Holiday gift-buying is in full-swing at Third Place Books in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood, where Patti Harriman, assistant manger and children’s book buyer, is busy recommending favorite new and backlist titles to customers looking for that just-right book for children on their gift lists.
There are a few board books that are personal favorites of mine that I’m always excited to tell people about at holiday time. Two in particular have been selling like crazy the past couple of weeks: Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline, and Dinosaur’s Binkit by Sandra Boynton, which a lot of people are buying as baby gifts – and there sure seem to be lots of babies being born suddenly!
Other board books that I am really in love with and handselling as gifts are the board-book version of All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee; The Babies and Doggies Book by John Schindel and Molly Woodward, featuring gorgeous photos of babies and dogs, which is joyous and beyond cute; and Homes by Judith Nouvian, which has vivid photos of animal homes all over the world.
Several picture books have sold well in the last month, in part because of our staff’s excitement about them. One is Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter, illustrated by Birgitta Sif, which approaches the issues of being shy and having anxieties in a gentle way. Another favorite of mine, which I put out every fall, is Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Julia Rawlinson and Tiphanie Beeke, an especially sweet book about a fox who is afraid his favorite tree is hurt because it’s losing its leaves.
We’re doing very well with What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night: A Very Messy Adventure by Refe Tuma and Susan Tuma, which is a Toy Story–esque photographic story about toy dinos who make a mess throughout the house when they’re left alone. It’s really clever, and every time I read it with my son, who is seven, we discover things we hadn’t seen before – there is so much going on in the book!
A picture book that just came out and I’m really excited to handsell is Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins, about baby goslings who imprint on a bear when they hatch. The bear is grumpy, and tries to get them to fly South, but he finally gives up and they all travel South together. The art is super goofy, and I think this is a fun gift that a wide range of age levels will appreciate.
A nonfiction book that is a big seller right now is Build! A Knight’s Castle: Paper Toy Archeology by Annalie Seaman, which came with a great counter display that has made a huge difference. It’s very cool – kids build a paper castle by slotting pieces together, and there are also a lot of great facts included. And we’re doing well with Asia Citro’s The Curious Kid’s Science Book, which has great activity ideas. Her earlier book, 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, was also a huge seller for us. Both books make fantastic gifts for families, because multiple kids can enjoy them together.
Lots of kids are coming in to ask for The School for Good and Evil books by Soman Chainani, because they say their friends are talking about them in school. It’s really been a word-of-mouth seller. And other favorite series for us to handsell are the Treehouse books by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton, which are super engaging and good for boys who are either reluctant readers or are reading ahead of themselves; and DC Super-Pets, which are in full color and are friendly stories – not at all violent – and are perfect for kids ready to move into chapter books.
Another series doing well for us is Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood & Co. I am a huge fan and have read every one of his books. They are creepy and laugh-out-loud funny at the same time, and I’m excited to show people The Hollow Boy, the newest novel in the series.
And one book that is flying out the door and is a huge holiday present item is the new Harry Potter: The Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition. I was a bit worried about its $39.99 cover price at first, but that doesn’t seem to affect sales – it’s Harry Potter, after all, and Jim Kay’s art is truly beautiful.