During the winter holiday season, it’s common to see bookstores bedecked with appealing-looking children’s books by well-known authors. Which ones sold best in 1991? According to Diane Roback, children’s book editor at Publishers Weekly, the winner was Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s The Jolly Christmas Postman, a sequel to the authors’ hugely successful 1986 title, The Jolly Postman. ”People had been begging for a sequel,” says John Keller, publisher of children’s books at Little, Brown. Keller estimates that 450,000 copies of Jolly were sold during the season.
Other sequels that made PW‘s holiday top 10: Laura Joffe Numeroff’s If You Give a Moose a Muffin; Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?; and Carl’s Afternoon in the Park, by Alexandra Day. New efforts from popular artists also did well, including Susan Jeffers’ Brother Eagle, Sister Sky and Chris Van Allsburg’s The Wretched Stone.
Earlier this month, as many as eight children’s books were on the New York Times hardcover best-seller lists, and many of them have displayed remarkable staying power. Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! (92 weeks) and Van Allsburg’s Polar Express (33 weeks) seem destined to remain best-sellers year after year, leading Little, Brown’s Keller to predict that The Jolly Christmas Postman will probably be ”a big book of ours next year, too.”