A Veritable Smorgasbord

November 28, 2012

Here at The King’s English, booksellers have been gathering and devouring the new fall books like squirrels gorging on nuts in preparation for winter. In the process we’ve gathered some wonderfully hearty treats for you and those you love, whether what piques your interest is fine fiction or picture books, espionage, humor or history.

Well-written fiction for the middle reader that steers clear of young-adult content is rare, and an author that is as smart and funny as Rebecca Stead is rarer still. Stead’s new novel, Liar & Spy, one of our booksellers first recommendations this season, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Like the dazzling Newbery Medal book When You Reach Me, Liar & Spy will keep readers guessing until the end. Creepy, gritty, edgy, disgusting, and fascinating—all words that describe book two of Ilsa Bick’s Ashes trilogy, Shadows. Bick is laying the groundwork for book three, drawing a picture of a dark and scary world in which readers will not find redemption or resolution (at least not until later) but will be engrossed (or is it grossed out?) by this fast-paced monster-filled novel. Daniel Handler, who also writes under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket, has collaborated with acclaimed artist and designer Maira Kalman, to create an extraordinary book about an ordinary event: Why We Broke Up. In her new novel for middle readers, The Great Unexpectedby Sharon Creech, Lizzie and Naomi struggle to figure out their own relationship and how they fit into their families, into their community and Finn, a mysterious and charming boy, drops out of a tree and into their lives, while Mrs. Kavanaugh, who lives in the south of Ireland and loves a good murder, looks for revenge. Creech alternates these two seemingly disparate stories, throwing in a Dingle-Dangle Man, a crooked bridge, three mysterious trunks, and several rooks. Our list of picks for the middle readers and young adults wraps up with The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and What Came From the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt.

And if amazing picture books are what you are in search of, look no further than This Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen. Visual humor swims to the fore as the bestselling Klassen follows his fabulous first book, I Want My Hat Back, with another seriously funny tale. We did not think that Doreen Rappaport could ever write a better picture book than Martin’s Big Words until we read Helen’s Big World! In 48 pages, the reader receives an unforgettable picture of this American icon as the authors mix Keller quotes with biography and compelling artwork. Helen Keller’s lifelong courage and tenacity are celebrated in this amazing book. In this gentle and joyous board book with an environmental theme, Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell, Jules proves a hug is the simplest–but kindest–gift we can give. The Christmas Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska is a lovely little book that celebrates the hushed moments of a season that too often shouts. Like its bestselling companions The Quiet Book and The Loud Book, The Christmas Quiet Book is especially notable for its warm and lovely illustrations. (Plush toys available!)

And for the fiction-lover in your life, be prepared for treats beyond your wildest expectations. We are not exaggerating… Starting with a joyride of a read, Mrs. Queen Takes the Train follow the Queen, yes, of England, in current day, as she slips out of her royal residence in a hoodie and embarks on a truly entertaining excursion, bringing the reader along. And there’s a good reason The Round House, a novel by Louise Erdrich, won the National Book Award this year. Like all of Erdrich’s novels, The Round House taps into the history, the mythology, the collective wisdom of past generations, yet she is as concerned with the past’s connection to the present as she is with the tale’s action, and her lyrical investigations of life involve much more than immediate reality. Combine the ebullient erudition of Lawrence Norfolk’s Lempiere’s Dictionary with the sensory engagement and passion for food of John Lancaster’s infamous A Debt to Pleasure, stir in a soupçon of myth and history, and sprinkle liberally with the romance and narrative verve of The Night Circus and you’ll have some idea of Norfolk’s new confection of a novel, John Saturnall’s Feast. And Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan is a terrific read and a great reminder that books are here to stay…forever! Kevin Powers, a veteran of Iraq, has etched a powerful picture of reality in his new novel The Yellow Birds, and created a compelling awareness of what our military men and women have been subjected to for the past decade. And there are plenty of great novels published earlier in the year, including Canada by Richard Ford, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, and The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin, and new in paperback fiction including The Marriage Plot, Salvage the Bones, What It Is Like to Go to War, American Dervish, To Be Sung Underwater, We the Animals AND State of Wonder. A plethora of delights!

