Liza Bernard, co-owner of the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vt., reported that she and her colleagues are gearing up for the summer season, when customers visit the store to stock up on books to keep their kids entertained on vacation. Books with outdoor themes are especially popular with staffers and customers as the warmer weather arrives.
One of our very favorite books here is a new picture book, Captain Jack and the Pirates by Peter Bently, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, which is a really fun read-aloud. It’s about three kids who build a boat on the beach and set out to sea – and the pirates they encounter turn out to be their parents. The story combines great adventure and great imagination. This is one of those books that I can confidently put into someone’s hands and say, “This is a book you won’t mind reading out loud seven times in a row,” which is a real litmus test for a picture book!
And now that we’re getting back into the summer season, one of our favorite books to sell is Lizi Boyd’s Flashlight, which came out two years ago. It’s a wordless book with die-cuts, about a child who goes out into the woods in the dark and illuminates a variety of things with a flashlight. It’s a delightful, whimsical story – and is really a perfect summer book, for both readers and non-readers.
Another great book about the outdoors is a new book, Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias, Ines Teixeira do Rosario, and Bernardo P. Carvalho. It’s a big book – almost 400 pages – with lots of drawings, watercolors, and text answering many questions about animals and other aspects of the natural world, like “Why do birds make nests?” It appeals to a wide range of ages – I’d say kids from eight to 14, depending on whether they are reading it with an adult or on their own.
We’re also doing very well with Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, a graphic novel for girls who are 12-ish, which is a Newbery Honor Book. I’m not a graphic novel fan, but this one really sucked me into it. It made me feel 12 years old again, which is a happy place to be. The novel deals with a number of realistic issues, and is a candidate for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, a children’s-choice state award here in Vermont. I find this a wonderful book to put in the hands of kids who might be reluctant readers.
For slightly older readers, a book that we like very much is Kwame Alexander’s latest novel, Booked. It is great, especially for reluctant readers. It’s realistic, and written in short sentences. The story touches on friendship, family, social pressures, and soccer, and it is really a brilliant book. One of our staff members has a reluctant reader at home, and Alexander is the one author he will sit down to read and not get up until he finishes the book.
And another title that we love selling is The Wild Robot by Peter Brown. We do a monthly Saturday event, in collaboration with our local library, and this month we chose to feature this book, so we’ll have robot crafts and activities. The novel is a great mashup of wildlife and robots themes – the author does a wonderful job of smooshing them together. A robot has to learn to survive on an island, and has to use both her brain and her robot skills to understand love and develop feelings. So it’s an exploration of the wild, but also of emotions and making connections.