300 Seconds x 3

I write a lot about ‘300 second’ tasks: seemingly minor ‘to-do’ items that can really propel your marketing message a long way. It’s just 5 minutes of work, but sometimes we need the nudge to get started.

I’ve heard from many of you throughout the years that you really like the ‘300 second’ reminders.

Well, can you imagine what we could accomplish if we triple that time?

For those of you attending the Heartland Fall Forum in October, I’m scheduling ‘900 second’ appointments in my booth on Friday, October 13. We can look at your website. We can pick apart your newsletter. We can assess your social media strategy. Whatever you want.

If you’d like one of these appointments, just send me an email here. I’ll get you on my calendar and I’ll put your name on some special swag. (Although it’s not really considered ‘swag’ if only a select few receive it, huh? Hmmm.)

Stuff
A
Few
Of
You
Get
——
SAFOYG

Review (Plus): The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Review (Plus): The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

Bookshelf Blurb: Do you like Pippi Longstalking? This book is like having FIVE of her all fighting to save their beloved Harlem brownstone, but their heartwarming attempts are interpreted as naughty antics by the grouchy old landlord who wants them out worse than before they started to charm him!

America’s Review: The Vanderbeeker kids are adored by the entire block and surrounding area of their quant Harlem neighborhood on 141st Street; however, their landlord, the Beiderman (or Mr. Beiderman as Mom keeps correcting throughout the story) has told the family he is not renewing their lease. The five kids—varying in age from 12 to 4 ¾—are Isa, Jessie, Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney. These five children create ‘Operation Beiderman’ to save their home; but with only five days left until Christmas, they must be on their ‘A’ game to make it a success.

Karina Yan Glaser has introduced us to a fantastic family full of energy, passion and love. She has created characters with bold strength and internal issues true to their ages. The twin girls are 12 and Glaser has nailed the pre-teen angst of boys, dances and family loyalty. Doors slamming at angered and annoyed siblings is the perfect example of this age. Oliver, our only boy, is a nine-year-old who abounds with energy and ways to annoy his sisters who won’t leave him alone to just sit and quietly read his books. Our two younger siblings are Hyacinth, a typical middle sibling wanting peace and crafting everyone handmade gifts to show her love and devotion, and little Laney, the innocent, sweet baby of the family who longs to be old like her siblings, but still wants all the attention for herself.

Each chapter is a new day—one closer to losing their beloved brownstone. The kids, unbeknownst to their parents and the older ‘grandparent-like’ couple living above them, start leaving things on the doorstep for the Beiderman to find. One of the kids even decides to give him a kitten! With each new day comes a new gift and a new disaster. This poor old man wants to be left alone and these kids, in their good-hearted nature, keep giving him unwanted presents. When the kids deliver him a homemade breakfast and he opens the door, the sight of him scares them so much they drop the tray, shattering all the dishes and finding the food going splat! I was laughing at their loving attempts that were going SO wrong. These poor kids just want to save their home and every attempt becomes a disaster. It is too funny not to laugh and wonder what they can possibly do next.

It is Christmas Eve when the Beiderman finally has had enough and starts banging on the floors of the apartment. I’m sure he is wondering when will these children EVER leave him alone? The ultimate question I cannot answer is will they save their house? This is a fast paced book due to the many antics, petitions and times spent with the family, including the grandparent types upstairs–who I want as my neighbors! Good fun abounds in this book.

In the Classroom:

This is a 4th/5th grade read and I wouldn’t put it in the hands of anyone past this age level. It offers character traits which they can identify. The one thing I loved about this book was the drawings of the brownstone. There were only a few drawings throughout the book, but it offered the visual needed to complete the complexities of a brownstone in New York. This is a type of lifestyle not identifiable for everyone. That being said, I still recommend that you read this story out loud—perfect read between Thanksgiving and Christmas as it is short and could be finished in this time frame—and have your students draw a map of their street or neighborhood. This story would allow you to teach about compass rose and directions. You could also incorporate math with how many blocks and fastest routes to get from point A to point B. It amazes me how little students know how to get to their house as they are watching an electronic device in the car not paying attention to their surroundings. Encourage your students look out the window and see what is in their neighborhood.


