Good weather in Denham Springs, La., has helped boost customer traffic at Cavalier House Books this summer, and Michelle Cavalier, who owns the store with her husband John, sends word of several books that she’s especially pleased to be selling.
Our store is located in an antique district and we get a ton of older people coming in for gifts for their grandchildren, and I always like to recommend some new picture books that may not be the most talked-about books, but are ones I think they’ll like. This summer, I’m especially excited about two picture books that came out in June.
The first is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce, the book version of the Academy Award-winning short. What is great about this book is that it’s all about the power of story, about stories that transport and heal you, and about the community that rises around books. I think that’s an important message for everyone, from the youngest board book reader to the oldest reader of classics. This is a heartwarming book, and one that I’m selling to a lot of grandparents, parents, and people who saw the short. And the author kind of references Hurricane Katrina, which is important to our customers because we are just outside of Baton Rouge.
The other picture book I’ve been enjoying handselling is Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. This is a fun and funny book. When parents come in to sit and read with their kids, I give them a stack of books to go through, to feel each one out, and I like showing them this book. Funny and surprising things happen at the end of the book, and kids really love it when something unexpected happens.
For middle graders, we’re selling a lot of James Patterson’s Middle School series, Middle School, the Worst Years of My Life and Middle School: Get Me Out of Here!, which are probably popular everywhere. A lot of times with middle grade I don’t have to do much recommending, since kids know what they want. But for reluctant readers whose parents are dragging them into the store, I definitely recommend this series. It’s a good choice for kids who’ve run out of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books to read. I know they’ll like this, too. The books are very funny, very sweet, and full of illustrations, which makes them perfect for reluctant readers.
And for YA readers, one book that I want to mention is not a new book—it came out several years ago and was nominated for a National Book Award—but I think it’s horribly overlooked. It’s Dark Water by Laura McNeal, about a girl who lives on a California avocado farm. She’s a relatively wealthy girl and she sees the devastating poverty of the migrant workers. The author does a fantastic job of telling what their life is like. And there is a little bit of romance, though this isn’t primarily a love story. We do a lot of book fairs and I recommend this novel all the time to teachers—and to teens as well. It sells well for us.