Activity books are fun, and retro ones can be even more enjoyable for many reasons.
First: They can bring us back to a “simpler” time where educational things can be enjoyable. The whole learn the lesson while having fun idea.
Second: They can show a different perspective or provide a different manner of teaching.
Third: They can be cheesy and nostalgic.
That being said today I am reviewing a book called The Young Architect by Buki Ltd. This book was part of the “Draw-a-Line” series. Intended for ages 5 to 11, it was first published in 1974 and still being printed in 2005.
The concept behind it is fairly simple. Teach children how to design buildings. This is done by offering a series of simplistic seeming drawings, each on a single page, with a space for the child to draw it. Included is a plastic “shape maker” which will allow the younger children the chance to trace the shapes instead of free handing. There are also a few pages of backgrounds so that the children can see how the design will fit in each setting.
For someone who wants to learn to draw, this is a good book to start. While the results will be somewhat cartoonish, it does help the child learn to see the shapes that can make a design.
Now most used copies are missing pages or the shapemaker, but that doesn’t lessen the appeal.
After all there is a reason this book has been in print for so long.
Personally I will say that this book should be geared more towards ages 3-7, but even eleven year old’s should be able to garner some enjoyment from it.
Children’s Books are a difficult category to review. Especially as the age between the selected audience and the reviewer is separated by decades.
That being said,
What does one expect of a board book?
Sturdy. These books are designed to be held and chewed upon by small pre-readers. So they cannot be delicate.
Colors. They must attract the untrained eye of the prereader.
Compact. They must get to the point quickly and in an entertaining manner.
What does one expect of an Alphabet book?
The parent/guardian/reader wants it to be engaging, yet they expect it to be very simplistic. A will always be Apple, B will be Banana, C will be Carrot and so on. If you are lucky there will be a rhyme or a verse. Traditionally these books will have just one fruit on a page, a simple 1 to 2 color illustration or a glossy photo.
Over the decades as more fruits & vegetables have become widely available, some have snuck in: C is coconut, P is Pear or Potato or Peach or Pumpkin. Different countries highlight different ones depending on the dominate cultures. For example G can be Grapes, Guava or Grains. But on the whole most of these books tend to keep the items to one or two (or even three) syllables to make it easier for the child to learn them.
This is where Mrs. Peanuckle has changed the game.
From the art work on the cover you can see the cute smiling vegetables: Peas, Peppers, pumpkin, and a turnip? Wait three Ps? What is the deal?
She first starts out with the familiar A is for Asparagus B is for Beans and …. wait Cucumbers?
Okay. so being a vegetable only alphabet book you cannot expect apples and bananas, but asparagus? Why has she changed the game? What is with all of these things?
Honestly I think it is a great idea. It helps to introduce the different vegetables to the child and allows them to accept them as normal. This will help a child be more willing to try a different item and expand their palate from the very beginning.
Mrs Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet is an amazing inviting board book full of cute, inviting illustrations and some informational rhymes, that will please the reader and the listener. For Board Books, this is a step up in the game and will be difficult to match.
The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag. This graphic novel is drawn in the more modern styles (like the w She-Ra) The plot is about a boy who lives in a divided task world. Males are shifters, females are spell casters and both stay away from the humans. The main character does not have the ability to shift and tries to use magic. This means he is ostracized for being true to himself. His attempts to do what he cannot and can causes turmoil and then, sorta of saves the day.
A nice story about gender rules and conformity issues.
Like in Jordan’s Wheel of Time series there is a good reason for males not to do spell casting. In Jordan’s works it is because males are too powerful & goes insane it, in Ostertag’s book it is because males either lack the gene that allows it or, in the case of a fraternal twin, the male lacks the ability to control it. In both cases the magic warps into something determined “evil” or “wrong.” Either way it is very disruptive. In Ostertag’s book this is proved by the female twin showing that she can shift as well as cast, but her shifting is poor and not easily controlled. This proves that there is a valid reason for the parents of the main character to be worried about him not shifting.
Does that mean he should not learn spell casting? No. It just means that he should be aware of the risks he will create. It also shows that the educational system these people have is flawed as both sides tend to keep secrets from the others.
A bit heavy handed in the message of being who you need to be, but fails to deliver with any empathy or understanding about why the situation is the way it is and how difficult it will be to adjust it. Perhaps the next books in the series will cover this.
All in all I would give this a 5/10. The plot was decent, character growth was started, but the majority of the characters were one dimensional & the world was not fleshed out.
Today’s book review is The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen is the author of many young teen novels including Hatchet,Brian’s Winter and The River.
