Feb 28, 2014

Calling all Small Business Supporters - You're ALWAYS Needed

Yesterday, I was inspired by the PW Shelftalker blog "It's More Than Shopping Local." It was full of passion for independent stores, not just bookstores, but all locally owned stores. I read every day about how bricks and mortar stores are being pushed out of their space or forced to close because some big business has either bought out their space or bought out their customers. I feel pain when I see that happen, but then I also read stories about new stores that are able to open or stores that are able to increase in size, and I love how exciting that is (especially for bookstores)!

Just yesterday I read The Bookstore in the Grove's story in Coconut Grove, FL, of being pushed out of their great retail space and into a much lower traffic purchasing location. What a nerve wracking move, but with amazing and loyal support they have continued to be a part of their community. I also have been keeping up on the potential closing of Chapter 2 Books in Hudson, WI, and their final great announcement of finding a new space and being able to stay open. So many people have offered to help them move - what a great community!

I love these stories, and the majority of people do, so why don't we do more to support local? "It's easier to shop online." "I know the larger store has exactly what I need." How many excuses can we give?  There are just as many reasons to support our small businesses, and much better ones at that. To name a few:

  • Your community will remain unique
  • You'll help create jobs
  • You'll receive amazing customer service
  • Your taxes will be put to good use

Small businesses are always in need of their supporters, so we at Scarletta encourage you to make the pledge: #PledgetoShopLocal. It doesn't matter what business it is... grab fruits & veggies at your local farmer's markets, sip the beverages at your local coffee shops, purchase gifts at local boutiques, and definitely buy your next read at your local indie bookstore. You'll be creating community, and supporting your neighbors!

Small business owners do amazing things every day to give back to their community (I should know, my dad is one). So now it's time for us to give back to them. Let the world know when you are supporting local, and encourage others to do the same.

I'll leave you with the words of Josie Leavitt's inspiring PW blog: "Be preemptive and shop where the passion lives on the shelves every day."

Feb 26, 2014

Reading on the Snow Drift

If you're packing for vacation--and we hope that you are--you've probably managed to sneak a book or two into your carry-on or suitcase. It's the time of year, after all, for a little more sunshine and a lot more heat. Before you head off to some sunnier shores or the family timeshare, take a moment to consider what you're taking with ya.

Recently, Josie Leavitt over at Publisher's Weekly, noticed a double standing in vacation reading. Many parents are picking up "potato chip" reads for their own beach bags, but filling their kids' backpacks with books just outside their reach. Why are adults allowed a tough-reading break, but kids are driven to push themselves even further than school is? It's called a vacation. Doesn't everyone deserve one from every facet of the hustle and bustle of daily life?

So why not allow our younger readers some time to read excellent books with the daring and adventurous and likable characters? If you're feeling like the vacation reader in your home could use some exciting variation at a level that's right up their alley, we have some great choices right here at Scarletta!

The Mighty Quinn

Quinn Andrews-Lee feels anything but mighty, and faces a dismal school year. His little sister outshines him athletically and socially, and he yearns for a service award his peers disdain. Not to mention charismatic bigot Matt Barker's goal in life is to torment Quinn and lure his friends to the dark side. When Quinn reports an act of vandalism, he finds himself accused of injuring Matt. Neally Standwell, a free-spirited new kid in Quinn's class, helps Quinn deduce who hurt Matt, but Matt would probably die—and would definitely lie—before admitting the truth.
Through events both comical and poignant, Quinn and Neally solve the mystery just as everything seems to go wrong and manage to thwart a bully without becoming one in turn. And at the end of the day, the fabled ability to belch the entire alphabet might very possibly trump any award ever presented at Turner Creek School.

Feb 21, 2014

Stripping Down (for) Your Book

In the past , I've discussed how some of my favorite picture book writing happens when authors strip their words to the cleanest, barest level. I think this leaves so much room for illustration and great book design to shape a manuscript into the best finished product it can be. Today, I have more to say on stripping submissions of...

Oh, I'm sorry! I just started writing on autopilot. When I wrote the title for this post, I immediately shifted into Acquisitions Editor Josh. For those looking for more picture book submission tips, you'll have to wait. This is an altogether different definition of stripping.

