My Evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson

April 8, 2014

by Rob Eckman

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Excerpts from my Journal of Unusual Book signing Events:

Six unusual items that three amazing booksellers assisted author and inspiration-to-the-masses Neil deGrasse Tyson autograph at Kingsbury Hall:

1-      T-shirts.  While still on the owners.

2-      iPhones, hard drives and other e-devices and cases.

3-      Signage torn off the walls of Kingsbury Hall.

4-      20-year-old DK “Stars” book, tattered and taped together, that inspired owner to study astronomy.

5-      Random college text books.  Even texts that were not penned by Dr. Tyson.  The people wanted this autograph for inspiration.

6-      Journals, old copies of Carl Sagan’s COSMOS, blank pieces of notebook paper and dozens of event ticket stubs.

And almost anything else that Dr. Tyson’s fans could have autographed but the stones of the building itself.  And he autographed it all. 

I know that night, all of Salt Lake City’s coffee houses, pubs and places of conversation, real and virtual, were vibrating with inspiration for the thousands of people that watched this event live or from the three completely packed remote viewing locations. 

The most beautiful exchanges between the author and his public were the private meeting with a boy, having his dream come true, from Make-a-Wish Foundation and the gift of a dream catcher to Dr. Tyson from the Navajo Nation.

 Until next time…


Young Adult Recommends: Dorothy Must Die

April 8, 2014

“Dorothy Must Die”
By Danielle Paige

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Amy Gumm is definitely not in Kansas anymore. When a tornado sweeps her up and takes her to Oz, she discovers that it’s not the land she remembers from the story. Up is down, down is up, and good is wicked. This book was pretty entertaining and original. All in all, not a bad read. 

-Shannon

HarperCollins, 2014, 464 pages, $17.99


Paula Recommends: The Blood Promise

December 26, 2013

9781616148157by Paula Longhurst

Hugo Marston, head of US embassy security, is stuck with babysitting duty. His charge, blue-collar senator Charles Lake, is a potential presidential candidate. Lake is in Paris to sort out a minor diplomatic matter and bolster his foreign policy credentials. The talks come to a crashing halt when Lake accuses his hosts at Chateau Tourville of going through his papers.

The matter takes on a different complexion when fingerprints taken from the senator’s room link one of the guests at the Chateau to an unsolved crime–a murder that unearthed a secret dating back nearly two centuries. And it’s one that puts Hugo’s close friends in danger.

This is the third in the Hugo Marston series (Bookseller and Crypt Thief).

The Blood Promise, Mark Pryor, Prometheus, $15.95


Fox in Socks tonight at 7:00!

October 3, 2013

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by Rob Eckman

I am sorry that I missed last Thursday’s Seuss Family Story time, but thank you to all of the people who came the store to participate! The book that we were to read was “Fox in Socks,” and perhaps due to my imagination and creativity being completely freaked out over this small and unassuming book of KILLER tongue twisters, my body retaliated and came down with a nasty little cold bug.

You see, I sometimes trip over the pronunciation of my own name, which does not rhyme with anything. “Fox in Socks” can bring a grown man to his stuttering knees. The book has a warning on the first page, for crying out loud: “Take it slowly. This book is DANGEROUS!”

Please come back today, Thursday, when we will read “Fox in Socks” together. My new plan of attack is that you are all going to read it with me! We will all be there to support each other and our twisted tongues.

If you need something to loosen up your jaw, practice this one from pages 58 and 59:

“When a fox is in the bottle where the tweetle beetles battle with their paddles in a puddle on a noodle-eating poodle, THIS is what they call … a tweetle beetle noodle poodle bottled paddled muddled duddled fuddled wuddled fox in socks, sir!”

Yes, and now you understand! See you tonight at 7!


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

October 1, 2013

 

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by Rob Eckman

I could not avoid it forever. It is time to read The Dr. Seuss Book I Swore I Would Never Read Aloud. My children’s book nemesis. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Please take a knife and twist it into my back until I am dead.

This is why: This little, beguiling book is very, very difficult for me to read aloud. It just is. I have never read it at story hour, on purpose. I cannot even read it to myself out loud because before long I am shaking my head in frustration and just give up. For a tiny book it feels so LONG!  It never seemed long when my mom read it to me. When I tell my friends who are parents that I am reading it this week they confess they used the hide the book to avoid reading it to their little ones. At least I am not alone.

I have rehearsed and rehearsed and as I get more comfortable with these 250 different words, I begin to see the progression of the book as a sort of vaudevillian show featuring a parade of characters including a narrator, a little boy and girl, and various other weird creatures with insane names, the most recurring of which is a shaggy and furry fellow with the ordinary name of Ned.

Poor Ned. Poor, long suffering Ned. Dear blogosphere, I ask you to consider Ned one of the great martyrs in literature. He appears on only three pages but does nothing but complain. I am no doctor but this is my mental diagnosis of Ned: He is a recluse because he never leaves his vermin-infested house and is probably a germaphobe because he only communicates by telephone. He must be an insomniac and is definitely passive aggressive. Poor, miserable Ned–if he  could only step forward in time from 1960, he might at least get comfort knowing that he has the cellular option of telephone service versus his rodent-chomped landline. Poor Ned. Such pain and misery all packed into 98 monosyllabic words.

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish has sold more than six million copies since being published in 1960.

 


Behind the Scenes of “The Cat in the Hat”

August 27, 2013

by Rob Eckman

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One of the most important books in the Dr. Seuss canon is “The Cat in the Hat.”

The literary and cultural influence of this little blue-and-red book cannot be overstated. As it happened, in 1955, a popular book by Rudolf Flesch called “Why Johnny Can’t Read” was turning a nationwide illiteracy problem into a national scandal. One of the apparent culprits was children’s school primers, which experts complained were filled with “abnormally courteous, unnaturally clean boys and girls.” They complained the books were “uniform, bland, idealized and terribly literal.”

A very good friend of Ted Geisel suggested that he write a book for six- and seven-year-olds who had already mastered the mechanics of reading. Armed with a list of 225 words (Ted was initially unhappy that the list did not include the words “queen” or “zoo”), Dr. Seuss spent two long years spinning the words into a book that would quickly transform the children’s book industry and revolutionize the way we learned to read.

Here are some fun facts about the words used in “The Cat in the Hat”:

-The story is 1,629 words long.
-It utilizes a vocabulary of only 236 distinct words, of which 54 occur once and 33 twice.
-Only a single word (“another”) has three syllables.
-14 words have two syllables.
-221 are monosyllabic.
-The longest words in the book are “something” and “playthings.”

Finally, to answer the question that I know is on all of your minds: where did Ted get the idea for the cat we all know and love? That tall, lanky bipedal feline with the striped stovepipe hat and crazy three-loop bow tie? Ted always said that the image was drawn from a funny-looking elevator operator at the Random House offices in New York. A small, stooped woman wearing “a leather half-glove and a secret smile.”

There you go!


One Satisfied Customer

August 27, 2013

by Rob Eckman

All I can say is, this is one satisfied customer! She tried so hard to stay awake. Somehow, Grace managed to fall asleep during “Green Eggs and Ham,” one of my loudest readings!

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