The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (HMH Books for Young Readers | 9780544876392 | October 3, 2017)

Video: Mike Lowery’s ‘Doodle Adventures’

There’s something a little mesmerizing about watching author/illustrator Mike Lowery doodle in his Doodle Adventures books: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!, The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!, and The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat!

I like that he’s introducing the entire series, and that he’s showing and telling how to use the books–demonstrating that it’s actually okay to write in some books. (A hurdle I only recently cleared myself, but that’s another story.) The video production is well-done.

If you want to be mesmerized a bit more, check out more videos on Lowery’s Instagram. But don’t plan on getting any work done for a while.

And if you’d like to share this video with your customers, here’s the embed code:

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/PNXm1i1m8CA?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

New employees? Show them off.

I saw an employee nametag at the grocery store the other day, and just above the name ‘TONY’ was a little sticker that read, “I’m new!”

I thought this was nice to know, because it made me a little more forgiving when ‘TONY’ couldn’t direct me to the cream of coconut. It also made me appreciate when he joined in my search, explaining, “This is how I learn.”

I recently wrote a post about ‘exposing’ your staff to your customers through images, specifically by showcasing their smiling faces on the staff page of your website. Meeting ‘TONY’ reminded me that new hires warrant a mention in both the store newsletter and on social media. You do not have to post a long biography. Instead share an image with something like:

“Jordan joined the Whatnot team this week! It might take her a few days to learn where the key to the towel dispenser is located, but if you’re looking for help in the art history section, she’s your gal.”

And if your new hire tweets about books a lot, you can encourage your followers to get to know her through a tweet of your own. Snap a quick pic and post something like:

Meet our newest bookseller @Jordan. (And follow her! She really knows her #bookstuff. 📚)

And don’t forget to introduce your new employees to your regular customers as you see them. It’s likely that they’ve invested a lot in you, too, and an introduction goes a long way in making them feel appreciated.

Little Boxes: 12 Writers on Television

Whether you’re still reeling from the AV Club’s cuts to television coverage, dissatisfied with the impersonal nature of most media commentary, questioning why that commentary so often lacks diversity, or just looking for insightful short-form nonfiction, Coffee House Press has a new essay anthology to help ease your Better Call Saul withdrawal and disappointment with Game of Thrones’ short season.

Rather than analyze or annotate the hottest new tv shows, the writers in Little Boxes discuss the way the TV shows of their childhoods and young adulthoods influenced them. Most of these shows haven’t aired in years. Some are streamable cult classics, while others are back on TV in different versions, but each is a marker of a specific shared cultural moment.

That these shows belong to the millions of viewers watching but touch us so personally is a paradox some of these writers address. Justin Taylor’s essay on Dawson’s Creek describes how the show taught him to hate plot blocking and the importance of theme songs, despite initially becoming aware of the show through its marketing, which he saw completely through. Jenny Hendrix talks about somehow absorbing things from of television despite being raised by latter-day hippies in a community that discouraged TV, and her essay raises interesting points about the relationship between cultural identity and individual identity. Elena Passarello digs into the ways syndication and licensing issues affect rewatching and second-wave viewers, the importance of music in a show’s overall affect, and the way a mainstream TV show can open doors to subcultures. Twin Peaks fans will appreciate Edan Lepucki’s examination of how the place where we view a show can affect how it feels to watch it, and Nina McConigley’s experimental essay expands and improves the discourse about representation in popular media. Justin Torres describes the difficult moment when you aren’t ready to see a version of yourself onscreen yet, and T Clutch Fleishman’s piece about a softcore porn show on Cinemax is such a treasure that readers may be tempted to put it in a wooden box, bury it on a small Caribbean island, and create a map that marks its location with an X.

Tiny Boxes is an exemplary collection. No two essays are overly similar, yet they fit together and relate to one another in a way that goes beyond just forming a cohesive book. It’s also full of smart and beautiful writing. My only complaints about it are that it made me want to read more from each of the writers, and some (like Ruman Alaam) are a bit difficult to find, and it’s a great injustice that there isn’t an essay about The X Files. Perhaps there will be a second season, er, volume? In the meantime, I will be rereading Danielle Evans’ reflections on Daria before rewatching the show, perhaps taking notes this time.


Little Boxes: Twelve Writers on Television edited by Caroline Casey (Coffee House Press | 9781566894722 | August 29, 2017)