Every bookstore strives to create unique newsletters and catalogs, and oftentimes we are successful. But there are times when we could use a little help. This is where the ABC Children’s Group sponsored by the American Bookselling Association, comes in. Every year they create a full-color catalog for all member stores to use for the whole year. The catalog, Best Books for Children and Teens, features titles vetted by members, so it’s not about publishers paying for advertising, this is a catalog of books we all feel strongly about recommending in our stores.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of picture books published every year, and many of them are good. Some of them are great. And a few of them hit the picture book sweet spot jackpot by managing to provide:
- a perfect marriage of text and art
- phenomenal kid appeal
- read-aloud deliciousness
- art that invites poring over
- new discoveries in repeated readings
- heart, joy, playfulness, suspense, reassurance, and humor
- and, yes, jokes for the grownups, too.
this ORQ. (he cave boy.) by David Elliott, illustrated by Lori Nichols (Boyds Mills Press) hits the jackpot with its hilarious (and wry) caveman-speak text, huge heart, and utterly lovable illustrations by newcomer Lori Nichols (who also wowed us earlier this year with her debut picture book, Maple, published by Penguin/Nancy Paulsen).
I have recently been traveling in New England and, as I’m wont to do when I’m on holiday, I visit other bookstores. I do this for several reasons, chiefly, I love bookstores and it’s nice to be in one and not see everything that needs to get done, but rather, just enjoy the store. When I’m in a store I become one of those people who sniffs the books, who stands back and admires the display, wonders about the choices for face outs and ponders what sections are the good sellers.
I was in Bethel, Ct., and stopped by Byrd’s Books. I heard about this store through our trade association and have been reading their very good e-newsletter, so I was very curious to see the store. The day I happened to visit, they were busily preparing for their Find Waldo Local party. My timing really couldn’t have been worse. I arrived at three, just under an hour from their party with an expected attendance of 50 kids and their parents. They had moved most of the shelving out of the middle of the store (they had smartly gotten all their floor units on wheels, so they could move them out of the way for events) and the owner, Alice Hutchinson, kept apologizing for the store “being in disarray.” I assured her I was used to pre-event chaos. And I have to say her idea of chaos was my idea of calm, everyone bustled about with purpose but not in a frenzy. Despite this, she still managed to show me around the store.
Ever since the publication of the first book in Lev Grossman’s Magician’s Trilogy, children’s booksellers have pondered whether a book so profoundly concerned with coming of age was appropriate for younger readers. Worth considering since they are the folks bracing themselves for that very passage. With the publication of The Magician’s Land, the third and final volume in the trilogy, it is time to have a stab at an answer.
“Sheep get like shepherds, and shepherds like sheep, it is said,” and this is particularly true of epic fantasies. Their narrative form and structure reflect their substance and creation. The task of completing the quest successfully is shared by author and protagonist.
Flower Fairies Magical Doors: Discover the Doors to Fairyopolis by Cicely Mary Barker (Frederick Warne & Co)
I was working in the back room when the voice of Flying Pig bookseller Sandy floated in from the front desk. “You know what’s hard to find that you’d think there would be a lot of?” she asked. “Beautiful fairy storybooks, the kind I would have loved and lost myself in as a child.”
You’d think this would be a flooded field, but actually, most of the gorgeous fairy picture books we used to carry have now gone out of print.
The book world runs six months ahead of the calendar, which is why we all order our Christmas books in July and why our event proposals for winter 2015 are due in the coming weeks. In the old days (yes, I just said that, I think after almost 18 years, the old days were sufficiently different and far enough away that I can get away with that) , an event proposal really boiled down to begging reps to send authors and illustrators to us. It seemed there was more possibilities then because things felt more flexible. Now, everything is computerized: stores fill out event grids on Edelweiss and hope tohear “yes” back from someone in the publicity department.