Staff Picks: Olivia and Rachel

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to the wide world of children’s literature, we’ve got your back! Reading staff picks is a great way to find a variety of books curated by devoted bookworms. This week, assistant bookseller Olivia and celebration facilitator Rachel share some of their favorites!

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Olivia's Favorites

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The Count of Monte Cristo

Revenge is a dish best served cold. The story of Edmond Dantė’s journey of revenge is certainly not one to miss! Love, justice, isolation, mercy, vengeance, forgiveness betrayal and so much more is packed into this classic read. Willingness to forgive, and the true meaning of revenge carry the reader along a roller-coaster of emotions to reach the final thought of: "all human wisdom is contained in these two words, 'Wait and Hope.’”

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Ocean Meets Sky

It’s a good day for sailing.

Finn lives by the sea and the sea lives by him. Every time he looks out his window it’s a constant reminder of the stories his grandfather told him about the place where the ocean meets the sky. Where whales and jellyfish soar and birds and castles float. He’ll build his own ship and sail out to find this magical place himself!

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Rachel's favorites

Rapunzel by Rachel Isadora

This book is such a great view on a well loved fairytale! The illustrations are beautiful.


Hidden Figures (the picture book!)

This was such a great read because of the history some of us never learned about. This true story encourages so many young girls (and guys) to literally shoot for the stars! Girl power!

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Beautiful Books for Mom's Fall Shelf

If you stare lovingly at your bookshelves as often as I do, why not make them beautiful? Check out these stunning editions of our favorite classics that look like fall!

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This beautiful copy of The Iliad from Penguin’s Clothbound Classics series captures the fiery intensity of seasonal change. The reds and oranges mimic autumn colors, while capturing the heat of Georgia Octobers.


Another from the Penguin Clothbound series (there will be several on here - they’re just so cozy!), this copy of Hound of the Baskervilles makes me feel like I’m wrapped in a sweater drinking hot tea. Plus, mysteries are always a great match for that thrilling and mysterious fall feeling.

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This is the last one, I promise! I love the idea of a deep blue for fall - there is something about the cool, calm thoughtfulness of the season that this edition of Great Expectations (also from the Penguin Clothbound series) captures. Fall is for long conversations, and who better to have a long conversation with than Dickens?


I wish I could show every page of this beautiful edition of Song of Myself. Each page is full of stunning illustrations and words that swirl like leaves in the wind.

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If you love the outdoors in autumn, these editions of the Little House on the Prairie series are for you. The covers feature designs etched into the wood of trees regional to predominant settings in each novel.


This is another hit from Penguin - this time, the Puffin in Bloom series with Rifle Paper Co. I love this edition because it conveys the hues of fall and all its somber notes without subduing the whimsy and excitement of the season.

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If these books tickle your fall fancy, I have good news!

They’re all waiting for you in our online store. Find it here:

As always, happy reading!

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Book Review: Small Spaces

Katherine Arden takes readers on an eerie journey full of chills and cheers -

and your garden-variety scarecrow army.


Publisher’s Summary

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn't think--she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with "the smiling man," a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she's been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn't have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie's previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver's warning. As the trio head out into the woods--bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them--the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: "Avoid large places. Keep to small." 

And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.


Small Spaces is fantastically creepy. This, in part, is due to the book’s vivid atmosphere. It was 90+ degrees outside while I was reading it, and every sentence surrounded me with the chill of mid-autumn. I frequently found myself stumbling outside into the Georgia sun, only to wonder where all the Halloween costumes and apple cider were.

In addition to being transportive, the book features a cast of likable and interesting characters. Too often, stories that begin in a school setting lean too far into social tropes. (Don’t get me wrong - this is not exclusively a middle-grades problem.) While this can provide writers of fantastical books room to move quickly through more “mundane” bits of plot, it can also unnecessarily flatten characters.

Arden doesn’t do this. From the very beginning, her characters defy the tropes I expected them to fit. Fierce Ollie stands up for new girl Coco, who has an eccentric and dainty reputation. Brian, the handsome athlete who accompanies Ollie and Coco into the woods, is kind and helpful throughout the journey. We see three kids who run in very different circles develop a deep understanding for one another.

And this is just the main trio. There are many exciting twists regarding good guys and bad guys. Some characters, perhaps more interestingly, turn out to be neutral.

The world Arden builds around this story is high-stakes and eerie, just unexplored enough to keep a grasp on readers’ interests. Spooky cornfields, old farms, and journals of those long dead all pitch in to create Arden’s masterpiece of an atmosphere.

Naturally, scarecrow armies come next.

The brilliance of the scarecrows is that they’re not just spooky space-fillers. Small Spaces deals with pretty heavy ideas like death, grief, and family, ideas that call into question what it means to be a human interacting with other humans, ideas that might seem scary and monstrous to kids (and really, everyone). When themes like this are set against strange, humanoid, inanimate-but-animate monsters, well . . . no spoilers, but it goes to interesting places.

And ultimately, those places are optimistic. Small Spaces is about adventure and fantasy and creepy autumn ambiance, but it’s also about the role we can play in our own grief. We don’t have to remain imprisoned by our emotions, so long as we are determined to love, in the same way that our diverse protagonists insist on loving each other. Love can bring us out of grief, and maybe - just maybe - save us from armies of super-spooky, semi-sentient scarecrows.

Get your copy from our online store here:

Happy reading!

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S.D. Smith at The Story Shop: UPDATE!

We have some great news about S.D. Smith’s upcoming author event with us: It’s now free!

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Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, we were able to waive the event fee. We are so grateful and excited!

There will now be just one event, still on October 2, beginning at 5:30 p.m. There will be a meet and greet followed by a signing.

Books will be available for purchase at the event while supplies last.

We do suggest that you purchase a copy from us in advance, so you can bring it to the signing. You can get it here:

To learn more about S.D. Smith and The Green Ember books, check out our previous blog post about this event (but note that the above information will apply instead):

If you haven’t read the series, checkout our party coordinator Lisa’s great review here:

As always, happy reading!

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