Tag Archives: Staff

Muggle-less No More

19 Nov

That’s right. Sticking to the deadline I set for myself, I have finished all seven of the Harry Potter books just as the movie releases today! I am Muggle-less no more!

We were going to do another riveting video with our amazing puppets, but some people went to the midnight showing last night and came into work a wee bit tardy (cough, Preeti, cough). Not to worry though, I am here to entertain you with my thoughts on the series for the next hundred or so words!

Like everyone, I received my honorary scar on my forehead after turning the last page—wait, what? Not everyone gets that? Um…maybe I should head to Diagon Alley to have that looked at then…. Anyway, I loved, LOVED, LOVED the last book and am equally excited to see the first installment of the movie this weekend. For me, the best thing about this book was that I didn’t know what was going to happen. Like I said before, I had seen the movies previous to reading the other six, so there wasn’t much of a surprise to any of them, whereas in Deathly Hallows there was a twist and turn on every page. I can’t believe I waited this long to read them, and yes, this is a series that I will read over and over again.

Time for some awards without spoilers:

Favorite character: Severus Snape. He’s just fascinating!

Favorite moment: The ending, but of course!

Favorite charm or spell: Patronus or Stupefy. (I really like saying “stupefy”!)

And last, but not least…favorite book:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I loved all of the books, but the third one, for me, was where I really got into the world Rowling had created and started to really care about the characters.

All right, I better get back to work so I can leave on time to catch the movie. If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, I highly recommend it. You can find the books in November’s Holiday Gift Books catalog.

Virtual Catalog Tour

11 Nov

I don’t know about you, but I just looked at the calendar and realized that, OM-Goodness, it’s November 11! Thanksgiving is in two weeks and the holidays, like a 5th grade pop quiz, are upon us! Where does the time go? I have yet to even think about shopping—just the idea of it gives me hives and I have to go hide in a good book—and let’s not even talk about finding the time to actually do it. What is one to do!?!?

Books make great gifts and this year’s Holiday Gift Books catalog is overflowing with awesome gift ideas. I’m lucky. I get to work on the catalog and that means I know THE BEST books available this season. Yes, I know you’re jealous. But I’m here to help! We have so many great books that I, along with my fellow Book Talker, Erin, and Holiday Gift Books Editor, Sada, decided to give you an exclusive virtual tour of the catalog. We wanted to show some of our favorites and give you something a little more than what you see on the printed pages.

Books not only make great gifts, they make kids better readers. I remember getting Where’s Waldo?, A Wrinkle in Time, The Hardy Boys, and Goosebumps as gifts when I was younger and they definitely shaped me into the voracious reader that I am today. I hope you enjoyed the video and we’re also here to answer questions…so ask away!

If you want to look more at the Holiday Gift Books catalog, click here.

Muggle-less Muggle: On to Deathly Hallows!

4 Nov

Oh man! I am so excited! I am finishing the Half-Blood Prince today and will be vaulting directly into Deathly Hallows, so there won’t be any video today because I am too busy getting my read on! I mean, we only have two weeks until the movie comes out, Muggles, so I have to be ready!

Now, before I launch into how excited I am to read Deathly Hallows, let’s take a moment to reflect on Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince. Rather than go on some long rant about each book, I will give you my favorite and least-favorite thing about each one:

Order of the Pheonix:

Most Fave: Dumbledore’s Army. Man, that is just awesome! This (for me, anyway) is when the books become more about kids doing something to save the world. It’s not just Harry, Ron, and Hermione. It’s everyone coming together to take on evil and make the world a better place!

Least Fave: Dolores Umbridge—need I say more? She is a vile woman and, for me, one of the greatest moments in the series is when she is relieved as the headmistress of Hogwarts! Man, I hate her!

Half-Blood Prince:

Most Fave: Probably Harry doing a curse on Draco. Great moment for many reasons.

Least Fave: The Half-Blood Prince (I’ll refrain from using names so as not to spoil it for anyone). That was a huge twist that wasn’t, ya know? I mean, I expected something to be revealed like that eventually—but this far into the series, the fact that it didn’t happen sort of lulled me to sleep about that character. UGH! I can’t wait for Deathly Hallows.

Now, on to Deathly Hallows! The main reason I am excited about delving into this finale is that this is the only book that I have absolutely no knowledge as to what will happen. I had previously seen all the movies for the other books, so while I enjoyed reading them, there was that missing element of uncertainty So I am going in with clear eyes and expecting the unexpected.

I’ll be back with a video recapping my thoughts on the final book, the series, and my excitement about the movie in two weeks. How excited are you for the movie? I’d love to hear about it. I know a few in our office have already bought tickets for the midnight showing. They’re going to be some tired Muggles at work that day.

Don’t forget, you can relive the magic or live the magic for the first time! All the Harry Potter books are on November’s Holiday Gift Books catalog.

Literary Halloween: When Imagination Meets Reality

28 Oct


A Bad Case of the Stripes

Halloween is a time for goblins, witches, and black cats—but it’s also a time for Harry, Matilda, (Fancy) Nancy, Katniss, and the Frizz.

