With bookstores across the country shutting their doors to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, traditional handselling—which often connects readers with books they didn’t know they were looking for—is no longer possible. This is the fourth in an ongoing series featuring personal recommendations of new releases from children’s booksellers. Click here to see previous entries.

Here at Politics and Prose we, like many, have closed our doors and suspended curbside pick-up. However, the phones remain open and the website active. We’re hosting virtual author events and maintaining connections with our local schools, libraries, and nonprofit partners to better understand the challenges they’re facing and where we might be able to assist. Books continue to be our primary focus, although some days collecting empty egg cartons to assist with food distribution takes priority.

Since we have a complement of booksellers in-store, we’re still creating displays of new releases to use in social media as well as quick recommendations when assisting customers on the phone. Some of the titles we’re excited about encourage readers to look closely and explore the outdoors like A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis (Holiday House/Porter), Animals in the Sky by Sara Gillingham (Phaidon), Oil by Jonah and Jeanette Winter (S&S/Beach Lane), and Cityscape by April Pulley Sayre (Greenwillow).

Some readers have a little more time on their hands, so we’re recommending titles that help stimulate conversation and provide opportunities to explore ideas in greater depth, like Alphamaniacs by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Candlewick); Follow the Recipe by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman (Dial); What If Soldiers Fought With Pillows? by Heather Camlot, illustrated by Serge Bloch (Owlkids); and Margot and the Moon Landing by A.C. Fitzpatrick, illustrated by Erika Medina (Annick). We continue to recommend books from various perspectives. Kent State by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic Press), Golden Arm by Carl Deuker (HMH), and The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray) are just a few.

One of the unexpected outcomes during this time of sheltering in place has been the addition of virtual author events. We’re using the Crowdcast platform to increase customer engagement and promote new releases including A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornavt (Candlewick), Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury), Lift! by Minh Lê and Dan Santat (Disney-Hyperion), The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Madre de Aguas of Cuba by Adam Gidwitz and Emma Otheguy (Dutton), as well as an ASL event with author Ann Clare LeZotte for her new book, Show Me a Sign (Scholastic Press).

We recently hosted Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed for When Stars Are Scattered (Dial). Omar’s message of hope and resilience is awe-inspiring. The event also provided us an opportunity to highlight the colorist, Iman Geddy. This presentation is sure to convince customers that compelling storytelling is possible in graphic novel format. Inviting customers to delve deeper into the stories has made our handselling a little easier while families struggle with separation, distance learning, and various levels of stress. Stories can provide an escape, but they can also provide inspiration and opportunities for conversation.

We also like to remind our customers to explore backlist titles: read or reread works by Jason Reynolds, Laurie Halse Anderson, David Levithan, Gene Luen Yang, and Mal Peet, among others. During these challenging times, we continue to provide opportunities to share some joy while strengthening the bonds within our community.

Politics and Prose is still fulfilling orders through our website, so if any of these look good to you, please support your local independent bookstore or buy them from us.