Reporting: Penguin Young Readers Group Spring 2009 Librarian Preview
Penguins are the hip animals right now, so all the more reason for Penguin to be the hip publisher. Though their offices are nearer Film Forum than Midtown, there’s nothing I like more than a nice Penguin preview to liven up my week. Which is to say, this was only the second preview at Penguin I’d ever attended. I don’t think that’s my fault though, since to the best of my knowledge this is only the second preview they’ve ever conducted. So . . . there you go.
After the usual rigmarole of security and using elevators where you press the button on the inside to indicate your floor choice rather than the outside (cough cough, Harper Collins) we find ourselves in a nice conference room with five or six individual tables. Eyes take in the room, size up fellow compatriots, eyeball the food, and we’re off.
Now your average Penguin librarian preview is done a little differently from other gargantuan publishers. Like a Harper Collins or a Simon & Schuster they’ve many imprints to work through. So while they could do the standard PowerPoint presentation like S&S or the standard one-imprint-per-table strategy that Harper Collins favors, they have an entirely different method. You sit and you eat. Then one by one a person from each imprint will sit at your table and talk up their upcoming list. It’s quick. It’s easy. The talks go quickly. Everyone’s happy. The only flaw in this plan is that an editor of one book is going to be more inclined to mention his or her own titles than those of another editor. Still, as far as I could determine everyone did their best to share the love equally. Let’s see how they did then.
Before I begin my recap, can I tip a hat to the Penguin catalog a little? I know that every publisher puts out a little catalog of their upcoming lists each season, but Penguin’s may well be the best of the lot. I am undoubtedly saying this because they quoted me in their last list and I’ve been basking in my own self-satisfaction ever since. Still, there are many things to recommend it. I like knowing the marketing campaign for one book or another and how big a push the company’s going to give it. I like the notations that point out whether or not one author or another is making a debut. I like that it’s full-color and that each book includes a little background information on the title, rendering it a little more memorable than your straightforward here’s the book/here’s the description text you would otherwise find.
All right. Enough of that. On with the list. And remember, I only recap the books that interest me. A lot more was said at these previews than I’m writing about here.
Now the imprints didn’t walk into the room in the order they appeared in the catalog. So by that same token I’m going to begin with a book that I found particularly toothsome. Let’s start with the Viking list! First off, I was pleased to see that Scottie Bowditch, marketing guru, was to sit in on my table. I like Scottie. She knows my name. I like having my name known. And then to have Sharyn November also sit at the table . . . well, actually that happened at the last preview too. But since they are two of the movers and shakers of this particular company I wasn’t complaining
Sharyn had a bunch of books to work through but the one that won my heart, the one I’ve already read through several times and am chomping at the bit to review once 2009 rolls around, is Wink, the Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J.C. Phillipps. It’s a debut for Ms. Phillipps who wrote and illustrated this fabulous readaloud about a ninja who doesn’t really get the whole "stealth" part of his training. They had some art from this book in the room and then they cinched the deal by calling it "the anti-Rainbow Fish". The style is a teensy bit South Parky, but don’t let that put you off. I’d say more but I feel like reviewing it soon, so no more from me. No more.
Good looking Greg Foley . . . oh right. Last time I said he was good looking someone got all upset because I don’t call the women "good looking" as often as I do the men. So I guess I should mention that in her photo, Ms. J.C. Phillipps looked very cute. Like a Maureen Johnson with cut paper skills. Satisfied? Yes? Okay, so good looking Greg Foley has a new "Bear" book coming out called Good Luck Bear (why do these titles never use commas before the "Bear" part?). It involves bear and a four-leaf clover and really that’s all you need to know aside from the fact that it looks adorable.
The book I very very very much wanted to get my hands on, as it turned out, was Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales. It’s a collection of middle grade fantasy short stories with a cover that is magnificent. Originally the title was going to be "The Cinderella Game" but it was determined that this sounded a bit too girly and they wanted boy fans to read it as well. If you have received your Penguin Young Readers Group catalog from January-April 2009, you may note that on page 143 where this book appears there is a misspelling of sorts. Just to clear up any confusion, there is no "Neil Faiman" writing stories for this book. There may be a Neil Gaiman, however. More to the point there is also a Nancy Farmer, and I think that is very exciting since I have never seen her write a short story before.
And some of you may be like me and are fans of the Up Close biography series Viking puts out. They’ve two new bios in the works: Up Close: Harper Lee by (I was excited to see this) Kerry Madden. Madden’s the author of the Gentle’s Holler books, which I enjoyed. There will also be an Up Close: Babe Ruth, which I am personally less excited about, though I’m sure it will please someone somewhere.
