The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

Juvenile Nonfiction

Ice! Poems About Polar Life by Douglas Florian

Brrrrfect poetry for the winter months. The poems contained in Ice! will warm the hearts of young readers with funny frozen antics of penguins, caribou, narwhals and more cold climate critters.

Ice! Poems About Polar Life by Douglas Florian (List Price: $8.99, Holiday House, 9780823452439, December 2022)

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

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat

Christina Soontornvat’s graphic memoir depicts the challenges & joys of middle school life as a Thai-American in Texas centering around her dream of making the school’s cheer squad. For fans of Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl, Jerry Craft’s New Kid or any of Raina Telgemeier’s many graphic novels.

The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat (List Price: $24.99, Graphix,, 9781338741308, November 2022)

Reviewed by Elese Stutts, Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Counting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math Poems by Betsy Franco

Multiplying mice, sugary shapes, and family fractions star in this charming collection that practically shouts : Math is FUN!

Counting in Dog Years and Other Sassy Math Poems by Betsy Franco, (List Price: $18.99, Candlewick, 9781536201161, October 2022)

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

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges

Elementary school. Ruby tells her story, as she experienced it, when she was just six years old. Adapted for the youngest readers, this edition has beautiful illustrations that demonstrate Ruby’s words. There is a glossary to help children learn key terms. For older readers, the author and illustrator have included their own personal notes of what inspired this version. This is an excellent book to help encourage family discussions about America’s history of education. This is a children’s book. It is told from the eyes of a child. It is illustrated showing the world through a child’s eye. It is beautiful! I loved Ruby’s sass, especially when it came to her very old name. I loved her innocence and her spunk. She is, indeed, Ruby Bridges, the First!

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges, (List Price: $18.99, Orchard Book, 9781338753882, September 2022)

Reviewed by Nicole McManus, My Sister’s Books in Pawley’s Island, South Carolina

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem

A Syrian kid living through the Syrian civil war decides to interview other kids his age using his phone to document what’s going on. He shares it on social media like YT Tw and FB. He felt like he was being targeted by bombs for his news videos. Tense, informative, serious, sad, but also has happy moments. Read it all in one sitting. Hard to put down.

Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem, (List Price: $12.99, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780759556904, September 2022)

Reviewed by Eliza, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Pizza! by Greg Pizzoli

Okay, here is the non-fiction picture book I’ve been craving… I mean, it’s Pizza! A Slice of History! I can’t imagine any kid turning this one down for it’s subject matter alone, but topped with the vibrant illustrations of award-winning favorite, Greg Pizzoli? A real treat.

Pizza! by Greg Pizzoli, (List Price: $18.99, Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780425291078,  August 2022)

Reviewed by Cristina Russell, Books and Books in Coral Gables, Florida

Free at Last by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle

Such an important message, beautifully told in Free at Last, A Juneteenth Poem. I hope this picture book depicting such an important part of our history is shared widely in homes and schools.

Free at Last by Sojourner Kincaid Rolle, (List Price: $17.99, Union Square Kids, 9781454943747, June 2022)

Reviewed by Jessica Nock from Main Street Books in Davidson, NC

Eggs from Red Hen Farm by Monica Wellington

A practical picture book that explains where eggs come from AND teaches young readers how to read a basic map — what fun! I loved maps when I was a kid and this book is a great introduction to the concept of getting on the road to move from one place to the next.

Eggs from Red Hen Farm by Monica Wellington, (List Price: $18.99, Holiday House, 9780823447824,  March 2022)

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

She Persisted: Helen Keller by Courtney Sheinmel

The story of Helen Keller is one that will inspire everyone. She Persisted: Helen Keller is perfect for the young reader who is interested in historical figures, or people with disabilities. This book will encourage your young readers to strive to overcome challenges that might arise, and introduce them to challenges other people live with.

She Persisted: Helen Keller by Courtney Sheinmel, (List Price: $5.99, 9780593115695, December 2021)

Reviewed by Gretchen Shuler, Fiction Addiction in Greenville, South Carolina

Ashoka the Fierce by Carolyn Kanjuro

This picture book serves two purposes: teaches about a figure from Indian history and demonstrates the benefit of peacefulness and goodwill over ferocity and conquering one’s neighbors. As Ashoka the Fierce becomes Ashoka the Great, his reign as emperor transforms from one of terror to one of healing. I love seeing more nonfiction picture books for kids that explore different parts of the world.

Ashoka the Fierce by Carolyn Kanjuro, (List Price: $17.95, Bala Kids, 9781611808544, December 2021)

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

Circle Under Berry by Carter Higgins

A square or a frog? orange or an oval? The way things seem really is all about perception. For fans of Brendan Wenzel’s They All Saw A Cat comes this fun new story of perspective that will have young readers laughing and thinking and saying ” Again! AGAIN!”

Circle Under Berry by Carter Higgins, (List Price: 15.99, Chronicle Books, 9781797205083, September 2021)

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

King of Ragtime by Stephen Costanza

Gloriously illustrated, this glimpse into the South during Reconstruction made me hear my childhood piano lessons and the syncopations of Scott Joplin’s ragtime melodies. There is so much detail in the multimedia illustrations which include single measures of actual sheet music clippings. It makes me want to pull out my album of The Sting (I know it’s anachronistic, but I love it!).

King of Ragtime by Stephen Costanza, (List Price: 17.99, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 9781534410367, August 2021)

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

Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julián and Joaquin Castro by Monica Brown, Mirelle Ortega

Small Room, Big Dreams is the story of Joaquin and Julián Castro, identical twin brothers born in San Antonio. Raised from a young age by their grandmother to love books and their mother to understand the importance of participating in their community through politics, Joaquin and Julián have dedicated their lives to service and improving their communities. I hope this book inspires children to become involved in their communities and dream big!

Small Room, Big Dreams: The Journey of Julián and Joaquin Castro by Monica Brown, Mirelle Ortega (List Price: $18.99, Quill Tree Books, 9780062985736, 5/4/2021)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

She Persisted: Harriet Tubman by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Chelsea Clinton, Gillian Flint

Harriet Tubman was one of my favorite people to learn about as a child, so I’m thrilled to have a new book to share with my nieces and the young readers at Bookmarks! In She Persisted: Harriet Tubman, Andrea Davis-Pinkney shares an inspiring portrait of the life of this American legend: daughter, slave, Underground Railroad conductor, nurse, spy, wife, and advocate for women’s rights. Gillian Flint’s illustrations bring the story to life, helping share Tubman’s story with a new generation.

She Persisted: Harriet Tubman by Andrea Davis Pinkney, Chelsea Clinton, Gillian Flint (List Price: $14.99, Philomel Books, 9780593115657, 1/5/2021)

Reviewed by Beth Seufer Buss, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Scroll to Top