Laura Numeroff, author of the bestselling If You Give... series, is trying to spread some cheer during these challenging times by bringing people together—publishers, as well as parents and their children. On September 13, Numeroff, whose latest releases are Would I Trade My Parents? (Abrams) and What Brothers Do Best/What Sisters Do Best (Chronicle), is embarking on “Laura Numeroff’s Bringing Families Together Tour.” Abrams and Chronicle are teaming up to send Numeroff to primarily independent bookstores in two economically stressed Midwestern states: Michigan, which, with a 15% unemployment rate and an already fragile economy, has been devastated by the recession; and Wisconsin, which has also been hit hard during the economic downturn, with its 9% unemployment rate ranking it #29 among the states and D.C. in terms of economic stability, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

The tour will kick off at the Oak Park Jewish Center in suburban Detroit, with books sold there by local bookseller Book Beat. The Michigan leg of the tour will include five more stops over four days at some of the state’s most renowned bookstores, including the original Borders bookstore in Ann Arbor, two Schulers’ bookstores in Okemos and Grand Rapids, Horizon Books in Traverse City, and McLean & Eakin in Petoskey, a resort town in northern Michigan. Numeroff will then travel west to Wisconsin, and spend three days visiting six bookstores and one college library in the southeastern, more heavily populated part of the state: Butterfly Books in De Pere, Apple Blossom books in Oshkosh, Barnes & Noble in Madison, Books & Co. in Oconomowoc, Next Chapter in Mequon, Boswell Book Co. in Milwaukee, and Carthage College in Kenosha. The “Bringing Families Together” tour will conclude on September 21, with an appearance at Wonderland Books in Rockford, Ill., yet another state reeling economically, this one with a 10.4% unemployment rate, ranking it #38 on the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s list.

In keeping with the theme of the tour, and, of course, the themes of her two fall releases, Numeroff intends to talk about her own family, hand out family-themed activity sheets, and ask the audience about their own parents, brothers and sisters. “I want this tour to be different,” Numeroff says of her tour, which will take her to a region often overlooked on the children’s author tour circuit. “Bringing some good old-fashioned fun in the form of readings and talks to Michigan and Wisconsin feels good.”

When asked if sending an author to an economically depressed region to promote her new releases might prove awkward for financially strapped parents attending events but not able to purchase books for their children, Jason Wells, Abrams’s publicity and marketing director, emphasized it’s not just about selling books for either the author or the publishers, it’s about bringing families together to listen to Numeroff talk about families.

“No one is pushing book sales, nor is it a requirement of attendance at this free event,” Wells said, explaining that while Numeroff will sign books after her readings, she will sign books that her fans have brought with them, not just the books available for purchase.

“We’re just hoping this will lift spirits in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin,” he said.

Would I Trade My Parents? by Laura Numeroff, illus. by James Bernardin. Abrams, $16.95 Oct. ISBN 978-0-8109-0637-2

What Brothers Do Best/What Sisters Do Best (flip book) by Laura Numeroff, illus. by Lynn Munsinger. Chronicle, $15.99 Sept. ISBN 978-0-8118-6545-6