Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seasons Readings from Algonquin's Director of Marketing Craig Popelars

This week Craig Popelars, the brilliant Director of Marketing for Algonquin Books, has graciously allowed us to reprint a Christmas anecdote on the joy of receiving books:

Christmas morning 1972. There I am with my sister and her new Dressy Bessy doll. What you don't see in this picture is the one present that I received that Christmas and still have: a hardcover of A Family Treasury of Little Golden Books. On the inside front cover was inscribed, in mom's perfect cursive, "To Craig, Merry Christmas 1972, Love Mom & Dad."

I can't tell you what ever happened to the countless Christmas presents that I received over the years--my Evel Knieval action figure with scramble van, Stretch Armstrong (OK, we gutted old Stretch to get at the toxic steroid goo inside), the Rockem Sockem Robots. What never ended up at the garage sale or tossed out were the books that mom and dad gave me each Christmas. There's Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy Town; Hear Ye of Philadelphia by Polly Curren; O.J. Simpson by Bill Gutman; the works of Ruth Chew; The Wrinkle in Time Trilogy Boxed Set; a slew of Hardy Boys hardcovers; and countless others. And while the pages have yellowed, the bindings have cracked, and the covers have faded, I'll never ever part with these treasured gifts.

Betsy Burton, owner of The King's English Bookshop told me that the most memorable Christmas gift she ever received was Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James. She said, "after reading it at age seven, I played horse during recess for the next two years, kicking and whinnying like a rodeo bronco, much to the consternation of my classmates." A good book can inspire you in the kitchen or garden. They can tempt you into updating your passport and taking that dream trip to Borneo, and they can make a toddler smile with delight. Books can bring you a little closer to celebrated art or to the far corners of the solar system. They can make you laugh out loud, and they can engage and entertain. And, yes, sometimes a good book can make you look a little foolish on the playground.

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