Dear Bookseller: Do You Think My Niece Would Like This Book?

Vivienne Woodward


Vivienne Woodward lives in Philly and works as the events coordinator for an indie bookstore. She can often be found drinking too much coffee in the sunny spot on her couch and over-identifying with fictional characters. She enjoys collecting hobbies, dancing to radio pop, and rearranging the book stacks on her side tables.

Dear Bookseller, do you think that my youngest niece who lives in Arkansas would enjoy this book about magical unicorns roaming free through a desert of hard candies? There’s desert in Arkansas, right? She is six, but reading above her grade level. I know that because she once read through my text messages and asked me what a “dipshit” was. Anyway, one time she mentioned petting a pony at a zoo. So do you think this aligns with her interests and reading ability?


Moreover, do you think it sends the right message as a gift from an aunt? Does it come off as aspirational or just unrealistic? Or maybe I shouldn’t be giving her anything with candy in it because I know her parents are trying to cut out sugar for the month of January. Do you think it’s maybe a risky choice?

I can see that you need some more information about her. She is six, did I already say that?, and I know for a fact that she was born on New Year’s Day. I specifically remember because my sister made me leave my New Year’s Eve party that year to take her to the hospital. It was, let me think, about six years ago? Seven? How does that work if she’s turning six?

Her reading taste? Hm. Not sure, but I do know that her parents read to her at night before bed. I specifically remember because one time when I was babysitting she asked me to read her a story before bed and when I did she said she didn’t understand what a Catcher in the Rye was. She asked me if it was like a baseball field. So yeah, I’m not totally clear on her reading taste. But! Now that I think about it, she one time read me a story she had written about her brother stealing all of the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms box. Do you have anything like that in stock? I would love to be able to get her something that really shows I’ve been paying attention.

Okay, well, if not that, then maybe something that her parents will like. Do you have any books that feature two heteronormative parents and two children? Oh and maybe the mom is an accountant and the dad is a lawyer? And maybe they have a dog? I want her to feel represented in the book I get her.

Oh oh I know! Her parents are also really big on chore charts. I specifically remember because the last time I went there for Thanksgiving I was very careful not to help out with any of the chores for fear of upsetting the disciplinary balance her parents had established. Do you carry anything that has kind of a lesson about always following your chore chart? It would make my sister sooooo happy.

Nothing like that? Darn it. Ok well, all kids like Goodnight Moon, right? I specifically remember she was born under a full moon because as I was puking outside the hospital I remember the moon lighting up the weird red color of my puke. I know what you’re thinking and don’t worry: I called us a cab to the hospital.