Kids are getting cabin fever this holiday season and that’s a good thing; that’s the title of the latest book in Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series (Abrams/Amulet). Over Black Friday weekend, the official kickoff for the holiday bookselling season, other series continued to sell briskly, including Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy (Scholastic Press), Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance (Knopf), and Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series (Disney-Hyperion).

There were several highly anticipated new releases from long-established writers like Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak. But only one seems to have gained significant traction in our survey of two dozen general and children’s specialty stores throughout the country. Shel Silverstein’s posthumous collection of poems, Every Thing On It (HarperCollins). And in spite of the doom-and-gloom about picture books expressed on the front page of The New York Times last year, several are doing particularly well: Hervé Tullet’s Press Here (Chronicle), Kadir Nelson’s Heart and Soul (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray), Jan Brett’s Home for Christmas (Putnam), and William Joyce’s The Man in the Moon (S&S/Atheneum). At Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, N.Y., picture books are selling better than YA fiction, according to owner Scott Meyer. “We are selling the blazes out of hardcover picture books,” adds Cynthia Compton, co-owner of 4 Books & Toys in Zionsville, Ind., whose sales of picture books were up 22% over the weekend.

In terms of sales, it was a Dickensian weekend—think A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”—with some stores reporting great sales, particularly those near closed Borders stores, others not so much. Michael Herrmann, owner of Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, N.H., saw sales go up and stay up in healthy double digits beginning this summer when the Borders half a mile away closed. Sales for the weekend rose 64%. Once Upon a Time in Montrose, Calif., benefitted from a White Friday, a special promotion of the Montrose Shopping Park Association, complete with snow and strolling carolers. The store offered a 10% discount to white out sales tax, and it worked. “This was the best weekend in the 45-year history of the store,” says owner Maureen Palacios. “We were up 40% over last year. People seemed to be loosening their purse strings. They recognize the value of indies more than ever.”

Other bookstores, particularly in the Midwest, saw sales rise due to mild temperatures and the lack of snow. Diana Abbott, manager of The Bookworm in Omaha, Neb., credited good weather with boosting Saturday’s sales 35% over last year; she expects to do 8 to 10% for the holiday season overall. Similarly Matt Norcross, co-owner of McLean & Eakin in Petoskey, Mich., attributed weekend sales, which were up more than 30%, to the weather and Small Business Saturday. Beyond weather though, he’s concerned about how difficult it may be to reorder two of his bestselling children’s titles, both by Maggie Bateson, illustrated by Louise Comfort, with elaborate foldouts: My Fair Magic School (Macmillan UK/IPG) and My Fairy Showtime (Macmillan UK/IPG). So far, no one has reported difficulty in getting any holiday books.

Weather from late October, which dumped 22 inches of snow over parts of the Northeast, continued to have an impact on business for Merritt’s Meyer, who closed a store in Red Hook this summer after closing another in Cold Spring a couple years ago. His sales over the weekend were flat, which he attributed to mild weather. Those who didn’t head to the mall for discounts were continuing to clean out the debris in their yards, something he too was itching to do.

Like Norcross, many independent booksellers credited American Express’s Small Business Saturday with enhancing sales. “We got a lot of calls Friday to see if we accepted American Express,” says Land Arnold, co-owner of Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, N.C. At Green Apple Books in San Francisco, co-owner Pete Mulvihill pronounced the promotion “great,” although, ironically the store doesn’t use Amex because its processing fee is almost double the cost of other credit cards. “Still,” he said, “all the promotion they did drove lots of people into the store.”

Even without any of those added perks some stores were up. “I was actually surprised by Black Friday,” says Ellen Richmond at Children’s Book Cellar in Waterville, Me. “Customarily, it’s not that big a deal here, because people head to the big boxes. It was a good enough day that [typically] happens closer to the holiday.” Shopping local was a draw for many of her customers. One who purchased $100 worth of books told her, “I don’t have a lot of money but I’d like to spend it on a local business.” Still, for Richmond, one strong day won’t be enough to pull up the year. “I’ve got a lot to make up,” she says, especially after an “abysmal” October. One bright spot has been adult titles like Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (Doubleday), as well as Jon Klassen’s picture book I Want My Hat Back (Candlewick) and Ally Condie’s YA novel Crossed (Dutton).

