Stumped about what to read next? Nightstand, a semi-regular column, goes straight to the source for ideas. Today, meet Elese Stutts, Lead Book Buyer and Manager (and former librarian) at Flyleaf Books.

What kid’s books are you excited about right now? 

I’d given this [advanced reading copy] to my son a few months ago, and he loved it. It’s called A High Five For Glenn Burke by Phil Bildner; it’s a middle-grade book. It’s the story of a kid—he’s really into baseball, he’s on a baseball team—and he’s doing a school project on Glenn Burke, who is someone I didn’t know anything about. He played for the Dodgers [and] invented the high-five. 


I didn’t know it could be invented! So anyway, this [kid] is presenting to his class about the high-five, and the other thing about Glenn Burke is that he was gay and that was something that was not able to be out in the ’70s in Major League Baseball. And this kid is also grappling with his sexuality and trying to come out, and the way he is trying to come out is presenting about Glenn Burke. It was so great. I loved it.

I’m halfway through, and loving, a kid’s graphic novel called All Together Now by Hope Larson. It’s this girl in middle school, she’s got a best friend and they’re in a band, but her best friend starts dating the drummer, and they kick her out of the band. It’s got all that middle-school angst in it. 

Do you feel like graphic novels are having a moment? 

They really are. I have to say that any adult who has any skepticism about it [should] sit down and read one because it works a different part of your brain. My son told me that the way he reads a graphic novel is, he reads it really quickly for the plot and then he reads it a second time and looks very intently just at pictures. And then he reads it again and integrates it. It’s a great way to get kids [to start reading] because you have so many context clues in the pictures. We have a great kid’s graphic-novels section, and this leads into your question about what’s hot: There’s nothing hotter than Dog Man.   

Elese’s Other Picks


Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia 


The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Contact deputy arts + culture editor Sarah Edwards at Correction: The title of Sarah Ramey’s book is The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness, not The Ladies Handbook for Mysterious Illnesses.

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.