about our staff click on each name to learn more
She loves kids and she loves books. So it kinda makes sense that Diane Capriola would love kids’ books too. Co-owning and running Little Shop of Stories is her dream come true! But please don’t ever refer to her as “that girl from ‘You’ve Got Mail.’” She’d much prefer feisty little bookstore babe. Diane originates from Long Island, but don’t hold that against her. When not reading books for free in local bookstores, she spent her childhood summers stealing magazines from the local library. Don’t tell her mom. Fave book as a kid: Little House series ‘cause in another life she was definitely a little girl on the prairie. Yes, we know that’s hard to believe since she’s such a diva now. Fave kid’s book as a big kid: Skippyjon Jones or Kitten’s First Full Moon or Bark, George or Julius, Baby of the World…
To say that I was not a reader when I was young is far too tepid a statement.
How about this: I was an anti-reader.
From the time I learned to read until I was in my early 20s, I read very, very few works of fiction cover to cover. I passed four years of high school English classes -- barely -- by reading (well, skimming) Cliff's Notes. It's not that I didn't have teachers who tried. (Apologies to Ms. Martin.)
I did take one literature class in college, undoubtedly to fulfill a graduation requirement. It was a course on short stories. I figured I could handle 20 pages or so each week. It was taught by a little old man (really!) who had probably been teaching disinterested students like me for a good thirty or forty years. Yet, somehow, we had not collectively worn this guy out. Or even down.
The professor's name ... I can't recall. This was, after all, thirty or forty years ago. But I do remember his enthusiasm: greeting us students as we walked into class; reading passages from stories with amazing intensity, always ending with an "A-ha!"; spurring on classroom discussions. At the time I was puzzled by this guy. I respected him. I did the readings. While I was starting to actually enjoy literature, I still didn't really get it.
Fast forward to the late 1970s. I doing architectural work for a development company in Chicago. It was a real 8 to 5 job. No one worked late hours and no one took work home. (It was actually frowned upon. Times have changed.) So after work I commuted back to my apartment where I lived a relatively Spartan existence. I owned a stereo, but no television. This was, at the time, a form of social and political statement. I'm not sure what it was I was trying to say.
So I started reading. First was Saul Bellow. Why not? He was at the University of Chicago and had won a Pulitzer and a Nobel. He was great! I read Truman Capote, Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud. I read philosophy. I read about architecture. I read Ayn Rand.
In the early 1980s I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Malaysia, teaching architecture at a technical college. Having a great deal of free time (evenings, weekends, and 12 weeks of annual school vacation) and very little money, I read for entertainment. Our institute's English library was limited, but I devoured the fiction section. George Orwell (who served in nearby Burma as a member of the Imperial Police Force), an author who I pretended to read a decade earlier, became a favorite. In 1983 I read Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Trips to Kuala Lumpur invariably meant a trip to a bookstore. Meetings with fellow volunteers inevitably involved the trading of books. Care packages from family and friends almost always included a novel. I particularly enjoyed the fiction and travel writing of Paul Theroux, who had served in the Peace Corps and later taught at the nearby University of Singapore.
And so I became a reader.
Krista Gilliam is our wonderful manager and Little Shop's superb Tuesday storytime person. She gets excited by just about everything (though perhaps nothing more than Christmas lights), and her mood is contageous. So look out! She never leaves home without a book, water bottle and sweater and she’s currently trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) not to become a crazy obsessed dog person. Her puppy, Bear, is making that difficult. Favorite children’s books as a kid: Chester’s Way, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Nancy Drew, A Little Princess. Favorite children’s books these days: The Sea Serpent and Me, The Golden Compass, Love That Dog, My Most Excellent Year, Ladybug Girl and the Harry Potter series (still).
Marcy Cornell learned to read by watching too much Sesame Street as a very small child, and blames Big Bird and his friends for her lifelong book fixation (not to mention her liking for monsters, a general antipathy to taking out the trash, and the fact that her first word was "cookie"). She's been addicted to books of all varieties since then, but particularly enjoys fantasy and adventure, and any book where the princess rescues herself. Marcy has WAY too many hobbies, but loves them all too much to give any of them up. She's happy to finally have a good excuse for hanging around Little Shop all the time, and is gleefully plotting window displays.
People often inquire, "Is she always that way?" I know exactly what they are asking. It is a polite way to find out if Sunny is always that "sunny." And I always reply, "Pretty much." Of course, what I don't like to talk about are the things that happen when no customers are in the store and its just us and the radio is on and -- suddenly -- Sunny breaks out in song. And I'm not talking about a little attempt at harmonizing while working at the computer. Oh no. I mean up on the counter full-throated screaming and stomping like a possessed demon. Sunny has changed addresses five times since she started working here. I know why she keeps getting evicted but ... well, there's no sense getting into all that here. So come into the store and say hello to Sunny while she's still with Little Shop. All I ask is that if you are the only customer in the store, please don't leave until someone else walks in the door. I can't take any more complaints from Starbucks.
Terra is back, baby!
I love kids. Even my own son Drake. I'm 15 years old in my head so YA and graphic novels are my favorite. I read a lot as a kid because my six older siblings never allowed me any TV time.
As a boy, Rob was attacked by a swarm of bees. He soon discovered that the multitude of stings had given him uncanny strength, the ability to climb walls, and an intense attraction to pollen. On that fateful day, he became BUMBLEBOY! He devoted his life to fight injustice and evil using strands of golden honey to capture his foes. Alas, his career sadly came to an end after being sued by Spiderman for copyright infringement. He was forced to retire his black and yellow striped tights, and now spends his days collecting Happy Meal toys, looking at old photographs, listening to Tom Waits and reading books with his son.
Jenna is the second oldest of four sisters. She has written several short stories and composes plays in which she and hers sisters act. Pursing a literary career in New York, Jenna became interested in the world of opera and philosophy before moving back to Decatur to attend high school..
Atticus spends most of his days (and nights) sitting in the front window. Born on the other side of the pond, he is permanently accompanied by Miss Read-A-Little. Among Atticus' favorite books are Frog Prince, Continued by Jon Scieszka and Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel. Atticus is also a fan of Hopalong Cassidy books.
Our guest reviewer is Bear. Bear is a dog. A confused dog. Among his favorite reads are How Rocket Learned to Read and Dog Loves Books. He also loves Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, but please don't tell his dog friends about that as Bear has a reputation to protect.