Every so often, there's a story in the book world that completely captivates me. I'm not talking about about the excellent manuscripts I read day in and day out, or the newest fiction that is hitting the shelves during the week. I am speaking to the stories that the world deems newsworthy, the moments that really keep us interested, engaged, and--at times--completely and utterly confused.

Today, I happened across one of those stories.

The New York Daily News reported yesterday that a group of booksellers and publishers in France bared it all in protest of one politician's efforts to ban a book titled Everybody Gets Naked. 

Ah, yes, a good ol' fashioned naked protest!

The picture book, Tous à Poil, is a delightful read that was published with intention to positively reinforce body image with children. Authors Claire Franek and Marc Daniau aimed to present bodies of human beings to children in a way that was representational of all sorts of different shapes and sizes. No two people are completely alike. And showing children that there's no reason to fear there own appearance is completely and beautifully admirable.

Unfortunately, the book has caused quite the uproar with France's UMP party, a conservatively aligned group. Party head, Jean-Francois Cope, read through the book on French television, proclaiming how ridiculous it is that anyone would want to show naked bodies to children.

In response to his cry to have the book banned, staff and supporters of keeping the book in the public eye have made it very clear how they felt about Cope's position. 

Yes, I think they have made their stance on banning this book perfectly and fantastically clear.

And that, dear readers, is how you fight for books.

Feb 14, 2014

You Stole My Heart, Now Steal Some Taste In Books!

We've all been there before, the apple of your eye has a bookshelf that isn't up to scratch. So what can you do about it? Certainly not tell them you don't think they would know good literature if it fell off of a shelf and hit them in the beret. So, you decide to take the subtle approach and just give them better books every time a gift giving occasion comes around. It worked on their birthday, it worked on Christmas, it worked all eight days of Hannukah. So, obviously let's keep the tradition going for Valentine's Day...

Let me stop you right there and tell you why that's an awful idea.

Feb 12, 2014

The First Annual SEUSS Awards! (that aren't affiliated with Dr. Seuss or his books even a little bit)

Hello and welcome to the inaugural SEUSS awards!

Click here!
You may be asking yourself what the heck a SEUSS award is and how it pertains to Scarletta. Well, you're in for a treat, dear reader, because we've plenty to tell you about our brand new award. And, believe me, there's nothing we love more--especially this time of year--than a good award. Oscars, Grammys, Golden Globes, SAG Awards, ha! These pale in comparison to the most distinguished honor an author/illustrator and his/her book can receive: the SEUSS! award (that is in no way affiliated or acknowledged by Dr. Seuss, his books, or his publishers).

The SEUSS! award--that's "Scarletta's Exciting and Unbelievably Spectacular Story!" Award--is a brand new honor that will be decided from YOUR VOTES on the fantastic children's picture books that the Scarletta staff has nominated this year. We've compiled our favorites from 2013 in five distinguished categories for our adoring followers, likers, and readers to choose from. The winners will be announced March 3-7 in support of Read Across America Day on March 2nd!

We hope you love our choices just as much as we do.

And while we know you would just vote for Scarletta favorites Monster Needs a Costume or A Day at the Lake, we deliberately chose to exclude our own books from the running. It just simply wouldn't be fair to the rest of 'em!

*Ahem* And the nominees are...

Feb 4, 2014

A Day of Debunking Myths and Valuing The Lives Around Us: World Cancer Day 2014

Today, February 4th, is World Cancer Day 2014. The Union for International describes it best,  "World Cancer Day is a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease." The fight against cancer, and the fight for increased cancer awareness are something that everyone can participate in.

As many of you are aware Jen O'Hara, one of our authors and one of the strongest women we know, has been a part of this battle ever since her daughter was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Jen and her husband Dan maintain a blog that was originally meant to help them keep in touch with their family and friends through their struggles, and now it serves as that as well as a source of inspiration and information to others that may be facing the same challenges. That blog inspired her writing in Determined to Matter, the story of their year long battle.

Determined to Matter is a great way to come to better understand not just the hardships that cancer can bring, but the love that family and friendship can combat it with. It's written so that you can follow along with their journey in large chunks or in little snippets, perfect for people that may at times feel overwhelmed by the emotion and need to take a break.

Join us in remembering the strength of Shannon O'Hara, and help us continue to fight for awareness and funding in the battle against cancer.