If you’re still not sure what you want for your Aunt Sally or your 10-year-old niece, or for that plane ride you’re not looking forward to, we have a host of knowledgeable booksellers on hand who will not only recommend the right book, but also wrap it, mail it, or, if you’re doing your shopping by phone or e-mail, deliver it—the same day!

Where’s Waldo Local

August 2, 2012

The mysterious man in stripes has been here!

In fact he just spent the entire month of July in 20 Local First Utah Salt Lake city businesses including The King’s English. The infamous Waldo of the Where’s Waldo books got a great tour of the city.

In celebration of his 25th birthday we held a citywide scavenger hunt for Waldo, starting right here at the bookshop. With the help of 19 other enthusiastic businesses, we challenged kids and families to locate Waldo in some great hiding places across the city and the offered a change to win some fantastic prizes for their detective efforts.

Congratulations to the winner of our grand prize, announced at the Waldo Finale on July 31.

And a special thanks to the participating stores who harbored the elusive character in their shops:

Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine
Tony Caputo’s Food Market & Deli
Babinski’s Baby
Red Butte Café
The Blue Plate Diner
Cactus and Tropicals
Harmon’s Emigration Market
Eggs in the City
Liberty Heights Fresh
Mini’s Cupcakes
Trifecta Design
Pipers Quilts and Comforts
Este New York Style Pizzeria
Tower Theater
Dolcetti’s Gelato
Sugar House Barbeque Company
Walls–Wallpaper and Interior Design Shop
Beans and Brews
The Library Store

Catherine Fisher’s sequel to Incarceron has been released

December 30, 2010

Read our REVIEW by Caroline Holyoak HERE.

Synopsis: Finn has escaped Incarceron only to find that he must defend his right to the throne from another challenger. His life and Claudia’s hang on Finn convincing the Court that he is the lost prince, even though he has his own doubts about being the true heir.



November 3, 2010

by Rachel Heath

The Buehners are headed our way this Saturday, November 6 at 2 p.m.!

They participated with us in the Utah Humanities Book Festival at the downtown library a little while back, and we’re so pleased to have them with us again.

This prolific author/illustrator duo has kept picture-book readers entertained for 20 years. Mark is the illustrator, and he first began illustrating in 1990 for Debra and Sal Barracca. His first book, The Adventures of Taxi Dog, was the start of a productive and colorful career.

Two years later he and his wife, Caralyn, began using their talents together, leading Mark’s career down a path that neither of them entirely anticipated. Though Mark still took a few jobs for other children’s authors, the couple began combining talents, starting with The Escape of Marvin the Ape in 1992. The two have been working together ever since, producing some of the most well-loved picture books in collections everywhere.

Some of the couple’s other more recent books are:

  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears (2009)
  • Queen of Style (2008)
  • Dex: The Heart of a Hero (2007)

Some general favorites they’ve done together over the years include:

  • Snowmen at Night (2005)
  • A Job for Wattilda (2004)
  • Fanny’s Dream (2003)
  • It’s a Spoon Not a Shovel (1998)

This month will be the official release of their latest book, Snowmen all Year, which releases on November 11. With special permission from the Buehners and their publisher, TKE currently has the books on sale in the store, and there will be plenty available at the event with us on Saturday. It’s just as charming as their last “snowmen” book, but with even more colors and bright, eye-catching scenes. This time, the snowman stays an entire year, experiencing every season.

We’ll see you all on Saturday!

Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Ann Dee Ellis and the series wrap

June 10, 2010

We have come to the final post in our continuing series of faculty interviews with interviewer Carol Lynch Williams as prelude to the 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference which is taking place next week: June 14—18! (www.foryoungreaders.com). Registration closes June 11. Today we have a sneak peek at Ann Dee Ellis, who will be teaching a novel class AND a final wrap-up from our interviewer herself.

Carol Lynch Williams: Please introduce yourself in the voice of Mazzy.

