Ketsia Julmeus, coordinator of the children’s department at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Fla., talks up some newly released titles, and several seasoned favorites, that she is happily handselling this spring.
We are doing really, really well with Sparky by Jenny Offill, which came out in March. We sold out of our initial order in a couple of weeks. It’s a picture book about a girl who thinks she’s very cool because her pet is so different from anyone else’s – it’s a sloth. Chris Appelhans’s cover art is wonderful – it shows a sloth lying on a tree branch doing what sloths do: nothing at all. The girl does everything she can think of to coax her pet to do something, and the frustration on her face is very funny. We have the book on display, and adults just crack up when they read it – and kids do too. It’s a very endearing book about how we’ve got to love others for what they can offer.
And Aaron Becker’s Journey is a picture book I love pushing. The illustrations are gorgeous, and it’s one of those books that I still get chills reading. We’re located southwest of Miami, and our customer base is very multicultural. Since it is wordless, I recommend this as a book that parents can read in any language. We have many Spanish-language customers, and I’m from Haiti, and am hearing more and more French and Creole spoken in this area.
I’ve loved Mo Willems since his very first book, so The Pigeon Needs a Bath! is one of my new favorite books to handsell. As children, we’re put in situations where we’re not in control and don’t know what’s coming next. I have heard the author say in an interview that that’s why he writes for kids. This is a great book for parents whose kids don’t want to take a shower or get into the tub. In every one of his books, the Pigeon represents all kids – and in this case, he of course ends up loving taking a bath.
Ridley Pearson’s Kingdom Keepers series has been huge in our store, with its Disneyland theme. Somehow Disney seems to have a hold over everybody in Florida. So of course we’re doing well with the seventh book, The Insider. We had an event with the author earlier in April, and he gave a great presentation. He is so genuine, and it was so great to see the excitement in the kids’ faces.
In YA, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green really is its own entity. It’s doing very well for us in paperback – in fact the display the publisher gave us doesn’t have enough slots. We’ve had to reorder once a week.
Another YA that I love handselling is Jennifer E. Smith’s The Geography of You and Me, which is about a boy and girl who meet in New York City, but when she moves to London and he moves out West, they begin a long distance relationship. It’s a perfect romantic comedy, and really brings back the nostalgia of young love – that moment when you get butterflies. Like she did in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, the author frames this story so beautifully. There are no vampires or werewolves – these novels are pure, simple love stories.
And I like The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos very much. It’s a novel set in the 1980s, about a boy who is disfigured after being burned and finds himself through music. He loves classic rock, and I find this novel appeals to both adults and young adults who also like classic rock. It touches on other themes, too, like having crushes on girls and wondering if they’ll like them back. This is a great novel for teen boys.