Reporting: Simon & Schuster Spring 2008 Librarian Preview (Part One)
Avert thine eyes, oh paragons of blogging virtue! Yes, this here’s the Simon & Schuster Librarian Preview of the Spring 2008 season. You may wonder why I’ve never reported on the Simon & Schuster librarian previews of the past. That is because there weren’t any. None in my professional lifetime anyway. But S&S seemed ah-raring to go last week and so they pulled out the big guns. Big Guns = Jon Scieszka, who was present and accounted for, hoping to talk up that Trucktown series of his.
So we met in the Simon & Schuster building on 6th Avenue. Unlike the Time Life Building, our bags were not searched, which was a novelty worth savoring. We initially started out in the board room, where the nose of a truck has been bursting through the far wall ever since a Trucktown party given roughly a year ago. Food was evident, which was nice, and there were abundant librarians about. But we were not going to be seeing the presentation there, oh no no no. No, they actually whisked us to (drumroll please) the 17th floor!
The 17th floor is remarkable for a number of reasons. First of all, it is very nice. A view of Times Square. Large framed photographs of Mr. Simon and Mr. Schuster (I’d love to go to a presentation with Mr. Random and Mr. House or Mr. Candle and Mr. Wick, but it ain’t gonna happen). And, more importantly, it is where S&S has their sales conferences and presentations, so you know the chairs had to be comfortable. What’s more, they brought up the food, which was considerate of them.
Instead of Powerpoint handouts, we were given catalogs of the Spring 2008 season, which made a lot of sense. Then the imprints tromped up in a manner similar to the Random House presentations, in the order in which they appeared in the catalog. Now on the cover of this catalog is a picture of Mr. Jon Scieszka posing nattily on a water tower in his Trucktown duds. Apparently this shot was taken in a closet and is his "sexy cover shot". The ladies had to be revived with their smellin’ salts after taking a gander.
They really pumped up Trucktown too. I mean really pumped it up. No wonder, considering that they’re releasing 52-53 books all at once on "every level" from board books to picture books to god knows what all. Taking a page out of Jarrett Krosoczka’s book they also wanted to create a kind of Facebook website for all the characters. Jarrett! It’s not too late! Make Random House do the same for you!
Mr. Scieszka is a brilliant p.r. guy, so it made perfect sense that he’d be the opening act. After him came the first imprint up, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Editor Alexandra Penfold launched into the relative merits of Alphabet by Matthew Van Fleet. This book’s a doozy. It’s either going to blow people away or overwhelm the senses. For the alphabet you have pictures, twenty-three textures, scratch and sniff elements, pop-ups, and a character index of items in the back. Yiminy. After Alexandra came another Alex. Alex Cooper. I just want to say that Ms. Cooper did a very smart thing when she was discussing The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah by Nora Raleigh Baskin. She brought up the fact that when she was a kid, Bat Mitzvah books were few and far between. You had your Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues by Ferida Wolff and that was IT! Now, at least, you have some options.
And the most interesting item right off the bat had to be A Taste of Colored Water by Matt Faulkner. The cover looks positively lighthearted, but the subject matter is anything but. This is the story of two kids who misunderstand when they hear that there is such a thing as "colored water". Yep. It takes place in the early 1960s, and on the outset that kind of description sounds a bit twee. The book isn’t, though. I had a chance to flip through it, and it definitely has the sense to drill home the sheer danger and uncertainty present in the South during that time. The catalog says that this is a story about what happens "when the naive imagination of a child meets the harsh reality of intolerance. Are you ready for a taste?" Shoot, man. That sounds like a blurb on a movie trailer. Or book trailer, perhaps. Hmmm…
Emily Gravett fans will be pleased to hear that she has a new book out called Monkey and Me and S&S were all ah-buzz about her. They called her "the future of picture book publishing" and this particular title "Emily at her finest". I looked through it, and it seems cute, but sometimes I don’t go for her quiet charms as quickly as other people do.
You know, I don’t try to pay attention to YA, but Rachel Cohn has a new book coming out and it looks like a departure from her usual schtick. Called You Know Where to Find Me it has a great cover and a premise that sounds like it would make a sublime companion piece to Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why. The essential premise is how you never really know a person. Not really. We’ll see how it does. It certainly continues the trend of never allowing the girls on Ms. Cohn’s cover the chance to show the entirety of their their pretty faces.
I have a bit of a crush on Ross MacDonald. How could you not? Any man that knows his printmaking as well as Mr. MacDonald does, and then wields it with such pretty colors… mmm mmm. He has paired with Alison McGhee to bring us Bye-bye Crib, which at first seems like a cutesy departure for him. Don’t be fooled. Sure, it’s about a toddler and his adorable kitty doll moving to a brand new big boy bed, but that bed gets real scary, real fast. The images looked rather cool.
(CONTINUED ON MONDAY WHEN I’VE GOTTEN SOME MUCH NEEDED SLEEP… WHICH IS TO SAY THAT I’M WORKING SATURDAY MORNING AND I’M TOO TIRED TO WRITE ANY MORE TONIGHT…. SORRY, PUFFINS!)
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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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