From River Lights Bookstore in Dubuque, Iowa, owner Sue Davis gives word about a handful of children’s books that are moving briskly this summer.
We really love Pantone: Colors, a largish board book – in fact right now we have a whole window display of Pantone books and calendars. The right side of each spread features a single image and color – for instance, pink for pig – and on the left side there’s a graph of various pinks and their Pantone names. The book is attractive and well bound, and is selling very well for us. Abrams has a set of six peek-through Pantone board books coming out in November that I think will be huge for the holidays. I am a former teacher, and I see these books as an excellent way to teach colors.
One of our bestselling picture books is illustrated by a local artist, Stormy Mochal. The book is The Juggler, by Jeanette Hopkins, about a farmer who follows his dream of becoming a juggler. It’s an adorable rhyming story published by Ice Cube Press and illustrated with collages. We sell a lot of copies, and of course we can easily get them signed for people. The local author and illustrator handle can be huge, but it doesn’t take much to handsell this book. All it takes is opening it up to any one spread.
Another picture book we love is Hide & Seek by Il Sung Na, which features a chameleon kids can spot. The author’s A Book of Sleep, a wonderful bedtime book, has become a staple for us.
And a book we’re having fun handselling is Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins. It is macabre, and some of the drawings are really dark, but we think it’s hilarious. It’s one of those books that you have to show to the right person – I immediately knew of several clever kids and adults who would love it.
A new middle-grade book that we are loving is Liar & Spy, the new Rebecca Stead. We say, “Just wait – there’s a surprise in this novel.” She deals with bullying, but it’s not too harsh. She never gets preachy and there is a lot of humor. We were super crazy for When You Reach Me, and when this came out we were really excited to handsell it.
In YA, we’re still mostly selling the biggies, including The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. We have a whole table display of John Green now, and his books are selling strongly to adults as well. We often find that for adults the price of YA novels – at $16 or $17 – isn’t as scary as the $25 or $27 price for adult novels, which helps with the crossover sale.
Still, the business is tricky. I’ve been a bookseller for 23 years, and I’m not as willing as I used to be to take chances. But I’m still going to stick my neck out for a book that holds the right appeal for our customers.