The books Southern indie booksellers are recommending to readers everywhere!

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The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen

Addie is a fat dancer, and proud of it–not letting her peers or anybody else allow her to feel shame or inferiority because of her body. She has a group of truly excellent friends, who throughout the book are self-affirming, endlessly supportive, and outright hilarious. I wish I’d had anything close to these friends when I was in high school. Scratch that, I wish I had these friends now. Together, they hatch a plan to financially support Addie’s potential post-graduation job with a dance company in Milan that involves an underground burlesque show, and through it, Addie discovers the self-affirming and body-positive power of burlesque, which she and her friends had previously cast aside as creative stripping. But she also has, and does, stand up to misogyny, slut-shaming, and fatphobia from her peers and superiors, and Larsen is truly excellent at illustrating exactly how internalized bigotry can hurt you even when you think you love who you are, just because we live in a world where anything that isn’t the default is constantly assumed to be aberrant. The best YA I’ve read all year!!

The Big Reveal by Jen Larsen, (List Price: $17.99, 9781250252173, December 2021)

Reviewed by Akil Guruparan, Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia

Let’s Be Friends by Violet Lemay

Violet represents so many different types of people in this magical picture book. In the end we are more alike than we think. Cute fun illustrations and happiness throughout this book make a a winner

Let’s Be Friends by Violet Lemay, (List Price: $8.99, HarperFestival, 9780063045972, December 2021)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

I’m Hungry!, ¡Tengo hambre! by Angela Dominguez

I’m Hungry! / ¡Tengo Hambre! is a great picture book with two adorable characters at its center. It’s an excellent teaching tool for Spanish or English, and would make for a great introduction to bilingual books for young readers. Easy to follow, clear, and cute as a button, this book is sure to be a beloved addition to any library.

I’m Hungry!, ¡Tengo hambre! by Angela Dominguez, (List Price: $18.99, Henry Holt and Co. (BYR), 9781250779960, January 2022)

Reviewed by Lauren Kean, Bookmarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Amos McGee Misses the Bus by Philip C. Stead

I loved the first Amos McGee so much, and admired his clockwork schedule. In this return to Amos’s animal-filled world, though, the schedule goes awry when he stays up late planning a surprise outing and misses his morning bus to work. In the Steads’ gentle, compassionate (and lightly humorous) trademark style, Amos’s friends help him rest and reset, creating a day full of nice surprises. This lovable, heartwarming sequel is just as pitch-perfect as the first.

Amos McGee Misses the Bus by Philip C. Stead, (List Price: $18.99, Roaring Brook Press, 9781250213228, November 2021)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia


Do You Speak Fish? by DJ Corchin

What do you do when no one will talk to you? When a young man wants to talk to the bee he gets mad because the bee won’t talk back. The bee chases him. He continues on to the lion who also won’t say hello. He gets mad again. Why is everyone so rude. The tree isn’t rude. The tree says hello and teaches the boy how to talk to new friends in their own language. Soon they are all sharing stories and bringing joy to each other. Great lessons.

Do You Speak Fish? by DJ Corchin, (List Price: $17.99, Sourcebooks Explore, 9781728219226, October 2021)

Reviewed by David Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina


Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor

Zubi is thrilled for her first day at school–until she hears her parents and sister talking about diets and their own negative body image. Should Zubi be ashamed of herself too? In the end, Zubi realizes that only YOU get to define what is beautiful and you are fabulous just the way you are. This book is a perfect way to talk to kids about body image, self-love, and how everyone is different and that’s a good thing!

Beautifully Me by Nabela Noor, (List Price: 17.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534485877, September 2021)

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

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs

I read this Fourth of July weekend which was the perfect book to give me a different perspective on what America means to a family fleeing a war-torn country in search of a better life. Dobbs’ great-grandmother inspired this heart-wrenching, incredible story of 12 yo Petra Luna’s “barefoot dreams” of learning to read and write and protecting her family. I loved the earnest determination and bravery of Petra, her closeness with her 2 younger siblings, and how her abuelita taught her to listen to the natural world to survive the harsh desert conditions to make their way to the U.S. border. It was such a beautiful mix of mythology and holding tight to dreams. The war brutality was presented realistically–the danger wasn’t glossed over, but instead presented in a child-thoughtful way. I learned so much about a time in history that I didn’t know much about. My 10-year-old daughter and I highly recommend!

Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs, (List Price: 17.99, Sourcebooks Young Readers, 9781728234656, September 2021)

Reviewed by Candice Conner, The Haunted Book Shop in Mobile, Alabama

After the Ink Dries by Cassie Gustafson

Erica and Thomas love each other. It’s promising that they can look forward to a new relationship together–until Erica wakes up one morning to see her body vandalized with vulgar drawings, offensive words, and several names, including Thomas’. This debut is enhanced through Erica and Thomas’ own perspectives, in which Gustafson fleshes them out very well and provides two sides to this engrossing story. I’m positive that After the Ink Dries will inspire somebody, as it succeeds in illustrating the struggle-but also the possibility- of having courage and hope when it seems like the world is against you.

After the Ink Dries by Cassie Gustafson, (List Price: 19.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 9781534473690, July 2021)

Reviewed by Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy

Julie Murphy’s Pumpkin is a delight. I was so happy to return to Clover City and meet brand new characters–twins Waylon and Clementine–and see a bunch of familiar faces, including previous protagonists Willowdean and Millie. Fans of Dumplin’ and Puddin’ will not be disappointed!

Pumpkin by Julie Murphy (List Price: $17.99, Balzer + Bray, 9780062880451, 5/25/2021)

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

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