Reporting: Simon & Schuster Spring 2008 Librarian Preview (Part Two)
(CONTINUED FROM SATURDAY)
Oh, that reminds me. S&S isn’t like other publishers in that they don’t leave large piles of ARCs sitting about. So there were copies of most of the books they were talking about present… but only one each. So though I wanted a lot of these titles, I only took one home. More on that later.
There’s a new Amelia’s Notebook out soon called Amelia’s Itchy-Twitchy, Lovey-Dovey Summer at Camp Mosquito. And on the flipside of the equation is the new Pendragon book Black Water by D.J. MacHale. Alert your twitchy twelve-year-olds.
That’s when Margaret K. McElderry Books stepped up to the plate. Newbie librarians like myself aren’t always certain when the namesakes of the imprints are still around and kicking. In the case of Ms. McElderry, however, I was pretty sure that she retired from the business. She was, after all, the contemporary of the New York Public Library’s founder of children’s services Anne Carroll Moore. Or so I am led to believe.
A Ms. Evelyn Coleman is bringing out a work of middle grade fiction called Freedom Train, which may garner some interest. It follows the true tale of train that went around the country post-WWII carrying documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights for ordinary folks to see. Of course, the decision when it hit the south was to NOT segregate the viewing of these documents, which meant that some places refused to receive them. We’ll see if a work of fiction lives up to this idea. It’s too slim a story for a full-length work of non-fiction, I guess.
Speaking of America, here’s a book that I viewed with initial skepticism, but now want to get my hands on. I don’t really have a vested interest in poetry. Not really my bag. But Lee Bennett Hopkins has been paired with illustrator Stephen Alcorn and the result is America At War. Sounds jingoistic, but it ain’t. We were read two of the poems, and boy were they good! I had made the decision to grab this book as my one and only S&S title… until we got to the next one.
It sounds pretty standard. The McElderry Book of Greek Myths as retold by Eric A. Kimmel. Ah yes. Greek myths. Like we don’t have enough of those in the library system. And yet for some reason I wanted to look at this book. Know why? Cause Pep Montserrat was doing the illustrations. You remember Mr. Montserrat, don’t you? I am thinking in particular of his remarkable Ms. Rubinstein’s Beauty which came out last year and was, not to put too fine a point on it, gorgeous. It came out with Sterling, a publisher that I believe is owned by Barnes and Noble. No matter as it’s great. So great, in fact, that it persuaded me to grab this myth book for my own personal perusal. We’ll see if it stands up or not.
As you can tell, much of what I love relies on what I’ve already read before. Take D. Anne Love, for example. Last year she wrote the book Semiprecious, which was absolutely great. So when I heard about Defying the Diva, I remembered it, even thought this is clearly a YA novel. Check out that cover, after all. That’s a whole lotta leg.
Finally, there’s a new Hilary McKay book out, if you’re into that kind of thing. McKay’s fine, but (and this will get me beaten to death with sticks if my co-workers hear me say it aloud) she’s not my bag. I just can’t get into her books. A pity since Forever Rose comes out soon and in spite of the girl on the cover’s very very modelish face, I think she looks right for the part.
Moving on – Atheneum. The crew of kids who wear What Would Richard Jackson Do wristbands for fun (not really). I should mention that due to time constraints, not all of S&S’s books got a talking up. Poor Horace and Morris Say Cheese (Which Makes Dolores Sneeze) by James Howe got little mention. I like the Horace, Morris, Dolores books and I REALLY like James Howe, so attention, youse blokes.
Stephen Gammell is known primarily for the illustrations he has done for the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books he has written. Imagine him using that messy style to go all gorgeous on you instead. My Friend, the Starfinder looks as if it might be quite lovely. This will be no surprise to fans of Song and Dance man, but it kind of caught me off guard. And yes, I belong to the first generation to read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I thought the Windigo story was the scariest. That’s just me.
Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost, illustrated by Leonid Gore, won the I’m-not-interested-in-that-book-oh-WAIT-yes-I-am award of the day. Initial thought: Oh gee. Another monarch book. Pardon me while I take a doze. But on a closer inspection I saw the author (me likey The Braid) and the illustrator (me likey the Gore) and the pictures just blew me away. So fine… FINE! We can have one last monarch butterfly book. But after this we are DONE. Capeche? No more. I mean it.
S&S is one of the rare publishers who will fight tooth and nail to keep you from thinking that they are publishing a celebrity book. When they brought up Three Little Words by a teen author who once appeared on Oprah they were quick to point out that the book was so good that it trumped any celebrity status the title might have. Doesn’t really matter to me, though, cause it’s YA and that’s (altogether now) not my bag, baby.
I watch Kaline Klattermaster’s Tree House with great trepidation. The cover is by Peter Brown, which is good because I like his work, but the story sounds veeeeeery much like Joey Pigza. It will have to suffer through that comparison over and over again, I suspect, but the author is Haven Kimmel, so I suspect she’ll be able to hold her own. We’ll see. Adult authors who traipse into kidlit territory walk a fine line.
Favorite Picture Book of the Presentations: Big Bad Bunny by Franny Billingsley and G. Brian Karas. You know what? I’m not going to say any more. I’m just going to show you the cover:
There. Oh, and it involves a blood-thirsty bunny. Tell me you can resist that. Tell me. Can’t be done, man.
Prettiest Jacket Award: The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Yep, she’s still cranking them out. Opinion pending.
Now I know that quite a few of you out there have a deep and abiding love for dystopian novels. I do too. I once tried to read all of them at once and I got pretty far. A show of hands of everyone who has read Noah’s Castle by John Rowe Townsend. Anyone? Right. Well, there’s a new one coming out thanks to Clare B. Dunkle. YA lovers know that she wrote the Hollow Kingdom trilogy (it was Twilight before there even WAS a Twilight, man!) and now she’s turned her sights to The Sky Inside. It’s a boy and his dog and domed freaky suburbs. They’re calling Dunkle "The female Garth Nix" which struck me as odd (can we call someone "the male Clare Dunkle" now?), but the book looks interesting. It could go all Logan’s Run or The Island, but I don’t think it will. Somebody go read it and report back to me, won’t you?
Ah. Now here is the book I wanted even more than the greek myth book, but it got snatched up from the table the minute the editor put it down. Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell sounds good. Really good. I know she can be touch and go, but just listen to the premise: A girl who loves war tells her army-bound brother to write her about every gory detail he encounters in Vietnam. Instead, he sends her a roll of black and white film and tells her to develop it. Which she has to learn to develop herself… and then she sees the images. Oh yeah. I wanna read that book.
Then Aladdin Paperback came up, which was a little odd since I didn’t think I’d pay much attention. Then again, I love new covers. So now I know that the Phyllis Reynolds Naylor books have a new look (thank GOD). And that new Mix line for tween girls is churning out an interesting array of titles, including Me, In Between which involves a pubescent girl who ends up a 36C chest. The Manny Files has several new covers, and they’ve put it under the Mix line, proving further that no one really knows how to categorize that book. And when precisely was there a fifth book in the My Teacher is an Alien series? I must be losing my mind since Aliens Stole My Body is completely unfamiliar to me. Most odd.
Every year I like to keep track of the best and worst paperback covers of books. 2008 is already looking up though. S&S is redoing The Cat Who Went to Heaven (including, oh sacrilege, the interior illustrations!) and Smoky the Cowhorse. And do you like your E.L. Konigsburg? Do you like her with all new covers? You better because word on the street has it that S&S is redoing the covers of her entire list. From About the B’nai Bagels to Altogether, One at a Time to My Father’s Daughter. Oh, I’m sorry. You’ve never heard of My Father’s Daughter? That is because they have just renamed Father’s Arcane Daughter. They have. Go look it up.
And that’s the long and short of it. I’m sure other books were mentioned, but the show ran a little long for me and I had a reference desk to cover. All in all, a fine showing. I appreciate these previews when the books are mere months from coming out, if only because most of their covers are available online for these blog postings. Most convenient.
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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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