First published 1998 this book is billed as a coming of age science fiction story. The story is told from the point of view of the main protagonist, Mark. Mark is a slightly unfit teen that is fascinated with hiking & wilderness survival. His parents finally allow him to go on a brief solo camping & hiking trip in the desert, but on his first night out he ends up being transported into an unusual world where he has to learn to survive.
While Mark’s adventures trying to determine what he can eat & how to survive is interesting, outside of the oddly evolved simians, the other humanoids are one dimensional and not well developed. One can argue that this is just how Mark, in his immaturity, see them, but there isn’t enough detail to determine this for sure. His continuing quest to discover a way home does fit with the mindset of someone attempting to survive. Unfortunately the big reveal is quite disappointing and the ending- set decades later – was disappointing.
Considering how well Hatchet and The River transcend the age of the reader, it was disappointing to come back to this tale and not be able to find the thrill of adventure in it.
So while this might be a good book for an 8 to10 year old, it can only hint at a better tale for anyone older.
This question has been a standard one for the majority of my life, and the answer has changed over the years.
When I was in middle school my answer revolved around being able to read anything I wanted at anytime. While I was in college, it was that I wanted to make sure there were affordable things to do that did not involve drinking. In my 20s it was the desire to be different and to start a revival of a simpler time of knowledge sharing. In my 30s it was a way to help parents find affordable information to educate the children with. Now in my 40s I have come to the realization that this is just in my blood and I shouldn’t have to justify it to anyone.
But the one thing that I have never gotten a clear answer to is “Why are you asking this of me?”
For some reason it seems that most of the people I have met are confused by my desire to live a life among the stacks. As a child I was told to dream big, and I did. Other kids would talk of owning horses or winning car races or becoming a teacher or a scientist and the adults all smiled and nodded. And that was that. Meanwhile my desire to own a bookshop with a living place on top of it was cause for concern. It alarmed them, and caused them to ask more questions.
“Are you sure?”
Of course I am.
“Why not dream a bit bigger?”
Well, I would always love to have a bigger shop or even a second one after a while.
“What about pets, or family or travel?”
Pets and Family can live with me without issue, why would owning a bookshop prevent this? As for travel —that would be a great way to get inventory!
“You’ll change your mind one day.”
“One day you’ll think of something less foolish to do for work.”
Okay? Like what? Mushroom farming or Beekeeping? Or raising Alpacas? I have guides books on how to do this and also books on business plans….
Not once in my young years did I have any encouragement with this plan. The idea of me running one, or even owning one, was considered to be far fetched and unrealistic. As the years passed the comments changed.
“What will you live off of?”
The money I make? I also grow my own food, and might start a Mushroom Farm for extra income.
“What about retirement?”
Nothing prevents me from saving, or investing or planning ahead. Besides I will love to do this until I die.
“ Why not do something meaningful?”
What can be more meaningful than owning and running a bookshop?
To me a Bookshop is the single most powerful place in the world. It offers shelter, information and comfort. It helps one define dreams and explore possibilities. It is the place that holds all whimsy, wisdom and wonders. A bookshop is where one can explore all the aspects of what was, what is, what will be and what would have been. A place where voices of the past can shimmer into the future causing new ideas to come to life. It is a place where the long dead, the recently dead and the non dead can come together.
Of course the smell of vanilla (from old paper) is a lovely addition.
As the owner/manager of a bookshop one becomes a dragon with a horde. A Bookwyrm who invites Book Worms to partake of the treasure.
But why is this such a thing for concern? Why do so many people need to hear an answer from me?
I believe it has something to do with the current state of Western Culture. The idea that someone could be happy without all of the trappings of modern society, that one does not need to be constantly connected, or distracted by the flash in the pan disposable life is strange to most people. To some it is a thing of horror, to others a thing of pity and, to a select few, an unspoken half formed desire. The question is asked for clarification, to allow them to justify their live and choices while judging others.
This creates a divide, a chasm, between the Bookwyrm and the others. One where the Bookwyrm is on the defensive, but it doesn’t have to be. There is a bridge made of paper and one can read the way over or not.
It is not the Bookwyrm’s job to convince the world of it’s validity. The actions of the Bookwyrm should do that.
Which is why, even in this digital age, Bookshops still exist.
My shop may be small, and the selection narrowly focused, but it is my shop and as the years pass onto decades my collection will be what tells people I was here. And I, the Bookwyrm, will live on in the heart of another.
