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In honor of our 25th Anniversary, Mrs. Nelson's and our publisher partners are donating books for school libraries! On November 1st, we held the drawing and the following schools won:
- St. Louise de Marillac
- Sellers Elementary
- Gardenhill Elementary
- Ekstrand School
- Mountain View Elementary (Claremont)
- Foothill Country Day School
- Gladstone elementary
- Shull Elementary
- Sonrise Christian (Ruddock)
- Barhart School
- Fairplex Child Development Center
- Sycamore Elementary (Claremont)
- St Joseph
- Rowland Avenue Elementary
- Ramona Junior High School Library
All of these schools will be receiving a donation of books from Scholastic, Penguin Young Readers, SourceBooks, Little Brown Young Readers and more.
Thanks to everybody who came in to register your school for the drawing!
Judy Nelson, founder and owner of Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Book Shop, blogs about her 25 years of children's bookselling:
When I started Mrs. Nelson’s Toy and Book Shop back in October, 1985, I knew I would love what I was doing…and I have. But I didn’t know to what extent it would enrich the lives of myself and my family.
My husband, Byron, and our 4 children have been immersed in the Mrs. Nelson’s life of wonderful books and all that comes with it. We’ve become friends with so many other book lovers…families, teachers and librarians, authors and illustrators and publishers. Over the past 25 years, we’ve employed 100’s of people…teenagers, moms and retired folks looking for a nice place to spend a few hours of their new-found free time. People who enjoy children’s books, whether it’s reading them or creating them or selling them, are really nice people. The lives of the Nelson family has been enriched in so many ways by all the nice people we’ve met along the way.
A few of the many memorable moments in my life as a bookseller:
- The first author/illustrator to autograph at my store was Bill Peet, the all-time favorite of our entire family. He was mobbed by customers, signing for 5 hours and enjoying every moment of talking with each of his fans.
- A few years after we opened our store in LaVerne, a young girl (about 5 years old) came in with her mother. She brought a lovely home-grown bouquet of flowers for Mrs. Nelson (whoever she was…there must really be one!) because she loved coming into the store so much.
- At school book fairs, it was not uncommon for a child to approach me because he/she just had to talk to me about a favorite book.
- David Shannon made his first appearance at our store with his visiting mother who witnessed for the first time her son’s popularity as a children’s book author and illustrator.
- Hilary Knight was so overwhelmed with the number of fans who came to see him that he pulled out his camera and took a picture of all of them.
Two of our 4 children, Laura and Patrick, are now working with us, managing our book fair and library services divisions. They and Andrea are continuing and expanding on the work that my husband and I started 25 years ago.
Yes, it’s been a satisfying business to be a part of. Thanks to all of you for supporting us and for being a part of our book-loving family.
Judy Nelson, founder of Mrs. Nelson's, was interviewed by David Allen for the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Click Here for the full article!
Every book, like every baby, comes to us differently. Sure, the basic mechanics, egg, sperm, character, plot are the same, but still. The traditional, courtship, (love, marriage,) process in publishing goes like this:
1. You think of an idea and write the best possible book you can.
2. An editor gets a hold of your manuscript, reads it and loves it.
3. She defends it at an acquisition meeting, selling everyone on its merits and appropriateness for their list.
4. She succeeds and tells you or your agent. Everyone is happy.
5. A contract is negotiated and signed.
6. Editing begins. Compromises are made between author and editor with the well being of their beloved book in mind.
7. The book is published and released. Hooray!
That was pretty much how it went for my first four picture books and thirteen novels, except for one editor's mid-book retirement and one messy divorce.
But my newest baby, The Not So-Great-Depression, (in which the economy crashes, my mom goes broke, my sister's plans are ruined, my dad grows vegetables, and I do not get a hamster) followed a slightly different path to publication.
It all began on Bloody Thursday. That was the day the grim reaper of finances slashed through the publishing world, firing editors and assistants, closing whole imprints, canceling contracts and basically freaking out everyone in the business. The kid-lit-osphere reeled in circles shrieking in terror.
