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J.K Rowling has announced the October launch of Pottermore! There are rumors spreading that a few lucky people will get early access on 7/31/11, so try try try!

J.K Rowling has said it is a Harry Potter world in our hands. I can’t wait for the launch. Who knows what surprises will be waiting for us in October (or in July for a few lucky lads and/or lassies)? All I know is tons of fun is heading our way. To see J.K. Rowling’s announcment go to:



We were excited to read this item in the Quail Kids newsletter from Quail Ridge Books this week:


Last week, we told you of our customers who’ve started a mom & daughter book blog. Our 9 year old book correspondent, “LitKid”, reviewed Kirby Larson’s THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL. Another customer called in with this update: “My daughter read THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL and did some online searching and discovered that one of the friendship dolls (Miss Kagawa) lives at the (Raleigh) NC Museum of Natural Sciences.”

If any other young readers want to share their book reviews, the duo is looking for other contributors. Find them

A big “thank you” to Quail Ridge for sharing our blog and to the parent who called Quail Ridge to share the news that this excellent book has a local connection; now it’s time to plan a summer field trip to the Museum of Natural Sciences …

~ AKid@Heart

The Harry Potter Books

By J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter series will take any fantasy lover up up and away into the life of young Mr. Potter. When he starts receiving mysterious letters labeled as followed:

Mr. Harry Potter

    The Cupboard Under the Stairs

            104 Privet Drive

    Little Whinging, Surrey

his life turns a double backflip. Suddenly he’s at King’s Cross Station, on his way to  Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. On the train his true blue friends, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley meet the “Chosen One.”  But trouble meets Mr. Potter when he walks through the door – Draco Malfoy.

A Passage From Book 1: Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone:

Harry looked up at the giant. He meant to say thank you, but the words got lost traveling to his mouth, and what he said instead was, “Who are you?”

The giant chuckled.

True, I have’nt introduced meself. Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.”

He held out an enormous arm and shook Harry’s whole arm.

What about that tea, then, eh?” he said, rubbing his hands together.”I’d say no ter summat stronger, if yeh’ve got it, mind.”

 ~ LitKid

Postscript: My mom read these books before I did!

Postcript 2: We’ll be writing more soon about the big Pottermore announcement!

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 4.20.53 PMAnita Silvey’s wonderful “Cat in the Hat” backstory on her Children’s Book Almanac site yesterday reminded me of another anecdote about this classic that I will never forget.

I heard this “Cat in the Hat” story from a favorite writer during a book tour stop a few years ago. I can’t do it justice from memory, but this is the gist:

When he was very young and couldn’t read yet, the writer asked his grandfather to read “The Cat in the Hat” to him; he was thrilled to find that the story became more entertaining each time they sat down with the book.

After his grandfather had read the story to him a few times, the writer brought the book to his mother one day and asked her to read it. After a few times reading “The Cat in the Hat” with his mother, he was very disappointed: When she read the story, it was EXACTLY the same every time. He didn’t understand; his grandfather’s “Cat in the Hat” took on exciting and unexpected twists and turns with each reading. Why was his mother’s version so dull?

Only after the writer was much older did he figure out the reason – his grandfather could not read. But by relying on those quirky Dr. Seussian illustrations and his imagination, he managed to make “The Cat in the Hat” come alive for his grandson in a new and colorful way every time.

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing many writers talk about their work and influences at our local independent store (Quail Ridge Books and Music) over the past few years, but this is the story that has stuck with me.

I was moved by the fact that the grandfather didn’t make up excuses and sidestep his grandson’s “Cat in the Hat” request. Instead, he improvised and made use of one of his innate skills – imagination. And what a great (and unexpected) payoff it brought – his improvisation made him a storytelling master in his grandson’s eyes.

I work as a writer, but I’ve always been awed by the storytelling power of illustrators; so many vivid images from childhood books (mine and my daughter’s) are stored in my memory along with the stories they accompanied. But these days, most of the books waiting on my bedside table contain page after page of words and only words, and as my daughter has gotten older, the same can be said for many of the books in her reading stack.

