The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!


The Golden Swift by Lev Grossman

A middle grade fantasy novel with magical trains, a magical submarine, an apartment in the sky, a missing uncle, talking animals, endangered species and rewilding? Yes, please! This series is proof that kids can learn about current day issues in novels. Not that any of us in the industry need convincing of this, but this series does it effortlessly. Brilliant! Can’t wait for more!

The Golden Swift by Lev Grossman, (List Price: $35, Little Brown and Company, 9780316283540, May 2022)

Reviewed by Jill Naylor, Novel in Memphis, Tennessee

The National Menagerie of Art by Thaïs Vanderheyden

Art museums are wonderful places of discovery and this collection of 20 famous pieces is a great way to bring all the world’s great art museums into one spot. This little gem is the perfect introduction to art for novices of a tender age.

The National Menagerie of Art by Thaïs Vanderheyden, (List Price: $12.95, Prestel Junior, 9783791375090, April 2022)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Spotlight on: Knight Owl by Christopher Denise


Christopher Denise

"The illustrations for Knight Owl posed an interesting challenge. Most of the book takes place at night. How could I make the illustrations using a color pallet varied enough so that each scene could have the right feeling and not feel too dark? I took that challenge as an opportunity to dive deep into my fascination with Japanese woodblock prints, specifically the work of Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) one of the greatest artists of the shin-hanga style. Yoshida’s work, along with a few nods to Rembrandt and Vermeer, defined the palette for the entire project. The range of blue tones in Yoshida’s work is amazing! "–Christopher Denise (via School Library Journal Blog)


Joan is Okay

What booksellers are saying about Knight Owl

  • An absolutely delightful picture book bursting with wonderfully playful illustrations. As a kid, I loved knights, dragons, and adventure (still do!) and I would have cherished this wonderful book from Denise and spent hours looking at each page. Celebrating perseverance, cleverness, and friendship; Knight Owl is sure to delight readers! ― Caleb Masters from Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC
    Buy from Bookmarks

  • A night Knight owl who proves he can be brave by outwitting a dragon with pizza. And in doing so shows that even the smallest of creatures can be cunning. ―Judith Lafitte from Octavia Books LLC in New Orleans, LA
    Buy from Octavia Books

  • A sweet picture book about a wise owl, perseverance, and finding common ground with others.   ―Rae Ann Parker from Parnassus Books in Nashville, TN
    Buy from Parnassus Books

  • Knight Owl is full of goodness. Who knew dragons and owls made for a good story? And pizza, the great peace maker? Perfect for fans of Gruffalo and Dragons Love Tacos. ―Jilleen Moore from Square Books in Oxford, MS
    Buy from Square Books

About Christopher Denise

Christopher Denise spent much of his childhood in Shannon, Ireland, exploring castles and dreaming of great adventures. He is the illustrator of many critically acclaimed books for young readers, including Anika Aldamuy Denise’s Bunny in the Middle, Alison McGhee’s Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’s Following Grandfather, and Anne Marie Pace’s Groundhug Day, as well as several in Brian Jacques’s award-winning Redwall series. His books have appeared on the Indie Next List and the New York Times bestseller list and in the Society of Illustrators’ Annual Exhibition. Knight Owl marks his author-illustrator debut. Christopher’s current adventures include exploring coastal Rhode Island, where he lives with his family.


Ear Worm! by Jo Knowles, Galia Bernstein (Illus.)

This fun book about a little worm with a tune stuck in his head is a great way to introduce young readers to the term “ear worm.” I would have been fascinated by this book as a child because I constantly had tunes stuck in my head, and like the little worm, I wondered where they came from. I love the way each animal’s song is illustrated.

Ear Worm! by Jo Knowles, Galia Bernstein (Illus.) (List Price: $17.99, Candlewick, 9781536207835, 1/11/2022)

Reviewed by Kate Storhoff, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

A Dinosaur Named Ruth by Julia Lyon

A fascinating picture book biography of Ruth Mason, a young girl growing up in pioneer-era South Dakota who went on to find hundreds of dinosaur fossils in her family’s backyard. After years of Ruth’s fossil collecting, paleontologists finally made it out to South Dakota and many of her dinosaur skeletons ended up in the natural history museums we still visit today. A great read for any child obsessed with dinosaurs!

A Dinosaur Named Ruth by Julia Lyon, (List Price: $ 17.99, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 9781534474642, October 2021)

Reviewed by Jen Minor, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Hamsters Make Terrible Roommates by Cheryl Klein

This should be required reading for any and all roommates (from siblings to college freshmen)! Featuring an odd diametrically opposed hamster duo, this vibrantly illustrated, darkly funny tale will leave even the crankiest readers holding in giggles as they learn all about the art of compromise.

Hamsters Make Terrible Roommates by Cheryl Klein, (List Price: 17.99, Dial Books, 9780593324233, November 2021)

Reviewed by Julie Jarema, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

On Animals by Susan Orlean

On Animals is absolutely hilarious at times and a little heartbreaking at times, but it is mainly filled with love for animals of all kinds. It’s a collection of several of Orlean’s articles that were written for The New Yorker and Smithsonian magazine over the last few decades. She covers backyard chickens, racing pigeons, Moroccan donkeys, and even a real-life Lion Whisperer. If you enjoy animals and conservation, you’ll highly enjoy this love letter to the natural world.

On Animals by Susan Orlean, (List Price: $28, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster, 9781982181536, October 2021)

Reviewed by Stuart McCommon, Novel. in Memphis, Tennessee

Cat & Cat Adventures: The Quest for Snacks by Susie Yi

If my kids were cats and had access to magic they would be Squash and Ginny. We read this cute little graphic novel over a few sittings and they absolutely loved it. The art style is bright and happy and the story is easy to follow while not being too simplistic.

Cat & Cat Adventures: The Quest for Snacks by Susie Yi, (List Price: 8.99, HarperAlley, 9780063083806, September 2021)

Reviewed by Faith Parke-Dodge, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

On the Day the Horse Got Out by Audrey Helen Weber

On the Day the Horse Got Out is one of those books that feels like a classic—it’s got the rhythm and nonsensical vibe of a nursery rhyme, and beautifully rendered illustrations that recall Tomie dePaola, Sergio Ruzzier, and Carson Ellis. Perfect for reading aloud, especially at bedtime—it’s a recipe for dreams filled with beribboned comets, giant flowers, and horses leaping through starry, cloud-puffed skies.

On the Day the Horse Got Out by Audrey Helen Weber, (List Price: 18.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316459846, June 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Jungle Night by Sandra Boynton, Yo-Yo Ma

Nighttime in the Jungle is such a peaceful time. With the Chee chee taaahhh of the Cheetah, the chatter choo of the monkeys and the wheee grunt of the red river hogs, all the animals are sleeping soundly until….. Full of Boynton signature silliness this bedtime book is sure to have young ones calling Again! Again!

Jungle Night by Sandra Boynton, Yo-Yo Ma (List Price: $7.95, Workman Publishing Company, 9781523513604, 3/23/2021)

Reviewed by Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, North Carolina

Scroll to Top