The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head | A Guest Blog Post by Shannon Pierce, Sales & Marketing Intern at Blair

Shannon and AnimalsNote: Shannon Pierce is the new Sales & Marketing Intern at Blair. She has an MA in Language and Communication and attended the Denver Publishing Institute in 2012. She enjoys baking, learning about her new home in North Carolina, and playing with her niece and nephew. 

I started teaching preschool four years ago in a class of two- and three-year-olds. If we managed to get all 18 seated attentively, one of my go-to story time books was Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

But the book’s formatting drove me crazy. Each two-page spread features the illustration of an animal in the book’s series of animals. On the left side,Brown Bear the text addresses the illustrated animal with, for instance, “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” On the right side, the text identifies the next animal in the series, “I see a red bird looking at me.” However, that animal will only be visible when you turn the page.

I never read the premature, in my opinion, description of the upcoming animal, instead allowing the class to yell out their own descriptions as it appeared (“I see a . . .”—page turn— “RED BIRD”). It was a simple fix and nicely interactive, but the fact that the layout was not designed with this type of reading aloud in mind always bothered me. Obviously I was right, and Eric Carle was wrong.

Then Brown Bear and I met under different circumstances as I was helping older kids practice their reading. All of a sudden, the formatting was perfect. The kids were challenged by trying to read the unillustrated text, and the corresponding image on the next page was an immediate correction or reinforcement. Basically the layout is brilliantly suited to literacy development.


Though embarrassed by how fervently I had misjudged the book, had I not been quite so irked by Brown Bear I would not have had the now obvious realization that a lot of interesting decisions go into the production of a book. And maybe Eric Carle knows what he’s doing.

Look for another installment of The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head next week!

The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head | A Guest Blog Post by Heath Simpson, Warehouse Manager at Blair

Heath and Dr. SeussOn my first doctor’s visit, a stern pediatrician administered a series of painful shots. The surroundings, I enjoyed more. The office was in an elegant, modern ’50s-era building. The lobby featured an amazing, bubbly aquarium. And the library was all Dr. Seuss.

Dr Seuss ShirtAny Dr. Seuss book was magic. All he needed was paper, a marker, and a few words. He made beauty and fun—really a new parallel universe. The cartoon changed my life.

Later, when I went to the dentist, I was surprised and delighted. They had their own copy of Green Eggs and Ham!

Look for another installment of The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head next week!

Blair Now Accepting Electronic Submissions | A Guest Blog Post by Steve Kirk, Editor-in-Chief at Blair

blair8Please answer the following question by selecting one of the choices below.

At John F. Blair, the staff feels strongly that:

  1. Eight-track still delivers the best sound
  2. Original Recipe beats Extra Crispy and (God forbid) Grilled
  3. Andy Griffith was the epitome of enlightened Southern manhood
  4. Book publishers should continue to accept snail-mail submissions
  5. All of the above

The answer is 5, of course. We raise our lighters to Lynyrd Skynyrd, bow to the genius of the 11 Herbs and Spices, and stake our spiritual claim in Sheriff Taylor’s Mayberry, not Boss Hogg’s HazzardCounty. But more to the point, we welcome queries and manuscript samples by regular mail.

That being said though, we also realize it’s time to dip our collective toe in the new millennium by accepting electronic submissions, both fiction and nonfiction. We’ve set up an e-mail address——for that purpose. See Blair’s Manuscript Guidelines and Prospective Authors pages for details.

Pre-Publication Goodreads Giveaway: Long Gone Daddies by David Wesley Williams

Long Gone Daddies, the debut novel by David Wesley Williams, has been called “a story that sings” by singer/songwriter John Gorka; “a soulful musical tour de force” by Bland Simpson of The Red Clay Ramblers and author of Into the Sound Country; and the November 20 review in Publishers Weekly called Long Gone Daddies a “lyrical multigenerational musician’s tale” and an “impressive first novel.”

Now, thanks to this pre-publication Goodreads giveaway, you can see what all the fuss is about and contribute a review yourself. Enter to win between now and January 31 – and be sure to add the book to your Goodreads bookshelf!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Long Gone Daddies by David Wesley Williams

Long Gone Daddies

by David Wesley Williams

Giveaway ends January 31, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head | A Guest Blog Post by Steve Kirk, Editor-in-Chief at Blair

Herman Hesse and Steve

January Term junior year, I believe it was. Modern German Literature in Translation.

I was a painfully slow reader back then. Knowing I’d never get through nine novels in one month, I perused the campus bookstore before Christmas break for the most magnum opus on the class list. And there I met my fate—Herman Hesse’s masterwork, Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.

Herman Hesse and Knife

It’s a futuristic novel in which an order of monastic intellectuals perfects a game that synthesizes all forms of abstract knowledge. It’s also one of the foremost unreadable “great” novels in all of literature—or, in my own translation, 520 pages of soul-crushing misery.

I read the whole ponderous thing. Knowing my father would mock me for studying over holiday break, I holed up in my room, where Magister Ludi and I no doubt cut a lonely but comic figure, should anyone have been watching.

Of course, where misguided efforts go, irony follows. On the first day of class, the professor—nice guy, bushy beard, clinically bad breath—announced that he’d assigned too much reading and was dropping a novel from the list. I hardly need to say which one.

I have my copy of Magister Ludi still, on much the same urge that drives strange men to save their kidney stones in jars. But the experience taught me much. It taught me the perils of being a too-sincere student. It taught me that my fondness for reading could weather a hard kick to the groin. And it stuck a fork in my budding literary pretensions and sent me looking for books I could dance to.

Look for another installment of The Book That Smacked Me Upside the Head next week!