Laura Donohoe, children’s book buyer and receiving manager at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, N.C., shares word of frontlist and perennial bestsellers that she and her staff are selling well this summer.
We are crazy for kids’ books here at Malaprop’s, and we relish any opportunity to get our favorites into the hands of our customers. We are big supporters of poetry and love to get kids started as early as possible. Hi, Koo! A Year of Seasons by Jon J Muth is one we recommend all the time. This collection follows the seasons through 26 haiku. It is beautifully illustrated and simply a must-have.
For a gorgeous and thought-provoking picture book, we highly recommend Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan. We are huge fans of the author, and this one has us very excited! Tan’s trademark surreal images are stunning and the text is spare. The storyline about two brothers gives readers a lot to contemplate as the boys make their way through a summer together.
We also love finding great nonfiction for the little ones, and our current favorites are from the Ordinary People Change the World series by Brad Meltzer. I Am Amelia Earhart is our most popular pick in the series, which pictures figures from history as children. The whimsical illustrations make it easy for kids to engage in the story, and it is a perfect way to bring history to life for the youngest readers.
A new one for our middle-grade customers that’s flying out the door this summer is The Thickety by J.A. White. It is the first book of a new series that follows Kara, a girl whose mother was killed for being a witch and who is now showing signs of having powers as well. It is full of all things magical and definitely has an original spin. The suspenseful plot explores the ideas of using magic for good or evil, and a wild plot twist at the end has us all hoping the sequel gets out quickly!
Two other middle-grade favorites that we handsell multiple copies of on a daily basis are Wildwood, by Colin Meloy, with illustrations by Carson Ellis; and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her Own Making by Catherynne Valente. Each of these fresh and original novels is the first in a series and is written in a traditional fairy-tale style.
Pre-orders are rolling in for The League of Seven by local author Alan Gratz, due in August. This one is steampunk for the younger set, with lots of action, adventure, and excitement. It’s perfect for both boys and girls, and even the most reluctant reader will not be able to resist. Another pre-order campaign that we are over the moon about is Ilsa and the Happily Ever by Stephanie Perkins. We’ve had orders from around the world for this one. It’s a smart, funny, and very real story of love and life, and finding your way through both.
For our YA readers, we can’t say enough about We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. It’s a twisty, mysterious thriller, with an ending that will knock kids’ socks off. And another mad favorite of the staff is Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith – we handsell this one by the dozen. It’s a beautifully told coming-of-age story that takes an amazing turn that you won't see coming. Oh – and then there are the six-foot tall praying mantises!