When choosing the design for our logo this past spring, we also updated the store's tag. In 1986, when Eight Cousins was first founded, the tag was "Quality Books for Youth." As the store began offering more and more books for adults, the tag changed to "Quality Books for All Ages." We had long discussions about what we wanted our new tag to convey, especially because we still have people say, in a surprised voice, "oh! you have adult books?" or tell us "I used to shop with you all the time, but then my kids (or grandkids) grew up." When developing our new tag -- "Your Local Family Bookshop" -- we wanted to honor our past (and present!) emphasis on children's books and early literacy. At the same time, the store has grown up and we are proud of our offerings in fiction, non-fiction, mystery, home and garden, science, and more for adults. Our staff reads children's and adult books. We are always happy to make recommendations for both. We also know that families are created in lots of unique ways. We love that you keep us updated, whether you're introducing us to your newest member, or proudly telling us that the college student standing before us has a library full of books that you've been stocking since she was a baby. We love these stories and we thank you for sharing them with us. On that note, we hope you are having wonderful family vacations and reunions.
For this newsletter, Eight Cousins staff members were asked to select a book that celebrated families, either in general, or perhaps a book that highlighted their own unique families. We'll let you decide which is which, from the picks below! Are there any books that particularly remind you of your own one-of-a-kind, wild, quirky, lovable families?
~ Eight Cousins
Beautifully and simply written, The Housekeeper and the Professor is about a woman who is hired to care for a professor, a mathematical genius, who has lost his memory due to an accident. Each morning when she arrives at his cottage, the housekeeper must introduce herself. The professor, in turn, defines her in mathematical terms—the way he views everything. As a friendship gradually develops, the professor learns that his housekeeper has a son, who must remain at home alone while she works. The professor insists that the housekeeper’s son accompany her to work. Together, the three spend their days and an understanding develops among them; a loving family unit emerges. Ogawa deftly and subtly illustrates that family is not just defined through biology.
As all of us know, family relationships are complicated and inexplicable—yet in the end, the bonds often hold true through difficult times, heartbreak, and even in the end, death. No one recognizes this more than Rocky, who has worshipped his older brother Paul his whole life, in spite of betrayal during Rocky’s childhood. Only Love Can Break Your Heart follows Rocky into adulthood, when he finally gets his bearings and reunites with his brother Paul. Their brotherhood is reaffirmed during the last years of Paul’s life, and it is only upon Paul’s death that Rocky realizes the legacy Paul has left him: “Only love can break your heart. And who wants to live without love?”
My favorite back-to-school book this year is School's First Day of School written by Adam Rex and illustrated by Christian Robinson (yes, Christian Robinson of Last Stop on Market Street fame). They built the school over the summer. The school has a good name: Frederick Douglas Elementary. Most days it is quiet. Just the school and the Janitor. It's quiet. And calm. The school likes it that way. Then the Janitor tells the school that the teachers will be back soon. AND the children. The school is nervous. Rightly so, because sometimes kids are scared of school. Sometimes they don't like school. Sometimes they think school stinks. For kids who might also be a tad nervous, the book offers an empathetic character. For seasoned school-goers, it's a humorous story about the ups and downs of that first day. Either way, School's First Day of School offers a quirky perspective and reminds us of how different the story can be when you hear it from someone else' point of view.