For our annual “Off the Cuff” awards, we asked retailers for their picks in a variety of categories. The winners (and selected bookseller comments) appear below.

Funniest Thing a Kid Said in Your Store

“Girl leads mother to Fancy Nancy display and says, 'Mom, come here! I found something BEAUTIFUL.' ”
“Mom, isn't it funny how mice in books are so cute, when in real life they're so GROSS!”
“Child sees House in the Night display with shelftalker that reads 'Our favorite new bedtime book.' Child says, 'You only say it's your favorite because you want people to buy it.' ”

Most Unusual Complaint

Customer wouldn't buy Good Night Gorilla out of fear that the recipients wouldn't like gorillas.
Thomas the Tank Engine “focuses on negative, antagonistic behavior.”

Favorite Picture Book of the Year

10 Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, illus. by Helen Oxenbury (“extraordinary but simple—less is more!”)
Honorable mentions: Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed; That Book Woman by Heather Henson, illus. by David Small

Favorite Novel of the Year

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (“absolutely riveting”)
Honorable mentions: Impossible by Nancy Werlin (“well-written, intriguing”); Paper Towns by John Green; Nation by Terry Pratchett (“funny but deep”)

Most Unusual Picture Book

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin, illus. by Rosana Faria

Most Memorable Character in a Lead Role (tie)
Isabel (in Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson); Katniss (in The Hunger Games)

Best Sequel

The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (“we can't get enough of these wonderful sisters!”)
Honorable mentions: Bats in the Library by Brian Lies; The Runaway Dolls by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin, illus. by Brian Selznick

Favorite Book Jacket

Savvy by Ingrid Law
Honorable mentions: Wave by Suzy Lee; Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu

Funniest Book (tie)

Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex; Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka
Honorable mention: Science Fair by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (“their zany imaginations made me laugh out loud page after page”)

Book You'd Like to See Win the Newbery Medal

Masterpiece by Elise Broach
Honorable mention: Chains

Book You'd Like to See Win the Caldecott Medal (tie)

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson; Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein, illus. by Ed Young
Honorable mentions: A River of Wind: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant, illus. by Melissa Sweet; The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

Favorite Series

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Best Nonfiction Treatment of a Subject

The Way We Work by David Macaulay
Honorable mention: Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

Sleeper of the Year (tie)

Wabi Sabi; Hip Hop Speaks to Children by Nikki Giovanni

Most Innovative Book

ABC3D by Marion Bataille
Honorable mentions: There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz; the 39 Clues series


with Best Plot Twist
The Hunger Games
Honorable mention: The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Best Novel for Young Readers That Adults Would Love If They Knew About It

The Hunger Games
Honorable mentions: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman; Impossible

Book You Couldn't Shut Up About


Book You Wish Everyone Would Shut Up About


The “For Adults, Not Children” Award

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (“a bit too graphic and disturbing”)

Book We Could Have Sold with a Better Jacket

Science Fair

Hottest Selling Book to Go Out of Stock

Twilight books (“boo!”; “shame on Hachette for not getting books printed fast enough”)
Honorable mention: Wabi Sabi

Book You Were Happiest to See Back in Print

The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer

Book You Were Sorriest to See Go Out of Print

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Oddest Request by a Customer

“Do you have anyone here who would be willing to dress up as a leprechaun and come to my daughter's class and read Irish stories?”

“A father wanted a spy book for his two-year-old.”

“Your versions of fairytales are all too modern. I want something more traditional—like Disney.”

“So… it’s books that you sell?”

“I’d like a classic book to read aloud to my dog.”