Tag Archives: bookstores

Bookstore blues

Classic meets contemporary on this bookshelf

I headed to one of the country’s bigger bookstores a while back too see what they might have for kids on a particularly timely topic. It’s easy to research such things online but true book believers like to see, touch and smell the goods.

I brought laptop, camera and cell phone along — every piece of electronics gear I own. Which is pretty much everything but the one they really want me to have. I know this because the kiosk for their bookreader gizmo greets me each time I enter their store.

I headed to the children’s section, where I found craft kits, plush toys and lots of books with commercial tie-ins. But nothing I was really looking for. Not even a real live person who could assist me in my search. And they wonder why we’re all addicted to Amazon.

More books that make us feel all warm and fuzzy

In another section of the store, I overheard a man telling a bookseller that his child had read 300 books in the past year. I wanted to jump for joy, but the woman had a different reaction. “Imagine if they had an e-reader,” she said. So imagine I did.

I imagined a weekend without father-daughter trips to the library, without cradling a book after falling asleep mid-chapter. I imagined my daughter’s bedroom without shelves stacked with Shakespeare plays, without books signed by favorite authors like Jodi Picoult.

Normally I hit my favorite indie bookshop, but some days I feel too grungy to pop in to places where folks might see me in my tired old tee and saggy shorts. I’m gonna have to get over that. It beats the heck out of battling the big bookstore blues.

— Lynn

Note: The “1st Annual Rally for Literacy” takes place Sat, Oct 1 from 9-11am. Five Tucson literacy organizations are merging into a single one dedicated to promoting a culture of literacy and creative expression. Their new name and logo will be revealed at this rally. More info at www.bookmans.com.

Coming up: Arts and culture — festival style


When pigs fly

When our son Christopher was born, we used a “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip to announce his birth. “Calvin and Hobbes” is the work of advertising exec turned cartoonist Bill Watterson, who named the 6-year-old boy and his stuffed tiger after a French theologian and an English philosopher.

I left doctoral studies in philosopy and religion to be a stay-at-home mom, so it’s no surprise that “Calvin and Hobbes” resonated at the time. But nowadays another comic strip speaks to us as parents — and people. It’s Stephan Pastis’ “Pearls Before Swine.”

The first Pearls Before Swine compilation was published by Andrews McMeel in 2003

Pastis is a second-generation Greek American born and raised in an L.A. suburb who says he’s never had formal training as an artist or cartoonist. Seems Pastis honed his art with lots of drawing time alone in his room. He began drawing “Pearls Before Swine” in 1997.

Pastis holds a political science degree from UC Berkeley and a law degree from UCLA. He drew his first “Pearls Before Swine” character (Rat) during a class on the European economic community. Seems boredom was an early secret to Pastis’ success.

I recall Tony-Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda sharing a similar tale when we chatted a few years ago during the cast party for “In the Heights” at ASU Gammage. Apparently the playwright and actor first penned parts of the musical during astronomy classes when he should have been taking notes.

Croc and Rat plush toys

“Pearls Before Swine,” now published in more than 600 newspapers worldwide, was named after a famous saying from the New Testament. It’s about the friendship and foibles of an arrogant rat and a dim-witted pig. Together, Rat and Pig offer “caustic commentary on humanity’s quest for the unattainable.”

Pastis once practiced law in San Francisco. Today he lives in Santa Rosa with his wife Staci and their two children — reading American history books in his spare time. It’s no wonder his work resonates so well here in our house, where Jennifer dreams of a life in San Francisco and swaps history books with her equally history-obsessed dad.

Pearls Before Swine Pig

I used to dream of retiring so I’d have time to read my swelling stack of Sunday magazines from The New York Times. These days I’m leaning more towards Pastis pearls like “The Ratvolution Will Not be Televised,” “The Crass Menagerie,” “When Pigs Fly” and “Lions and Tigers and Crocs, Oh My!” All illustrate “the flaws and shortcomings of human nature.”

Pastis’ latest work, titled “Larry in Wonderland: A Pearls Before Swine Collection,” will be released on Oct 4. It features the antics of Mad Ducker, Cheshire Snuffles, Tweedledum Pig and Tweedledee Idiot Pig. Also Raterpillar, Zebra and Larry the Croc — all well-known to fans of the award-winning comic strip.

You can meet Pastis at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe Thurs, Oct 20, at 7pm. I learned of the teen & adult event thanks to a Changing Hands “Educators Preview” e-mail listing an impressive slate of author events. The e-mail also notes that Pastis is available for high school visits that day.

When Pigs Fly was published by Andrews McNeel in 2010

Be sure and look for us in the history, art or philosophy sections if you attend. In the meantime, head to www.comics.com to explore animated versions of the “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip. They debuted in late January, but you can catch up thanks to the online archive.

Remimd me to use a “Pearls Before Swine” strip the next time we want to announce news of a new baby. Though, come to think of it, that’ll only happen “when pigs fly.”

