What kinds of books are you looking for?

Hard to put a formula to it. Certainly books that are well illustrated will jump off the shelf at us. That being said, a good-looking book with no brains isn’t what we’re after, though it probably stands a better chance of even being considered. A sense of humor attracts us, possibly too much. Lyric flair. Mostly, however, we are looking for stories, for pictures and characters that offer the possibility of becoming a part of your child’s (or your own) daily vocabulary. Little classics you could call them. If you ever hear anyone say “That’s like Chrysanthemum...” “Like Boliver Boggs...” “Like Home on the Bayou...” then those books have succeeded. So have their sellers.

Why don’t you list books by their targeted age groups?

We tried; it got slippery. Admittedly, there are many books better suited to younger children, many too sophisticated for all but the most adventurous readers, and many that remain baffling no matter your age, still these are distinctions that individual parents and children should be free to make for themselves. The books that we read to our six-year-olds are just as often books we read when they were three, and maybe they didn’t completely get it back then, but that’s kind of the point: you grow up with these stories. Our twelve-year-olds still enjoy them.

But -

We have heard from visitors requesting more specific guidance in the way of books for very young readers. This seems reasonable, even inspired, so now here is a category - First Books - which we hope will begin to address the needs of first-time parents, gift-giving grandparents, and even single people afraid of forever being associated with birthday presents like Hubert the Pudge: A Vegetarian Tale. This is not to recommend against introducing your toddler to Kipling, or Hubert, or even the corrosive influences of Rotten Ralph, still here is as good a place as any to gain a foothold in the roiling, twinkling universe of children's picture books. We'll stop talking now.

What about stars?

We don’t do stars.

Why One Potato?

One Potato was looking for a champion. We volunteered. This is partly because we know from experience how rare it is - how fluky and utterly thrilling - to be able to participate in a genuine discovery, and partly derived from our confidence that even the smallest, most bashful potato will boogie and yodel and sing from tall mountains when given the opportunity. Will, in other words, do most of the work. Also, it made us happy just saying it.

No, I mean why should I go through your site at all? Why shouldn’t I go directly to Amazon?

You should - if you know exactly what you are looking for. We love Amazon. We chant their praises daily. Amazon is like some magical parallel universe in the back of your closet – it’s hard to look at this world the same way once you have climbed between the brooms. It’s also easy to get lost. Punch in Children, Monsters, and Scary as your coordinates, and you are likely to get thousands of matches. Scary indeed.

How do I order?

Browse our categories. Put a book in your cart. Put another book in your cart, or as many books as you like. Proceed to Amazon checkout. At any point you may follow our links to Amazon for other purchasing options, say, or more books by the author (we encourage exploration), but please remember to stop back in to confirm and to proceed to checkout with the items in your One Potato shopping cart before finishing up with Amazon. All books ends up in the same cart, with the same protections, on the same bill. You pay once.

Paper or hardcover?

Sometimes the decision isn’t ours: a lot of these titles never made it as far as paperback. Where a book is overwhelmingly more available in paperback, or the hardcover editions are mostly collectible or otherwise suspiciously expensive, we choose paperbacks. When it’s a toss-up – in prices and availability – we like to point you to a hardcover. This is a personal bias, admittedly romantic. But hardcover books are sturdier, tend to arrive in better, more sustainable condition, and generally look like something you could pass down to your grandchildren, or take with you to the proverbial desert island.

How can I get my favorites considered?

Please write us an e-mail at books@onepotato.net with the title of one great overlooked book, and, if you like, a summary of why it’s so great.

How do I know I am not sending my suggestions into oblivion as part of a cynical marketing campaign?

We promise to do our best to read and consider every suggested title. Once a month we fill up a wheelbarrow with your favorites, from bookstores and yard-sales and libraries – improbable libraries! - whether they are as vast and comprehensive as New York City’s Public branches or as smart and idiosyncratic as the one in Marshall, Virginia. Most of our sources have yielded at least one treasure, and we remain committed to their discovery. If it’s out there, we’ll find it.

Why did you pick my book?

Because it was outstanding.

Why didn’t you pick my book?

Maybe it was to hold the focus on other books in its category. Maybe we have already listed books by that author – enough to pique some interest. Possibly it is not available. Our purpose is to highlight the neglected, but this is relative. (The Lorax is already widely read, but Jim Carrey starred as the Grinch, so we’d like people to take a fresh look at Dr. Seuss.) We’re also a work in progress. Please keep sending us ideas.

Are you sure you’re not promoting a particular publisher, special interest or elitist agenda?

Yep. That is, we’re not a part of any vast conspiracy. We value – indeed, wallow in - our independence. And, yes, we do have an agenda – call it elitist, if you will – of promoting books that are currently without a market.

Do I know you?

Maybe. We are parents, readers, dilettantes.

I don’t like your website. What can I do to express my disappointment?

You could ignore us. Tell your friends about us. Or send us suggestions how to improve.

I like your website. What can I do to support it?

Keep visiting. Tell your friends about us. Order our books. Make a difference. If all 50 copies of The Magic Bed disappear suddenly from Amazon’s stockpile, we’ll tell people about it, in this case at Knopf. We don’t know what they’ll say, but we are hopeful. You are, after all, the demand. One Potato also receives a small percentage of any other purchase you make after clicking through to Amazon, so buy a book for five dollars, and while you are at it, go ahead and order that hammock, that music, that treadmill you’ve been meaning to get around to, because really why not? Great books deserve all the help they can get.