Do you and your kids or students plan to participate? Let us know which characters you think will be popular this year, and which ones you hope to see. (Pictures of your favorite costumes or innovators are welcome…they’ll help provide inspiration!)

Personally, I’m thinking I’ll be “Mouse” from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…that way, I can carry around chocolate cookies (my favorite!) all night long.

What about my fellow Book Talkers?

Trevor: I wouldn’t dress up as this character, but it would be cool to see someone go as Ms. Frizzle.

Preeti:  I’m going to be Paddington Bear!


Remember, share your pictures with us to let us know how your students/kids are dressing up. Feel free to submit them after the big day!  

And Now, a Mini Comic Con Post

11 Oct

Hello my fellow nerds and nerd juniors! Trevor and I were lucky enough to go to the New York Comic Con this past weekend. While we spend a day or two writing up our full report, we thought we’d share a few of the pictures we took to tide you over. (^o^)V

Needless to say, this was a highlight for us—this was one of the artists behind Cars AND Toy Story!

Then we learned how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse. Very secretive stuff, you understand.

It wouldn’t be Comic Con without a few Star Wars sightings!

A friend kindly volunteered to take a “I Am Spider-Man” picture (some of us are camera shy!).

These are just a sample of some of the amazing figurines that people showcase. Harry Potter (Trevor was pretty excited about this one, of course) and Iron  Man!

Lastly, we got some fun pictures of people who made their own costumes. Domo was particularly adorable!

As you may have noticed, there was a lot to see and take in! We heard a lot of discussion about graphic novels in the classroom and the history of illustrations in novels, and even got to listen to a great talk given by Scott Westerfeld. Stay tuned for the full report this Wednesday!

In the meantime, some food for thought: What do you think about using illustrated guides and graphic novels as teaching tools?

A Little More Muggle…

7 Oct

My life is a little more magical and Muggle-filled than it was last week. I have finished the first two books in the Harry Potter series and boy, are they good. My Book Talk cohort Preeti interviewed me about reading the first two books and it went a little long, so the video below is just some of the highlights of that interview. I will say here that one of my favorite things about the series thus far is the world that J.K. Rowling has created. It’s enthralling. The characters are great as well, but I found myself just captivated by everything from Hogwarts to the different landscapes to Diagon Alley. My other favorite aspect of the series is the beginning of Sorceror’s Stone, when we meet the Dursleys and Harry. The Dursleys, for me, were very Roald Dahl-esque. I immediately recognized who these awful people were just as if they were relatives of the Wormwoods (Matilda) or Spiker and Sponge (James and the Giant Peach). Rowling does a masterful job of establishing a framework for escapism in these novels. I can only imagine my 12-year-old self reading this. It would have blown my 12-year-old mind, and I would have applied to Hogwarts—literally, I would have written Albus Dumbledore and begged and pleaded for him to accept me as a student.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts. I am really enjoying the series and can’t wait to see what happens in Books 3 and 4. To find out my favorite characters, teachers, and what my owl’s name would be, check out the video below:

Don’t forget—you can find the whole series on November’s Holiday Gift Books catalog or find each book in Club Shop on our online ordering site.

Muggle-less Muggle

1 Oct

OK, so we all know that today Oprah is going to interview J.K. Roooooooooooooooooooowling! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist an Oprah impersonation). This, of course, is bringing a lot of buzz, especially with the second-to-last movie coming out in November. So I am taking this opportunity to confess something…I…oh man, this is hard to say…I have not read Harry Potter (bows head in shame).

Gasp! What! Can it be?!?! How is this possible!?!? Oh, the HUMANITY!!!!

Yes, yes. I can hear the collective doubt from everyone. You may be wondering the following questions: How did he even get hired at Scholastic? How does he get up in the morning? Why, WHY?!?!

I will answer these questions with a simple answer: It’s on my to-read pile and has been for a few years, but I have so many other books to read for work that I just never get to them. However, I would like to point out that I did read the first book a few years back, so I am not completely in the dark.

Outrage, anger, sadness, sympathy—these may be some of the feelings you are having while reading this right now and some of my coworkers are right there with you.

It’s a burden I have carried all these years and today—today!—I am proclaiming my commitment to HP. I am going to read all seven books before the movie comes out in November. I will need an outlet to discuss all things HP, and I would love for you all to share in this experience with me. Reread them, or if you are like me and have been hiding this secret and want to say to the world, “Yes, I have not read Harry Potter, but I am going to now!”, here’s your chance.

I can’t be the only one, right? I am, aren’t I. No, it can’t be! I am a Muggle-less Muggle. There MUST be others out there. Join me!

I am starting the first book today and will be giving my thoughts next week as one of my coworkers will interview me about the first two books. And who knows, maybe we’ll have some giveaways in the future (hint, hint!).

Happy Reading!

Books to Movies!

