Stranger Than Friction

In 2006, Ryan Lund Neumann was a brand new teacher, eager to change the world but unsure how he was actually going to do it. In 2009, he created a blog (neumannictimes.com) and began documenting his life as a teacher. Through reflective inquiry, he discovered he could positively affect the lives of others via teaching and writing. His first book, titled What Had Happened: a work of friction (Amazon Books; $13.50), is the result of his efforts to communicate how it feels to be a teacher, in and out of the classroom.

“It was probably in the best interest of all that you decided to leave.”

In every profession, there’s the good news and the bad news. The critiques and the critics. During the summer of 2011, I self-published a book about my observational experiences as a high school English teacher at an urban high school in the suburbs of Metro Atlanta.

Having always wanted to write a book (it was a bucket list item and everything), I’d previously been unsure of what to do with a surplus of writing I’d produced as the absurdities of my everyday life became more and more difficult to comprehend. Writing I’d forced upon myself as a means of both reflection and inspection, for a span of 24 months (stretching from my 3rd to 5th years of service), I thought and wrote about the teachery person I was becoming. At times both treacherous and tremendous, I identified the areas in which I excelled and those that should have gotten me expelled. But it wasn’t until I’d stopped writing and accepted a transfer position at my alma mater that I realized I could turn my writings into a rite of passage. While transitioning from the high school I began my career at to the high school I once attended, I rifled through the ramblings of my rookie years, organized them in a choose-your-own-adventure sort of way, and pressed the “publish” button within Amazon’s self-publishing service, CreateSpace. Within days, my first book, titled What Had Happened: a work of friction appeared in the Amazon bookstore.

Shortly after a neighborhood newspaper published an article about my localized efforts, a variety of things happened:

  1. Turns out there were people who wanted to read what I wrote.
  2. Turns out there were people who wanted to read what I wrote.
  3. Turns out not everyone liked what I wrote …

which is to be expected. Right? I mean, you expound about anything and you’re bound to offend someone. Right? Write. Thing is, I wrote about my experiences as a teacher knowing full well that if my efforts were going to expose anyone for anything, it was going to be me. In other words, I figured if anyone’s going to be the frowned upon tool when the dust settles, it would be the guy who naively chose to write about what had happened. And who knows, maybe in the end I will be. I certainly hope not. I really try to avoid being a tool whenever possible. But writing in the moment (as I am now), I realize that every word I type could merely invite a respite I’m not prepared for. Spite and condemnation and all those vitriolic things we spend so much time in life trying to avoid. But then again, maybe nothing will happen. Maybe, because as I’ve been told time and time again, I’m just a teacher. So who cares? Why does it even matter?

Not so very long after word had spread about What Had Happened, I received an email from an offended acquaintance. Without going into the details of that correspondence, I will say the messenger expressed their discontent with what I’d chosen to share, that this individual thought my stories to be derogatory, and ended their message with the following phrase:

“It was probably in the best interest of all that you decided to leave.”

Press play on the present. For over three years, the email I described above has been the screensaver on my phone. Serving as both a reminder and reference point, the contents of this message have been greeting me multiple times a day, every day, for over 1,000 days. Mildly unhealthy? Maybe. Altruistically necessary? Absolutely.

The reasons for this message’s permanence has varied dramatically from week to week. Some days it’s been a source of motivation while others it’s brought on aggravation. However, it wasn’t until this past summer that it resonated to the point of purpose. While in the process of mentally preparing for the onset of another school year, I went to revisit my bucket list. Two items in particular stood out:

#7. Pay for a Student’s Entire College Tuition

#34. Affect and Effect positive change into the world of education

Then I looked at my phone:

“It was probably in the best interest of all that you decided to leave.”

Then I looked at my bucket list. And then back at my phone. And then it clicked, “it was in the best interest of all that I decided to leave.”

From that moment on I decided that for every book I sell, whatever proceeds I would normally receive from Amazon will go directly to a scholarship fund that will one day pay for a student’s entire in-state college tuition. After crunching some numbers, I figured out I need to sell right under 6,300 books (earning roughly five dollars for each book sold) to raise enough money for one student’s college tuition.

Since then, I’ve been trying to gain traction in promoting this endeavor with local media outlets, radio stations, and even local television programming.

One thing that’s been hindering some outlets from picking up this story is the idea that my project, despite its good intentions, ultimately only helps one person. It’s a valid point, but upon further speculation, I think many people (educators especially) will see that my project benefits a great number of people.

Yes, it is true that from a financial standpoint, the proceeds of my scholarship project will only immediately assist one person.

But here’s the thing:

As teachers, we’re often made to feel insignificant, expendable, and generally less than … everyone else. Yet our profession is still heralded by many as one of nobility and dare I say, respect; which is an increasingly odd juxtaposition. This book, my whole account of what had happened and the scholarship fund it supports will show any and all interested parties that teachers can be actors whose efforts effect the larger equation of educational policy and public perception.

Feelings of devaluation take many different forms and affect people in a variety of different ways. I’ve seen it end the careers of some very promising educators and empower others. For me, being made to feel that what I do, the profession I’ve chosen to pursue, and that the way I approach what I do is somehow inadequate or doesn’t matter, that feeling has done both. And I don’t specifically mean the email I referenced earlier. At this point, that transmission is more symbolic than anything else. I’ve experienced those invalidating affections from students, teachers, parents, friends, and the list goes on. But every person in every profession experiences some sense of depreciation in their career.

What I’m writing about here is what we do after that happens.

Like so many educators that have come before me, and those that are on the up and up, I got into teaching not because I love English and wanted to profess that love for the next 30+ years. I got into to teaching (although I may not have realized it at the time) because I know how big of an impact teachers can have on the lives of others; both good and bad. They can build you up, break you down, and badger you into becoming the best version of yourself you never knew existed. I think this is especially true at the high school level.

Living in fear is something I’ve always been at odds with. This is a feeling I’ve openly communicated with my students over the years as well. When I was younger, I would hesitate; a lot. This led to a great deal of lost life; or rather, lost living. I’ll provide them with a surplus of adolescent examples to emphasize that very point, and then I’ll tell them when everything changed.

These last few years, regardless of the labels of the courses I’ve been tasked to teach, the big focus has always been on life. And the big challenge for me has always been how to bridge the gap between a learner’s experience and the importance of authentically lived experiences. We’ll talk about life post high school during class, and I’ll ask my students to contemplate what they want to do with their own lives. We’ll make bucket lists and everything.

