Summer is always a busy selling season at Between the Covers in Harbor Springs, Mich., where owner Katie Capaldi explained that the population of the town, located on Lake Michigan, quadruples in the summer months due to an influx of seasonal residents and visitors. She shared her observations on books that have had particularly strong sales recently.

We are doing very well with two debut novels by local authors, which both came out in the past year, but a lot of our summer customers are seeing them for the first time. One is Words and Their Meanings by Kate Bassett, who is the editor of our local paper. It’s a quieter, more literary kind of YA novel, whose main character is coming to terms with losing an uncle she was very close to – but maybe didn’t know as well as she thought. And the other local author is Alison DeCamp, whose book, My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!), is a very funny middle-grade novel. It’s about a boy who is searching for his father in Michigan logging camps in the 1890s. He’s sort of a buffoon, and his girl cousin gets him out of lots of scrapes. The novel is peppered with period advertisements, trading cards, and doodles, and it’s very popular here.

Another YA that’s selling well is Leah Thomas’s Because You’ll Never Meet Me, a story about two boys who are pen pals, but can never meet, because one is allergic to electricity and the other has a pacemaker. The epistolary format and dual points of view make it a fast read, and though it’s a realistic novel, it has a science-fiction twist that adds an element of intrigue to it. It’s different from anything I’ve read lately.

An early reader we’re having fun selling is Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon, which just came out in paperback. The illustrations are fantastic, and the story has a sly, almost cynical humor that kids really pick up on – as do adults. The title character is a young rascal with an incredible imagination, whose older brother and sister can’t be bothered with her – and lots of kids can relate to that. A sequel, Dory and the Real True Friend, just came out, and it has the same great combination of words and pictures.

At our store, we are always advocating for graphic novels, which parents and teachers sometimes complain are not challenging enough. But we believe that graphic novels allow kids’ brains to connect words and pictures in milliseconds, and that many that are being published today are very smart books. One that we are handselling well is The Last of the Sandwalkers by Jay Hosler, about a girl who discovers a colony of bugs and insects waging war. She finds a way to communicate with them, so there’s an element of the fantastical, but it’s a science-minded graphic novel with lots of text and pen-and-ink illustrations.

A nonfiction picture book that is selling incredibly well for us is Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz. It has very cool wood-block illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl, and features women who have left their mark on American history. The author pulls in a broad spectrum of women, including Ursula K. Le Guin, Isadora Duncan, and Angela Davis. It’s a great book that is very popular with girls and their parents – we’ve sold dozens upon dozens of copies.

A trend we’re seeing is picture books with a dark color palette, and we’re doing very well with them. Two of these are The Night World by Mordicai Gerstein, a sweet story that explores how things look differently at night without delivering a lesson about not being afraid of the dark; and Night Animals by Gianna Marino, a reverse-psychology story about nocturnal animals that are frightened by what they see at night – which turns out to be all the other animals. Both these books have black covers, and kids don’t immediately go for them on the shelf, but parents do. Both have a calming factor, so they’re good for bedtime.

And another nonfiction picture book that has really started to take off and is a pleasure to handsell is Bethany Barton’s I’m Trying to Love Spiders, which is full of facts about spiders and has very funny illustrations, including spiders dressed in clothes who try to endear themselves to readers. The author wrote the book as a way of overcoming her own fear of spiders, and kids, whether they like spiders or not – love this book.