Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Two Hours as Bookseller: Working at the Scholastic Book Fair

Book carts at the book fair.
The boy started afternoon Kindergarten this year and since I didn't have full-time job when school began, I volunteered for everything I could that had anything to do with books or words. I have 18 plus years working in publishing under my belt. I figured the elementary school could use a mother like me. I signed up to help in the writing lab, to type and proofread stories, and to work in the library.

When the school year began, I got a thanks-anyway-but-we've-got-too-many-volunteers email. "What?" thought I. "Don't they know who I AM?" Apparently I'm not very famous in elementary school circles.

A table of reference books. Yay nonfiction!
The one thing they did need help with was manning the Scholastic Book Fair, which took place last week. Lucky for them, I was free. I got a two-hour shift during which I was to greet and assist customers. (But not touch the cash register. Which, really, was for the best.)

Business was slow when the fair first opened so I worked hard to memorize our stock. And when customers did arrive I was on them like paste on construction paper. We combed the shelves searching for book on kids' and teachers' wish lists. I made suggestions for similar titles. And mostly I pointed across the room to the latest DIARY OF A WIMPY KID book because that's what most of them wanted.

When it was slow, I regaled uninterested fellow volunteers (mommies, math teachers) with my knowledge of children's books and their creators:

Me: "Mo Willems? I interviewed him. So funny."
Me: "Marla Frazee? We go waaaay back."
Me: "Laura Numeroff? We were totally at a party together once."
Me: "Tomie dePaola? Richard Peck? I've ridden elevators with both of them."  
Me: "Lisa Yee? Why I've been photographed with Peepy."

Them: "Um. Neat."

I also managed to get in a little book shopping for the boy and myself. It had been way too long since I'd added new picture books to my/our collection. If I can't transition from book fair volunteer to a career bookseller, I've always got shopping to fall back on. Here's what I came home with:

  • ALL THE WORLD by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee (Because, you know, we go way back. And it's beautiful.)
  • TURKEY TROUBLE by Wendi Silvano, illustrated by Lee Harper (So seasonal!)
  • I NEED MY MONSTER by Amanda Knoll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam (The librarian says it's favorite with boys.)
  • BONES by Steve Jenkins (So cool--it features a four-page-long gate-folded snake skeleton!)
  • THE ADVENTURES OF OOK AND GLUK: KUNG-FU CAVEMEN FROM THE FUTURE, The second graphic novel from George Beard and Harold Hutching, the creators of Captain Underpants (Because--funny.)


Morph Waffle said...

Great post. If I was shopping at that book fair I would have listened to every word you said and would have been impressed! Looks like you got some cool books too.

The Storylady said...

I was so excited to see you got "I Need My Monster!" I just brought it home from the library today. I'm the Storylady, and it's definitely going in my "Monsters" theme!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Wow. I totally would have turned into a (library versioned) screaming fangirl and monopolized your entire two hours by asking questions and begging you to recount each and every story mentioned on this blog.;)

And now I feel guilty for not volunteering at my girls' school. I am definitely going to for next year's book fair!