I’ll try to emphasize that it’s entirely too easy to let yourself feel small and insignificant. To blindly accept that you’re going to be stuck in a certain set of circumstances forever and that’s just the way it is, is ridiculous. It’s much harder to challenge and rise above not only the assumptions of others, but really the assumptions of yourself; because many times we are our own worst enemies. And then once we’ve tackled that beast, the big and typically final lesson I attempt to impart is this:

Every person is capable of epic feats, but it’s so much more fulfilling when you try to better society by helping others along the way.

Of course, as teachers we know our students need examples. So I’ll say,

“Look. Guys. We’re all working on a dream, right? For example, I’ve got this book I wrote about my first five years as a teacher. It’s this collection of stories that provides readers with a glimpse of who I was not as a teacher, but as a person in my mid-twenties; a flawed individual who was (and still is) extremely far from perfect. But for me, the whole writing a book thing was an epic feat. Something I was very proud to have accomplished. But then for a while there, I didn’t know what to do with it. I didn’t know how something I’d written could help anyone else, and to be honest, I was actually afraid to do anything with it because I knew there were people on the up-and-up who didn’t approve of what I wrote. Even though many times I was writing to process the friction I would experience at work, I had no idea what other friction my accounts might produce.”

“Then I stepped back and realized I was living in fear, and this fear was preventing me from being the person I wanted to be. I want you guys not only to believe that anything is possibly, I want you to act accordingly. Dream big, ya know? On my end of things, I need to try my hardest to model that ideal … that expectation. Ultimately, the first step towards modeling such behavior requires me to face my own fear; some of which is rooted in the idea that what I do doesn’t matter. When I raise enough money from book sales to pay for a student’s entire college tuition, it will have an immediate impact on a student’s life. Like, duh. Right? But my hope is that it will also show many other people that books are powerful. Books can do things. Change lives. Inform people and propel goodness. Writing is super important. It’s a medium that will always matter, ya know? Words matter. More often than not, words translate into action.”

Then I’ll take a deep breath for fear of passing out and say:

“Don’t be afraid like I was. Sometimes our biggest critics are critical of us simply because they do not understand us. And sometimes their biggest critiques can become a source of creative improvement. After all, big things have small beginnings.”

I know that’s what happened to me. Looking back on the wording now, “It was probably in the best interest of all that you decided to leave,” I couldn’t agree more.

In 2013, seven years after venturing into the world of education, Neumann’s book won the National Council of Teachers of English CEE James N. Britton Award. The award encourages teacher development by promoting reflective inquiry in which educators raise questions about teaching and learning in their respective environments. After giving a talk about his book at NCTE’s Annual Convention, Neumann felt compelled to do more. His book, and the scholarship fund it supports, embody his desire to positively impact the lives of students, teachers, and anyone invested in education.

John Steinbeck

John Steinbeck: Of Mice, Men, and Memories

Inspiration isn’t only found in sweeping landscapes, valiant deeds, or grand speeches. Sometimes, it awaits discovery in a cherished childhood memory.

With twenty-seven books to his credit, John Steinbeck drew deeply from the well of memory to create works such as The Red Pony, The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, and To a God Unknown. It was his memories of witnessing the plight of migrant farm workers that inspired his best-known books.

Three of his four “California novels,” each dealing with the difficulties faced by migrant agricultural workers, brought fame, awards, and, in the case of The Grapes of Wrath, hostility. The best-selling book of 1939, The Grapes of Wrath went on to earn the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Steinbeck’s sympathetic prose and staunch support of migrant workers turned many against him; the controversy spawned by the backlash caused the book to be banned in some schools and libraries until 1941.

John Steinbeck continued to write during World War II, working as a war correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune. After the war, he returned to writing for himself, crafting novels and screenplays based upon his observations and memories of local happenings. His self-described “big work,” East of Eden, was based in part upon his own family history.

In 1962, Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1964, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Lyndon B. Johnson. John Steinbeck has been quoted extensively, including the unabashed exclamation, “I am impelled, not to squeak like a grateful and apologetic mouse, but to roar like a lion out of pride in my profession.” While these words are powerful, it is a quieter, more gently composed quote that captures his gift for making magic from memories.

“Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.”


Erma Bombeck: The Original Mommy Blogger

In the 1970s and 80s our family had the very chic ‘avocado green’ kitchen appliances in our home. Everyone had them or some variation of pastel colors. Yet, the color of our refrigerator didn’t matter because the one thing everyone had on them were cut out newspaper articles. No matter what house we visited, we were sure to find ourselves in kitchens where we would be reading clippings of Erma Bombeck’s “At Wit’s End” column that were stuck there with magnets as a reminder to read them again. And, did we ever.


A staunch feminist who fought ardently for the Equal Rights Amendment, Erma was ahead of her time with her acerbic wit and self-deprecating humor. In fact, you didn’t have to be a mother to connect with her writing. Even as a junior high school student I found myself stealing copies of one of her titles from my mother and laughing uproariously. How is it that I found her details of motherhood so funny if I hadn’t been a mom? The truth is, Erma was simply a fantastic writer with a gift that brought everyone into her little world and expanded it. Her work could be found in over nine hundred newspapers in the United States and she expanded to three weekly columns and published memoirs.


My mother and I re-read her books so often (in paperback form) that they practically fell apart from all the use. Some of our well-worn favorites included I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression (1974), The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank (1976), and my personal favorite, If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? (1978). We even had a copy of the book she wrote with her friend Bil Keane (cartoonist for Family Circus), Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own, which was published the year I was born.


Erma was a first-generation college graduate in her family and was encouraged to become a writer. It’s fitting, then, that her alma mater, the University of Dayton, hosts the popular Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop each year. Devoted to humor and personal writing, it’s a highly respected and sought-after workshop.


Erma was the master of the witty quip. So much of her writing has become a part of the lexicon of the American mom that I’m convinced she was the original mommyblogger, writing our lives in her column and published books so masterfully that she brought us all closer, if for no other reason than to band together against our children.

Do you have a favorite Erma Bombeck quote? Share it below!

Santa Clara County Library

Featured Library of the Month:

Santa Clara County Library

The first time that I opened the home page for the Santa Clara County Library, I was greeted by a module announcing the Homeland & Home Community Cookbook. Whoa, I thought. This is my kind of place!