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This is a question that all book sellers dread trying to answer, while also being one of the more common questions we are asked. As a used and secondhand bookdealer I have the upmost pleasure of having to explain this over and over again to people who are trying to sell a collection. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when looking for a price for your “old, rare, out of print, unusual” book that has been in granny’s attic since the before sliced bread. In this article I will explain how to determine this before coming to the bookshop.
But first I will start with a joke.
“One afternoon a man wanders into an antiquarian bookshop and notices the large collection of rare, old family bibles.
‘Wow. Do you really sell those things for that much?’ he asks the shopkeeper.
‘Yes. It is a niche market, but some of these can be worth quite a bit of money.’
‘I just threw out one that was in our attic forever. It was falling to bits. Printed by some company called Guttenberg.”
‘You had a Guttenberg Bible in your attic and just threw it away! There are only 21 complete copies in the world! It is worth a small fortune!”
‘Naw, you wouldn’t of wanted it. Some idiot named Martin Luther scribbled notes all over it.’ “
And that shows you the issue with determining value of books. To the one guy it was worthless because you can get bibles anywhere, so why keep one that was old and was filled with notes and underlining? To the other it was beyond value due to being extremely rare and having the notes of a famous person all over it. One man’s trash is another’s treasure.
So here we go. You have a collection of any size or just an older book.
Is it Antiquarianor just old?
According to Regency Antique Books ” In the world of collectible antique books, “old” means OLD…. In the antique book world, the book’s age is very rarely the first priority when choosing a piece for one’s library…. [but] Many serious and experienced antiquarian book collectors are focused on tracking down works from the 16th century and earlier.” www.regencyantiquebooks.com
Another term used is Vintage. These books are older than 50, but less than 100 and have some cultural and social connections. Dune, I, Robot, The Nancy Drew Books and Lord of the Rings all fall into this category.
Now what is the condition?
As in what was the condition it was in when it was first printed and how close is it to that point? This is a very important thing to determine. Condition means everything in a book’s value. Booksellers want to sell books. Nicer copies sell better. This doesn’t mean that your book is worthless if it is damaged, other factors come into play at that point.
Was it published with a dust jacket?
If no then: is the pictorial boards (cover art) damaged in any way or unclear? The level of damage to the artwork
If yes then: does it still have it? If your answer is no, the value of the book goes down–unless there are pictorial boards. Then the condition of the cover art comes into play.
If the answer is yes: is the dust jacket missing parts? Or can you see the artwork clearly? This will also change the value of the book. Depending on the edition, the real draw for the book could be the artist who did the cover art. Popular books have been reissued over time and as the copyrights for the artwork may have been expired or the publisher just wants to be more relevant to the times the art work will change. But due to the large number of copies still available (even if it is different editions) than the value of the book might not be as high. The value then lies in the art work. Typically the worse the condition of the dust jacket, the lower the value of the book.
Is it Signed? By the author or another famous person? Then it has some value, no matter the condition.
Is it a clean copy? Did some one scribble in it or leave notes in the margin? Most of the time this will lower the value of it. Unless….1: someone important made the notes & signed their name. (And this has to be proved) 2: the notes are translations (this becomes an interest to those who are studying languages) 3: the notes are relevant to the work. (this was a text book for someone ) Once again this is a situation where the value can go either way.
Does it SMELL? Please. Please. Please. Learn what things smell like. If it is a tobacco or smoky smell that is fine. This can be fixed to some extent, but if you open the book and your first though is outdoorsy this is a mold issue.
Technically the rule is: the further it is from the original printing condition (within reason for age) the less value it can hold.
What Color is the book? Sounds silly, but if you find a Victorian age book that is a vibrant emerald green DO NOT TOUCH IT. WASH YOUR HANDS. TAKE A PHOTO. USE A TOWEL TO PLACE IT IN A PLASTIC SEALABLE BAG. WASH YOUR HANDS. Did I mention WASHING YOUR HANDS????? Paris Green is the official name of the pigment popularly used in this period for practically everything. It is made with ARSNIC. Are all green books from this time period Paris Green? No, but it is better to be safe than sorry. The following link is a good article on the subject. And of course there have been many books written on this topic as well. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/arsenic-laced-books-discovered-university-library-180969527/
If you do have a book with Paris Green then it might be better to donate it to a museum who can deal with it properly as most bookdealers won’t try and sell it. But you can always ask an antiquarian seller about it.
