Olympians Start Out as Kid Athletes. Let’s Take a Look!

Olympians start out as kid athletes.
Let’s take a look!

Everything Sports

If you’re like me and glued to the Olympics then here’s something to supplement your Olympic knowledge. Nat Geo Kids’ Everything Sports book contains all kinds of great photos and fun facts that will help you decide which sport you might want to participate in.

Become an expert on sports, just in time for the 2016 Olympics! From archery to zip lining this book covers EVERYTHING about the world’s favorite team and individual sports. With stunning visuals and energetic, impactful design, readers won’t stop until they’ve learned everything there is to know about the history, rules and regs, training, and practice of dozens of athletic pursuits. Includes popular sports such as baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis, and quirkier sports such as fencing, curling, and table tennis.

I personally love the fencing photo but there’s too much great stuff inside to choose one favorite. There’s even a sport you’ve never heard of. But I’m not telling. (wink)

Speaking of quirky sports, let’s take a look at Nat Geo Kids Weird but True! Sports


Did you know that in the UK there is a custard pie throwing contest? Have you ever seen anyone ski while holding on to a horse? Yeah, me neither but I might pay to see that one. No matter how you like your sports, there’s prolly a weird fact to go along with it.

Grab these two books and laugh and learn and amaze your friends and your parents during this Olympic season. But watch out for the half pipe competition in Chile that’s run on the side of a volcano. Ouchy.

Pick your sport today and maybe we’ll see you one day in the Olympics!





Extra 40% Off Entire Store with Code BIGDEAL at Crazy8

Holiday Gift Guide Lists

The Locker Room: Sporty Books for Sporty Kids

If you’ve got a pint-size sporty kid at home here are a few books to get them excited to read:

Sporty Books for Sporty Kids

Put these in their stockings for a total victory!



Adult Fiction Books

Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace

I’m so thrilled to have finished Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace!


Wallace is also the author of Invasive Species an end of times speculative fiction about a dying rainforest in Africa invaded by a species that is not man.


Invasive Species is just BEGGING for a creepy bug nightmare.  The even better part about these books is that Wallace will be at the bookstore chatting with us about both books! These are both great bookclub books, depending on the types of books your group likes to read. Me? I‘m loving the Diamond Ruby, women’s baseball vibe. I also learned more about Coney Island, Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth.

Diamond Ruby, even though it is housed in the adult fiction section, is TOTALLY appropriate for readers over 12. It has GIRL POWER!



Books Young Adult

Just in Time for Baseball Season: #Tanker10 @JCurelop @SamiJoLien

Just in Time for Baseball Season: Tanker 10 by Jonathan Curelop




Put me in Coach! If there’s anything you know about me, you know that I love to champion the underdog. That’s why I was happy to discover Tanker 10 by Jonathan Curelop! Here’s a book for the fellas although, really it’s a coming of age story that will appeal to anyone who’s ever been excluded, left out, bullied, or felt inadequate.

So, just about anyone really.

Tanker 10 (published by Book Case Engine) opens in Brockton, Mass., in 1976, where bashful and overweight 10-year-old Jimmy just wants to read his books and toss the ball with his best friend, Ben. Unfortunately, Jimmy is an entertaining victim for his older brother, Cliff, and his buddies. When Jimmy tries to stand up to Cliff, the verbal abuse turns physical and an accident sends Jimmy to the hospital with an injury that changes the trajectory of his life.

Tanker 10” depicts the story of Jimmy during his pre-teen and teenage years as he struggles to mend his physical and psychological injuries. Finding salvation through baseball, he dedicates himself to a strict regimen, taking him from intramurals baseball to Little League. By the time he reaches high school, Jimmy is no longer the fat kid throwing a ball against a wall but an up-and-coming right fielder on the freshman baseball team. Yet despite his successful recovery, Jimmy remains ill at ease with himself. He longs for emotional and physical intimacy and grapples with finding his place in his family, among his friends, and with his brother, Cliff.


I know, sounds great right?  You don’t have to like sports or baseball to understand how much it hurts to be a teenager. Especially one with an abusive older sibling.

Grab this book today for the sporty guy in your life!

Is it mere coincidence that the author has a wife named Pamela? Hmmmmm. Is it me?  I don’t know…But I do know that bullying is not nice and I’m glad that Curelop was able to overcome these very crappy circumstances.  I hope our Jimmy does too.

Check it out and follow Curelop on Twitter: @JCurelop  and tell him PammyPam sent you!



