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Publishers Weekly Children's Features

Points of Sale
Judith Rosen -- 6/1/98
Merchandising tips and techniques for children's booksellers
Clip and Save
If there's one thing that Karen Gaston, owner and manager of Butterfly Books (DePere, Wis.), knows the value of, it's clipping and saving. But in her case it's not coupons, it's something far more valuable -- book lists and reviews. Need to know what reviewers said about Brian Pinkney's latest? Looking for last year's list of the 10 best illustrated children's books in the New York Times? Or need more information on Wisconsin for the sesquicentennial? Thanks to 80-something former librarian Sister Jean, who combs dozens of publications from Booklist to the NTC Journal, Butterfly Books maintains complete clipping files by author, subject and genre. "We put everything in a folder," Gaston said. "It's wonderful for teachers to have all the clippings in one place where they can use them. There are parents that use them, too, who want to know about the books their children are reading."

There's no charge to look through the clippings, but, as Gaston has found, "There are lots of times teachers and parents don't want the books. They just want the articles about them. We charge them a nickel a page to copy the articles."

Parental Help
Butterfly Books also offers parental help in other ways, like its two-year-old Authors and Artists Alive program. "So many parents don't want to volunteer at school just to cut out little triangles," Gaston explained. Instead, Authors and Artists provides them with a book-oriented way to do an art project in school. "We give parents a Tupperware bucket filled with an author-illustrator's books and a video about the author," Gaston said. "We also give them a bookmark that lists all the author's books and information on how to write to the author." When the parents bring in the bucket, they do a presentation about the author for the class and then lead a related art project. They leave the books for the children to read, and then pick them up and return them to the store three weeks later. So far Gaston, with a little help from two volunteers, is doing Authors and Artists programs in eight schools and has requests from more. "Authors and Artists is really good and has been really appreciated," Gaston said.

Watch Your Language
At The Blue Marble (Fort Lexington, Ky.), parents and children have to watch their language -- Spanish, French or German -- if they want to sign up for one of the foreign language classes offered for kids ages five to 10. Owner Tina Moore, who started the classes three years ago, says she got interested in offering them since "I'm a Filipino with Spanish ancestry and Spanish was my first language. We've been selling foreign language books in the store for 15 years, and I have two children, now grown up, who would have benefited from the classes. We don't charge a lot, only $25, and we include a book, usually Usborne's First 100 Words. We enjoy doing them, and it's a way to enhance the store."

In fact, the six-week classes for beginners and intermediates have done so well that Moore is considering offering private lessons for people who want to continue. "In 19 years," she said, "we've tried a lot of things. I'm starting to realize that everything I do has to have consistent long-range sales and, of course, we are filling a niche." Thanks in part to the classes, Moore reports brisk sales in a number of foreign language books, including Say Ola to Spanish, The Berenstain Bears in Spanish, and Goodnight Moon in Spanish and French.
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