I sent Lauren, a woman I'd worked with at Roaring Brook Press, a sympathy e-mail saying I hoped she wasn't swept away in this grim blood bath. She wrote back that this mess, not just in publishing, but in every aspect of the economy was going to affect kids for a long time to come, and didn't I think there was a book in this?
Ew. A book on the economic downturn sounded so text-book dreary and math-like!
But my husband disagreed. He said it didn't have to be a bit dull or mathy. He insisted that reversals of fortune, the abrupt and unexpected game change is the stuff of great literature. So although I'd never had a book idea handed to me from outside my own thoughts before, I wrote back to Lauren and said I'd give it a try.
That was the first pattern-breaker in this process.
Of course within days at the keyboard the main character, Jacki became real to me, her family and friends rose up and took form and their world surrounded me. Once everyone was breathing on their own, I clued my agent in and let him and the publisher hash out the sticky parts.
Meanwhile, the assignment I gave my self was to make Jacki optimistic. I wanted her to be one of those cheerful kids who naturally look on the bright side of things without slithering into the annoyingly up-beat. My characters are usually neurotic, snaky and pessimistic so it was a huge challenge to fight my natural crabbiness, and let Jacki sparkle. Hard but fun. Jacki cracked me up repeatedly.
The book and I worked together for several happy months. There was a bit of a rush on this, though, because the publisher wanted it to pub while the economy was still failing so kids could read it while they or their friends and relatives were going through the same thing. It turned out, of course, sadly for all, that there was ultimately no rush as families are still losing their houses, and jobs at a hefty clip today. None the less, I got the first draft done in record time, and that's when I came upon the second break in the usual publishing pattern. The book didn't have an editor!
Lauren, who'd hatched the idea, wasn't an editor. She worked in marketing. And all the in-house editors had their own towering stacks of beloved projects with deadlines. Plus, since Bloody Thursday practically everyone in the industry had tripled their workload to cover for co-workers who'd been fired.
They had to hire a free-lance editor for my novel. Someone who wouldn't necessarily have chosen my manuscript out of the pile. Someone who didn't already love Jacki, or think she was funny. Someone paid by the hour to care about my baby.
It would not be this editor's job to usher my book all the way through to publication process. It would not be her job to confer with the art director about the cover, or send me my very first advance copy. She wouldn't be there to cheer or squee with me over good reviews, or share in any way in the book's future. It was not "our" book.
The freelancer they hired read the story and gave me editing suggestions on the phone, period. She was not hired to fight with me or insist I take her suggestions. She was nice, and then she was gone.
A weird loneliness took over. An insecurity. Being a writer is a pretty isolated life to start with, but take away the involvement of an invested, dedicated, editor... and brrrrr! It's mighty cold out there!
As much as we all complain about being edited, we need to have someone sharp looking over our shoulders, watching our backs, making sure we're not trotting out there with toilet paper stuck to our shoe or two Thursdays in a week.
My book was assigned next to a line editor to catch repetitions, misplaced commas, spelling. And then it was done.
All this is just a long, and I hope not dull explanation of the different journey my new baby The Not-So-Great Depression has taken to be here today. I dearly hope she doesn't show any bad effects from her unusual birth process. I love her with all my heart and hope you will too.
For a copy of Amy's latest and to learn how to meet her this weekend, click here or look below!
Blog Entry from Lauren --
Did you know that syngenesophobia is the fear of relatives? Everybody is afraid of something, be it family or something more conventional, like spiders- and fear is the topic of Gitty Daneshvari's two hilarious books, School of Fear and School of Fear: Class is Not Dismissed! The School of Fear series is perfect for any kid (and adult - I loved them too!) who enjoys a good adventure tempered with eccentric humor. We've had Gitty at the store once before and she is just as warm and funny as her books. If you come to this event you are sure to have a great time, or at least a memorable one - last year Gitty's purse accidentally dialed 911 on her cell phone, which brought the police to Mrs. Nelson's! Hopefully this year won't be quite as eventful :). This is a visit that shouldn't be missed!
