The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!


Spotlight On: All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow! by Peter H. Reynolds


Peter H. Reynolds, photo credit Dawn Haley Morton

I’m writing my own story, I make a movie in my head. That’s kind of how I start. I come up with the idea and then suddenly I just imagine that idea, you know, cast with characters and settings, and it becomes a little movie in my head. And I write it down, and I jot down the images that I have in my head, but I think the same thing happens… You know, when I read somebody else’s work, I immediately turn it into a movie, and I could see it in my head as I’m reading. I’m turning your words into characters.
― Peter H. Reynolds, Interview, Good Story Company

All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow! by Peter H. Reynolds, Henry Rocket Reynolds

What booksellers are saying about All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow!

  • Written in honor of the beditime story, Peter wrote this with his son. When Peter said “All you need is love,” Henry would add one more thing. A reminder of the things that are important and how much you are loved.
      ― Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC | Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • Peter H. Reynolds signature style shines in this endearing ode to love. Because even when it seems all is lost, love survives … and offers a soft landing.
      ― Stephanie Staton, CoffeeTree Books in Morehead, KY | Buy from Coffee Tree Books

  • What a tender story about the things we really need and the reminder that even if we lose “things” we will always have love. Beautiful illustrations, made me think of The Lorax!
      ― Morgan DePerno, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Peter H. Reynolds,

Peter H. Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of many books for children, including Happy Dreamer, The Word Collector, Say Something!, Be You!, and Our Table. He is also the illustrator of When Thing Aren’t Going Right, Go Left by Marc Colagiovanni. His books have been translated into over 25 languages around the globe and are celebrated worldwide. In 1996, he founded FableVision with his brother, Paul, as a social change agency to help create “stories that matter, stories that move.” He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his family.


Spotlight On: Juniper’s Christmas by Eoin Colfer


Eoin Colfer, photo credit author

I was aware that although my own Christmas situation is currently very happy with my wife and boys, a lot of people are not so lucky. I would be willing to bet that most people have had really low Christmases due to grief, illness or that curse of loneliness, so I wanted to portray main characters who are suffering through sadness or desperation or the feeling that their lives have drifted off course and show that maybe things will change or there could be a way back.
― Eoin Colfer, Interview, Reading Zone

Juniper's Christmas by Eoin Colfer

What booksellers are saying about Juniper’s Christmas

  • Juniper only wants one thing for Christmas… to honor her father. As Christmas draws closer and closer, the chance of Juniper getting her wish seem farther and farther away. This tale of finding joy and hope where you can even in the face of grief is the perfect holiday book for fans of Wishtree, Pax and The One and Only Ivan.
      ― Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, NC | Buy from The Country Bookshop

  • This has all the feels of a perfect Christmas classic! I can already see this becoming a yearly tradition to read every December. Juniper and Niko are the perfect pairing of a charismatic young lady and a grumpy old man.
      ― Olivia Schaffer, The Bookshelf in Thomasville, GA | Buy from The Bookshelf

About Eoin Colfer

Eoin Colfer is the best-selling author of the children’s fantasy series Artemis Fowl. His other notable works include The Dog Who Lost His Bark, illustrated by P.J. Lynch, and the novels Half Moon Investigations, Airman, and The Supernaturalist. The recipient of many awards, he lives in Ireland.


Spotlight On: Elves are the Worst by Alex Willan


Alex Willan, photo credit Alex Willan

I constantly have various characters chatting away inside my head. For me, most of my time “writing” doesn’t involve writing down anything at all. By the time I’m able to sit down and type out a manuscript, or even just a few lines of text, those characters have existed in my mind for a good long while. Especially when it’s a character from a series. It’s really kind of bizarre to put into words, but I have spent so much time with Gilbert, in my head, that it’s less about me deciding what Gilbert will say or do, and more about imagining him in any given situation and “seeing” how he reacts. I guess there was some point, when I first thought of these stories, where I created his character, but at this point I feel like he’s steering his own ship.
― Alex Willan, Interview, Children’s Bookroom

Elves are the Worst by Alex Willan

What booksellers are saying about Elves are the Worst

  • Oh, holy night! I love all of Alex W.’s books in this series, and this one is no exception. Elves Are the Worst is the star on top of the troll’s tree with all the right stripes on all the wrong candy canes! Love, love, love another tale of judging a book by its cover.
      ― Stephanie Staton, Coffee Tree Books in Morehead, KY | Buy from Angel Wings Bookstore

  • Super cute picture book for the holidays that is laugh-out-loud funny for kids and their grown-ups. Written in the style of a graphic novel, younger kids will gravitate towards this format that makes them feel like they’re reading a big kid book. Behind all the humor, this book has a great message of appearances aren’t everything.
      ― Jamie Southern, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, NC | Buy from Bookmarks

About Alex Willan

If it was Alex Willan, and not Gilbert the Goblin, who was in charge of writing the stories, he’d make a book called Anchovies Are the Worst!. Alex is the author-illustrator of Unicorns Are the Worst!, Dragons Are the Worst!, Yetis Are the Worst!, and the Jasper & Ollie series, as well as the illustrator of Got Your Nose, written by Alan Katz. Alex lives in Chicago with his dog, Harley, who is the absolute best. Visit him online at


Wintergarden by Janet Fox

Gorgeous illustrations and sweet story about a mother and child who grow a winter garden. Complete with instructions of starting your own winter garden. Love this one!