Also of Note: I was recently sent a "new baby" book for review, and I’ve mentally compartmentalized it with all the millions of others out there. Before You Were Here, Mi Amor by Samantha R. Vamos has the distinction of being bilingual and having some cool illustrations by Santiago Cohen. R.W. Alley was last seen working on the newest Paddington book (which recently won a Roald Dahl Funny Prize) and now he’s illustrating Police Officers on Patrol, as written by Kersten Hamilton. Alis by Naomi Rich was described as "indeterminate historical fiction" which is a term I rather like. And they were very excited about the YA Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas, which was described as having "caught fire in the house", the house in this case being Penguin. Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance, 1973 is for readers 14 and up and profanity-rific! I like the cover and I like the concept. We shall see.
Viking is also very fond of the faceless silhouette model of cover design these days. And Volponi’s ResponseBecause I am Furniture by Chaltas, as you can see, one pairs beautifully with the other:
Now let’s take a gander at the Dial side of things.
Really, what Dial wanted to talk about more than anything else was this book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. I’ve not heard of this book, which is written for adults and is apparently a New York Times Bestseller. In any case, it has been adapted for kids of different ages. In one case the book has become a picture book called Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea. Fair enough. Susan L. Roth is the illustrator on this one, which is good. Ms. Roth has proved very popular in my library, particularly when she’s doing pictures that require a lot of cut up photographs. In this book, however, she has scraped her old techniques for more of a "found object" style. They had some of her art in the room and were passing it out, which was bad. I mean, I know me. I know my propensity for spilling, wiping, drooling, and otherwise defacing works of art with my sticky little fingers. Still, I do believe I was able to pass Ms. Roth’s images around and about without destroying them too effectively. I see that I’ve written in my notes "loved the layering" as a response to the art itself.
Did you know that Sonya Sones is married to the creator of Saved by the Bell? I’m sorry, was there other information being disseminated when this was mentioned? Because I kinda feel it was a mistake to tell me this while I was taking notes. On the page for Violet and Winston (this image of an un-spectacled Winston untimely ripped from Raschka’s website, I note), which is a George and Marthaesque series of three simple stories of two friends, I see that I have scrawled in large blobs of sticky black ink, "SAVED BY THE BELL CREATOR!!!" with big pointy arrows indicating Bennett Tramer. The funny thing is, I was never much of a Bell fan. I just love the fact that the creator is married to Ms. Sones. As it happens, these two have been paired with Chris Raschka, who I can see had a cute new photograph in the catalog (and for those of you keeping track at home yes, Ms. Sones is attractive as well). It’s still Raschka’s style, all the way, and may be even more stylized and expressive than his Lamby Lamb or Doggie Dog books. But I’ve never seen him do a character with glasses before. So I am looking forward to taking a gander at this book.
Along the same lines, here is another fine example of me getting distracted by sundry details. Author Julia Hoban has written a YA novel about cutting called Willow. So what do I get goofy excited about? The fact that Ms. Hoban is the daughter of Russell and Lillian Hoban! Exciting, eh?
Alan Gratz, responsible for those fun Shakespearean inspired YA novels (Something Rotten, Something Wicked, etc.) shoots younger with his upcoming baseball novel The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings. Penguin’s own Mike Lupica has made straightforward baseball fiction a little hard for other writers at the moment, but Gratz’s hook is good. The "nine innings" alluded to on the title are for the last nine generations of a single baseball-loving family.
Also of Note: Ladybug Girl (a 22 week bestseller?!) gets a sequel with Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy. It is said that husband and wife team David Soman and Jacky Davis have kids that look curiously similar to the ones popping up in this book. A new environmentally conscious Charlie and Lola book called We Are Extremely Very Good Recyclers is coming out, but I don’t think I can trust it. All the C&L books these days say, "characters created by" on them instead of "by". Which means that this wasn’t actually written by Lauren Child. Which means I don’t particularly care for it. More Child, please! Steven Kellogg tackles the Pied Piper story in The Pied Piper’s Magic. The ending, as I could see from the copy they displayed, is rather similar to the ending of The Mysterious Tadpole in terms of tons of children playing in a public pool/fountain.
"Where the Wild Things Are meets James Marshall" – written in the catalog for Patricia Von Pleasantsquirrel (good name!) by James Proimos.
