Friday, January 27, 2012

Volunteer to be a part of World Book Night

The goal of World Book Night is to get 50,000 people to go out to places in their communities on the evening of Monday, April 23, 2012, and give a book to a stranger or to people you might know but believe aren’t frequent readers.

One million free books, representing 30 titles, will given away by these 50,000 volunteer book lovers across the U.S. on World Book Night.

The # 1 mission of World Book Night is to encourage reading by those who are light or non-readers, for whatever reasons, including economic or location constraints.

WBN asks that you go to a coffee shop or hospital, church or community center, an after-work party or nursing home, shopping mall or local school -- and give out 20 free paperbacks. These paperbacks will be specially-produced, not-for-resale World Book Night U.S. editions, and there will be 30 titles for you to choose from.

Time is short to register but you do have several more days and this could be a great outreach to many of the young people in the area.

The best way to get people to read is to share your passion for the worlds that become accessible in the pages of a book and then to get a good book, that speaks to that person, into his or her hands.

Please think about this and sign up before the deadline.

By the way, the books will be provided -- all you are asked to do is fill out the application and then go out, spread the word and give away the books.

The registration process for those wishing to become volunteer book givers is open through February 1, 2012.

Visit for complete details

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Allison: the One-Flippered Sea Turtle to visit Paragraphs

Discussion, Book Signing, and Reception
Monday, February 6, 2012
with David Cromwell
and Allison

Allison is a Green Sea Turtle living at Sea Turtle Inc. on South Padre Island. Greens are endangered. They are considered to be the second-largest and longest-lived of the sea turtle species. Allison was found on the beach at South Padre Island on June 16, 2005, one of 73 sea turtles that became stranded that year.

She was missing three flippers, an injury that is thought to have occurred from a shark encounter. Weighing a mere .73kg (1.6 lbs), she was taken to Sea Turtle Rescue for evaluation and medical care. Her story of survival and rehabilitation is chronicled in this new book "Allison: The Mostly True Story of a One-Flippered Sea Turtle" by David Cromwell. Combining fiction with the true rescue of Allison, this book is an entertaining and educational work that appeals to all ages.

We are really excited to be able to announce that Allison will join us on the courtyard at Paragraphs along with David and several of the knowledgeable and hard-working Sea Turtle Inc. volunteers or employees who work to protect and save these incredible creatures. While Allison is not able to autograph her biography, missing her flippers and all, David will be happy to oblige.

Cromwell likes to brag about having three careers where he couldn’t wait to get to work in the morning. First 22 years in television and news production, second as Media Service Director with the Sacramento Police Department and third rescuing turtles. David currently lives in Brownsville, Texas with his wife, Riley

Monday, January 16, 2012

William J. Cobb to visit Paragraphs

In February we will be entering our third year of business and what a couple of years we have had.  I hope to get a chance to sit down and write a post looking back on what we have accomplished, what we still haven't gotten around to that we have wanted to do since day one, and also look ahead to what things we hope to do in the near future.  But, alas that is not what is on my mind right now.

One of my main goals when opening Paragraphs was to offer the community an opportunity to meet a variety of authors and to let the publishing world know that there are book lovers and readers that live and work in the lower Rio Grande Valley, regardless of what the management of Walden and Barnes and Noble may think. To date we have had a variety of authors appear at the store and we work hard to support our local, self-published authors by providing them with a venue to sell, promote, and discuss their books. But, my vision is to become as recognized a book seller as my role models the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver and BookPeople in Austin.  Both of these stores have active event calendars full of the biggest names, which appear on all the best selling book lists. 

I not only want to provide a service to our residents and visitors but it is my goal to make Paragraphs a destination itself, which many independent bookstores are, and as such add to the economic strength of the island by helping to attract tourists from the valley and beyond to our little sandbar.

So, I was thrilled, excited and did I say really stoked, when I received an email from Rich Rennicks, who is in charge of bookstore outreach and event planning for Unbridled Books, a well-respected, independent, national publisher, asking if we would be interested in hosting an event for William J. Cobb upon the release of his new novel The Bird Saviors which will be published in June, 2012.

