brave of heart and quick of paw can save the Wild Ones now.

Perfect for fans of the Warriors, Spirit Animals, or Redwall series, this first book in the Wild Ones epic is sure capture young readers’ imaginations and take them on a great adventure.
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

Poetry Is Not a Luxury: Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was an Aztec

Mon, 2017-04-17 17:20
Poetry is Not a Luxury April 2017 Natalie Diaz, When My Brother was an Aztec

NATALIE DIAZ’s poetry is raw, rhythmic, and tender. The New York Times called her debut, When My Brother Was an Aztec (2012), an “ambitious… beautiful book.” Pima and Mojave, and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian community, Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She earned her BA from Old Dominion University, where she received a full athletic scholarship and majored in English and Women’s Studies. She went on to play basketball professionally in Europe and Asia before returning to Old Dominion to earn an MFA in Creative Writing.

Poems from the Collection
My Brother at 3 a.m.

 Abecedarian Requiring Further Examination of Anglikan Seraphym Subjugation of a Wild Indian Rezervation

 No More Cake Here

My Brother My Wound

Natalie Diaz reading selections from the book 

Adrian Matejka on the work of Natalie Diaz
It's tempting to get caught up in the biographical elements of Natalie Diaz's writing. The poems, as well as her author bio and interviews, invite the reader to draw direct connections between her varied identities—Mojave, a former pro-basketball player, an MFA-holder, and an archivist of Indigenous languages—and those of the speaker in her first collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec. Diaz has done so many different kinds of things that her stories have stories, but what she does on the page is much more dexterous and surprising than confessionalism or any of its variant offshoots. When My Brother Was an Aztec is a spacious, sophisticated collection, one that puts in work addressing the author's divergent experiences—whether it be family, skin politics, hoops, code switching, or government commodities.
From a review in The Rumpus

Fortunately for us, the poems in Diaz’s commanding debut poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, don’t rely on the angels. They embrace what Lorca called the duende: the kind of force and struggle that—unlike the angel and the muse— “surges up, inside, from the soles of the feet.” They aren’t the kind of perfect, crystalline poems that seem to have fallen from the heavens. These are rangy, muscled works that have both a dancer’s grace and a mechanic’s oil-stained hands.

Interviews with Natalie Diaz
The Poetry Foundation

ND: Sometimes people are overwhelmed by the violence in my poems. I guess, when we see someone’s heart ripped out, we tend to look away—we question why we had to see it. I do not deny that violence, not in real life or in my work. I cannot unsee what I’ve seen. But I hope my poems also remind people of the humanity that exists in the midst of it.
Kenyon Review 

ND: The body is urgent. The neuropathy in my mother’s feet, the press of my lover’s hips, the ache in my jaw after my root canal this morning, the flinch in my student’s mouth when he said his grandmother passed. The urgency is that we are all connected. Our desires to survive. The urgency is that we are all of the same energy, connected. There is a light in me that is a light in you that is the light in a deer or a jaguar—the energy of life. The beautiful urgency of light, like a thread tethered around all of our wrists, making us touch one another, hit one another, beckon one another.
PBS Newshour conversation with Natalie Diaz on video (4+ minutes)

Natalie Diaz on the physicality of writing

I believe I came to poetry from around the corner. From a cul-de-sac really. On a rez far from where poetry ever visited. The cavalry visited. The ARMY. The railroad. They all visited. Not poetry.

Maybe what I mean is that I need the rigor and radicalism of friendship to be a poet, to be anything, really. I have found those friendships in poetry, but I found them by letting poetry be a small part of them. Language is why I am at poetry. Anger is why I am at poetry. Architecture is why I am at poetry. Haptics is why I am at poetry. My brother is why I am at poetry. The field or cave beyond myself where I go when I touch my lover is why I am at poetry.

Poetry is a thing I do with the love and chaos I feel for my beloveds and this land and the energy in every living being. It is a room to enter. There are a thousands ways to enter that room. I want to try them all. 
Categories: Bookstore Blogs

National Poetry Month at Big Blue Marble

Mon, 2017-03-27 18:18
While we ALWAYS have poetry happening at Big Blue Marble, we have plenty of special guests coming up for National Poetry Month.  Join us to hear old favorites and fresh new voices all month long! April 1st - 9th     
Canterbury Challenge
Recite the first 10 (or more) lines of the Prologue from memory and receive 10% off any one item. Give us your best Middle English - no one will critique the accent, we promise!