"Back to the Future meets the Civil War" – written in the catalog for Michael Hemphill and Sam Riddleburger’s Stonewall Hinklemann and the Battle of Bull Run.
Onward and upward to Philomel Books. And who is the Philomel baby that is getting its own day on March 20th? None other than The Very Hungry Caterpillar, of course. They’re putting out a pop-up book version of the caterpillar soon, a fact that some of us were amazed had not happened yet. A helpful sidebar in the catalog informs us that, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar sells one copy every 30 second, somewhere in the world." I like to think it’s just that regular. On March 20th Google will get in on the Hungry Caterpillar act, so expect to see that on their homepage. Best of all, at the back of the Penguin catalog you can see that you can "reserve" (whatever that means) a costume of a Penguin children’s book character. They’ve everyone from Corduroy and Max to slightly less common creations like Strega Nona and The Stinky Cheese Man. I was particularly fond of the Very Hungry Caterpillar costume, though, because I’d love to know how it works. Is it really a full-sized adult costume? Do you have to crawl on your belly to get around? Wouldn’t it scare the bejeezus out of the kids if they saw an adult sized caterpillar inching its way towards them? So many questions . . .
The Abraham Lincoln bios have pretty much been exhausted by this point. So where does that leave us? With the upcoming 40th anniversary of the moon landing, of course. Personally, I’ve been hoping that someone somewhere would put out an Edgar Allan Poe biography in honor of the man’s 200th birthday, but so far there don’t seem to be any takers. Hm. But back to the subject, Philomel has tackled the men on the moon with One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Mike Wimmer. This 40-page non-fiction picture book had its illustrations vetted through NASA. Don’t let that fool you, though. They look rather beautiful on top of that. Good lighting, certainly. Excellent weightlessness too.
Irish accented Oliver Jeffers is hot. So is Aileen Leijten, but more on her later (I can keep this up all day, folks). Where was I? Ah yes. Oliver Jeffers is hot. He has also arrived in America to live in the East Village. Which means that technically his newest book The Great Paper Caper could be eligible for a 2009 Caldecott (except that it may have been written overseas, and I don’t know if it was published there first). Not that I know whether or not it deserves it yet, but if you’ve like his other books like Lost and Found or The Way Back Home then you’ll probably enjoy this one as well. It involves a bear that cuts down trees to feed his paper airplane obsession. More than that I do not know.
Back to Aileen Leijten, she has a book coming out called Hugging Hour! To my surprise, however, I found that she is married to fellow author/illustrator John Rocco of Wolf! Wolf!, Moonpowder, and the cover of the Percy Jackson books fame. Cool beans.
I only picked up two picture books to take home on this particular day. One was the already mentioned Wink. The other was the Barbara Joosse/Jan Jutte title Roawr! By all accounts this was a book discovered at an Eric Carle Museum event on Dutch art. I already like the look of it, so we’ll see if it meets expectations or not. I’ve been a fan of Barbara Joosse ever since she wrote the magnificent Nikolai, the Only Bear (which I may have to review someday, if only to give it more attention).
I say that I only picked up two picture books, but if I’d had my way I would have found a way to pick up three. The third would have been Tsunami by Kimiko Kajikawa and illustrated by none other than Ed Young. Apparently (and my facts might be iffy on this, but I believe this is what I heard) Young got this manuscript in the late 80s and sat on it until now. I’m sure Ms. Kajikawa just loved that! But basically it was a kind of slush pile submission. Then in 2004 the tsunami provided the inspiration for Mr. Young to get cracking on the story. It’s a clever premise too. Villagers are down on a beach when an old man on a hill sees a tsunami approaching. How does he get them onto the high ground where he is? By burning his own fields. Very smart plotting, and the pictures look like they’ll be typically gorgeous Young.
Also of Note: Another John Ritter novel is coming out called The Desperado Who Stole Baseball. However it appears as though psychopath Billy the Kid may get a heroic role in it. This is too bad. My great-grandmother was not a fan of the man and I, by extension, don’t particularly care for it when he gets good press. But let’s wait and see how the book treats him before jumping to any conclusions. Will Hillenbrand retells the childhood of Ludwig Bemelmans in picture book form and with Ludwig as a pig named Louie in (you guessed it) Louie! Huh. Cristina Kessler is back after her fabulous Our Secret, Siri Aang with another overseas adventure novel. This time it’s called Trouble in Timbuktu and involves potentially evil American archaeologists eyeballing ancient manuscripts and the two local teens who have to stop them.