Ann Dee Ellis: One time I am Ann Dee Ellis and someone said so?
and I said, so what?
and she said, I don’t know.
And I said, Okay.
Then she said, do you dye your hair?
Yes you do.
No I don’t. It’s natural.
You have naturally red hair?
I do.
Have you ever seen a dog?
I went running yesterday and acted like my ankle hurt because they say if you start to feel like you are going to pass out when you run you should stop but I didn’t want to stop because the girl I was running with can run ten times faster than me and ten times longer than me so instead of saying I was tired and wanted to walk, I said my ankle hurt because it really did hurt–a little.
Oh. Okay. Do you want to stop?
No. Do you?
Ummm. Well. I mean if you need to.
I don’t need to but my ankle is about to fall off but I don’t even care.
Let’s stop.
You want to?
I guess.
No. We don’t have to.
But then she stopped so I stopped.

CLW: When is your best time to write? Why?

ADE: I think my best writing time is ten in the morning. I’m not positive because I’ve never written at ten in the morning but I have this feeling that beautiful things would come out of my fingers at ten a.m. These days I write when I can find a minute. Usually around nine or ten at night when I can barely think. It makes my stuff very postmodern.

CLW: Please tell us what students in your class will learn at Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference this year.

ADE: In my class we just sit there. And read. And write. And sit some more. And not cry. And read. And someone will say, do you have problems? And I’ll say yes. And then they’ll say, I do too. Then we’ll sit. And read. And write. It’s actually a nice break from doing those things alone. Plus we’ll make our characters real. And then we’ll sit some more.

CLW: What is the funniest thing you do as a writer?

ADE: Funniest? These questions are hard. I do nothing funny. As far as writing goes, it all starts around nine at night and it goes like this: eat graham crackers and chocolate chips and write, then put the laundry in, then watch an episode of The Office, then complain about The Office, write some more, then try to stay awake to watch something I don’t really care about but I feel like I should watch because when will I ever get the time to watch it again? (I’m looking at you Celebrity Apprentice). Then I fall asleep and then wake up and realize I forgot to change the laundry.

CLW: How did you get your first book published?

ADE: My first book was published through a connection at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. My teacher for the workshop was Virginia Euwer Wollfe–one of the kindest, most compassionate women I have ever met. After reading part of my manuscript, she told me an agent in New York had requested she look for possible new clients. She gave me his address and voila! a book contract.

CLW: What do you do in your spare time?

ADE: I have one husband and two little boys who I love and who make me crazy. They take up most of my time. The little bit that is left over goes to watching bad reality TV, trying to train for running races, and eating. I also like thinking about both yoga and climbing mountains. My favorite books are The House on Mango Street, The Bell Jar (don’t be scared), and Ramona the Pest. I also enjoy The Happy Hocky Family and Corduroy with a taste of Drummer Hoff on the side.

CLW: Thanks, Ann Dee! (You are funny!) I look forward to listening to you this month. We’re going to have fun!!!

Ann Dee Ellis will lead the breakout sessions “Writing a Novel is a Marathon” on Tuesday, June 15, 4 p.m. and Friday, June 18, 3 p.m.

And now a final word from our interviewer, Carol Lynch Williams:

This has been a great few weeks getting to know the faculty for our Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. As you can see,
we have tons of talent here. And just wait till you meet our agent and editors!

Mary Kole is an Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. She has also worked in the children’s editorial department at Chronicle Books and is currently earning her MFA in creative writing at the University of San Francisco. At this time, Mary is only considering young adult and middle grade fiction and truly exceptional picture books.

Jennifer Hunt is Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Jennifer oversees middle grade and young adult fiction acquisition. She also edits a wide range of books–including those by our very own Sara Zarr.

Kate Angelella is an Assistant Editor at Simon and Schuster. She’s searching for a unique voice, angst-y girl characters, fresh takes on the chick lit genre with strong commercial hooks, as well as novels with any type of paranormal element strongly grounded in realism.

ALSO: This year at our Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference we are going to have a first page contest for all people who are registered as full-day or half-day attendees. Three writers will win the chance for a ten-minute sit down with one of our editors or our agent.