— Lynn

Coming up: A double dose of fairy tales, Valley theater by the numbers, Fun with free concerts, AriZoni nominations

Books & beyond

This new book will appeal to fans of musical theater

Mall it if you must, but I’m hitting the bookstores instead. Places like Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe feel more like community gathering places than retail shopping spaces.

Bring your holiday shopping list along, but be prepared to enjoy much more than their extensive collection of books and gift items.

Author visits and book signings are a frequent occurence at Changing Hands — and feature local as well as nationally-renowned authors. Some write for adults, others for children and teens.

A lovey selection for young music and cat lovers

My own personal favorite is fellow Arizona parent Amy Silverman — mom of two daughters, managing editor of Phoenix New Times and half of a dynamic “Mothers Who Write” duo offering writing workshops.

Silverman presents “Holidaze: How to Write About the Happiest Time of the Year,” at Changing Hands Bookstore on Tues, Dec 2.

For poetry lovers, Changing Hands offers “First Friday Poetry,” “Poetry Roundtable” and other events. There’s plenty for photographers too.

One of several Twyla Tharp titles for creative types

My fellow magazine readers will find an eclectic selection of titles for folks of all ages and interests — including many you won’t find at more traditional book stores or magazine stands.

“Workshop for Toddlers” with Ramie Manch on Mon, Dec 6, mixes toddler/parent together time with strategies for using puzzles to enhance academic and social skills.

Changing Hands has a charming children’s area full of colorful books, toys, puzzles, craft kits, stuffed animals, puppets and more.

Teen events include writing workshops, author visits and much more. Teens love the Changing Hands vibe, and will have a great time exploring Hoodlums Music & Movies right next door.

Gift idea for art managers and leaders

If music is your thing, check out the “East Valley Music School Concert” Sat, Dec 4. If stories rock your world, you’ll find plenty of storytimes at Changing Hands. They’ve even got opportunities to learn a bit of Spanish.

Changing Hands has diverse holiday offerings — commemorating Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Christmas and more. They also host local artisans on a regular basis so you can enjoy even more holiday gift ideas.

While reviewing their December calendar (I’m on their e-mail list to receive info on author series, workshops and community events), I stumbled on sign language, physics, wildlife, volunteerism and more.

One of many titles on my holiday reading list

Books are just a bit of the bounty you’ll find at Changing Hands Bookstore. Go. Listen. Read. Create. Meet. Explore.

— Lynn

Note: Changing Hands Bookstore, like Raising Arizona Kids Magazine, is a member of Local First Arizona. Click here to learn about local businesses that appreciate your support during the holiday season and beyond.

Coming up: Art adventures–Arizona Science Center

Get your poetry on

Ever considered what kites, frogs, humor or math education might have in common with poetry? Or what poetry has in common with gardening, organ donation and child abuse prevention?

It’s the month of April—dubbed the “national month” for each of the above. In honor of National Poetry Month, I’m pleased to share some ways you can join in the celebration.

The ASU Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing is featuring student, faculty and alumni poets from their MFA program in creative writing at various events and poetry readings this month—including the following:

Chihuly sculpture (Photo by C. Trimble)

  • Tempe Poetry in April. Poetry readings every Wed. at 7pm at Tempe Center for the Arts. April 21: Kathleen Winter. April 28: T.R. Hummer
  • PVCC Visiting Writer Lecture Series. Mon., April 26, at 2pm at the Paradise Valley Community College Library

Paradise Valley Community College Center for the Performing Arts presents “High Notes” with PVCC faculty members Dr. Lois Roma-Deeley (poet) and Dr. Christopher Scinto (chair of their division of fine and performing arts).

The event takes place Thurs., April 22 at PVCC’s Studio Theater—and features a book launch/signing, poetry reading and opera preview (including five musical selections). Admission is free, but reservations are recommended because seating is limited.

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, a member of Local First Arizona, holds a poetry roundtable each month where folks can workshop one of their original poems for their peers. The next event takes place Mon., April 12.

A poetry workshop titled “Estranging the Lyric” comes to Changing Hands on Thurs., April 29 at 7pm. It features Cynthia Hogue, poet and professor of English at Arizona State University, exploring “ways to make a poem’s speaker new and strange.”

Three more poetry-related items of interest…

Chihuly sculpture (Photo by C. Trimble)

  • The Center for Native and Urban Wildlife at Scottsdale Community College is holding a poetry and photography contest to celebrate Earth Day—and accepting entries through Thurs., April 15
  • Borders is offering 20% off selected poetry at Borders.com through May 3
  • Elizabeth Andronic, a sophomore at Centennial High School in Peoria, recently won the 5th annual Arizona Poetry Out Loud state finals and travels to Washington, D.C. later this month to participate in the national POL competition (where the winner will earn a $20,000 college scholarship)

Don’t overlook the obvious. Reading and writing poetry is every bit as lovely as other means of celebration.

We’ve long had a basket of poetry books for leisurely lingering over the loveliness of language.

No home should be without one…


Note: If your arts organization is offering a family-friendly event in the Valley this weekend, please let me know. I’m always looking for unique theater, dance, music, film, visual arts and poetry events for my weekly Friday arts roundup.