In addition to the usual FAQ list and interlibrary loan offers, the Santa Clara County Library has an eye-popping list of local happenings. Keeping the Silicon Valley area covered with nine handy locations, the SCCL is a Mecca for bibliophiles of all ages.

Got little ones? Bring ‘em to the baby story time or Tiny Tot Jamboree. Older kids can search the Homework Help page or discover cool facts on the Kids Blog. There’s a blog for teens as well, along with study hints and community involvement listings.

Grownup readers are in good hands; everything from a health information center to special programs for veterans are just a click away. There’s even a mini social network built right into the website! It lets you keep track of your borrowing history, your “to read” list, and fellow patrons that share your interests.

With 1.8 million items available to search on their website and online catalog, you’ll have to go a lot farther than the West Coast to find a title that they don’t have. The next time that you’re in the Golden State, stop by the Santa Clara County Library. You may not yell “Eureka,” but you’ll be glad you found it.

Gertrude Stein

Portrait of the Avant-Garde: Gertrude Stein

Mention the name Gertrude Stein to most people, and you’ll typically get a similar response every time. “Oh, yeah! Her! She, um, wrote … things.”

While definitely influential, Stein and her work are remarkably hard to categorize. Adjectives ranging from the polite (innovative) to the dismissive (difficult) have been applied to her writing, while the life of Stein herself has been the subject of much speculation.

A student of psychology and medicine, Stein eventually moved to Paris to be with her brother. It was there that her reputation as a patron of the arts took root as the pair began collecting the works of painters such as Picasso and Matisse. With the help of her brother, Leo, and her lifelong partner, Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein established a well-known literary and art salon which attracted the likes of Ezra Pound, Max Jacob, and other authors and artists of the time.

During World War I, Stein and Toklas served as ambulance drivers in France, but soon returned to the world of art when the fighting was over. Though Stein’s prose tended toward the abstract, her salons and gatherings served to inspire authors Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. The phrase “the Lost Generation,” used to describe American expatriate writers, is attributed to Gertrude Stein.

In spite of having over a dozen titles to her credit, Stein’s only commercial success came with the publication of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which was written by Stein using Toklas’ point of view. Though her lecture tour of the United States was well-received, Stein maintained her home in France, living there through World War II and until her death in 1948.

Although she was not necessarily a commercial or prolific writer, there is no doubt that Gertrude Stein was an influential writer. She followed no formula and sought no accolades, choosing instead to write from, and for, her own heart.

For a selected bibliography, click here. To learn more about the art collection of Gertrude and Leo Stein, click here.

Alice Walker

Called to Action: Alice Walker

Although a childhood accident with a BB gun pellet left her with a visible eye scar, the first thing you’ll notice about Alice Walker is her smile. It is an infectious smile that warms everyone it touches. It’s also an excellent disguise, hiding a spine of pure steel.

Born into a family of Georgia sharecroppers, Walker attended segregated schools. Self-conscious about what she considered an ugly and disfiguring scar, she retreated from those around her and sought comfort in reading and writing poetry. Her rough start in life didn’t stop her from seeking ever-higher goals; Walker graduated high school as valedictorian of her class before attending college.

Best known as a Pulitzer prize-winning author, Walker has been a teacher, lecturer, and social worker. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and it was this involvement that inspired her first collection of poetry. Branching out into short stories and children’s literature, Alice Walker hit her stride as a writer with The Color Purple, arguably her most famous work to date. Her works have been translated into more than two dozen languages, and have sold millions of copies.

Her talent with words and determination to seek equality for all has led Walker to provide a voice for those who would otherwise go unheard. A tireless activist, Walker stands beside not only victims of poverty, abuse, and other atrocities, but also on the side of the changemakers, encouraging and inspiring people to be the change they seek in the world. In 2012, she wrote Overcoming Speechlessness: A Poet Encounters the Horror in Rwanda, Eastern Congo and Palestine/Israel, followed that same year by Hard Times Require Furious Dancing. A list of her awards and works can be found here.

Alice Walker is best known for The Color Purple, but it is her devotion to equal rights for people of all colors that truly deserves recognition. Her unflinching style and passion for justice make her a force to be reckoned with; her caring spirit and strength of will make her an inspiration. To hear Walker’s story in her own words, please watch the brief but captivating videos available here.

Photo courtesy of http://www.alicewalkerfilm.com/photos/.

Lift Bridge Book Shop

Featured Customer of the Month:

Lift Bridge Book Shop

It’s always neat when a business lives up to its name. Speedy Shipping, Tas-T-Lunch, Discount Mart; I’m still waiting for Free Chocolate to open. At least there’s Brockport, New York’s Lift Bridge Book Shop, a more-than-just-a-bookstore that lives up to its name in fine style.

The bridge part, in my mind, comes from the books themselves; books are bridges to everywhere and anywhere. And the lift? That comes from the moment you step inside!

As soon as you pass through the doorway under the big, colorful mural, you know that you’re in a good place. Owners Cody Steffen and John Bonczyk have taken great pains to make their store not just inclusive, but inviting as well. It starts with their extensive Children’s Department, which has books and educational toys and games for new and expectant parents as well as “veteran” moms and dads. The Lift Bridge Book Shop staffers offer book recommendations for all ages, and are ready to handle school purchase orders.

As you might expect, Lift Bridge Book Shop hosts a number of book clubs, but these aren’t your typical “Title of the Week” groups. Graphic novel devotees, Women Who Love to Read, the Eclectic Book Group, and the Unitarian Universalist Book Group are just a few of the spots in which a visiting reader might fit. And of course, there’s story time for the little ones.

If you want to plan your visit in advance, the Lift Bridge Book Shop website is informative and easy to navigate. Find Staff Picks, store hours, and links to tons of resources, right at your fingertips. You can check out their Facebook page to keep up with the latest happenings, and subscribe to their mailing list for surprise coupons.

Yep, some days you can really use a lift. Lift Bridge Book Shop is an excellent place to get it.

Lydia Maria Child

Over the River and Through the Fire

It takes a lot of courage to stand up for your convictions, especially in the face of harsh criticism from a formerly adoring public.

