Reporting: Little, Brown Spring/Summer 2008 (Part One)
Some of you spent Halloween duct taping together costumes for you little ones at the last minute ("Look, honey! You’re Florida!"). Some of you spent it frantically eating all the good Halloween candy you purchasED so that the only things left for the trick-or-treaters would be SweeTarts and Mentos. Others amongst you finally had an excuse to wear those bright orange and black tights you’d been hoarding in the back of your closet all these months. I belong in that final category, but I was doing one other thing this fine and weather blessed (at least in New York) Halloween Day. I was attending the Little, Brown Books for Young Readers library preview for their up and coming Spring/Summer 2008 season.
Faithful readers of this blog (hi, Mom!) will recall that if there’s one thing the Little, Brown preview does well, it’s putting the needs of their librarians first. Those who have attended before do not eat lunch. Nor do they carry bags or feel the need to wear comfortable shoes.
Marketing guru/goddess Victoria Stapleton was present and, of course, modeling the latest in fine n’ fancy shoewear. She wears a size 5 so those of you who covet her shoes and had hoped she would leave them to you in her will, will have to grin and bear it. I wear a 9 1/2, so there you go.
This season I was seated at a table with the representatives of the Suffolk County Library system. Did you know that they have 56 locations? I sure as heck do. They were very nice and hadn’t been to one of these before, so it was fun to watch them get the full show. The first editor to sit down with us (at Little, Brown the editors move from table to table while you sit back and enjoy the tiny salmon sandwiches) was none other than the kind and beautiful Alvina Ling. Channeling Mimi Kayden, Victoria was now employing a timer of her own (more stopwatch than egg) and we were off!
So here’s the problem with my reporting on this event. The Powerpoint pages, provided generously by the publisher, contain books that are not grouped by their editors. I’m not sure how they’re oriented, actually. In any case, I’ll just tell you about some of the titles on the list, and I’ll assign an editorial comment here and there as they hit me.
First up is 100 Days, 99 Nights by Alan Madison. This book has a vague Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart quality to it and discusses two girls as they wait for their father to come back from "the war". From what I can understand "the war" is not specifically named, but this is less a case of not courting controversy than it is a child’s vague sense of world affairs. Mr. Madison has done picture books with Anne Schwartz in the past, so if his name sounds familiar, that is why. I’m all in favor of seeing the war in more contemporary literature, so we’ll see how this one turns out.
Crocs! is the newest David T. Greenberg. I don’t think I ever quite realized that this was the author of that infamous picture book Slugs! which I love so very much, in spite of the nightmares it has caused. Illustrator Victoria Chess has long since been switched out for Lynn Munsinger. I think of Munsinger as being pretty cute, so she wouldn’t have necessarily have been my first choice. On closer inspection, however, I can see how her style off-sets some of Greenberg’s darkness. In any case, the editor read some of the passages of this book aloud and I was sold when I heard them. It looks to be good.
Editor Jennifer Hunt edited TWO (count ’em) TWO of the current National Book Award finalists, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie and Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr. Well played, Jennifer. Sara now has another novel out, this one called Sweethearts, and its cover is literally delicious. It’s YA (food related covers almost always are) and the book explores the idea of "first love" in terms of the first best friend you have outside of your immediate family.
(CONTINUED IN PART TWO)
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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