Thursday, April 6 @ 7:00pm      
We are not maps, nothing leads us to each other: 3 Poets

Big Blue Marble is proud to welcome back three of Philly's best poets: Alison Hicks, Amy Small-McKinney, and Catherine Bancroft. Alison and Amy both have new books to celebrate - Alison's You Who Took the Boat Out, coming in March 2017 from Unsolicited Press, and Amy's Walking Toward Cranes, winner of the Kithara book Prize from Glass Lyre Press. All 3 poets prove that lyric poetry is the most powerful way to bring to light the hardest emotional journeys - while not all great truths are conveyed as great art, all great art conveys great truths.

Saturday, April 8 @   7:00pm      
Recognition is something very like godliness: 4 writers

Big Blue is happy to welcome two of our own, one returning guest, and one poet new to our store: Hal Sirowitz, Minter Krotzer, Philip Fried, and Ethel Rackin. Through lyric, pastiche, history, humor, essays, and memoir, all four writers engage in "elegant quarrels with the cruelty and ignorance of the world or, more precisely, its inhabitants." (as one reviewer describes Fried's work). If you love words that make you think with your head, heart, and gut, there is no other place to be.

Thursday 4/13 @ 7pm Thrumming just beneath the surface: 3 Poets
Big Blue Marble is thrilled to welcome 3 Philly poets as they read at the store for the first time! Shy Watson, Amy Saul-Zerby, and Alina Pleskova describe their work as modern, feminist, zany, dark, casual, lyrical, angry, and direct, with erotic undertones. Amy Saul-Zerby is the managing editor of the spoken word-based publication Voicemail Poems & lives in Philadelphia.
Alina Pleskova is the coeditor of bedfellows, a literary magazine focused on narratives of sex/desire/intimacy, & cohost of Poetry Jawns, a podcast. Shy Watson is a poet & painter living in Philadelphia. She has two chapbooks, AWAY STATUS & my parents were going to give me your name if i was born a boy (Bottlecap Press 2016, 2017). She is the poetry editor for fields magazine.

Saturday, April 15  @ 7:00pm      
The Body and the Machine

Poets Leah Falk and Lee Nussbaum Fogel present an evening of words exploring bodies and visions. Leah Falk is a poet whose work has appeared in Kenyon Review, FIELD, Blackbird, and many other journals. She runs programming at the Writers House at Rutgers University-Camden. Lee Nussbaum Fogel is a Somatic Movement Educator, Reiki practitioner, and Interdisciplinary Artist who helps people live out their callings in accordance with their wellbeing and bodies' wisdom. She is the director and founder of The Visioning Body and teaches and performs throughout and beyond Philadelphia.

Thursday April 20 @ 7pmThe Poetry in Numbers: Mathematics and Optometry
Most poets have a day job - but not every poet is a professor of mathematics or 4th year student in Optometry. The poems in Marion Deutsche Cohen's latest bookTruth and Beauty continue the conversations she held with her students in her literature and mathematics course ‘Truth and Beauty.’ Jonathan Jacesko is a 4th year student at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University. In his spare time he began writing eye care-related poems in the styles of Dr. Suess and Shel Silverstein, and from those created a book illustrated by other optometry students While these works started out as a way to get a laugh out of classmates, a first place finish in the school talent show led to many suggestions that the poems become a book. To make these poems come to life in pictures he worked with talented optometry students from across the country. They created black-and-white line drawings as well as eye-care related coloring pages and mazes. In every way the book is intended to be a fun and interactive celebration of eye care.

Friday April 21st   @ 7pm Writing for the Sake of the World: Women Poets  Join us for an evening of poetry on behalf of our world – urban and wild communities, endangered species, the rights and lives of those whose voices are censored and muffled. Line up to be announced.

Wednesday, April 26 @ 7:00pm       Poetry Is Not a Luxury Book Club: When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
A monthly book club led by Elliott batTzedek, MFA, where we'll use the best contemporary poets to explore the most urgent social issues. Each month we'll focus on a different book, along with individual poems from other poets addressing similar issues.
  Thursday April 27     
Poem in Your Pocket Day
 It's national Poem in Your Pocket Day! To celebrate, we invite you to come read us a poem from your pocket (or recite a poem from your head) and get 10% off an item. Don't have a poem? Pick one up from us!   Friday, April 28 @ 7:15pm     
Poetry Aloud & Alive with  Featured reader: Victoria Peurifoy
 Everyone's favorite neighborhood poetry gathering. Hosted by Mike Cohen and Dave Worrell, with a featured reader followed by an open mic. 
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