In 1833, Lydia Maria Child was the darling of the literary set. Dismayed by the lack of published works aimed at young readers, she had created Juvenile Miscellany, a children’s magazine that enjoyed a ten-year run. Her first two books, Hobomok and The Rebels, had catapulted her to near-instant fame. With the publication of An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans, the accolades came to a screeching halt. She was forced to resign as editor of Juvenile Miscellany, and her book sales plummeted. Her local library went so far as to revoke her privileges! Nonetheless, she held fast to her beliefs, and An Appeal is credited with winning many converts to her anti-slavery views.

Her marriage brought similar mixed fortunes. While her husband believed in women’s rights and allowed her to work and write unhindered, his lack of business sense meant that his wife was the family breadwinner. This she managed by editing an anti-slavery newspaper, serving on executive committees, and writing more books. Their marriage was marked by periods of separation and stress, but ended up lasting more than forty years.

Though known for her work with the suffrage movement (she was a founding member of the Massachusetts Women’s Suffrage Association in 1870), Child always made the abolishment of slavery her primary focus. She published educational materials designed to educate former slaves, and sought to make the transition to freedom easier wherever possible.

Though her literary style is best suited to her own contemporaries, there is no denying that Lydia Maria Child can be considered a prominent author, female or otherwise. She published more than fifty books before her death in 1880 at the age of eighty, and contributed countless short stories, poems, and articles to various journals and newspapers of the time. Child was the friend of other authors, including Edgar Allen Poe, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. She sought equal rights for women, equal voices for people of all races, and equal education for children of all backgrounds. Her groundbreaking volume The Mother Book took the shocking step of advocating sex education; her most popular book, The Frugal Housewife, is still available today.

Through adulation, castigation, and personal strife, Lydia Maria Child continued to shine a light of inspiration on the path to change. She is unconsciously remembered every year at Thanksgiving, not for her anti-slavery work, or her suffrage involvement, but for a simple poem that she wrote for children everywhere.

Over the River and Through the Woods.


Rosa Parks: Advancing Humanity with Civil Rights

This month at Little Pickle Press we’re paying tribute to February Greats Who Have Advanced Humanity. Since it naturally falls in line with Black History Month, we thought it important to begin with a woman whose simple act of refusal to get out of a seat on a public bus helped spark a movement for Civil Rights in the United States.


Rosa Parks has a place in history that is so ingrained with celebrating Black History that she’s practically synonymous with the movement. We know, however, that she wasn’t necessarily the first Black woman to refuse her seat (Claudette Colvin goes in the history books for her part) but she, nevertheless, is an icon who helped move us toward treating people with more humanity.


“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”  – Rosa Parks

If you’re introducing your young one to Civil Rights history, we offer up a few picture books about Rosa Parks.

The story of rosa parks

For very young children, we recommend The Story of Rosa Parks by Patricia A. Pingry. This short book with just around 200 words gives a very simple introduction to the woman known as “the mother of the Civil Rights movement”.  It’s the most basic information for little ones that is “bare bones”, but it’s meant to be. The highlight, of course, is her history-making event that occurred on December 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on the Cleveland Avenue bus. Ages 2 and up, 24 pages


book cover courtesy of Brad Meltzer’s website

I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer (be sure to check out his website!) answers the question What makes a hero? in his book about Rosa Parks. This book focuses on her life as a young girl and some of the things she had to deal with (unfair bullying because of her race) that made the path she stepped on to become an icon in the Civil Rights Movement. Meltzer’s books for kids often take a look at ordinary kids who grow into extraordinary heroes. Ages: 5-8, 40 pages

Let It Shine

Coretta Scott King Book Award winner, Andrea Davis Pinkney‘s Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, is a compilation of many women (who have all helped advance humanity), Rosa Parks included. Pinkney’s book provides remarkable portraits of 10 different African-American activists who fought for the spectrum of civil rights including abolition and women’s rights.  In this, she explores Parks’ childhood as well as her accomplishments as an adult. She offers just enough biographical particulars to keep young independent readers’ attention.  Ages: 8-12, 120 pages

If a bus could talk

If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks by Faith Ringgold uses an interesting device to explore Rosa’s life. What would a bus say if it could about that day in 1955? Would it tell us how tired this 42 year old seamstress was? Would it tell her life story? Indeed it would, and it would tell young readers what this courageous act accomplished for the betterment of humanity and how we treat one another. Her refusal to stand up helped inspire many others to stand up, too.  Ages 5-9, 32 pages

rosa parks a life


Older readers might appreciate Rosa Parks: A Life by Douglas Brinkley. At 256 pages, this is for your older reader who want to explore a rich biography that leaves nothing out of her life. The historian Douglas Brinkley follows the life of Rosa Parks and provides a complete picture of her times throughout Alabama when they practiced Jim Crow laws all the way to her influential work in the NAACP.  Students working on school-related projects would do well to use this well-researched work. Her devout spiritual life and her feelings of being so well-known for this ‘bus incident’ are explored as well.

However it is that you may be introducing children to great human beings whose lives have impacted humanity, we hope you found something here to explore. Do you have a favorite book on Rosa Parks to add to our collection? Add it in the comments below!

Of Thee I Sing

First Friday Book Review: Of Thee I Sing

Throughout the month of February, Little Pickle Press will be shining a spotlight on some of the remarkable people who have made a difference in the world. No matter your political leanings, it’s hard to deny that the office of president has inspired countless generations of children to reach for a lofty goal. The following review (written by our Chief Pickle about a book by our Commander In Chief) was originally posted December 13, 2010.

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters

Reading Level: Ages 4 – 8

Hardcover: 40 pages

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (November 16, 2010)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 037583527X

ISBN-13: 978-0375835278

Product Dimensions: 12.3” x 9.5” x .4”

Shipping Weight: 1.2 lbs.

I must admit that it seems presumptuous and feels a trifle intimidating to me to be writing a review of a book written by one of the most powerful leaders in the world and illustrated by one of the most respected children’s book illustrators of all time, but here I go.

The Story: This is exactly my kind of book. It provokes meaningful discussions between parents and children, teachers and students. Who was Jackie Robinson? Why was he important to history? Who is Maya Lin? What was the significance of the Civil War? The Vietnam War? The pivotal conversations that this book evokes are innumerable.

The Artwork: I had the privilege of listening to Loren Long present at the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) 2010 Summer Conference. I was awed by his creative genius, and this book takes my admiration of his talent to a whole new level. He depicts many layers of nuance and conveys so much meaning through the extraordinary illustrations in this book. I was especially moved by his portrayal of Sitting Bull.