22 Sep

Photo by Mr. Wabu

Did you hear? They’re turning GOOSEBUMPS into a movie! When we heard this news, it got us thinking…what are some of our favorite book-to-movie experiences? While we definitely are in the business of reading and books, it’s fun to see how the silver screen compares to our imaginations sometimes. I can remember seeing The Return of the King in the theater and thinking, “That is exactly what I pictured the Mount Doom scene to look like.”

In our opinion, the best movies based on books have to stay true to the character and the story, and most of all, leave you wanting to read (or reread!) the book. Here are a few favorites that we definitely couldn’t skip:

Harry Potter

Of course we have to pick Harry Potter—we are already rereading the series in anticipation for the seventh movie!

Charlotte’s Web

This E.B. White classic chapter book has an equally classic movie to go alongside it—I still sing Templeton the rat’s carnival song every so often when I’m feeling particularly silly!

James and the Giant Peach

The animation and technology of this movie perfectly encapsulated the whimsy and adventure of Roald Dahl’s book about a boy braving the seas with his crew of ragtag insects!

Freaky Friday

The original, of course. Jodie Foster brought the smart-talking Annabel Andrews to life in this Mary Rodgers classic. She sure figured out that her mom’s life wasn’t nearly as enviable as she thought!

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Equal parts distressing and hilarious, this movie was perfect for the Lemony Snicket set. Even with us at the edge of our seats, the Baudelaire children came back time and time again from everything the evil Count Olaf threw at them.

Go on! Tell us some of your favorites!

Chapter Books Band Wagon!

20 Sep

It’s an exciting time for kids heading into first and second grades this fall—some have discovered chapter books and there are so many great ones out there! Chapter books are an important milestone for new readers. I can distinctly remember graduating to The Baby-Sitters Club after six months’ worth of Baby-Sitters Little Sister—it was a momentous occasion. It meant I was finally one of the big kids! So today, in honor of all those kids jumping on the chapter book wagon, we decided we’d take a look back at some of our favorite chapter books!

The Trumpet of the Swan

This is my absolute favorite E.B. White story. Some may prefer Charlotte and her salutations, but for me it was always about Louis and his trumpet.


Roald Dahl’s story of a giant catching good dreams is certainly one of his more friendly pieces. There’s a tiny bit of me that still wants to be Sophie!

Where the Red Fern Grows

Billy’s love for his two dogs, Old Dan and Little Ann, is the integral (and heartbreaking) part in this story about friendship and loss. I dare you to read this without getting teary eyed.


I have to be honest—the Bunnicula cover terrified me when I was younger. But when I finally got around to reading it, I couldn’t believe it’d taken me so long. It is about a bunny vampire who sucks the juice out of vegetables—a.k.a. Instant Hilarity!

Pippi Longstocking

Pippi Longstocking was definitely one of my idols growing up—she’s brash and headstrong, but so caring and adventurous that it didn’t matter! (Also, I reeeeally wanted to live in her house!)

So there you have it, Book Talkers—some of our favorite chapter books growing up. Now you tell us! What were some of yours?

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere!

9 Sep

Photo by Tambako

As soon as September comes around, a certain large orange fruit hits the town—pumpkins! It seems like everywhere you look, you’ll find something pumpkin-related waiting for you: in your coffee, in desserts (yum!), and of course, on your doorstep. We just can’t get enough of this orange-colored fruit! (Fun fact: The US produces 1.5 BILLION pounds of pumpkin each year.)

You can bet the younger Clubs are obsessed with pumpkins, and who can blame us? With so many great picture books about this sign of the season, we sometimes find ourselves overwhelmed with all the possible titles we should offer. Do we choose an old favorite? A teacher-recommended pick? A new pumpkin-related title in a favorite series? Or all of the above (and then some)?

To help you wade through this veritable pumpkin patch, here are Book Talk’s top five pumpkin books (in no particular order):

The Ugly Pumpkin:  I’m a big fan of Dave Horowitz, and this funny little rhyming book is a fantastic take on the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale—with a silly surprise ending, to boot! You can find this one on Firefly October.

The Biggest Pumpkin Ever:  These two mice each have found the perfect pumpkin to win the neighborhood contest—the only problem is that these two separate pumpkins turn out to be the same!

Pumpkin Town!:  Uh-oh, these brothers accidently spread pumpkin seeds all over their town—and now there are pumpkins EVERYWHERE! One of my favorite pumpkin books, and it’s great for creative discussion.

The Legend of Spookley, the Square Pumpkin:  Pumpkins are supposed to be round, but little Spookley shows that it’s cool to be square!

Duck & Goose Find a Pumpkin:  Could any duo in recent memory be cuter than Duck & Goose? I think not! Check out this gourd-tastic board book on Firefly September!

Did we miss one of your favorites? Do you have a special pumpkin memory you’d like to share? Make sure to comment on this post!

This post was written by guest blogger, Celia. Celia is an editor on Firefly and Honeybee, and a huge pumpkin ethusiast!