Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 Mt. Airy Kids' Literary Festival, or Blog Post Full of Links!

The 8th Annual Mt. Airy Kids' Literary Festival -- three days of authors, illustrators, workshops, games, parties, music, and more -- begins tomorrow, Friday, May 16!

Schedule and event information:
- Festival schedule on our website.
- Facebook event page (schedule included).
- Link to our most recent events newsletter, which contains a partial schedule breakdown by age groups.

Interviews here on the blog with four of the attending authors:
- David Wiesner, author of Mr. Wuffles and Flotsam.
- Judy Schachner, author of Bits & Pieces and the Skippyjon Jones series.
- Shawn K. Stout, author of Penelope Crumb.
- Jill Santopolo, author of the Sparkle Spa series.

Link for half-price Cat in the Hat tickets at the Arden Theatre, Saturday, May 17, 7pm. (Discount applies for Saturday evening performance only; use the code CATSAT). Update 5/16: Tickets are now sold out for this performance, though it's possible to check back and see whether anyone has cancelled.

Another offsite event: Where's Waldo? hunt at Henry School around the corner!
The C.W. Henry School will be having their annual Fun Fit Fest on Saturday afternoon, and they'll be hosting our Where's Waldo? event: a literary hunt with exciting prizes.

Diversity in kids' literature challenge:
Authors and independent bookstores are organizing to change increase diversity in children's literature by concentrating on one book with racially diverse characters both inside *and* on the cover, to show that it can succeed. Authors Kate Messner and Shannon Hale (see her Tumblr post announcing the challenge), and now John Green, have challenged Indie bookstores to make the page-turning new middle grade novel The Great Greene Heist a best seller, and The Big Blue Marble Bookstore is taking on the challenge. Will you? The bookstores that sell the most copies are eligible for great prizes, which we'll happily share with customers who pre-order a copy.
The Great Greene Heist comes out on May 27, so we'll be taking pre-orders during the Kids' Lit Fest. All orders placed from now until Monday May 19th will be given a 20% discount.

May 17 is Indies First Storytime Day, and we have a listing!
Indies First is the brainchild of Sherman Alexie, who asked his fellow authors to "… be a superhero for independent bookstores [and] spend an amazing day hand-selling books at your local bookstore…" Now, Indies First honors Children's Book Week with Indies First Storytime Day on May 17. Authors and Illustrators across the country will appear at their local indie as a story hour reader volunteer.

Follow one of the map links (by state or by store) to see our listing (and others nearby), and if you're not local to Philly, check out the other readings listed throughout the country!

Hope to see you this weekend!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Author Interview: Jill Santopolo

by Cordelia Jensen

Hi Jill! Thanks for joining us on the Big Blue Marble Bookstore blog. We are also happy you will be participating in our Kids' Literary Festival as part of the Middle Grade roundtable event on Saturday, 5/17, at 3pm, at the store.

Here’s a bit about the Sparkle Spa series:

Making friends one sparkly nail at a time – a new series!

Sisters Aly and Brooke love spending time at their mom’s popular and successful nail salon—it’s their “home away from home.” At the end of another incredibly busy day, Mom complains she is completely overwhelmed at work, even more so by all the kids who come to have manis and pedis. 

That’s when the sisters have a brilliant idea: Why don’t they open up a mini nail salon just for kids within Mom’s store?

My favorite part of the series is how distinct Aly and Brooke are from each other but also how fiercely they’re both devoted to each other and the nail salon. Were Aly and Brooke’s characters clear in your head from the beginning or did they change at all? When you were a kid, were you more like one sister?

Aly and Brooke were both very much themselves from the start—I knew I wanted 
one sister who was super responsible and organized and practical and another who 
was extra creative and artistic and chaotic. But as the books progressed, I added 
to their characters, giving them favorite colors and likes and dislikes and physical 
attributes. I also, knew, though, that even though their personalities were pretty 
different, they would love each other—and the salon—fiercely, and that hasn’t 
changed at all. 

As a kid I was probably a little more like Aly. I was thoughtful and a pretty good 

How much research did you do for this book? Did you come across new nail polishes you had never heard of before? Did you see any real dogs get their nails done?

The main research I did was attempting to polish my parents’ dog’s nails with 
special puppy nail polish. Sadie the dog was not too happy about it, and I ended up 
doing only two toenails before my sister convinced me to give up. 

The nail polish names in the book are all made up, but they’re based on the sort of 
polish names on the bottles in the nail salons near my apartment. I feel like new ones 
have arrived every time I stop by!

What was fun about writing these books? What was hard?

I had the most fun coming up with the nail polish names and the special manicures 
the girls do in the salon. And I think the hardest part was trying to get everything I 
wanted to write to fit into such a short book!

I like how the message in the series is that you can be a girl who is both “sparkly 
and strong.” As a mother of a sparkly and active sort of girl, I so appreciate this sentiment. I am assuming this was a very important piece for you to work into the story without wanting to seem heavy-handed?

Yes, it absolutely was. I feel like there’s a false dichotomy set up in society that 
says that either a girl can like princesses and sparkles (etc) or she can like sports 
and tree-climbing (etc). And part of why I wanted to write this book is to show that 
it doesn’t have to be an either/or situation. I was a kid who climbed trees wearing 
sparkly party shoes and played soccer with ribbons in my hair. I want girls to know 
that they don’t have to choose—that they can embrace all sides of themselves.

Tell us a little about your other books and upcoming projects.

Well the next Sparkle Spa book is coming out in June. It’s called Makeover Magic 
and it’s about what happens when a new salon opens up across the street and Aly 
and Brooke have to fight to keep their customers for Auden Elementary’s Fall Ball. 
And then I’m also working on a series for teens called Follow Your Heart, in which 
each book has thirteen different endings to choose from and each reader can pick 
the one that’s right for her—or him. The first book, Summer Love, just came out 
a couple of weeks ago. And then there will be more Sparkle Spa and Follow Your 
Heart books to come in 2014 and 2015.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about the Sparkle Spa series or 
about you as an author?

I’m really happy to be coming to the Big Blue Marble Bookstore!

We are very excited to have you--here's a picture of my daughter Lily and her friends with one of the Rainbow Sparkle pedicures featured in the first book of the Sparkle Spa series:

And, lastly, our “3 for 3” book-related questions:

1. What were 3 of your favorite books when you were a child/teen? 
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, A Tree 
Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

2. What are 3 books you’ve read recently that surprised you? We Were Liars by 
E. Lockhart, I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, Creativity Inc. by Ed 

3. What are 3 books that influence/d your writing? Kristy’s Big Idea by Ann M. 
Martin, Sunset Island by Cherie Bennett, Here’s To You Rachel Robinson by 
Judy Blume

Thanks! If you live in the Philly area come see Jill at the bookstore on Saturday, May 17th! She'll be part of a roundtable discussion with Shawn Stout, also interviewed here recently, and Kathleen Van Cleve, author of Drizzle.

Jill Santopolo is the author of the Sparkle Spa series, the Alec Flint mysteries and the Follow Your Heart books.  She's also an editor at Penguin Young Reader's Group and an MFA thesis advisor at The New School. You can visit her online at or follow her on Twitter @JillSantopolo.

If you're local to the area, please let the bookstore know if you would like to order books from the Sparkle Spa, Follow Your Heart, or the Alex Flint series. You can email orders to orders [at] bigbluemarblebooks [dot] com, call (215) 844-1870, or come see us at 551 Carpenter Lane, in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Finally, join us in June for Cordelia's interview with Lisa Graff, author of many books including A Tangle of Knots and the new Absolutely Almost, both edited by the multi-talented Jill Santopolo!