As well, our wonderful bookstore, The King’s English, will be offering a 10% discount on books sold at the conference, so this will be a terrific time to buy books–and get them signed by the authors.

If you have any questions about the conference, please feel free to email me, Carol, at carolthewriter@yahoo.com or visit our website at www.foryoungreaders.com.

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Introduction, Kristyn Crow, Sara Zarr, Brandon Mull, Kevin Hawkes, Emily Wing Smith, Bonny Becker, Mike Knudson, Alane Ferguson, Cheri Pray Earl and Rick Walton, Dave Wolverton, Ann Dee Ellis

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Alane Ferguson

May 19, 2010

As part of our continuing series of 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference (www.foryoungreaders.com) faculty interviews with interviewer Carol Lynch Williams.

Advanced novel faculty Alane Ferguson was born in Cumberland, Maryland, in 1957. Her mother is children’s author Gloria Skurzynski. Ferguson is the author of many novels and mysteries, including the Edgar Award-winning Show Me The Evidence. Rumor has it that there will be two more books in Alane’s forensic series staring Cameryn Mahoney!

Carol Lynch Williams: Why did you decide to become a writer?

Alane Ferguson: I became a writer because my mother, who is a successful author, showed me that it was possible to actually live out your dreams.  (While working in your pajamas with a baby on your lap, no less!)  From the time I was twelve I watched the process up close, and I think those observations gave me the key to what makes a writer successful: hard, hard, HARD work and the ability and humility to revise. My personal journey as an author began a bit strangely because I never thought about becoming a writer until I put pencil (literally, it was a yellow notepad) to paper to create a story for my daughter Kristin when she was less than enthusiastic about the arrival of a second child.  My mother caught wind of the story and convinced me to send it in to New York for a possible book sale (after a revision, of course).  So with great trepidation I popped my story in the mail. Believe it or not, the first place I sent it, bought it, and I’ve been writing ever since!

CLW: Please introduce yourself—but do it as the opening of one of your mystery novels.

AF: Alane Ferguson looked nothing like her sister Joni, whose angularity exuded an almost bird-like quality while Alane seemed softer, rounded both inside and out, like river rocks smoothed by time. Looks, though, could be deceiving: it was Alane who possessed the flair for finding trouble….

What book has most influenced you?

AF: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It was the first time I realized the soul-churning power of the written word.

CLW: You’ve been faculty at this conference many times. Why do you keep coming back?

AF: I keep coming back to this conference because of the talent that attends—I’ve met the most amazing aspiring writers! It is a thrill to become a part of their accomplishments, even if it’s just the smallest link in the writing chain. I get great joy from watching them succeed, and succeed they do!

CLW: What will students learn in your class?

AF: My students will learn how to structure their thoughts, and by that I mean the nuts and bolts of framing their stories in a way that will make their writing ‘pop’ right off the page! It’s actually fun to see the light go on as a writer hones his or her skill. My job is to show authors how to construct their work so their words can flow organically. I call my class a ‘boot camp’ because writing is work, but it in the end they’ll have some nice, strong writing biceps to do the heavy lifting.

CLW: What is it like to have a mom who is also published?

AF: Having a mom who is also published is cool because she understands both the frustrations and the delights of the writing process. Joyous at my triumphs, Gloria Skurzynski is my most unwavering champion, which can get a bit embarrassing when we’re in a group of other writers and editors.  “You think J.K. Rowling can write?” says she, incredulous. “Why, you simply must get a copy of my daughter’s book if you want to see real craftsmanship.” Bear in mind my mother actually said this to an editor who had in fact worked on J.K. Rowling’s books. Hear the internal scream of MOTHER!  (And, big surprise, that editor did not ask to see my work.) But seriously, you can’t put a price on that kind of support—she has been invaluable to me as a mentor. The best part is that my mother will not hesitate to tell me when I’ve missed the mark, which is, counterintuitively, writing gold. I trust her input and adjust accordingly, and my reward has been 32 published books, halfway to my mother’s amazing total of 60!

CLW: What book do we have to look forward to?