In the midst of all of those words, this story always reminds that inspired images (mixed with a lively imagination) have the power to conjure up endless stories without a single written cue.


image courtesy of

The Friendship Doll

By Kirby Larson

Delacorte Books for Young Readers

This book is a fiction masterpiece, telling the stories of children’s encounters with Miss Kanagawa. Miss Kanagawa was one of the 58 dolls sent to the U.S from Japan in 1927  as a sign of Friendship. That’s how the book got its name. These stories begin in the 1930s, the birth of the great depression. One child oversees Miss Kanagawa’s arrival, another encounters her at the Chicago World’s fair. And one child discovers the doll in his grandmother’s attic and yet another encounters her at a museum.The lesson I took away from this phenomenal piece of literature is “Friendship is the key to ending quarrels.” Some of these dolls are still around today in Museums all over the world. I think Kirby Larson gave it her all. I loved it! Any reader will be awed by The Friendship Doll. It is telling the true meaning of these two things : Dedication and Friendship. I absolutely L-O-V-E-D it!!!!!

~ LitKid

My Summer Reading Wish List

  1.  The Emerald Atlas by John Stevens
  2. True….Sort of by Katherine Hannigan
  3. The Dork Diaries (series) by Rachel Renee Russell
  4. The Sherlock Holmes Series by A.C Doyle
  5. The 39 Clues books 6-11 by Various
  6. Theodore Boone:The Abduction by John Grisham
~ LitKid

At our house, we consider book covers to be high art, and we display books everywhere, rotating them in and out according to the season (which reminds me — it’s time to go and find Bats on the Beach).  Some books are year-rounders, such as Ish and  The Dot, because they remind us to create freely and fearlessly. Here are a few photos of our books-as-art, including a shot of one of my childhood picture books, The Crane Maiden, and another photo of a stack of my grownup books served up on my grandmother’s cake platter. (We cannot keep cake around the house, as some of us have zero willpower, so we serve up books on it instead.)

~ AKid@Heart

Chasing Vermeer

By Blue Balliett

Scholastic Press

In this classic mystery twistery, the artifact on hold is a Vermeer painting. Calder & Petra are locating it. The series is a classic trilogy that any mystry lover and artist will enjoy from the first word (I’m not telling). My best friend loved the book from the first time she saw the cover (thanks for not returning it Gracen!). It’s a totally enjoyable book. It has made my Top 10 & 20 list. It’s that special.

Related Books

The Wright 3

The Calder Game


LitKid is right: Quail Ridge Books and Music is a special place. We have spent many entertaining hours (not to mention much of LitKid’s college fund) there with noses buried in books or listening to our favorite authors read from their books. Thanks to their expertise, we have been introduced to many new writers and worlds over the years.

Many of the staffers know us by face and/or name, so I want to include at least a few of the names of QRB experts who have helped us:

Rosemary, Sarah, Trish, Warren, Carol, Helen, Kent, Jim, Linda, Molly, Kent, Sally  …

… as well as Diana, who left QRB several years ago but is not forgotten due to her kindness and great recommendations in the Children’s department in our first years in Raleigh. This past Christmas, Sarah was kind enough to help LitKid shop for me from my QRB wishlist; when they were finished, LitKid had a bag of gift-wrapped books and a very satisfied, cat-who-swallowed-the-canary expression.

LitKid is also especially proud to be a friend of founder and co-owner Nancy Olson (she was thrilled when Nancy kindly made an after-the-fact donation to her lemonade stand-fundraising effort for tornado victims this spring). Having attended the ceremony at which Nancy received a Raleigh Medal of Arts award (and having had a chance to meet Charles Frazier that evening, something she will appreciate more later), LitKid considers her a celebrity of the highest ranking.

Brick-and-mortar bookstores have had a tough row to hoe in recent years, and our devotion to buying from ‘indies’ (and buying local) is a matter of principle. We will happily review other indie bookstores we encounter in our travels, but QRB will always be our favorite ‘book nook,’ as LitKid put it.

Be sure to check out their web site: (And I recommend signing up for their excellent e-newsletters, even if you don’t live in Raleigh.)

~ AKid@Heart


Nancy Olson and LitKid at the Raleigh Medal of Arts ceremony where Ms. Olson was honored for her contributions to the community.

My favorite book nook is Quail Ridge Books & Music. It is an independent and locally owned shop. The mastermind behind this is none other than Nancy Olson. The people at Quail Ridge are always thinking of the needy, hosting book drives and the popular holiday Angel Tree. You buy a book for a boy or girl of a certain age. It is delivered to them. Ms. Olson has been mentioned in numerous magazines and none other than The News & Observer, plus she won an NCA award (North Caroliona Arts). She has authors from Megan McDonald to Tony Diterrlizzi come to her shop. It is still up & running successfully  today. I am good friends with Ms.Olson myself. Mr.Olson is really fun too. For more information on the shop, hours, Miss Nancy and upcoming events, go to

(Here is PT 2, my mom’s Quail Ridge review.)

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June 2011
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