Books Children

Celebrate Black History Month with Kadir Nelson Day 15

Celebrate Black History Month with Kadir Nelson

Black History Month is a great time to discover new authors and illustrators of color. I’ve been crushing on Kadir Nelson for some time now, and try as I might, he seems to allude me.  What better way to celebrate his beautifully moving illustrations by highlighting one book a day during Black History Month?

Testing the Ice


Testing the Ice: A True Story about Jackie Robinson

by Sharon Robinson and Kadir Nelson

Books Children

Hotlight Spotlight – Dan Gutman and Athletes of Color

I love Dan Gutman!

It’s no secret around here that I love books with multicultural characters.  What IS a secret, however, is that I love Dan Gutman!

Dan Gutman and Me

I had the pleasure of meeting Dan Gutman a while back and I wanted to share a few of his great books with you.  You may know him from the My Weird School Daze series but he has written many more books. What’s so great about them is they are multicultural! The series I’m referring to is the Baseball Card Adventure series. Within the series, our protagonist, young Stosh, goes back in time (gotta love time travel!) and meets famous baseball players like Jim Thorpe, Honus Wagner, Babe Ruth, Satch, and Roberto Clemente.

I love that Gutman weaves history into the stories and teaches readers about the difficulties these multicultural players experienced.  The book I’m holding is Jim and Me, about Native American Jim Thorpe.  I wanted to get my hands on Roberto Clemente’s book, having grown up in Pittsburgh during his time, but all the kiddies snatched up the books before I could grab mine!

To be sure, I love the idea of Native American’s being featured in pop literature.  I wish there were more.

What’s your favorite Dan Gutman book?


JKS Holiday Hop and Gift Guide


It’s the 2013 JKS Holiday Hop!

If you’re searching for books to give as Christmas pressies, consider these titles below.  All of these books are published by Creston books and are printed on paper Made in the USA. How ’bout that?

Larry Colton - Southern League: A True Story of Baseball, Civil Rights and the Deep South’s Most Compelling Pennant Race


“Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings in Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from a Birmingham Jail

Anybody who is familiar with the Civil Rights movement knows that 1964 was a pivotal year. And in Birmingham, Alabama – perhaps the epicenter of racial conflict – the Barons amazingly started their season with an integrated team.

Johnny “Blue Moon” Odom, a talented pitcher and Tommie Reynolds, an outfielder – both young black ballplayers with dreams of playing someday in the big leagues, along with Bert Campaneris, a dark-skinned shortstop from Cuba, all found themselves in this simmering cauldron of a minor league town, all playing for Heywood Sullivan, a white former major leaguer who grew up just down the road in Dothan, Alabama.

Colton traces the entire season, writing about the extraordinary relationships among these players with Sullivan, and Colton tells their story by capturing the essence of Birmingham and its citizens during this tumultuous year. (The infamous Bull Connor, for example, when not ordering blacks to be blasted by powerful water hoses, is a fervent follower of the Barons and served as a long-time broadcaster of their games.)

By all accounts, the racial jeers and taunts that rained down upon these Birmingham players were much worse than anything that Jackie Robinson ever endured.

More than a story about baseball, this is a true accounting of life in a different time and clearly a different place. Seventeen years after Jackie Robinson had broken the color line in the major leagues, Birmingham was exploding in race riots….and now, they were going to have their very first integrated sports team. This is a story that has never been told.

Sports buffs, dads, Black history readers, boo yah!


Lola Goes to Work by Marcia Goldman



Meet Lola, a little terrier with a big job. Children will identify with the feisty Lola as she struggles going to school, passing tests, and finally achieving her Big Dog dream. If Lola can make it in a world of Great Danes and Labradors, so can anybody who’s feeling like a runt. Teacher guide for empathy curriculum in back of book, additional material on Creston and Author website.

I want to work with Lola. Make it so.

How to Be Human by Florida Frenz


With powerful words and pictures Florida Frenz chronicles her journey figuring out how to read facial expressions, how to make friends, how to juggle all the social cues that make school feel like a complicated maze. Diagnosed with autism as a two-year-old, Florida is now an articulate 15-year-old whose explorations into how kids make friends, what popularity means, how to handle peer pressure will resonate with any pre-teen. For those wondering what it’s like inside an autistic child’s head, Florida’s book provides amazing insight and understanding. Reading how she learns how to be human makes us all feel a little less alien. A teacher guide is available on the Creston website for compassion/empathy curriculum and for modeling journal writing and print copies for major conferences


We all need to learn empathy.The world would be a better place.



