‘Tis the season to build the BookPeople holiday catalog book list. The catalog comes out in November and is BookPeople’s biggest production. Featuring book essays by booksellers on each spread (paired with quirky photos), the catalog offers a fun window into who we are.
With only three spreads of our catalog dedicated to kids’ books (one for ages 0-7, one for ages 7-12, and one for ages 12+), I have to be strategic about my selections. There are always some shoo-ins, but I also carve out space to spotlight books that aren’t necessarily as obvious or that haven’t already been highlighted through in-store events or other promotions.
And the unusual books are often the ones the booksellers love to get behind. I gave a staff presentation last week, and two oddball members of the animal kingdom totally stole the show. Unabashedly weird, Marvin Gardens (a not-dog with slimy skin that eats plastic trash and poops toxic waste) and Blob (the ugliest animal in the world) are wildly charming in their own unconventionally adorable ways. Blissfully unaware of his strangeness, Marvin just wants to snack on trash, play fetch, and raise his babies in peace. Blob, on the other hand becomes defined by his ugliness, first hiding from it, then relishing in it, then living in the shadow of his subsequent fame. While Marvin is clearly mother nature’s response to humans dumping excess plastic into the environment, Blob’s evolution is more psychological, as the reflection in the mirror consumes his sense of self. Poignant, peculiar, and refreshingly funny, both of these books make the case, albeit in totally different ways, that the world is what we make of it.
Here are a few others I am excited to put in readers’ hands this year.
Looking for a book not everyone has seen? Try Express Delivery from Dinosaur World from Chinese import publisher Candied Plums Press. Filled with stunning, intricate artwork, this beautifully designed book takes readers on a mesmerizing prehistoric adventure. With mazes, seek-and-finds, surreal references to major modern artists, and acetate pages to navigate with a flashlight, this is a book young explorers will adore.
Want a story filled with heart and gumption? Look no further than The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. Faced with a greedy developer’s insidious plans to gentrify their neighborhood, Arturo Zamora overcomes his fears (and epic failures) to fight for his family, their legendary Cuban restaurant, and the future of the community they helped build. Oh, and he might just manage to fall in love along the way.
Shopping for a voracious reader who is looking for something different? What about The Murderer’s Ape? To free a ship captain framed for murder, engineer Sally Jones (who happens to be a gorilla who can read and write) joins together with an accordion craftsman and a fado singer to unravel a sinister plot. Roaming from the coasts of Portugal to the opulent court of an Indian maharaja, this quirky tale will charm readers looking for international intrigue, terrific characters, and classic adventure.
Are you a fantasy fanatic? Check out A Face Like Glass. In a world where blank faces offer no glimpses into the soul, the power of expression is dearly bought. For a price, your appearance can be crafted to reveal, obfuscate, or even fabricate your truth. In that realm, a girl with a face of unfiltered feeling—but no memories—represents a danger sharper than poison. This evocative fantasy is one of Frances Hardinge’s most imaginative yet.