Several stores have been so encouraged by sales this year that they are planning to expand to fill the void left by Borders. “We’ve had an excellent year,” says Gladin Scott, manager of Maple Street Books in New Orleans. “Our sales are up tremendously, and we anticipate that continuing over the next year. I would say that we’re at least 15% over last year, because our business increased about 30% over the summer.” In September, Maple Street opened a store on the other side of the French Quarter; on Saturday it will open a third store in a mid-city location. Although he hasn’t signed a lease yet, Michael DeSanto, co-owner of four-year-old Phoenix Books, Cafe & Gallery in Essex, Vt., plans to open a second location in Burlington, where a Borders closed. “We had a kickass October and November,” says DeSanto. “We’ve already exceeded last year’s November; our sales were up by 30% over the three-day weekend.” To raise money for the new venture, DeSanto is using a model based on community-supported agriculture and has had a “good” initial response.

At Mendham Books in the affluent community of Mendham, N.J., owner Tom Williams has seen sales rise close to double digits in part because of a much increased events schedule. Although his holiday sales don’t won’t take hold until next weekend, he’s done well with The Elf on the Shelf (CCA&B), which got an added push from a televised special during prime time on Black Friday. He’s also seen his children’s book sales contribute an increasing portion of the store’s sales overall for the past few years.

“I’ve sold a little bit of everything. I’ve been looking for that one book, and it hasn’t declared itself in my store yet,” says Suzy Takacs, owner of The Book Cellar in Chicago. In addition to bestselling series titles for older readers, she was surprised to see Nick Bruel’s A Bad Kitty Christmas (Roaring Brook) really take off over the weekend. She’s also done well with local author Kier Graff’s The Other Felix (Roaring Brook). At Gibson’s, Herrmann notes that two books from local authors, Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona’s Gift (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen) and Adam Gamble’s Good Night New Hampshire (Our World of Books), have done especially well. Even in New York City, Bank Street Books buyer/manager Beth Puffer finds that anything local, like Melissa Sweet’s Balloons Over Broadway (Houghton Mifflin), sells briskly.

Flyleaf was one of several stores to single out pseudonymous author Ann Droyd’s parody of a children’s classic, Goodnight iPad (Penguin/Blue Rider), as a bestseller. Lane Smith’s Grandpa Green (Roaring Brook), which John Netzer, manager of the Concord Bookshop in Concord, Mass., describes as “really a charmer,” is doing well at his store, as is Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy’s Wildwood (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray). Concord is displaying it with The Apothecary (Putnam), the first children’s books by Meloy’s sister, writer Maile Meloy.

“We’ve had some nice sales, but we haven’t had huge numbers of people pouring in,” says Judy Koronas, co-owner of Pinocchio’s Children’s Book Store in Memphis, Tenn. “We should be in good shape because a Borders closed here. But right now it’s slow.” What is selling are both Brian Selznick novels—The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck (both Scholastic Press)— as well as perennial favorites for the younger set like the slide-and-find edition of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (Priddy), the Fancy Nancy books by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser (HarperCollins), and Pinkalicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann (HarperCollins).

Whether stores had a strong start to their holiday season like Gibson’s, or a slow one like Pinocchio’s, doesn’t necessarily determine how the season or the year will finish. At Eso Won Books in Los Angeles, which has struggled for several years, co-owner James Fugate is optimistic. “Christmas won’t be a deal breaker for us,” he says. “We’ll make it.” With new displays using Borders’s fixtures and more store events, November sales are up more than 20% at Page & Palette in Fairhope, Ala. Owner Karin Wilson is hopeful that the store’s sales will be better than last year’s. For others, it’s too soon to tell. At Bank Street the holiday selling season doesn’t start until next weekend, plus a late Hanukkah could affect sales. Still Puffer is “very hopeful for the year. So far sales are up.”