The Passion: The love, respect, and admiration the author feels for his daughter is so palpable in this book that I cried as I read it to my own daughters. It is also clear how the author defines strong character and what he values most about our country by not only the heroes he chooses to admire but also through his evocative word choices.

The Message: The underlying message is that all of these ground-breakers were once children, just like the readers, and they hatched the ideals that shaped our great nation. The take away message to children is that they can make a difference. Dream, and then make it so.

My Only Issues: My only suggestions for improvement are: (1) I wish the book was more environmentally-friendly, that is, printed on recycled paper and without a dust jacket; and (2) I wish that the author had re-framed the question about being smart. Had he read Dr. Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The Psychology of SuccessI’m sure he would have praised the amount of effort his children exude vs. how “smart” they are.

The ConclusionBuy or borrow this book and read it to the little pickles in your life. I will be giving it as a gift for a long time to come, and I imagine that you may do the same.

People who make a difference.

People Who Make A Difference:

They Were the Change We Still Seek

What do The Color Purple, Over the River and Through the Woods, and Useful Knowledge have in common? Aside from the italics, they are all pieces written by thoroughly amazing women who left their marks, in varying shades and styles, on the world.

A novelist, poet, and feminist, Georgia-born Alice Walker turned to the comfort of reading and writing poetry after a childhood accident left one of her eyes visibly damaged. Her injury left no mark on her intellect, however, and she graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Walker’s first collection of poems was inspired by her involvement with the Civil Rights Movement; she soon branched out into other forms of writing, often using her words to give voice to others. Some of her many excellent words of wisdom include these: “Don’t wait around for other people to be happy for you. Any happiness you get you’ve got to make yourself.”

Though best known for a child’s poem, Lydia Maria Child gained her earliest notoriety as one of the first Americans to speak out against slavery. After following up a number of successful poetry and prose publications with An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans (1833), Child was almost immediately ostracized by her formerly adoring fans. Sticking to her principles, she remained a staunch abolitionist, writing and speaking about anti-slavery ideals and social reform. One of her most thought-provoking statements is this: “Every human being has, like Socrates, an attendant spirit; and wise are they who obey its signals. If it does not always tell us what to do, it always cautions us what not to do.”

American novelist, poet, and playwright Gertrude Stein broke the conventions of 19th-century writing to become a pioneer of Modernist literature. Bored by her studies in medical school, Stein soon dropped out and began living a life devoted to seeking her own identity. One of her best quotes can be found in What Is English Literature? (1935), and is relevant today in any number of ways. “It is awfully important to know what is and what is not your business.” While Stein’s writing is considered by some critics to be “tricky” or “difficult to read,” it is nonetheless a monument to the creative sparks that light the way to individuality.

These are three of the pioneering spirits that Little Pickle Press will be featuring this month. Join us as we celebrate inspiring people who make a difference, and be sure to share your own stories of inspiration in the comment section of each post.

Badger Balm

Featured B Corp of the Month: Badger Balm

Badgers are fierce creatures with an impressive array of teeth. Badger Balm is a company that is fiercely devoted to eco-responsibility, with an impressive array of skin care products. In the interest of keeping the peace, we’ll leave the badgers be and focus on our Featured B Corp of the Month, Badger Balm.

Whether you’re going out or kicking back, Badger Balm has a line of skin care products that’s bound to fit your lifestyle. From sunscreen and bug repellent to lip balm and moisturizing cream, they’ve got it all.

And it’s as close to all-natural as you can get!

A family company, Badger Balm takes pride in using certified organic and other natural ingredients to create products that take beauty far beyond skin deep. A Certified B Corp since 2011, Badger Balm seeks to do what is best for people and the planet, and that mission doesn’t stop in the marketplace. Environmentally conscious building design, carbon-neutral shipping, and an all-out commitment to the three “R’s” of reduce, re-use, and recycle prove that when it comes to being the change we all seek, Badger Balm is just as tough as their namesake critter.

Visit the Badger Blog for further reading, and don’t forget to browse their online shop for free everyday shipping on domestic orders over twenty-five dollars. Believe me, this is one badger that you’ll love to have in your house!

What sort of skin care products do you use on a daily basis? Would you consider switching based on a company’s eco-record? Tell us in the comment section!

UrbanSitter CEO

UrbanSitter: Word-of-Mouth for the Modern Parent

Suppose you’re new in town, and you’ve been invited to a “meet the neighbors” cocktail party. Or maybe your spouse is out of town on business, and you still have to pick up your regular shift. Or (gasp) your usual babysitter had to cancel.

What do you do?

Thanks to the miracle of modern parenting resources, a reliable sitter is just a click away. UrbanSitter coordinates full- and part-time nanny services, date-night sitters, and coverage for those last-minute appointments. Here to tell us more is the CEO and co-founder of UrbanSitter, Lynn Perkins.

  1. Convenience aside, what makes UrbanSitter a go-to resource for parents? How does it differ from neighborhood word-of-mouth? 

Trust. UrbanSitter leverages social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn) and parenting organizations like moms groups and schools to help parents easily find babysitters used by parents they trust. You can see how you’re connected to the sitter and read reviews from parents you know. It’s like the traditional word-of-mouth without the legwork. For busy parents, this means more options and less time wasted searching for a trustworthy sitter.

  1. UrbanSitter has gotten plenty of positive press; does it seem like people have been waiting for a service like this? Were they quick to take advantage of such an opportunity? 

Absolutely. I think the biggest compliment I get is when somebody says, “How is it that a service like this didn’t already exist,” or, “Why didn’t I think of that?” One of the areas where we saw immediate demand was from working moms when the nanny called in sick, and we have a lot of moms and dads who use UrbanSitter to cover when they have project-based work or doctor’s appointments. Many parents need flexibility in their lives to make it all work, and our service is nicely aligned to support that.

  1. In addition to offering background checks, what steps do you take to reassure parents?

What parents love about UrbanSitter is that we show a lot of data about a sitter’s reputation and performance, including their star rating, reviews, average response time and “repeat families,” meaning the number of families that have booked her/him more than once. If a sitter has twenty reviews and fifteen families have repeatedly hired her, you’re going to feel reassured.

  1. What is it about this job that gets you out of bed in the mornings? What would you say to a potential sitter or parent client right now? 