William J. Cobb is the author of a book of stories and two previous novels, including the critically acclaimed Goodnight, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and many other magazines. He has received numerous awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Dobie-Paisano Fellowship, and the Sandstone Prize. He was raised in Texas and currently lives in Pennsylvania, where he teaches in the writing program at Penn State, and in Colorado.  So, I think you can see why I am so excited about having the opportunity to welcome this talented author to Paragraphs.

There are a couple of publishers that I consistently rely on to provide books of quality literary merit that I can always feel good about recommending for visitors to the store.  One of the things we pride ourselves on is helping an undecided reader find a great read from an author or publisher that they are not familiar with and the books from Unbridled Books are always welcome additions to our shelves.  I have recommended several of their titles in previous blog posts.  Although on my list of books and titles that looked interesting, and which I wanted to read, I had not actually taken the opportunity to read anything by William J. Cobb until Rich sent me a galley of The Bird Saviors to consider for review..  I don't have the time tonight to give this novel justice -- but once I finished it I immediately ordered Goodnight, Texas which is another incredible read written by Cobb.

So, put October 20, 2012 on your calendar and plan to show up to give Mr. Cobb a true South Padre Island welcome.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Mystery Saturday

Join us on Saturday, the 21st of January and meet several of our most popular local mystery writers. Several of these authors have written books that take place on South Padre Island and Port Isabel, some in wider Texas and all are exciting adventures written to keep you turning the pages.

We will be providing everyone with a list of places mentioned in the books so you can walk in the same footsteps as the heroes and villains.

Each author will speak for approximately 15 minutes beginning at 1:15. There will be plenty of time remaining to hear each author, ask questions, or purchase and have books signed if desired.

As usual this event is free and open to the public. Everyone is invited to attend and no purchase is necessary.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Can't You Sleep Little Bear

We have been in business for two years and as many of you know when we first opened the doors our shelves had a lot of empty spaces on them.  I have had a wonderful time adding new releases but probably even more enjoyable has been the search for the perfect backlist titles that I want to make a permanent part of our inventory and that I know I can always enthusiastically recommend.

This is particularly true in our childrens section.  There are so many books to evaluate: different genres, dozens of series, commercially popular characters.  They come in all sizes and shapes, there are books for early readers, chapter books, picture books for all ages and oh, my, where to begin and end.

As a part of this search I was pleased to discover a series of podcasts offered through iTunesU featuring David Beagley and his classes on Children's Literature from LaTrobe University.  When discussing picture books, Beagley used "Can't You Sleep, Little Bear?" as an example. His description of this story and the illustrations about Big Bear and Little Bear intrigued me enough that I ordered a copy for the store.

I have fallen in love with this wonderful little picture book.  The story is simple enough -- Little Bear can't sleep because he's afraid of the dark.  After several attempts of banishing the dark with lanterns increasing in size and brilliance, Big Bear "saw that Little Bear was right" and he "thought about it for a long time" but as we find out Big Bear finally has an idea and is able to make Little Bear feel so safe that "he didn't say anything, for he had gone to sleep, warm and safe in Big Bear's arms."

The recent publishing sensation of "Go the F**k to Sleep" (available as an ebook here) is based on the same familiar tribulations which parents often experience at nighttime when putting their little angels to bed, but I definitely prefer Big Bear's patient way of dealing with his growing but very visible frustration as he tries to finish his book but is interrupted over and over again by a Little Bear that just doesn't want to go to sleep.  This story will be loved by the little one -- there is enough repetition to allow them to follow along -- and the adult reading the book will empathize with Big Bear and be able to recognize their own resignation at the loss of a quiet evening to themselves.

The edition we carry comes with a CD that can be used in a variety of ways.  Some interactive activities are included and the story is read in a couple different ways that parents can use in a variety of situations.  The paperback book is sturdy and the pictures large enough to be easily viewed and read by adult and child.  You can find other editions at our online store located here

You can buy this wonderful new children's book by the popular writer Debbie Macomber at the store or online here.

Alaska History: "The Aunt Phil's Trunk" series

Meet the Author Series at Paragraphs
Saturday, 14th January 2012 4-6 PM

Alaska History: “The Aunt Phil’s Trunk” series

Lecture followed by book signing and reception with author, Laurel Bill

Third-generation Alaskan, Laurel Downing Bill, is author of the recently released “Aunt Phil’s Trunk” series.
The four volume series developed after Laurel inherited newspaper clips, research and rare Alaska history books from her Alaska historian aunt, Phyllis Downing Carlson, who died in 1993. The series started in July 2002 as a weekly newspaper column, “Aunt Phil’s Trunk”, in The Anchorage Chronicle.

