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Indie Bookstores Battle for Books in The Great Greene Challenge. Pride is Injured but Diversity Wins!
In an upset more embarrassing than the Mid-Day PDA, Odyssey Bookshop has beaten Eight Cousins in a challenge of their own making. "It was never about winning," insists Eight Cousins employee, Sara Hines, "No, really. What's important is that we all loved Varian Johnson's The Great Greene Heist. As long as kids are reading it, aren't we all winners?" "Right, right," agreed Odyssey children's buyer, Hannah Moushabeck, "It’s about celebrating diversity in children's books, sharing a great story and of course, bragging rights.” The Great Greene Challenge began on a slow Sunday in May. Author Kate Messner issued the opening shot in her blog post "More Than Words: A challenge for everyone who’s been asking for more diversity in kids’ books," in which she states that one of the best ways to support diversity in kids books is to read and buy diverse books. As booksellers, Hines and Moushabeck agreed. Eight Cousins, feeling confident, challenged Odyssey Bookshop to a hand-sell off. Odyssey Bookshop, with a perhaps unhealthy, competitive streak, accepted. Other independent bookstores across the country joined the noble cause with authors such as Varian Johnson himself, John Green, and Shannon Hale piping in and offering prizes like bottles of wine and signed books to the winners.
"We regret nothing," Hines declares, "The challenge offered so many opportunities to have conversations about diversity with staff members, customers, and librarians at our local schools. We even have plans for ongoing programs. Look, just because we publicly embarrassed ourselves, doesn't mean we didn't hand-sell our hearts out. Moushabeck stated, " This project not only introduced our customers to a wonderful book with diverse characters, but it gave people instructions on how to make a difference. We’ve all been demanding diverse books but here was a simple, easy way to help. Plus, we got to show off our butt-kicking bookselling skills."
What's next? Hopefully more diversity in kids books and more readers discovering the joys of The Great Greene Heist. As for the two bookstores, will there be any more challenges? Hines declined comment, hanging her head in shame, while burying it in a book but Moushabeck enthusiastically responded, "Bring it on! We love a good bookselling battle. Hey, have you read The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher?"
Note: No booksellers were injured in the making of the Great Greene Challenge.