I love that we’re pioneering a service that helps busy parents—myself included. I’m inspired when a sitter tells me that UrbanSitter is helping her pay for college tuition or allowing her to start saving money. To the potential sitter or parent customer, I’d say, “Give UrbanSitter a try. I think you’ll find it useful. I was a babysitter throughout college and it was hard to find new families to sit for. I am now a full-time working parent and UrbanSitter comes to my rescue with quality sitters time and time again.”

Sounds like a sweet deal for both sides of the stroller! A digital support structure with real-time reassurance is just what the busy parent ordered. Have you ever been in need of an “instant sitter?” Tell us your story in the comment section.


ZippGo: A Better Way to Move

Dontcha love moving? Scrounging in alleys for boxes, running to the store two or three times for yet another roll of packing tape, trying to figure out what to do with a jillion pounds of cardboard once the unpacking’s done; I’ve moved cross country several times, and every time has left me wishing for a better way.

ZippGo is it.

Stackable, reusable boxes that magically appear and disappearas needed, with a green message that will appeal to eco-warriors everywhere? Read on to hear about this magnificently modern resource that helps take the mess out of moving. Please welcome Ash Sud!

  1. Moving can be a stressful experience. How does ZippGo take some of the hassle out of the packing process?

ZippGo was born out of my own frustrating moving experience just over five years ago. I was moving within San Francisco and had to find cardboard boxes, drag them back to my place, and then spend several frustrating hours on the floor getting tangled up in tape. I knew there had to be an easier way to pack, which led to me launching ZippGo. ZippGo has simplified the packing process by renting and delivering green plastic moving boxes directly to a customer’s home. Unlike cardboard boxes, ZippGo’s moving bins don’t need to be assembled and are ready to be packed the moment they arrive at your door, can hold up to 100 pounds so you don’t need to worry about the bottom falling out, and are waterproof so your valuables will be protected during inclement weather. We hand clean each of our boxes after every single use to ensure the cleanest possible box which beats a dirty and dusty cardboard box any day of the week. ZippGo boxes are stackable, nestable, and are up to 50% cheaper than using cardboard boxes. After the customer has moved to their new home and unpacked, we come by and pick up the boxes with a smile!

  1. As an eco-friendly company, you advertise green boxes and Greenwrap. What makes them green? 

I launched ZippGo to offer a convenient and simple way for people who were moving to pack their belongings, but having been a green entrepreneur for over a decade, making it a zero waste solution was near and dear to my heart. ZippGo’s plastic moving boxes are designed to be reused more than five hundred times each, which means every ZippGo box over its life replaces five hundred cardboard moving boxes. Since launching ZippGo, we’ve delivered nearly a half a million of our boxes in the San Francisco Bay Area, thereby eliminating a half million cardboard boxes from entering the landfill. ZippGo boxes are made from 100% recycled plastic and when they reach the end of their life, they will be ground up and recycled into new ZippGo boxes. Our customers are supporting a truly cradle to cradle product. We also offer eco-friendly packing materials like our Green Wrap, which is made from recycled paper and replaces environmentally harmful plastic bubble wrap.

  1. ZippGo has a lot of great reviews. How long did it take people to realize the benefits of your services? 

Once people use ZippGo’s boxes they immediately realize how much easier and convenient our boxes make the packing and moving process. Two phrases we hear quite often after a customer has moved with our plastic crates are “I love ZippGo” and “I’ll never move with cardboard boxes again!” We’re a small local company with a tiny marketing budget, so word of mouth is everything to us. Our customers are amazing people who have helped us grow organically by telling their friends, family, and colleagues about ZippGo in person and online.

  1. Saving resources, time, and money; ZippGo sounds like a big step forward in eco stewardship. What part of the job puts a smile on your face every day?

I’m proud of the fact that we’ve grown ZippGo to rent and deliver to homes all over the Bay Area including San Francisco, Oakland, Palo Alto, Marin, and San Jose and to some of the hottest Silicon Valley technology startups and companies. However having a young family myself, I get the most joy when I see families moving with our green boxes and their kids seeing first hand that convenience, saving money, and sustainability can go hand in hand. I love my job!

I wish ZippGo had been around the last time I had to move; second to arguing over what to throw out, boxes were the biggest hassle. If you’ve used ZippGo, or if you have a carboard horror story to share, let us know about your experience in the comment section.

School lunches

School Lunches: Some Food for Thought

Depending on which side of the table you’re on, school lunches are either healthy and delicious or disgusting and tasteless. Then there’s the brown bag option, which can lead to the twin dramas of “This again?!” and “You left the crusts on!” Tired of catering to the patrons of Cranky Café? Let somebody else handle it! If your kids want to break away from the tray, there are some great new alternatives available.

First up, we have ChoiceLunch. Based on the belief that healthy futures begin with healthy school lunches, ChoiceLunch takes the guesswork out of nutrition by providing a whole slew of kid-friendly, balanced meals. Parents can sit down with their kids and plans menus in advance (there’s even a Last Minute Lunch option), with choices ranging from salads and sandwiches to sushi and pasta. There are even gluten-free and vegetarian options! ChoiceLunch offers an app for mobile ordering, a fleet of trucks to ensure prompt delivery at your child’s school, and a loyalty rewards program that can earn free lunches.

Looking for options that include snacks and three-course meals? Try Chefables. Made-from-scratch school lunches that keep negative nutrients to a minimum while packing in the flavor are what Chefables delivers. Parents can rest assured that their little ones are getting big nutrition without the big price tag. Click here to discuss enrollment options for your school.

If there’s one thing that Team Pickle members love, it’s a B Corp. Especially when food is involved. Revolution Foods fits the bill, delivering over one million school lunches every week across the country. A self-described “fresh food company,” Revolution Foods offers breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks; there are even grab-and-go meal kits available in select stores.

Yeah, so I’m totally hungry right now. Good thing there’s an apple and some cheese in the fridge, since I’m a few years past school lunch eligibility. What was your favorite noon offering when you were a kid? What would your kids order for their school lunches, if they could have anything their stomachs desired?

Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media: A Modern Parenting Resource

The smartest parents I know are the ones who seem to be into everything. They know a lot about a variety of subjects, their children are involved in programs and community activities that fit their needs, and they’re on top of modern gadgets and apps in a way that shows how involved they are in the ever-changing world of their children.