Have you not heard about the amazing new book/science kit Potato Chip Science? Well, you're missing out. This kit, all packaged in a potato chip bag, includes enough materials to do all sorts of science projects. But don't take my word for it, check out the video here --
A blog entry from Andrea --
Occasionally I pick up details about this parent or that organization that has decided to challenge a particular book for a school or library. This makes me feel ill. I suspect at a gut level my reaction stems from the sense that no one has the right to determine what is appropriate for another person, especially in reading material. Censorship is something we as Americans do not promote or espouse.
I am not implying that anyone must be forced or have their child forced to read a book that against their familial or personal belief system. But American rights go both ways. These individuals do not have the right to force denial of a book to me or my child.
Yesterday I discovered that Wesley Scroggins posted this piece in his local paper. He goes from complaining about the district’s sex education program (last I checked, parents had to sign permission slips for sex ed) to describing the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson in pretty prurient terms. In fact by concentrating on less than three pages of the book--which he defines as “soft pornography”--he makes it clear that he read only those three pages, but not whether he actually read enough of the book to know what the story is truly about. This is a book about a young lady having the courage to speak about a horrible event, though she comes from a background that has not provided her with any support.
It seems to me that we would hope for our children to be able to speak out against things that are bad, wrong, immoral, or hurtful—for themselves or another person. For our children to be able to support their peers that do speak out seems like a fairly positive value as well.
I have met Ms. Anderson and I have read all of her books. Unlike pornography, this is not meant to excite or titillate. It should be gut-wrenching to read Speak, and it is. I have also met the kids, girls and boys, who wanted to hear Ms. Anderson speak because this book struck a nerve. I know counselors who share this book with those kids that need to find a voice. The ones who have been raped, abused, ignored, or hurt in some way that you pray to God they can get past. This book may help them heal and find a voice to say what needs to be said.
I don’t think we can improve our kids by ignoring the worst things that can happen to people. I think we need to provide our kids with strength and empathy. I bought Speak for my young daughter already. She may not be reading it any time soon, but she will read it. And for the future, I pray that your kids will get to read it as well.
Banned Book Week starts in six days. Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak has recently been challenged in a Springfield, Missouri newspaper. She speaks out against it on her own blog.
Publisher's Weekly talked with local illustrator-extraordinaire Marla Frazee about her hilarious new picture book Boss Baby.
Check out the interview, just click here.
Boss Baby --The rules of a house change once Boss Baby arrives. His every demand and whim must be met by his employees (aka his parents). He screams and wails, he's fussy and angry and must be waited on hand-and-foot. Frazee's charming tale of how parents' lives revolve around a new born is both hilarious and well-told. Her seemingly simple illustrations only add to the ridiculousness of Boss Baby in his pin-striped onesie. Ages 4-8 and anyone with a new baby in their lives!
Even as a kid, I noticed this: there is a dearth of female role models. I don't mean there aren't enough women to admire - hardly! But I just didn't hear much about them when I was younger. Jennifer Fosberry takes care of that with her wonderful new picture book My Name is Not Isabella. Isabella is a little girl who dreams big - she pretends to be Sally Ride, Annie Oakley (a personal favorite!), Rosie Parks, Marie Curie, Elizabeth Blackwell, and her own mother. After Isabella goes to bed and the story ends, there's a list of the women mentioned along with a brief profile, and a bibliography.
Jennifer Fosberry wrote a book that is fun and self-empowering and best of all, she's coming to Mrs. Nelson's! She'll be in the store Mon. Sept. 20th at 4:00 - you can come and listen to her speak, get copies of the book signed (I'm sure we all know at least one girl or guy who could use some heroes!) and ask questions.
I just hope she has another book in the works - and I plan to ask her!