Who published it? People tend to think that only mass publishing was in the 20th century dealing mainly with paperbacks. To some extent that is correct. But earlier popular books were reprinted by reprint houses like: Walter J. Black, Sun Dial, Triangle, Collier, A.L. Burt, and Grosset & Dunlop. The interior of the book will have the original publishers information, but he spine will have another publisher’s information or nothing at all. The quality of the paper will be thinner or just look a bit off, and sometimes the page count or the printing might be aligned poorly. In this case the rarity of the title on the market will determine the value.
Is it a BOOKCLUB? It has the correct publisher and the book looks legit, but this still could be a different book type. Bookclubs, on average, are the hardcover version of reprint editions. There are some clues:
There is no price on the dust jacket.
The hardcovers are smaller than the normal editions, while the paperbacks are larger than normal & both feel lighter due to the thinner paper used.
The cover may be bound with thick paper instead of cloth and the dust jacket is uncoated and looks cheaply made.
There may be a blindstamp impressed into the back cover of a hardcover BCE, right next to the spine. Look for a circle, dot, square, triangle, or even a small white dot.
The dust jacket flaps might have it written on them or it will be on the copywrite page.
There might be a strange string of numbers on the last page of the book near the margin, running vertically, just before the endpaper.
Sellers do not want book clubs. There are some exceptions to the rule (as always). Easton Press, The First Edition Society of the Franklin Library , the Limited Editions Club, and the Book Club of California do come out with some very well illustrated and designed editions. Science Fiction/Fantasy/and Horror titles are sometimes valuable due to the fact that some authors were published in paperback first and these book clubs became the first hardcover editions and sometimes they will contain two or more works. But it also depends on the writers.
What is the subject matter?
This matters quite a bit and is quite fluid as well. Some books are very niche, others have glutted the market and some are just not relevant any more. If there is no audience for the book you will not get much money for it unless it falls into the Antiquarian category. Or has another additional feature that will draw in a collector.
For example: At one point I was given a collection to sell that was nearly complete as of the time of the collector’s death. She had all of the Harlequin romance novels printed from the the first book to the last one she was mailed. As this is a series that is still ongoing printing 4-6 books a month in each sub-category and she had all of the sub-categories as well. This meant that she had over 6,240 romance paperbacks in very good condition. The publisher price of these was on average $4.99 per book. She spent over 31 thousand dollars on this. Unfortunately since these were mass produced only the oldest 500 had any real value, while the rest could only be re-sold at 6 for a dollar. Which means that as a seller I could only hope to make $1,000 on over 5,000 books over the next few years which would take up over 20 feet of book cases. So I could only offer the owner $250 for most of the collection and another $400 for the older books. Even if they were signed by the author the value would not be much higher.
Why so little? Well booksellers need to pay the rent for the store & also need to eat. So the owner of the book is normally offered 1/4th to 1/2 of the value of the book in the current market.
So in conclusion this is just a starting point to determine if you a have a valuable book or not. If in doubt, go on bookgilt.com or bookfinder.com and search for the book (discount Amazon’s prices please) and see what it is being offered for. Next compare what you have to what is listed using the information above. Lastly contact a bookdealer and see what they say.
93 years old and still one of the best indie bookstores in NYC. I’ve gone on holiday to the city and spent days lost in the stacks. I loved how they would mail the books home so I wouldn’t have to carry them. Three floors, packed floor to ceiling, sales tables lining the block on which it stands. An amazing place with one of the hardest interview processes for employees. This is the place I dream my store would become. It has been a few years since I have walked the stacks, but when I am looking for a rare item for my clients, I check there first. Today on my twitter field I saw a message:
“Strand Book Store @strandbookstore
We need your help. This is the post we hoped to never write, but today marks a huge turning point in The Strand’s history. Our revenue has dropped nearly 70% compared to last year, and the loans and cash reserves that have kept us afloat these past months are depleted…. ”
In the last few months people have been pushing for Indie bookshops to survive and the public has listened. But people keep thinking that Indie means NEW bookstore, when instead the term means not connected to a chain or publisher and makes no distinction between new and used. Used bookstores are important. Most people do not understand this.
Used books keep people reading. If your budget only allows you a certain amount for books, would you chose one new hardcover or a stack of used paperbacks? Teachers need 40 copies of a book for a classroom? Used bookstores will have a good selection at reasonable prices.
If you end up having to move and need to unload some books, used bookstores are great for that. And when many people do this, you have the chance to find some interesting reads. For example in a used bookshop I once found a paperback version of The Song of Roland which was printed in France in three languages: Old French, Medieval English and Modern English.
Do you have a favorite author that has been writing for decades? Do you know that most publishers will not put any title that author wrote that was published by another publisher on the Other Works page? And when that first publisher is now out of business or merged with another one, how will you find the book? Now the titles are listed online, but only used bookstores carry them.