Each volume contains over 300 historical photographs to complement vivid stories about Alaska's history.

Laurel is also scheduled for a Writer's Workshop, hosted by the Valley Byliners, at the Harlingen Public Library in February.  The subject of her presentation will be "Getting that Book Published" and we are pleased to have her stop by Paragraphs for our Literary Mercado, on Saturday.

Born in Fairbanks in 1951, Laurel moved to Juneau in 1959 after her father, Richard Downing, became the state’s first commissioner of public works.

She graduated from an American high school in Mallorca, Spain, in 1969 and then attended one year of college in Leysin, Switzerland. Laurel returned to Alaska in 1970, where she eventually met her husband, Don, in Fairbanks. In 1974, the couple moved to King Salmon – a small village about 360 air miles southwest of Anchorage. There they raised their two children, Kim and Ryan, in the remote community while Don worked as area biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commercial Fisheries Division and Laurel worked her way up to assistant general manager for the Bristol Bay Telephone Cooperative Inc.

After 24 years, they retired into Anchorage. That’s when Laurel decided to go back to college. She graduated from the University of Alaska with a degree in journalism in 2003.

"Aunt Phil's Trunk: Volume 1," released in 2006, features a spectacular photo essay following the harrowing routes rugged prospectors traveled to get to the Klondike, including the all-water route from Seattle to St. Michael and on to Dawson, as well as the Stikine, White Pass and Chilkoot Pass trails.

"Aunt Phil's Trunk: Volume 2," hot off the press May 2007. includes stories about Alaska’s early lawmen – and the criminals they pursued – along with its pioneering postmen and rugged adventurers who challenged the Great Land’s highest peaks.

Released in May 2008, volume 3 spans 1912-1935 and highlights the pioneering spirit of early Alaskans as they enter a new era as a territory of the United States with stories about early Anchorage and the Alaska railroad, epidemics and rescues in the Far North and the daring flyboys of the 1920s.

"Aunt Phil's Trunk: Volume 4" captures the essence of life in Alaska between 1935 and 1960. Its vivid stories highlight major events of World War II, the Cold War era, a secret Russian mission to Fairbanks, Alaska's 91-year struggle for statehood, heroic Alaska Airlines flights for freedom, Alaska Natives battles against discrimination and how Anchorage blossomed into a jewel on the tundra.

Discover more about Laurel and the Aunt Phil’s Trunk series at
This event is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be provided.
Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard,
5505 Padre Blvd. South Padre Island, TX 
For information call us at 956-433-5057

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Children's Story Hour

We have been approached at various times and have had residents and visitors with small children ask about the possibility of hosting a Children's Story Hour at Paragraphs. I have wanted to do this for some time now, but did not have the time to devote to the organization, planning, and public outreach that starting an ongoing activity would involve.

So I was thrilled when one of our area mothers, with several children, which she teaches at home, offered to plan and lead a weekly story hour for the 2 to 5 year old group and their parents.

Children's Story Hour with Carrie
focused on children from 2-5 years of age
Offered every Tuesday beginning
January 17, 2011
1-2 pm
Paragraphs On Padre Boulevard

Please help spread the word to your friends and neighbors with small children. I believe this will be a wonderful opportunity for the mother's of young children to meet one another and just have an enjoyable afternoon while introducing the little ones to the joys to be found in a great story.

As usual this event is free and open to the public. Everyone is welcome to attend and no purchase is necessary.

Monday, January 9, 2012

El Paseo Arts Foundation

The Voxare String Quartet In Concert
January 26, 2012
South Padre Island Convention Center
6:30 p.m.  Complimentary Hors d’oeuvres and Cash Bar
7:30 p.m. Concert

“Gifted, passionate, and personable, Voxare provides a high-spirited, high-energy evening of music.”

Tickets $25 per person/$20 members
Tickets available for purchase at SPI Visitors Center, Paragraphs Bookstore, Designer Consigner, or online at