Dutton time! With everybody’s favorite all-star Dutton cast! Actually, our special authorial guest of the day was a Dutton author . . . but more on that later.
Tate Tate Tate Tate. That was the rhythm running through my brain when I saw the big and beautiful page for Ron’s Big Mission, written by Corinne Naden and Rose Blue and illustrated by Don Tate. It’s an interesting biography. Ron McNair was an African-American Challenger astronaut, but this is the tale about how he desegregated his hometown library when he was nine. Smart idea for a picture book bio, I must say. And I’m happy to see Mr. Tate involved. He’s a good man.
A lot of love was given to Gail Donovan’s new middle grade title In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog. Here are my notes as I wrote them down.
– The mutant frog book.
– The dead mutant frog book.
– Organizes school to get back his dead mutant frog book.
What more do you need to know?
I’ve decided that 2009 is going to be the Year of the Australians. I have already gotten wind of a flurry of Aussie titles that will be flooding our markets soon. Ms. Sophie Blackall is already well and truly familiar to us, though. If you’re a Meet Wild Boars fan or like the pictures in the Sophie and Bean series, this is for you. Wombat Walkabout is by Carol Diggory Shields and stars wombats with various articles of clothing. One wears a little paper hat. Another has a hula skirt. The wombats also have names like "Clive", which is a selling point right there. And for the editor and designer of this book Ms. Blackall actually created teeny tiny bindles of teeny tiny clothing, as worn by the wombats in the story. Fun Fact: Ms. Blackall also hides a whale in every single book she illustrates (except for the Ivy and Bean series). All this got me to thinking . . . where the heck is the Waltzing Matilda picture book? I see that Harper Collins may have published one by an A.B. Paterson in 1998 and that . . . oh. The guy dies in the song? Hm. Well that shouldn’t stop anybody. Let’s put out a series of picture books in which the subjects drown. Waltzing Matilda and Oh, My Darling Clementine would pair together beautifully, no? It’s all in the delivery.
Also of Note: Here’s as good premise: Tween girls find antique machine that accurately predicts the name of your future spouse. It’s Tell Me Who by Jessica Wollman. Smart idea. In 2008, zombies were hot. In 2009? The Tudors. I kid you not. First Harper Collins started in with the historical romantic YA fiction and now Penguin’s getting in on the act with Alisa M. Libby’s The King’s Rose. Consider yourself duly informed of this new trend. Another trend I’d like to see more of is author Sarah Quigley (of the upcoming YA novel TMI) and her description that reads, "Sarah Quigly is an anonymous blogger." Well there you go.
This may be the winner of the "Meets" challenge because it mentioned a title I had never heard of. When describing Donovan’s In Memory of Gorfman T. Frog it was called "Frindle meets Standing Up to Mr. O." The second book is a Hyperion title from back in 2000 by Claudia Mills. Way to pull out a reference!
G.P. Putnam’s and Sons and . . . boy I wish the people in the room that weren’t librarians wore nametags. It makes it so much easier to report when you can say who was speaking to you. For example, I’m fairly certain that the nice soft-spoken lady at my table was Stacey Barney, but as I have a very hard time with background noise I cannot be certain. Anywho.
Remember Jacqueline Woodson? Duh. Remember her book Locomotion? Yup. Well did you know that it was getting a sequel? A sequel called Peace, Locomotion with a rather remarkable cover. So we have a winner in the Best Cover of the Day competition. No offense to Feathers and After Tupac & D Foster but . . . yawn! They were meaningful covers. Meaningful doesn’t cut it with me and if it weren’t for the fact that Ms. Woodson burns up her pages with stellar prose I probably wouldn’t have picked them up in the first place. But this . . . this cover I like. It also seems a little "meaningful" but it’s such a cool image of a peace symbol in front of a rising (or is it setting?) sun that I do not care. And best of all you won’t need to have read Locomotion to understand this book. It stands on its own, they say. We shall see.
I probably misheard this, but I could have sworn they described Zachary Shapiro, the author of the upcoming Noah’s Ark story We’re All in the Same Boat, as a wonderful "gay rabbit from Beverly Hills". Or could it have been "rabbi"? Hm. That’s possible. In any case, the book looks like a title similar to Bad Kitty in how it devotes separate panels to alphabet rhymes that describe a situation. Jack E. Davis does the pictures too, and I like that man. I like him much.
