Friday Whatnot: May 29, 2015

“Thank you Miss America! Four words I was 100% sure I would never string together in this lifetime.”

–  Rowboat Watkins, after reading America Grelinger’s review of his new book, Rude Cakes.

jimmy_pattersonJames Patterson announced this morning that he’s launching a children’s book imprint called jimmy patterson. The imprint “will be unwaveringly focused on one goal: turning kids into lifelong readers. We want to make reading fun for kids – through stories and voices that speak to them and expand their world. We want to make books available to kids – through teacher scholarships, bookstore funding, school library support, and book donations. We want every kid who finishes a jimmy book to say: ‘Please give me another book.'”

Patterson will speak for the first time about his mission at BookExpo America’s Hachette Book Group booth (#2919) at 9:30 A.M. today.


Capitol Hill Books owner Jim Toole has banned several words from his store, including “awesome,” “perfect” and “Amazon.” NPR ran this feature on him yesterday.

June Content Calendar

May_JuneIn February, days couldn’t pass quickly enough. And now all of a sudden, it’s June.

Take some time to think ahead and plan content for your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blog posts for the month. The easiest way to do this is to get a blank calendar and insert any national events or holidays. Father’s Day is always the third Sunday in June, so this year it falls on June 21. And the only other June “holiday” I remember every year is Flag Day on June 14. (I’m weird.)

Once the national holidays are on your calendar, add any store events. This could be author events, book clubs, storytime, Summer programs, etc.

Now add any “community” events. This could be the last day of school, the first day of the local farmer’s market, or a neighborhood clean-up day.

Finally, add odd/obscure holidays that could have a tie-in to books or events in the store. For example, June 14 is Bourbon Day. Maybe you want to display Tasting Whiskey: An Insider’s Guide to the Unique Pleasures of the World’s Finest Spirits by Lew Bryson with The Kings County Distillery: Whiskey Notes: Tasting and Distilling Logbook by Colin Spoelman and David Haskell and a tower of shot glasses. Or, depending on the laws in your area, you could partner with a local liquor aficionado and host a private whiskey tasting. Or you could just prop open a cookbook or two to feature bourbon-enhanced recipes.

And that’s just one day. There are so many odd holidays each month (and it feels like more are added daily). Here are a few sites that I look to for my own content calendar:,, and one with a more educational focus, Look through these days/dates and see if there are appropriate tie-ins for your store. Maybe Waffle Iron Day on June 29 has special meaning for your community. Or maybe you are craving the chocolate chip cookies you tasted from Daniel Shumski’s Will It Waffle? Celebrate the day.

After you complete the calendar with days and dates relating to your store, then begin thinking about content. You can create your own or share others. On Columnist Day (June 23), maybe you don’t talk about books by your favorite columnists, but instead share one of their columns. Do you enjoy reading Ron Charles’ pieces? Michiko Kakutani’s reviews? Pamela Paul’s podcast? Share them.

And if you want to be really productive, visit the calendar sites and look ahead to July.

IndieNext Nominations

Have you read any books lately that you’re excited to recommend? Do any of them have release dates of August or beyond?

We’re approaching the nomination deadline for the August 2015 IndieNext List. Take 5 minutes today and make a list of books you want to nominate to the list. Choose your favorite, and then take a few minutes between now and Tuesday to write a little blurb about why you love the book. (If you have time to nominate more than one book, do so.)

You do not have to be the store owner, the book buyer, or the floor manager to submit nominations to the list. Any bookseller can do it.

The ABA makes it easy. You can either complete this online form, or send an email to If the book you’re nominating will be published months from now, they’ll hang onto your submission until the appropriate time. The ABA recommends that you write conversationally, as though you’re handselling to a customer in the store. And they’ll even fix any spelling or grammatical errors.

If you’ve never nominated a book to the list, this is a good time to start.

Review (Plus): “Rude Cakes” by Rowboat Watkins

Rude Cakes

My eight-year-old son approached and asked what I was doing. I told him I was reviewing/reading a book for Ms. Beth at Books & Whatnot. He informed me he would like to read it as well because it looks amazing. He is right. The cover does hook an eight-year-old, especially with the word “Rude” in large letters on it. So I let him read it.

From the eight-year-old after finishing Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins:

“This book does a great job of explaining how people can be rude and not have any manners. The cake doesn’t even listen to his mom and argues with her at bed time. It has a one-eyed monster who does listen and is very nice. I really liked the one-eyed monster. He looks friendly. Mom, the cake learns to be nice to the crumbs because of the monster’s example. Some of the people in my class need to read this book.”

I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks, Mr. Watkins. I will be sharing Rude Cakes with my son’s classroom.

In the store:

As we leave the classroom for a summer break, it is the ideal time to display books for summer time “growth.” Place together books which teach morals, values, math, grammar and things to do with your children. Children need to continue to be held accountable for their behavior throughout the summer months. Some parents are seeking educational materials to keep their children’s mind sharp through the break. Make it easy for parents to find and easy for them to purchase.

In the classroom:

Headstart, along with Common Core State Standards, has aligned the early childhood development into nine major domains. One of them is the Social-Emotional Domain of childhood development. Rude Cakes illustrates multiple social settings where he is rude, domineering and abrasive. Watkins has used the crumbs to show their emotions with simple words and actions. The relationship between all characters in this books provide an opportunity to discuss behavior and attitudes with appropriate behavior. This is a wonderful story to read and a great follow-up discussion.

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins (Chronicle Books | 9781452138510 | June 2, 2015

The Book of Languages

The folks at Owlkids Books speak lots of different languages. In honor of their recently published The Book of Languages by Mick Webb, they created this video to share some words and phases from the languages we speak.