Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

Here we are at the end of 2007 already. One of my goals for the year was to read 100 books (grades 4 and up--i.e. not picture books). I met that goal yesterday after reading all afternoon to finish book #100, The God of Animals, by Aryn Kyle. My favorites of the year:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo. I know, I just posted about this one, but to reiterate: I find this reminiscent of The Velveteen Rabbit, but less abstract. A fairy doesn't appear to make Edward real, but he does realize that even after having lost everyone he loved, it is still worth it to love again. (OK, that sounds cliché, but really. It's a lovely book.) Edward Tulane is aimed at grades 4-6.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, tells the story of a German girl during World War II. The book is written from the perspective of Death, which sounds weird, but works well. Zusak writes with powerful descriptions: "A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses." (and that's only the 4th page.) As he writes, "It's just a small story really, about, among other things: *A girl *Some words *An accordionist *Some fanatical Germans *A Jewish fist fighter *And quite a lot of thievery." The Book Thief has been marketed to teens, but it was one of my mom's favorite books of 2007, as well.

While we're on the subject, Tamar, by Mal Peet, is another good World War II book for teens. The story alternates between the 1940's and the present day as a girl uncovers the mystery of her grandfather's past.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, is a bit hard to describe. Four children, some very tricky tests, a villain bent on taking over the world, plot twists and dry humor add up to an eminently enjoyable tale. (Grades 7-9, give or take.)

Edward's Eyes, by Patricia MacLachlan. It's a tear-jerker, I admit. But first it's a story of family and summer sun and neighborhood baseball and old family friends, with a little James Taylor thrown in. (Grades 4-6.)

Solomon Snow and the Silver Spoon, by Kaye Umansky. The first word that comes to mind to describe this book is "Dickensian," as it is set in turn-of-the-century London, with orphans and a chimney sweep and names that betray their characters' personalities (who else could Miss Starch be but a prim schoolteacher?). However, I don't think I've ever laughed out loud at a Dickens novel. I did at Solomon Snow. (Grades 4-6.)

So there you have it. (A select few of) my favorites of the grades 4-and-up books I read in 2007. What were your favorites this year?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

After-Christmas Titles

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and were granted many new books to take you into the new year!

Today is the on-sale date for a few new books:

One is a new picture book version of The Ugly Duckling, retold by Stephen Mitchell and beautifully illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher.

Another is Dark River, the second book in the Warriors: Power of Three series, written by Erin Hunter for grades 4-6.

My personal favorite, though, is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo, which is now out in paperback. This is a story similar to The Velveteen Rabbit in that it is about a toy rabbit, love, and loss. However, I think that The Velveteen Rabbit can be rather abstract and not always easy to understand, while Edward Tulane is more straightforward and equally beautiful.

All three are now available at The Alphabet Garden. Call (203) 439-7766 to reserve a copy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Thirteenth Tale

Wow. I'd heard a few of you exclaim over The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield, but wasn't quite convinced until Karlene offered to lend it to me and it hooked me after the first page. I'm not sure it would matter to me what this author was writing about--it's the rhythm of her phrases and unexpected word choices that really make the book. Like this sentence: "The monotonous fragment of a tune was scratching at my brain." How can you not love a book with sentences like that?

The plot is wonderful, too. It kept me guessing right up to the end, and after I finished reading I was tempted to go straight back to the beginning to pick up details I missed the first time.

Have you read any great books lately? Feel free to recommend them in the comments section!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Holiday Stroll

Mark your calendars for Friday's Holiday Stroll through the Watch Factory Shoppes. The Alphabet Garden, The Funky Monkey, Peddler's Corner, Picture Framer, and Toyz will all be participating with special events and/or discounts.

The Alphabet Garden will be open until 10 PM with 15% off everything in stock. Join us from 6-9 PM for a gift-wrapping party inspired by the Main Street series by Ann M. Martin. Scholastic has donated books that you can help us wrap. We will then donate the books to a charity that you can help choose. (Leave a comment here with your suggestion, or call (203) 439-7766.) At 8 PM we will draw the winner of the Julie Albright American Girl doll.

Plan to come and enjoy the festivities with us!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happy Birthday, Hilary Knight!

Hilary Knight, the illustrator of Kay Thompson's Eloise books, as well as many others, turns 81 today.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Daring Book for Girls

It has finally arrived--the girl version of The Dangerous Book for Boys! The Daring Book is just as crammed with information as The Dangerous Book, from the rules of basketball to how to whistle with two fingers; from how to tie a sari to making a lemon-powered clock, making a cloth-covered book, letter-writing, math tricks, first aid, Japanese t-shirt folding, and the list goes on and on!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Sandra Boynton Titles

Sandra Boynton is one of my favorite authors/illustrators for infants and toddlers, and it amazes me how often she comes up with new books. Just recently she released another book and CD pair called Blue Moo: 17 Jukebox Hits from Way Back Never. It looks like just as much fun as her other music, and features Davy Jones of The Monkees.

Another recent Sandra Boynton book is Bath Time!, a squeaky book to read in the tub. Perfect for a first-birthday gift.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Anniversary Sale

Hard to believe, but The Alphabet Garden has been around for 2 years this month! To celebrate, we are holding a week-long sale with discounts on everything from bookmarks to hardcover books:

30% off Adult Hardcovers
10% off Adult Paperbacks
20% off Children's Hardcovers
5% off Children's Paperbacks
5% off Board Books and Soft Books
30% off Audio Books
25% off Journals and Educational DVDs
10% off Booklights and Bookplates
5% off Bookmarks, Toobaloos, and Eye Lighters
15% off Posters, Flash Cards, and Games
15% off Plush, Dolls
35% off Book Ends and Book Boxes
5% off Greeting Cards
and an extra 10% off all clearance items.

Sale ends Saturday, October 13, so stop by this week to get a head start on your Christmas shopping--or just treat yourself.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Welcome to The Alphabet Garden's new blog! We are an independent bookstore located in the Watch Factory Shoppes of Cheshire, CT. Our main focus is children's books, from books for infants to those for teens, but we also carry a selection of books for grown-ups, and if you are looking for a certain book that we don't have, we are always happy to order it for you.

We always have fun things going on, from birthday parties to book signings, so check back frequently for more information!