Wintergarden by Janet Fox, (List Price: $18.99, Neal Porter Books, 9780823451012, November 2023)

Reviewed by Jessica Nock, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

The Apartment House on Poppy Hill by Nina LaCour

Fans of Ramona Quimby will love Ella, the unofficial ambassador of Poppy Hill. She’s lived in the building her whole life and knows the ropes, so she’s happy to help new neighbors Cleo and Leo when they move in. This darling book is full of quirky characters and is LGBTQ-positive and really heartwarming. I am already looking forward to more in the series!

The Apartment House on Poppy Hill by Nina LaCour, (List Price: $14.99, Chronicle Books, 9781797213736, November 2023)

Reviewed by Andrea Richardson, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

I Want 100 Dogs by Stacy McAnulty

Getting a new pet is always a delicate negotiation between the pet want-er and the ultimate pet-care-for-er. This delightful new tail tale from kids nonfiction genius Stacy McAnulty hilariously yet poignantly digs into the how, what, when, and why of pet ownership. Fun for anyone considering adding a furry family member.

I Want 100 Dogs by Stacy McAnulty, (List Price: $17.99, Chronicle Books, 9781797214405, October 2023)

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

Champions of the Fox by Kevin Sands

Oh wow, what an amazing conclusion to a thrilling trilogy! Cal and his squad of thieves have one last mission to carry out before the Eye will let them go… but what if their success means the end of the world as they know it? To thwart the Eye, they must find allies among Spirits, industrialists, and runners for the rival thieves guild. These characters were as electric as ever, and the magic of this world was tantalizing.

Champions of the Fox by Kevin Sands, (List Price: $18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780593620953, November 2023)

Reviewed by Jordan April, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Duel by Jessixa Bagley

I loved the creativity in the book. I really like how they included other kids of people in the story. It shows that you have to have courage to do something even if you don’t win. I enjoyed the mostly black-and-white illustrations in the book. I love graphic novels. Overall I really liked this book and recommend it!

Duel by Jessixa Bagley, (List Price: $14.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534496545, November 2023)

Reviewed by Mandy Harris, Angel Wings Bookstore in Stem, North Carolina

The North Wind and the Sun by Philip C. Stead

This beautifully retold fable is a celebration of endurance and compassion and a reminder that gentleness and love (and patience) are more powerful than cruelty and hate (and haste). Stead’s innovative style of illustration evokes a classic with bold lines and quiet colors, and his thoughtful tale-telling is unparalleled. A story both timeless and perfect for these times.

The North Wind and the Sun by Philip C. Stead, (List Price: $18.99, Neal Porter Books, 9780823455836, October 2023)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Where Are the Aliens? by Stacy McAnulty

Stacy (local-to-me author!) is like the teacher who gets passionately excited about something and her enthusiasm drags the entire class into that geekdom. The kind that when you see a oddly specific kitschy item you know it has to belong to them so you buy it and gift it to them and they tell you a story about something you had no idea about in that item you are handing them. I am delighted that her Our Universe picture books have a middle grade book for their readers to grow into.

Where Are the Aliens? by Stacy McAnulty, (List Price: 16.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780759553996, September 2023)

Reviewed by Lisa Yee Swope, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Okra Stew by Natalie Daise

You can almost smell the salt marsh in this stunning homage to Gullah culture, father-son love, and Okra. With art reminiscent of Lois Ehlert or Faith Ringold this one is a must for all young southern foodies.

Okra Stew by Natalie Daise, (List Price: 19.99, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 9781250849663, October 2023)

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

When Sea Becomes Sky by Gillian McDunn

This is now one of my favorite books. I was devastated for myself and every character I had met along the way while reading this wonderfully crafted story. This book will rip your heart out and put it back together perfectly. I highly recommend When Sea Becomes Sky for readers young and old.

When Sea Becomes Sky by Gillian McDunn, (List Price: $16.99, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781547610853, February 2023)

Reviewed by Rayna Nielsen, Blue Cypress Books in New Orleans, Louisiana

Good Books for Bad Children by Beth Kephart

Most of our beloved classic children’s authors (think Maurice Sendak, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein, E. B. White, John Steptoe, and so many more!) have books in the world thanks to efforts of one formidable woman—Ursula Nordstrom. This brilliant biography displays her awesomely unorthodox approach to children’s literature and her wily sense of humor, all while celebrating the unique books she ushered into the world.

Good Books for Bad Children by Beth Kephart, (List Price: $18.99, Anne Schwartz Books, 9780593379578, September 2023)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Bookseller, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Nothing Else But Miracles by Kate Albus

Another heartfelt, historical home run from Kate Albus! Three kids left to fend for themselves while their dad is away fighting the war, a secret abandoned hotel with a treasure no one knows about, and a special friendship with the Statue of Liberty all work together to make this story of family, community, and grit one of my favorite fall reads! You can’t help but root for the Byrne kids as they stick together to make it through the difficult times of WWII. This is guaranteed to be a favorite for everyone.

Nothing Else But Miracles by Kate Albus, (List Price: 17.99, Margaret Ferguson Books, 9780823451630, September 2023)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

The Otherwoods by Justine Pucella Winans

Born with the power to see monsters and ghosts that no one else can, River Rydell’s life has been haunted by the Otherwoods, a supernatural force determined to take River for its own purposes. River has no interest in being a hero and just wants to survive middle school with the fewest monster-related incidents as possible. But when their closest friend is snatched by the Otherwoods, River must gear up to save the day– with their faithful cat, Mr. Fluffy Pancakes, by their side of course. The Otherwoods is equal parts spooky and hilarious with a protagonist readers will find easy to sympathize with and root for. It’s perfect for fans of Thirteens by Kate Alice Marshall and Small Spaces by Katherine Arden.

The Otherwoods by Justine Pucella Winans, (List Price: 17.99, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 9781547612543, September 2023)

Reviewed by Charlie Williams, Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi

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