With two toddlers of her own, Lauren Savage, owner of The Reading Bug in San Carlos, Calif., has an understandable affinity for picture books. As the spring selling season gets into full swing, she shares word of a few picture books plus two titles for older readers that are moving quickly in her store.
Picture books are my favorite area, and my favorite one right now is Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon. It’s a bit of a departure from her cute little board books and has a lot of substance to it. I love its message that when you give love, it grows. It’s a very sweet book that encompasses all ages – kids and adults love the message – and it’s a runaway hit for us. I read it at story times at least once a week, and it never fails that at least one person buys it then. In fact, we sell one copy of this book most days. It’s our top seller.
Our number two seller is Jon Klassen’s That Is Not My Hat. What I always look for are picture books that are fun for both kids and parents, since after all we are the ones reading the books to our children. I tend to handsell what I like, so we sell tons of this book. Where moms love Penguin and Pinecone – we moms are often thinking warm, fuzzy, and sweet – I sell Klassen’s book more to dads, who go for the humor. This is a book dads really like to read to their kids.
I’m really excited about one book that just came out, Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler. It’s a great Earth Day book about a woman who plants seeds where they don’t usually sprout. It has watercolors reminiscent of the art in Barbara Cooney’s Miss Rumphius, with pretty, bright colors. I think this may be my favorite picture book art of the year so far.
Two backlist picture books I can’t keep on the shelves are The Gruffalo and The Spiffiest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. I love these stories and they are probably our top-selling backlist picture books. A lot of people buy both together, and we sell a lot of them to people looking for birthday gifts.
For middle grade or young teen readers, we do well with Jennifer A. Nielsen’s The False Prince, which is good for boys as well as girls. It’s about an orphan who’s kidnapped by a nobleman who tries to train him to be a prince, and the story has plot twists that are totally unexpected. I’ve sold it to kids who liked it so much that they’ve come back asking for the new sequel, The Runaway King.
And for young adults my top pick – I suppose like everyone else’s – is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The characters are smarter than I am and wise behind their years in the way they understand sadness and deal with it. I don’t recommend it to teens who are worriers. In fact, I sell it to more adults than teens, and it will be our adult book club selection in a couple of months. This is a beautifully written novel.