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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

All I Want for Christmas is...

     Last night I was in my local Barnes and Noble for about the 17th time this holiday season.  The staff knows me well as I am a local author as well as a 'frequent buyer' and constant browser of books. The line at the information desk in the children's section was particularly long this evening with two grandparents, two giggling girls, my daughter and myself.  I didn't mean to be eavesdropping but of course I did, which led me to wonder just exactly what kinds of books - children's books in particular - were being snatched off the shelves this year.  With special thanks to Timothy and LeeAnn, here is what I found out.
The most requested books this year, according to my friendly Barnes and Noble elves, are Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series.  The most recent book in the series, as well as related merchandise was hard to keep in stock.  Second in popularity as far as requests go would be any of the books in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.  Grandparents comprised a big buying population who come in and ask what the staff would recommend as they are not up to speed on the latest publications.  I wondered about people coming in to ask for the classics? Nope, most adults are interested in the books that they read as a child.  Most unusual request? A book about dinosaurs, but with photographs. Hmmmm.
As the stock of related games, plush figures and puzzles increases, so do the requests for these as well, so that if an "Olivia" book is not available, at least one does not have to leave empty-handed.
The most heart-warming story I heard, however, was that of two recent masses of fifth grade students from a local public school who had come in search of  The Arrival and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.  Apparently there is a marvelous fifth grade language arts teacher out there who reads regularly to his students and inspires such a hunger for the books he shares that his boys and girls cannot wait to get their own copies.  The books are not required reading, but the children are eager and willing to snatch them up.  Hearing that a teacher still reads aloud to his students made my day.

After a long day of shopping and toting those precious parcels, what could be better than a steaming mug of hot chocolate? Nothing that I can think of. So here's a special recipe for anyone who agrees with me on that count:
1 cup milk, 1 cup half and half, 8 tsp sugar, 1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped, 1 oz unsweetened choc, chopped, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 tsp vanilla
Heat everything in a sauce pan except the vanilla until the chocolate melts and the sugar dissolves.  Pour 1/2 into a blender and mix until foamy.  Return to the sauce pan and add vanilla. Stir briefly.  Top with dollop of whipped cream if desired.  Sit back, relax and enjoy!


  1. I love the story of the kids being read to and then coming in to buy those books. My strongest memory of my 5th grade class was being read to. It was delicious. What could be better than hearing A Wrinkle in Time everyday before lunch? It's still one of my favorite books.

    Your hot chocolate recipe sounds like it will satisfy my fat allotment for the year (half and half...jeesh), so I'll have to make lots of it!

  2. I also have lovely memories of having been read to during school by a teacher. Such a small thing to set aside 20 min to read to your students, but the fond memories last a lifetime. Among many, many others, I read all of the "lord of the rings" books out loud to my own children. It was a project, all those elven songs, especially as i DO NOT sing!