Publishers Weekly has established a Facebook group for booksellers called BXsellers. The forum is a means for booksellers to discuss best practices and professional concerns, as well as a place to socialize. Each month, we’ll survey the group to get book recommendations and to find out what its members are passionate about. For our inaugural column, we asked what booksellers are handselling for families shopping during back-to-school time.
The most recommended title was Ryan T. Higgins’s picture book We Don’t Eat Our Classmates (Disney-Hyperion). Heather Jeziorowski of Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, Ga., said, “We cannot keep [it] in stock. We all love it so much that we’ve been handselling it to all our families with young back-to-school (or first-time-to-school!) kiddos.”
Numerous other booksellers concurred, including Amanda Reid of Rakestraw Books in Danville, Calif., and Lisa Reid of Lucy’s Books in Astoria, Ore., who noted, “It has been a major hit with teachers at all grade levels.”
The second-most-recommended title was All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman (Knopf). “It is the book I’m handselling the most,” wrote Sho Roberts, owner of Maggie Mae’s Kids Bookshop in Portland, Ore. “I truly believe it’s a must have for elementary school teachers. I love the diversity within the book, the message, and that it teaches that school is a safe place. The fact that the dust jacket is a poster on the inside is an added bonus!”
Clarissa Murphy, a bookseller at the MIT Bookstore, wrote, “I think every kid needs some great non-fic to start the year off right! I can never recommend the Professor Astro Cat [by Dominic Walliman, published by Nobrow] series enough!” Murphy is also recommending A Quick Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson (S&S). “[It is] something every teacher should have in their classrooms,” she added.
Sarah Krammen of Dragonfly Books in Decorah, Iowa, wrote that she “love, love, loves” The Dollar Kids by Jennifer Richard Jacobsen (Candlewick). Krammen adores the title so much that she blurbed it for the August Indie Next List, writing, “I recognized myself in this book.... I’ve been an 11-year-old grappling with guilt and grief. I’ve moved from a city to a small town and found a home. I know it’s cheesy, but this book made me laugh, cry, and hug my child.”
Jesse Post of Postmark Books in Rosendale, N.Y., wrote that the store’s favorite handsell is Adam Rex and Christian Robinson’s School’s First Day of School (Roaring Brook/Porter). “[It’s a book] where the school building itself is nervous about the first day of school,” she noted. “We also bring out books about fun in the fall, to help refocus on some of the positive things, like Bella’s Fall Coat [Disney] and Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn [Holt].”
Cindi Wittemore at Ink Spell Books in Half Moon Bay, Calif., wrote, “I always have a few copies of Will I Have a Friend? by Miriam Cohen [Aladdin}. [And} of course Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten [Puffin].”
At the Book Oasis in Woburn, Mass., Debbie Austin Sullivan consistently handsells two books by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond: If You Take a Mouse to School and Time for School, Mouse (both from HarperCollins).
Finally, Kathy Burnette, who opened the Brain Lair in South Bend, Ind., this past July, provided a selection of titles focusing on diversity and featuring marginalized voices, including This Is How We Do It by Matt Lamothe (Chronicle), Mixed by Arree Chung (Holt), I Am Enough by Grace Byers, illustrated by Keturah A. Bobo (HC/Balzer + Bray), I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien (Charlesbridge), and Americans by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles (S&S).