What about when the author mentions their favorite childhood author and you want to read what they loved? Best place to find them is in a used bookstore.
Want something new to read that is similar to what you like to read? New bookshops tend to have the classics and whatever is “in or popular” at the moment. So finding something that is different can be a challenge. And yet at used bookshops you can see shelves of things that are similar or completely different than what you even though of reading. Catchy titles or just weird covers in styles of bygone years can start a journey into a new reading experience.
Used bookstores are a view into the social past. What to understand why your grandparents, or great grand parents thought and acted the way they did? Check out what they read and you can see how society was being shaped.
Amazon is making it easier to find and buy books on it’s site, but independent bookstores that sell through them barely make a profit off of the sales. (Check out their terms on the seller page, then compare it to the seller pages on biblio.com and others). Online sales are the future and used bookshops are heading that way in droves. But people tend to discard the old. A shiny new book is a great present, but a worn book is considered a bad one. Unless it is rare and antiquarian and that is a whole other topic.
The modernized world is beginning to recognize that the “single use” mentality is a bad idea, and used bookstores are the key to this. Badly worn reader copy books can be used for art projects and home décor. And while they are paper, the processing sometimes makes it difficult to decompose easily- especially the covers/boards. I have seen people who have used them as planters and as small animal beds.
But keeping used books in circulation will help the environment and the economy by letting people spend in small amounts and also prevent over publication of new books. This is a win win situation.
But people need to support used bookshops. I implore you to check out places like Alibris.com, Biblio.com, thrift books.com, hpb.com and strandbooks.com to start and to search for used bookstores near you to find local ones.
The only way for the industry to survive is with the help of society and it is important to society that the industry does survive.
Welcome back to our September First Chapter, First Paragraph Reviews.
September is Children’s Books month so today we will be showcasing an older book for younger kids.
Milo and the Magical Stones
North-South Books 1997
“In the middle of the sea there was an island, and on this island lived Milo and the other cliff mice. They loved their island. It provided them with food and shelter and protection from the rough storms that pounded waves against the cliffs. ”
With art work resembling watercolors, this tall book tells the tale of a cliff mouse who finds a glowing stone, one that all the mice want for their own. This thought provoking story has two endings, making the reader become involved in the decision making process and showing them that there are consequences inherent in all decisions. Translated from Swiss German, it retains a simple other worldliness to the prose.
Unlike a lot of children’s picture books, Milo and The Magical Stones has videos and lesson plans for teachers online. What makes this story different and yet also beloved for over 20 years? What about it resonate so well with parents and children alike?
Would you be willing to read this book? Why or why not? Drop us a line and let us know.
Once again we are back for our weekly “reviews”. In this series we will offer the first paragraph of the first chapter of a book, some new, some old and out of print and a synopsis of the plot to see if this will be of interest. In honor of the start of the school year, September will be children’s books month. We will “review” books for younger readers from Kindergarten to Jr. Highschool, offer the Lexile level (if available)and note if it something in our inventory or not. The intent behind this simple. Children tend to stick with what they like to read, and the books used for most language classes tend to be not typically something to catch a child’s attention. By offering a selection of lesser know, out of print or small press titles this gives the child a chance to read something different, develop a wider world view and, hopefully, create a love of reading.
The other aspect of this series is that most people tend to decide what they want to read by the cover art, or by the blurb on the back. We all know not to judge a book by the cover because sometimes the artist has no idea what the book is really about. By offering a preview of the opening paragraph it will give the reader a chance to see the language, flow and possibly the hook of the story. This is not a traditional review, as we will not discuss the plot of the book at all. For a more traditional review, please go to our goodreads page. https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/120840365-elizabeth-campbell where we will start posting this week.
It is our hope that you join us for this month of books and that you comment on what your opinion of the books selected are. First up is:
Lola the Buhund and the Empty Sky
No lexlie reading level.
“The night was damp, yet there was no rain. For almost thirteen years, there had been no light in the sky. Likewise, there had been no clouds, no rain, and no snow—the sky was completely bare. The disappearance of the sun, the moon, and the stars had left the country of Prithvi in a state of limbo. Long ago the tide had stopped and the wind had ceased to blow; the ground grew cold and the forests withered anddied.”
Born into a world of darkness, Lola has never seen the sun, but a chance encounter with some strangers sets her off on a quest to discover the fate of her world and what really happened to the light.
Does this sound like a book you’d like to read? Why or why not?