Kelsie Pates (she/her)
Bookseller, Special Order Coordinator
Kelsie has been at Red Balloon since Summer 2015. She spent two years selling books in Woodbury, then moved to St. Paul and started at Red Balloon. Three moves, two degrees, and one cat later, and she's still here! The best part of her job is getting to use her degree in English & Gender Studies in unexpected ways, her delightful coworkers, and sharing her favorite books with customers. Also- picture books with chickens in them. When not at work, Kelsie loves spending time with her friends, listening to music, cooking for her family, and antagonizing her cat, Pickle.
A Few Favorites:
This is the story of a girl, and enchanted ball of yarn, and a pirate. When the girl finds the yarn, she begins to knit, and knit, and keeps knitting until she's knit over her whole town. The ball of yarn is full of cozy magic. But what happens when others want the yarn's magic for their own purposes...?
This stunning book covers all of the wacky, weird, and weirdly wonderful things there are to know about mushrooms! The illustrations highlight all of the things that make mushrooms so unique and interesting!
This longer picture book has 4 stories- one for each season. You follow Hazel, a teeny tiny witch, who spends her days helping her forest friends. The illustrations are beautiful and filled with forest fauna, while the stories themselves are sweet and focus on kindness and friendship. This is a great year-round storybook.
This series will always hold a special place in my heart! It has magic, adventure, hilarious twists on classic fairy tales, and beautiful covers!
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Author Colin Meloy (of The Decemberists) and his wife, and illustrator, Carson Ellis, are co-creators of this quirky, dark and magical middle grade trilogy. Set in Portland, Oregon, these books follow a young girl who must venture into the magical forest near her home in order to bring her little brother home. Lush illustrations and a whimsical storytelling make this a long-time favorite.
This book from 2014 is still at the top of my list of favorite young adult novels. It perfectly captures the intensity of being young, and how big everything feels when you're going through things for the first time. Told in alternating chapters, two siblings tell their story and the events leading up to the loss of their mother, and how that single event causes a ripple effect that affects their lives in countless ways. I would highlight the entire book if I could- the writing is that stunning.
Set in a slightly different version of 2017, Adam Silvera's 3rd novel takes place over the course of one day and revolves around two teen boys, Rufus and Mateo, who find out that they're going to be dying on the same day. In Silvera's 2017, there is a service called "Death Cast" that calls you to let you know that you're going to die, though you don't get to know how or at what time. Rufus and Mateo get the call on the same day, and connect through an app called "Last Friend" that lets you connect with other dying people. Wanting to make the most of their last day, Rufus and Mateo set out to say their goodbyes, take risks, and become who they always wanted to be.
An absolutely beautiful novel- perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson. The main character, Sal, lives in a small border town with his adoptive father. When Sal and his best friend of forever, Sam, start their senior year of high school, everything starts to change. Sal can't stop getting into fist fights, his Mima is dying, and Sam and Sal's friend Fito suffer losses that turn their world upside down. There's also the fact that Sal's dad is maybe dating someone for the first time and Sal doesn't know how to share him. Sal's journey of love, loss, friendship, grief, and learning is written in Saenz's gorgeous poetic style. I really connected with this book (I cried at least 6 times) and all of the characters and I think this might be the best book I've read in the last few years.
This book is so well-written, so full of gorgeous moments, and so absolutely heartbreaking that I can only handle reading it once every few years.