AF: My next book is my most personal work of all, a paranormal mystery filled with love and loss and the question of life and its meaning. Dragonfly Eyes is the novel I’m most excited about completing, which should be very, very soon!

Alane Ferguson will lead a breakout session on Monday, June 14, 3 p.m. and Friday, June 18, 4 p.m.

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference: Introduction, Kristyn Crow, Sara Zarr, Brandon Mull, Kevin Hawkes, Emily Wing Smith, Bonny Becker, Mike Knudson

I can feel the love!

February 14, 2010

Love at first sight for the ice cream cone cupcakes, love at first sight for the books, and LOVE at first sight for the mountain of stickers to apply to the Valentine mailboxes!

As Fancy Nancy would say: The party was a scrumptious success! We began by eating our treats and listening to Valentine-themed books. And Fancy Nancy is always a win. At the beginning of Fancy Nancy: Heart to Heart, we find Fancy Nancy making sequined valentines for all her friends at Bree’s house. When she gets home, she finds a special secret valentine for her on her door…hmmm…I wonder who sent it. The case is on and Nancy must accessorize to find her secret admirer.

Next up we read How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? We have been IN LOVE with this series since Mina was a little one. The pictures of the dinosaurs in all the crazy colors are just wonderful and the funny things they do are the icing on the cupcake. The dinosaurs all seem to be getting into mischief, but in the end, they give the best hugs and kisses to their mama and papa. Of course, Mina would read the How Do Dinosaurs books by Jane Yolen all day long and one is just not enough. She knows exactly where they are in the bookshop and went on her own to get another one! Can you guess which one? Of course, the one with the DOCTOR in it : How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? Of course I told her we would read it, but we had valentine books to read first.

We were first fell in love with the pen and ink art of Peter McCarty (author and illustrator of the Hondo and Fabian books) with Jeremy Draws a Monster a few months ago. In it, Jeremy, a lonely little boy, draws himself a monster imaginary friend. The monster becomes very obnoxious and demanding and soon Jeremy is drawing him a hat, suitcase, and a bus ticket. After sending the Monster on his way, Jeremy goes down to join some “real” boys and girls for a game of ball. And now Peter McCarty has a little love story out just in time for Valentine’s Day: Henry in Love. I love the art in these books because they are so vivid with the colors, but also very calming with the fine use of the pen. Henry gets ready for school and has a lovely blueberry muffin for a snack. As we progress through the book, we learn that he has a crush on a little bunny named Chloe. In the end, after rearranging the desks in class, Henry and Chloe are sitting next to eat other, getting ready to eat their snack. Henry trades his beloved blueberry muffin for Chloe’s carrot so she will have the better snack…aaahhh young love!

Okay, everyone! Finished with our treats and our books, we move into the other side of the room to decorate our boxes! Stickers and kids are a match made in heaven. The process of peel-stick, peel-stick is such a loved activity. In the undecorated as-of-yet mailboxes, they found a woven heart basket made out of construction paper. It was filled with special Valentine’s Day stickers and a few blank Valentine cards to give out. There were also feathers and red construction paper hearts to glue on as well. Of course, I had a last minute crazy project addition: making herbal heart sachets. It all worked out so PERFECTLY in my head at 2 p.m. the day of the storytime! I cut out and sewed the hearts, filled little ziplock baggies with the herbs and beans, but when I went downstairs to get my glue gun—it was no where to be found. Grrr. I grabbed some needle and thread and flew out the door. After getting to the bookstore, Anne came to my rescue by going home and getting her glue gun! Implementing the filling process did not go as smoothly as I had imagined. I had thought that if I cut a hole in the corner of the ziplock bag, the child could place that in the hole of the heart sachet and everything would just slide in. Vigorous shaking of the bag was too tempting and the children’s room looked like an herbal explosion by the time it was done. Thank goodness for vacuum cleaners!!

A fun time was had by all and we hope we see you at our next Friday Fun for Kids. Ahoy there! We will be going on a treasure hunt, mateys! So, dig out your pirate attire and help us find the hidden treasure in the store. Yo HO HO and a whole lot of FUN! You won’t want to miss THIS one! Friday, March 12, 4 p.m.