In short: they know how to find out what they don’t know.

There are several online resources (okay, there are a lot) and since it’s hard to delineate which ones place value on my values, I tend to stick with just a couple. One of those is Common Sense Media.


Common Sense Media has branched out since my first visit to the site; I was a mom who wanted movie reviews for my children. What I liked most about it was that they weren’t preachy or prudish in their opinions of movies because, quite frankly, I’ve permitted my children to see controversial films before some of their friends because I was offering guidance along with them.

Common Sense reviews more than just movies, however—they review books and games and apps as well, and their critiques are reliable and full of facts. I appreciate when reviews are factual and without condemnation for parents who still choose to let their children consume media.

For modern parents who would like more information about a media product, Common Sense is a go-to site. When reviewing, they offer categories on a Likert scale (a psychometric scale used in questionnaires) in some of these categories:

  • Educational Value
  • Positive Messages
  • Positive Role Models
  • Violence & Scariness
  • Sexy Stuff
  • Language
  • Consumerism
  • Drinking, Drugs, & Smoking

For example, check out this Common Sense Media review for The LEGO Movie. What’s great is that it offers information in each of these categories so you can make an informed decision for your child. One of my children was very scared of violence in movies so even the most benign movies would scare her. My youngest son, though, could handle all that when he was younger so I would have made different choices based on these recommendations.

Modern parenting needs all the help it can get and Common Sense Media is a Pickle Pick for just such a resource. Whether it’s for reviews or best apps & games or even their new Parent Concerns page, you’ll find something that helps you parent the way you want to parent.

Be sure to check out their Media and Technology for Educators as well.


Talking to Children about Ferguson and Social Justice

Social justice may seem very much like a buzzword lately, but that’s because it encompasses a great many ideas. The easiest definition presumes that everyone deserves equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities. Teaching children that everyone is deserving of such things means teaching them to value diversity and all people. Instead of tackling all those things at once, however, it’s best to choose themes based on the questions that children are asking.

American students are plugged in more than ever, and modern parenting has become both a thing to use and a concept to understand. If I had a dime for every time a parent told me their child didn’t have a particular account or app (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc …), I’d be as wealthy as an app development executive. What I continue to impress upon parents is that kids have these apps, and that a great many of them are “underground.” All of that leads to kids being exposed to much more than they may be ready for and having a great many questions about the world around them.


When talking to children about major news events like Ferguson, Missouri and Mike Brown, it’s important to first ask them what they know. Teachers use this process prior to embarking on a new topic by using a KWL chart: tell what you Knowtell what you Want to know, and finally, upon completion, tell what you’ve Learned. Sometimes, as parents, we can tell our children too much when all they wanted was the basics.

It’s also important to figure out which concept they’re trying to understand when it comes to social justice. Is it the acceptance of others and their individuality? Or are they trying to come to grips with issues of gender inequality? Are they watching the news and seeing a conflict in which peace is elusive? With each of those specific examples, it would be silly to give a pat answer because those issues are very different and require special language.

Art teacher, Sarah Ryder, compiled a fantastic art resource for teaching the following themes of social justice:

Acceptance of Others/Individuality
Kindness to Others
Environmental Awareness
Understanding of Other Cultures
Developing Peace
Gender and Families
Economic Equality

With each specific topic, Sarah has also offered multiple book titles to accompany them for parents interested in taking the conversation to the next level, as well as art projects post-reading. My favorite thing about this idea is that she encourages her students to express themselves in an art form once they’re confronted with social injustice. It’s a great place to put energy. (This is also true for adults! Look how much art comes out of social injustice!)

Another resource for kids wanting to understand a current social justice issue is the #FergusonSyllabus created by Dr. Marcia Chatelain, author of South Side Girls: Growing Up in the Great Migration. This great resource is from the librarian/review site called Stacked and is titled Ferguson, Race, Civil Rights, Social Activism, and YA Fiction: A Round-Up of Reading. If your teen or pre-teen is asking questions that you feel inadequate answering fully or if you feel as though teaching them requires more than you’re comfortable with, any of these resources is a good place to start.

Kids care about fairness and social justice, and their brains are busy doing the work of categorizing and understanding it all. Whatever you do, just talk and listen. There will be no shortage of conversation on this topic.

Fondazione Cariplo [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

ABC Library

Featured Library of the Month:

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library

Albuquerque is a dynamic, surprising city. Home to the ABQ BioPark and just a hop from the stunning White Sands National Monument, Albuquerque is full of history and opportunities for learning. Many of those opportunities can be found in the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library.

Actually a system of libraries, the ABC Library boasts sixteen locations in addition to the main branch. Each branch offers computer access to the Internet, Microsoft Office, and numerous electronic databases as well as the library catalog. You can take advantage of the Interlibrary Loan program, or research the genealogy section and other special collections.

The ABC Library is up-to-date with the latest technology, offering personal assistance with eReaders and downloads during their Gizmo Garage tech sessions. They also offer storytimes, Music & Movement classes, and a wide variety of special events. Steampunk perpetual calendar-making, anyone? There’s even an event just for teens, the shelfie contest! Entrants are encouraged to take pictures of their bookshelf and share them with the library staff for a chance to win a prize.

It’s a pretty safe bet that Albuquerque parents know exactly where to go when they hear the mournful cry of, “We’re bored!” With numerous locations and hundreds of events, the ABC Library is a sure cure for cabin fever.

What are you reading today?


Munchery: Things That Make You Go “Mmm!”

The word busy doesn’t begin to describe the lifestyle of most modern parents; a packed schedule has almost become a badge of honor. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to sacrifice good nutrition when a million appointments are pulling you throught the drive-thru night after night.

If you live in Seattle or the San Francisco Bay Area, you have an alternative. Munchery, a service that brings restaurant-style meals to your door, knows that convenient fare doesn’t have to mean cardboard flavor. With the freshest ingredients, sustainable packaging, and a donation program that can’t be beat, you’ll be too busy saying “Mmm!” to get out the whole name: Munchery.

Since Team Pickle is all about learning, we decided to ask Rei-Ling Dulebohn, Munchery’s Senior Marketing Manager, to give us a peek behind the scenes.

1. Most people equate take-away food with Styrofoam boxes and greasy napkins. How long did it take your customer base to realize that you were “cooking outside the box?”

