How many pink, adorable birthday books by wonderful female illustrators can the market handle?
Apparently two - and one a month at that! I had a deja-vu moment tonight when I read a review for Jennifer Larue Huget and LeUyen Pham's The Best Birthday Party Ever. Looking at the book cover didn't help me either.
Did I order that book? Yeah, I think I did.
But I hadn't. I had ordered this:
That's The Best Birthday Ever! By Me (Lana Kittie). Now, they're clearly not identical books and the illustrators have completely different styles. But you have to admit that there's some definite similarities in titles and colour schemes. Also, they were released a month apart. The Best Birthday Ever! By Me (Lane Kittie) was released January 4th and The Best Birthday Party Ever was released February 22nd, which makes me feel a bit less like a dunce for being completely confused.
About ten minutes later, I had another confusing moment when I was checking to see if I had ordered Arthur Geisert's new wordless wonder, Ice. We already had two books titled Ice on order but they were a little different:
Warning: snark alert.
But seriously, doesn't this "Daisy Meadows" gal grind your gears some days? Am I the only one who thinks "What the crap - they're really reachin' here!" when I see some of these gals? Behold:
Flora the Fancy Dress Fairy: That ain't no fancy dress! That's a mermaid costume, lady.
Carrie the Snowcap Fairy: A snowcap? Is that even a thing?
Grace the Glitter Fairy: Okay, I know that the chidlers who read this series probably aren't concerned with mutual exclusivity, but don't all these fairies qualify as glitter fairies? Aren't they all glittery? Or is Grace merely the most glittery of them all?
Imogen the Ice Dance Fairy: I'm picking this purely because of the name "Imogen." Far out, Daisy. Interesting to note that the new version features the name Isabelle instead. Also, ice dance is lame, with the exception of this.
Megan the Monday Fairy: No one likes the Monday fairy. And that skirt looks much more appropriate for Saturday.
Abigail the Breeze Fairy/Evie the Mist Fairy: Like snowcap, I think that the breeze/mist are not consequential enough to require their own representatives in the fairy world.
Mia the Bridesmaid Fairy: This is the one that fans picked in some vote a while back, so I probably shouldn't make fun of it. But really, I can't help but imagine the Bridesmaid fairy as one who carries around a lot of vodka and broken dreams and insists that she's not married yet because "She's putting herself first" (also, wasn't this book made into a terrible movie with Katherine Heigl?)
Paige the Pantomime Fairy: Because every child is concerned with pantomiming. And why the dang is she classified as a "Christmas Fairy" on the website?
Kate the Royal Wedding Fairy: No fascinator? Girl, please.
I have the privilege of visiting every single elementary school in town (there's only 7 so it's not that heroic) to promote the Summer Reading Club. The community is relatively affluent, so lots of the kids are super readers with their own respectable home libraries. It can sometimes be challenging to engage these kids (especially the older ones) with the library when they can simply stop by Chapters to buy what they want, or pay to attend an event that seems way cooler than any library program.
So I have started throwing out tidbits of book news to the kids to peak their interest when I can tell that they're not so impressed by the library. The latest bone I've been throwing out is the release date of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and mentioning that kids can already put their name on the library holds list for the title.
Well, in about a week there's been 18 holds on the book. And it's still five months away from being published! And it's not just Wimpy Kid. I've also been promoting the new Creepella Von Cacklefur series that comes out in August and each of the two books now have over 20 holds. Big Nate On a Roll, which also comes out in August, has a respectable 6 holds.
Now, from a collection development standpoint, it may seem like I've created a bit of a monster. I wouldn't be surprised if there are 50 holds on the new Wimpy book by November. You may be worried that poor lil' Kid #48 will be using one of those assistive bath device seats before he gets his paws on the book. But you should see how pumped the chidlers get when they hear that a new installment of a beloved series is forthcoming. It's insanity. I have actually started prefacing the news with "I have something to tell you, but you have to promise not to freak out." And all the advance holds actually gives me a really good idea of how many copies to buy. I've already purchased 10 copies of the new Wimpy book and I will gladly buy more as the holds list increases. Even if I have to weed 20 of these books in two years (and I don't think I will since the original Wimpy books are all out), the buzz that was created and the demand that was met will make the purchases well worth it.
So there's yet another argument for librarians to stay current. Knowing what popular authors have books on the burner, and when those books will be available, can help crack those tough nuts. When we can give kids something they probably won't find on their own (and can't buy!) - like a brand new book announcement gleaned from Twitter or Publishers Weekly - we become valuable. It's not just about selling what the library has, but what the library will have. We have to show that we're with it, we know what kids want, and it will be ready and waiting for them as soon as it's released.