All right. So Lincoln’s having his 200th B-day in 2009 ("And so’s Poe!" she cried into the wilderness). And the space program hits 40 from the moon landing. Check. So what’s left to celebrate? How about the 400th (oh yes!) 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson and the Hudson River as penned by Hudson Talbott called River of Dream: The Story of the Hudson River? Talbott is best known to me as the Show Way man, though many of you fell hook, line, and sinker for his United Tweets of America this year, dincha?
Speaking of the moon landing, old G.P. decided to come up with a book of their own. Only this time they decided to see Philomel’s we-got-our-book-vetted-by-NASA card and raise them one well-we-got-friggin-Buzz-Aldrin-to-write-OUR-book. Touche. In Look to the Stars it’s Buzz meets Wendell Minor. Which makes me wonder, when does poor Yuri Gagarin get a bio? I mean, technically he was the first fellow in space, right? And since the space race is long gone . . . I’m sure he has bios for kids in Russia. I guess we haven’t quite gotten to the point where we’d be willing to give him some cred, but come on! Yuri, Yuri, Yuri . . .
Also of Note: The title Flygirl will lure them in, but teens may be surprised to find Sherri L. Smith’s new book is actually about a black woman flying in the air force during WWII. I haven’t seen a novel confront the notion of "passing" in a very long time. Interesting. And they were really pushing debut novelist Kristin Levine and her novel The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had. Said many good things about it they did. It’s on my shelf as we speak, so I guess I’ll have to give it a taste. In 1990 Tomie dePaola produced Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi for Holiday House. I tell you this because when I saw that he had made The Song of Francis for next year I found myself wondering, "Has Mr. dePaola NEVER does St. Francis of Assisi?" Glad to see that the universe is not quite as wacky as I had feared. All is right with the world once more. Daren King of Mouse Noses on Toast (well I liked it) has a new one coming out. It’s Sensible Hare and the Case of Carrots and it looks positively goofy. In a good way.
Razorbill next. Razorbill is YA and that doesn’t fall into my purview. So I’d skip this part of the recap if it weren’t for fellow blogger and amazingly popular author Jay Asher. His little novel 13 Reasons Why has become so big that Razorbill is rereleasing it in hardcover with a new map. What’s more, they’ve gone all kinds of viral with their marketing. We librarians were the first to see a presentation of the YouTube videos that will consist of Hannah’s tapes (voiced by Olivia Thurlby of the-best-friend-in-Juno fame). I checked out the blog where these videos will be placed, but it doesn’t look like it’s up and running quite yet. Stay tuned then.
Also of Note: Uh. Let’s see. YA debut novelist Lucy Silag of the book Beautiful Americans is Jane Smiley’s daughter. There’s a zombie hunter title out there called You Are So Undead to Me by Stacey Jay (thereby disproving my No Zombies in 2009 theory). And Mormon romance gets a chance in Angela Morrison’s Taken by Storm.
Puffin next (phew! This is tiring!). Again with the Three Cups of Tea for kids (as mentioned way way way before). The cover of Anthony Horowitz’s upcoming middle grade novel Granny is particularly good, so of course it’s not online yet. Believe me when I say that it looks like The Witches but sans Dahl
But the best part of Puffin is undoubtedly their Puffin Classics series. I know you’ve seen these somewhere. Contemporary artists do the covers and contemporary authors write cool Introductions. The pairings can seem either obvious or downright bizarre. This season Eva Ibbotson is doing the intro to Heidi. That seems to make sense. But Jon Scieszka doing Swiss Family Robinson? It works once you think about it, but he wouldn’t be an immediate choice, right? Whereas Rick Riordan doing Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green? A no-brainer. Not like Christopher Paolini doing The Jungle Book. Huh? Actually Paolini did another intro to a book that baffled me, but more on that later.
We got a hint that Holly Black would be doing an Introduction for an upcoming Dracula, and that’s not even slated for Spring yet! Ditto Wendell Minor doing The Red Badge of Courage and S.E. Hinton doing Wuthering Heights ("the book she wishes she had written"). What I can’t figure out is why Penguin hasn’t turned these covers into bookbags. It’s not like their adult division has any qualms about doing so. You’ve seen the other Penguin bookbags sold out there, haven’t you? They’re very popular with the masses. And if I had the chance to buy a bookbag with Lauren Child’s Anne of Green Gables on it, I might do so. I might indeed.
Puffin book of note: They’re reprinting When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr with a new and awesome cover. Smart thinking, folks. There are plenty of kids who read this in school who are now teaching their own classes. Plus, anything that gets people teaching this instead of that pajama boy is a-okay with me.
