Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Arianna Grassia - School Librarian

Arianna Grassia is the new librarian at Hastings middle and high school. She brings her own buoyant enthusiasms into the library.
“I love the job. I love the village. I love the people .” But what’s her favorite?

“The students! They are wildly entertaining. They’re self possessed and enthusiastic and they can hold a conversation. I really enjoy having them in the library. The space feels lonely when they’ve gone.”
Arianna is a young librarian but even so she didn’t come directly to it. She majored in English at the University of Buffalo. “Of course,” says Arianna. “My parents would have been stunned if I’d majored in anything else. They were both English majors and we always had books in the house. Everywhere. I’ve read all my life. I find it very comforting to have books around. I have shelves and shelves in my apartment.”
After she graduated, Arianna worked for MTV, which owns Nickelodeon and Comedy Central. Grassia was Executive Assistant to the producer. Her boss created Blues Clues and Umi Zoomi. Arianna Grassia liked the work in some ways, but was eager for something more directly related to English.
“On a whim, I applied to library school. It turned out to be a very interesting degree and a perfect fit.”
Grassia had important mentor librarians. She student taught at libraries in Rye and in Rye Brook. Diane Harrington – recently retired – was “incredibly supportive”. Petra Bova was unusually kind.
Dee Ratteree, the Hillside librarian in Hastings, was a fascinating model. “She is wildly eccentric, in a lovely way. She has great presence and is incredibly knowledgeable. She is a great and a wonderful guide for me.”
Arianna graduated less than a year ago. She took a job in the Dobbs Ferry Public Library, where she still works. I wondered if that didn’t put her in a loyalty bind at athletic contests since there is such a lively rivalry between Hastings on Hudson and Dobbs Ferry.
“Oh no,” said Arianna. “I will always cheer for the Hastings students. Those are my kids.”
One of her many kids is Francesco Scioscia, a ninth grader at HHS. Francesco and Arianna were conversing in the library about books. He wanted a recommendation. Arianna Grassia recommended The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.
“It is well plotted, with good characters, slightly dystopian, but a very good read for young adults. The rights for the trilogy have already been sold to the movies.”
Here is a Grassia prediction: The Hunger Games will be the next Twilight.
Ariana offered to reread the first volume of the trilogy with Francesco so they could talk about it. They chatted more. Arianna was waiting for her father who was picking her up that day. “He’ll be forever,” said Arianna. “He found a bookshop in town that he loves! In it, he just forgets all about time.”
What a coincidence! Francesco Scioscia is named for his grandfather, who founded that exact same bookstore where Mr. Grassia was browsing in time warp at that very moment . riverrun.
Mr. Grassia recommended books to his daughter all her life. When she was quite young, he recommended the Great Illustrated Classics. They are abridged and there are illustrations on every page. She enjoyed them then and she recommends them to young readers now. “People don’t seem to gravitate to them nowadays, but back in the 1990s, when I was growing up, they were the cat’s pajamas!”
Growing up, Arianna liked William Steig and Shel Silverstein. She’s still a big Harry Potter fan.
Her adult favorites are American authors like Mark Twain, Henry James, Herman Melville, and William Faulkner. They people her bookshelves at home where she revisits them often.
I asked about her favorite books as a child. “Nancy Drew,” she answered unhesitatingly. “She’s the best. So clever.”
When Arianna’s mother was young, she’d read the Cherry Ames, Nurse series. Her mother told Arianna about them. Arianna remembers telling her mother, “that nurse sounds stupid compared to Nancy.”
Grassia still loves children’s book and books for young adults. She was tickled to learn that Biscuit’s author, Alyssa Capucilli, lives in town. “Biscuit is one of my favorites. I love, love Biscuit.” Grassia knows that there are many more authors and illustrators in town. She’s excited about discovering who’s here, perhaps meeting them and teaching their children.
“There are very special vibes in this place,” she said. “You get it right away from the children who come into this library.”
I asked what her plans for the future were.
“Keep reading. Discover new authors and share them with the kids.”

Ms Grassia has started a blog for students and others:

Hunger Games author reads chapter 1 of Mockingjay:
about William Steig:
the Great Illustrated Classics @ Waldman Publishing:
an unofficial Nancy Drew site:
Cherry Ames Nurse Stories site:
Alyssa Capucili's website

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