Our customers are able to tell right off the bat that we’re not a traditional delivery service. We’ve created a way to enjoy healthy and high-quality dishes wherever you feel like dining: around the kitchen table, watching your favorite movie, or having dinner at your desk.

We also work to embody this new dining experience through every customer touch point—from including the ingredients and health information of every item on our menu to delivering our food in sustainable, compostable packaging.

2. In addition to great meals, you also offer carbon-neutral delivery. Tell us how that works. 

Since the beginning, it’s always been a priority of ours to always give back to the communities we serve.

For the carbon-neutral delivery, we track the mileage of our drivers and carbon offset the total each month with a monetary donation to the Conservation Fund. We also have a give a meal, get a meal program where we donate a meal to charity for every order placed on our site.

3. Who comprises most of your customer base? Do you see a lot of office staff, or more of a variety? 

We’ve actually seen a variety. As we expand our on-demand offering, there has been a substantial increase in young professionals and office staff. However, our product has always resonated really well with families who want to put a traditional, high quality dinner on the table, but don’t always have the time to do so.

4. Munchery sounds like it would be an asset to any city. Are there any plans to expand? 

Funny you ask; we’re actually launching in New York in February 2015. The team is very excited to bring Munchery to the East Coast. If you know anyone out there, tell him or her to sign up for our wait list and we’ll send them a free meal when we launch!

Thank you, Rei-Ling! If I lived in the area, I know where my next meal would be coming from. In the meantime, I’m signing up for that wait list. Readers, if you’re tired of take-out, try dining in with Munchery. First-timers can take a test bite by using the promo code littlepicklepress for $15 and free delivery on your first Munchery meal, valid through July 31, 2015.

Shuddle logo

Shuddle: A Resource for the Family on the Go

When it comes to modern parenting, one thing that a lot of us wish for is a way to be in two places at once. Dinner’s in thirty minutes and your kid has a basketball game across town? Poof! Your double handles the driving while you fix the food. 

Although we can’t yet bend time and space to our will, there are some great parenting resources available that can help you to juggle a hectic schedule. One of these is Shuddle, a driving service that not only gets your family members where they need to go, but lets you track the whole trip in real time every step of the way.

SFGate contributor Amy Graff tried the Shuddle service shortly after it was launched; you can read about it hereNina Thompson is another Actual Mom who regularly uses Shuddle; we asked her a few questions about her experience.

1. How did you find out about Shuddle, and what prompted you to give the service a try? 

I’m pretty sure I first saw Shuddle in a Facebook ad, but I definitely heard about Shuddle through friends. It could not have come at a better time for the family as we are going through the high school application process for our son, which means drop-offs and pickups from and to schools, open houses, etc. We went through this process last year for our daughter, who is now a freshman, and it was quite a juggling act as my husband and I are at full-time jobs and have only one car for the family.

2. Short of cloning yourself, having extra driving help sounds like a great way to maximize your time. What’s the biggest way in which Shuddle has helped you? 

Our daughter, Erica, is probably the happiest member of the family because of Shuddle. She has to commute from our home in the city to Stanford every weekend for diving practice, and most of time has had to take BART + CalTrain + Stanford shuttle to get back and forth. Shuddle saves her a LOT of time.

3. What was your child’s first Shuddle trip like? Nerve-wracking, exciting, or a total breeze? What did you do to prepare? 

My kids have taken Uber before so they are pretty comfortable with Shuddle. What I love most about Shuddle is that I get a notification for every step of the ride—really important for peace of mind.

I love Shuddle!

Shuddle ride

We also interviewed Ms. Leonda, one of Shuddle’s carefully screened and selected drivers. Here’s what she had to say about her job:

1. This is definitely not your typical taxi service. What part of the job makes you smile when you get up in the morning? 

This job is so rewarding. As a full time medical professional and a mom of an amazing fifteen-year-old, I am truly fulfilling my passion of catering to children! I am happy with providing a service and helping families all over the Bay Area meet their commuting needs in a timely fashion.

Plus, as an added bonus, while I drive other kiddos, one of my teammates picks up my daughter and takes her to school. It’s a win-win!

2. New riders might be nervous the first time they drive with you. What are some of your best tips for reassuring them? 

Oh yes! The best tip I have gathered from kiddo feedback is not to be quiet! I interact with the kids about school, sports, or college goals. We listen to cool music and I assure them to ALWAYS have an awesome day! More interaction (in moderation) is best for our drivers. We are also mindful not to OVER-communicate.

3. How much more have you learned about the city since driving for Shuddle? What have you learned about yourself? 

I’ve learned so much about the wonderful Bay Area! For example, where my next property purchase will be, restaurants to eat, and the locations of some of the most popular schools. Like myself, parents are particular about education and activities for their children.

I’ve learned that I love children. It’s my passion, and in another life I would love this as a full-time career! Gives me the low-key relaxed feeling I don’t get working my regular job.

When you can’t be everywhere, Shuddle is there. As a bonus, first-time registrants who sign up with Shuddle during the week of January 14th will enjoy $10 introductory pricing for any ride. How would YOU put them to work?

Shuddle ride in progress

Images courtesy of Shuddle.


Barnes & Noble

Featured Customer of the Month:

Barnes & Noble Antioch

I love the smell of books. The crisp, freshly printed pages, the sharp tang of ink; there are few things that appeal to my senses more.

Unless you throw in a gigantic mocha, that is.

At the Barnes & Noble in Antioch, California, you can enjoy both to your heart’s content. A big, bright landmark in the Slatten Ranch Shopping Center, the Antioch Barnes & Noble is a welcoming haven for the visiting bibliophile. If you’ve got little ones, you can bring them to one of several storytime events. For older kids and teens, consider one of their musical gatherings. Of course, patrons of all ages will enjoy book signings by featured authors, book club meetings, and the always-delightful treats at the B”arnes & Noble Cafe.

During the month of January, make a connection with our technology theme by attending one of the recurring Getting to Know Your NOOK seminars, or unleash your inner author at a creative writing workshop. So many great possibilities, and we haven’t even gotten to the bookshelves yet!

In print or online, there’s nothing like a good book. The next time you’re near Antioch, California, stop by Barnes & Noble to pick up a sackful; tell ‘em that Little Pickle Press sent you.

What features make you feel immediately “at home” in a bookstore? Do you find yourself drawn to the same kind of shops, or are you a fan of variety? Tell us in the comments!