A friendly new take on Graeme Base’s gorgeous 1986 classic, Animalia — now in an early-learning edition aimed at slightly younger children than the original. Each page features two alphabet letters, with a few key-word illustrations per letter. The right-hand page then folds out to reveal the matching key-words, plus an image of the original Animalia page for that letter. It’s a lovely large-format hard-cover, and a great way of introducing new readers to Graeme Base.
My First Animalia – HB – Penguin – $20
I was so gripped by this novel that I read it crossing the street, heading from tram to train, and for two days on every tram and train trip I could devise.
The Signature of All Things signals Gilbert’s return to fiction after her successes with the Eat, Pray, Love megalith, and here she recounts the explorations of one Alma Whittaker, a 19th-century female bryologist (or moss specialist). Precocious Alma is raised to astounding wealth in Pennsylvania, analyses the botanical samples of her father’s estate for decades while running the family’s pharmaceutical empire, spends a year in Tahiti in penance for emotional crimes (which I’ll let you discover for yourself), and ends her long life in Amsterdam as the esteemed Keeper of the Mosses at the Hortus Botanicus.
Gilbert’s writing is simply excellent, as ever — fans might also enjoy her too-little-known The Last American Man — and certain passages of this novel are sublime: the constellation scene at the ball and the women’s football match are both unforgettable. The settings in Pennsylvania and Tahiti are richly detailed, and the historical research underpinning the novel seems comprehensive. I thought her characters could have been pushed further out of the realms of cliche than Gilbert managed, and I think she shortchanged her heroine romantically (she deserved better!), but it was still an entirely absorbing and beautiful novel. Splendid, even.
The Signature of Things — Elizabeth Gilbert — Bloomsbury — PB — $30.00
A few years ago, Penguin released their bold orange striped Popular Penguins – a great selection of older and more modern classics that sell for only $9.95. Since then, we’ve also had the pink Popular Penguins, released to benefit the McGrath Foundation. And now we have the green Popular Penguins, a fantastic collection of 50 crime classics, which, like their orange cousins, are also a bargain at $9.95 each. If you’re a crime fiend they’re well worth perusing, as there’s a fabulous mix of old and new, established and less well-known authors, so you’re bound to find a great read! To celebrate their release, we have a handy green canvas tote bag to give away with every three green Popular Penguins purchased, while stocks last. Maybe something to keep in mind with Father’s Day fast approaching?
I didn’t quite know where to shelve these new colouring books from I <3 Mel… especially the ‘Arrgghhh!’ one with it’s graphic scenes from Hitchcock’s Psycho and the Birds. So they are hanging out in the art section waiting for adults with exceptional colouring skills (or even beginner colourers) to give them life through colour. You can check them out at http://ilovemel.me/j17/index.php/colour-me-good. We’ve also got a fun Bowie Paper Doll with some splendid costumes. Their illustrator, Mel Elliott is ‘influenced by pop culture, celebrity, fame, glossy magazines and the aesthetic perfection that goes hand in hand with all that stuff. The colouring books and paper dolls were developed when [she] realised that the things we enjoyed doing as young children, such as cutting out and colouring in, would still be enjoyed by adults, if only the activity books had ‘grown up’ with us’ (http://ilovemel.me/j17/index.php/about).
It was fortuitous that just when I picked this fun little book up to write a post about, I got a phone call with a quote that would, most definitely, have fitted right in with the collection of weird things people say in bookshops; though it was over the phone, not actually in the store…
Me ‘Hello, Fairfield Books…’
Customer: ‘ Hi, I’m after a book… A specific book…’
Me: ‘Yep…’ (expecting details like a title or author)
Customer: ‘Yeah, I can’t remember the exact title, but… do you guys, like, have a lot of books there?’
Me: ‘… haha, yep we do. Lots of books…’
Sadly we didn’t have the one he wanted.
‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ is a compilation of hilarious quotes from bookshops in the UK.
Here are a few examples:
‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write any books about dinosaurs?’
‘Do you have this children’s book I’ve heard about? It’s supposed to be very good. It’s called Lionel Richie and the Wardrobe.’
A great gift – I couldn’t stop laughing!
$15 in hardback
Last week we were very pleased to have a visit from the fabulous Andy Griffiths. He kindly signed (and even drew pictures in!) lots of his books, which you could be lucky enough to become the new owner of if you’re quick! A great chance to get a signed copy to add to your collection, or give to someone as a special gift.
We’ve been lucky in recent years that so many publishers have taken the trouble to produce gorgeous looking collections of classics at great prices. Of course there have always been the good old Penguin Black Classics, but a couple of years ago Penguin added a beautiful clothbound selection of both adults and childrens classics that retail for only $19.95 each. The children’s selection is even available in a lovely boxed set of eight titles for $120 – perfect for a very special gift. And recently they’ve added a delightful selection of clothbound Australian classics. They’ve also released Popular Penguins, a broad collection of older and modern classics in small format traditional orange striped paperbacks for only $9.95 each – bargain!
Around about the same time, Vintage released it’s classics collection, with stunning covers and distinctive red spines – and only $12.95 each. Vintage also added a children’s classics selection with equally thoughtful covers for $9.95 each. At the moment, if you buy any two Vintage classics (either adults or kids) you can have a sweet Book Journal to record everything you read. We also still have some cute activity book and pencils to give away with any kids Vintage classic purchase.
Australia’s own Text Publishing was next off the block with their highly visible yellow Text Classics collection – and all by Australian writers, so ably filling gaps left by Penguin and Vintage. They’ve also gone to lengths to include books that had sadly gone out of print, thereby ensuring these fabulous books won’t be forgotten. And they’re adding new titles to the collection all the time. You can rediscover these titles for only $12.95.
Earlier this year Angus and Robertson released their own collection of Australian classics for $15 each. If you buy two of these great titles, we are giving away a very useful cloth carry bag – we don’t have many left, so be quick!
And finally, something to look forward to – Penguin will be producing a collection of Crime Classics in August this year. They’ll look similar to the Popular Penguin series, but with green stripes instead of orange. And best of all they’ll be only $9.95 each.
So if you’re looking for a failsafe gift, want to fill the gaps in your home library or just want to finally read that book that you never got around to reading, you can’t go past a classic!