Elisa Kleven – Cozy Light, Cozy Night


Richly illustrated, Kleven’s latest picture book feast presents a year of everyday wonders, giving children an opportunity to snuggle up with a parent and enter into a warm, cozy world, where even the planets are tucked cozily into bed along with the shining stars.

Teacher guide for how to use Cozy Light, Cozy Night as a mentor text:

Mentor texts are those well loved texts that provide teachers opportunities to build on the modeling process of what makes good writing as well as addressing the reading and writing connections. Elisa Kleven’s text allows readers to experience the seasons through her beautiful art and language that supports investigation of the seasons. The study of the intentional language and craft choices of the author, will serve as a model to inspire students to write like Elisa Kleven — show don’t tell as the tool to be more descriptive, using sensory details and share rich examples with readers as they explore any topic.

This is from the BUTTERFLY lady!


Rotten Pumpkin – David M. Schwartz and Dwight Kuhn


Compost won’t mean the same thing after readers have seen the amazing transformation of Jack from grinning pumpkin to mold-mottled wreckage to hopeful green shoot. The story of decomposition is vividly told so that science comes to life (and death). Part story, part science, and a whole lot of fun. Features a teacher guide in the back of the book, and additional material (including instructions on how to put on a Rotten Pumpkin play in your school) are on the Creston and Author websites.

Poor sad, molding, rotten Jack.  ick. Not really; I LOVE SCIENCE!


Rebecca Munsterer - Kat Mcgee & The School of Christmas Spirit



If Kat McGee had one Christmas wish, she’d wish to be special. Instead, she’s the boring middle in a family packed with sparkly siblings, including three sisters who have all starred as Mary in Totsville, Maine’s annual big-deal Christmas Pageant. All Kat’s done is wet her pants on a rollercoaster and earn herself the horrible nickname, “Kat McPee.” When she doesn’t get the part of Mary, Kat’s convinced that Christmas will be just another Kat McPee failure. But then Kat’s beloved Gram lets it slip that she went to school with Mrs. Claus. The Mrs. Claus. Before Kat knows it, a magical snowglobe whisks her away to the North Pole, where she makes friends, checks naughty and nice lists, and takes classes in cookie baking, reindeer training, and toy designing. It’s a Christmas miracle… But something is wrong. The North Pole is being threatened, and only Kat McGee can help. Kat McGee and The School of Christmas Spirit is about a modern girl in a magical adventure. Kat is about to learn who you can be if you believe in Christmas… and yourself


Bonus points for this book because there is a yummylicious  CandyFruit Recipe at the Back of the book created by Celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio and Umber Ahmad’s Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery 

Tilia Klebenov Jacobs - Wrong Place, Wrong Time
When Tsara Adelman leaves her husband and two young children for a weekend to visit her estranged uncle, she little dreams he is holding several local children captive on his lavish estate. Mike Westbrook, father of one of the boys, kidnaps her to trade her life for the children’s. Soon Tsara and Mike are fleeing through New Hampshire’s mountain wilderness pursued by two rogue cops with murder on their minds.
Might not be for the kiddos but sounds intriguing, no?



Long Shot by Mike Piazza

I know what you’re thinking: why is An Unconventional Librarian reviewing a book about sports? Because I love baseball?

longshotNot really. More because there is a lot of local Philadelphia references in the book that many people will enjoy.

Long Shot by Mike Piazza is his autobiography that hits the stores this week.  And if you know anything about Piazza, you’ll know he’s from the Philadelphia region, Norristown and Phoenixville areas, specifically.

That’s where I get involved. Piazza’s family has long standing ties to this area.  As you read the opening chapters you’ll see how Piazza’s grandfather and father grew up during the hard times of Norristown in the early 20th century.  Hard times is probably an understatement.  Poor and hungry.  Not exactly what you think of when you think about Mike Piazza, right?

But what you learn from their meager family beginnings is that the family instilled a work ethic and family unity that positively affected Piazza’s success. I can’t speak to Piazza’s baseball career because I know very little about the sport, but what I’ve learned from his autobiography is that he became smitten with the game as a little guy and Dad’s work ethic and pushiness turned Piazza into the famous ball play and potential Hall of Famer that he is today.

In addition to lots of stats and baseball information, the book includes delightful family photos that make the book feel more like sharing a family scrapbook than a famous autobiography.  Let me rephrase that, a family scrapbook that contains photos of Tommy LaSorda, and other famous ball players.

Wednesday, February 13 my bookstore, Towne Book Center & Cafe, will host Mike Piazza for a book signing.  I’ll be sure to get my copy signed and impress him with my knowledge of baseball, which up until now, has involved beer, popcorn, and hot dogs.

I can’t wait!