Now the Speak imprint is like Razorbill, in that they’re out of my range. But I would like to point out that the upcoming novel Geek Charming by Robin Palmer features THE cutest pair of shoes I’ve ever seen on a YA novel in all my livelong days. Seriously. I want those shoes. I see that I’ve written in my notes, "I feel like the The Pigeon. LET ME WEAR THE SHOES!!!!" Precisely. Check these out:
Oh. And did you guys know that they’re reprinting Eva Ibbotson’s romantic backlist? Tis true! They have new covers for A Company of Swans, The Morning Gift, A Song for Summer, and A Countess Below Stairs. I’ve not read a one of them, but my librarian sources inform me that these are very good. Oh yes, very good indeed.
From the catalog, "Mean Girls meets Elf" when referring to Me, My Elf, and I by Heather Swain. Does it mean something when they compare a book to films rather than other books?
And then there’s Grosset & Dunlap. Good old Grosset & Dunlap. They do lots of series stuff and novelty stuff and Star Wars stuff, so there’s that. But there’s always at least one thing that perks my interest on the G&D list, and at this particular preview it was this new series called The Mysterious Mr. Spines by Jason Lethcoe. The cover of the first book Wings is so pretty and iridescent and cool that (and they rarely do this) the cover artist Scott Altmann got his own credit in the catalog. Nicely done. This may alos have won my favorite cover of the day award. Dunno . . .
Oh. At the back of the catalog is a Penguin Adult section which is all well and good. I saw a title there that I’ll actually be reviewing on my blog soonish. But I also saw The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck, with an introduction by . . . Christopher Paolini. Really? For a book you’re marketing to adults you’re going to choose Paolini to introduce it? Or are you really just hoping to lure in those kids and tweens who want a copy of the Arthur stories and trust Paolini’s name? Because if that’s the case, why is Penguin Adult publishing it? So mysterious. So odd
Now lunch was served and I was happy to foist some delicious sandwiches with foccacia bread (nice!) for my lunching and munching. While standing in line, however, I found myself behind a woman wearing this incredible fuzzy green vest. Not fuzzy in the soft fleece sense, but rather the bright green pelt sense. Like the lovechild of Oscar the Grouch and a chinchilla. I found myself having to hold my hands at my sides to keep from petting the vest while going "whooza, whooza whooza!" (standard petting-a-soft-animal behavior on my part). Having successfully nabbed food, real Coke (none of that diet craziness, thank you very much), and NOT grabbed strange women, I was feeling pretty proud of myself. So imagine my surprise (not to say relief at my own restraint) when the green vested woman turned out to be one Gayle Forman, author of the upcoming If I Stay".
Allow me to make something perfectly clear. Penguin is very excited about If I Stay. Dutton is very excited about If I Stay. Scottie is very excited about If I Stay. And I’m sure that if I reviewed YA novels I too would be excited about If I Stay, but I do not. What I was excited by was Ms. Forman’s presentation. First off, she was very relaxed with her audience. Not affected or nervy in any manner. And after informing us that she wasn’t going to lower herself by pandering she removed the aforementioned vest of softiness to reveal a t-shirt that said, "Librarians Rock! (albeit quietly)". Any t-shirt that has the word "albeit" on it earns my instant love. But then THEN she completely drove home our dedication hook, line, and sinker with a Tupperware container brimming with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. You read that right. She gave me and the rest of the room chocolate.
From this we can establish many things. It is impossible to write about someone from an unbiased perspective when they have fed you delicious, moist, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. So I will simply say that if Ms. Forman is as good a writer as she is a baker her book will gain nothing but stars.
And finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for . . .
The announcement of the Best Title of the preview . . .
And winner is . . .
You’ve Got Blackmail by Rachel Wright. No question.
(psst! By the way… in case that description of the cookies above made you hungry, I tracked down a recipe for them through the NYPL database and I’m going to place it below. Don’t say I never did nuthin’ for ya).
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Spider; Nov2004, Vol. 11 Issue 11, p18, 1p
What You’ll Need:
1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
4 cups flour
l½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
l½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Grease cookie sheets.
- Mix shortening and sugar in large bowl until smooth.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time.
- Mix in the vanilla and pumpkin and blend well.
- In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add to the pumpkin mixture and mix well.
- Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
- Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets.
- Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Use spatula to slightly flatten each cookie as soon as they come out of the oven, then allow cookies to cool.
Makes approximately 7 dozen cookies.
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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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