Reporting: A Day of Publisher Presentations (Now with More Librarians!)
Reports vary, but it seems fairly safe to say that when New York Public Library, Library Journal, and School Library Journal hosted “A Day of Publisher Presentations” last Monday at my workplace the number of attendees was high. How high? Accounts are not consistent, but they topped 100 at least. The “Day of Publisher Presentations” is a time when librarians are invited to sit and listen to a host of different publishers talk about their upcoming wares. Most of the presenters do not engage in the usual Librarian Previews some of us enjoy, with one notable exception.
I was there. It was my free day, but that’s how much I love you, little blog. Enough to go into my workspace on the only day left to me and sit quietly in one spot for several hours at a time. My rebellion was quiet. I wore jeans and sneakers.
Who were the publishers on display? A widely variegated crew. ABDO Group, Candlewick Press, Consortium, Feiwel and Friends, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Lerner, Little Brown, National Geographic, Peachtree, Rosen, and Sterling. Eleven publishers. Eleven lists to sort through. Sit back and relax, people. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
I walked in just before 10:00. I registered and then began to parole the room carefully, trying to pluck only the ripest fruit. There was Little, Brown but I already had most of their titles. Candlewick too, and I was happy to see some Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle ARCs present. 100 Scope Notes had mentioned this book in the past and I was delighted to get a chance to peruse it. Escape, however, was impossible when Sharon Hancock handed me a YA novel. She assured me that while it is not my area of expertise it is essentially worth its weight in gold. The title? Swim the Fly by Don Calame. The plot? Boys try to see a real live naked girl. It’s one of those plots you hear and then think to yourself, “A guy wrote this, I bet.” Batta bing. There are some plots only a male would dream up.
Other tasty ARCs included the newest Mary Downing Hahn mystery Closed for the Season. And at the Sterling booth I got just the cutest little bag with the Begin Smart logo on it. It even had a free board book inside. Next person I know who drops a baby, I’ll be packing this full of books and sending their way.
But the presentations! Yes. Let it not be said that Sterling was the only table giving away bookbags. ABDO had their own little red bags free for the taking. Word on the street has it that the ABDO crowd is pretty fun to hang out with. I wouldn’t know, as I haven’t ever hung out with an ABDOinian. Still, I was willing to give their list a look while they presented. Looking at their list, ABDO isn’t really a New York Public Library kind of company. They do a lot of stuff that sells really well, like Star Wars and Iron Man titles, but that my system sort of eschews. I started feeling a little philosophical about Star Wars in the midst of the presentation though. Why is it that little kids love Star Wars but that this love doesn’t translate into an adoration of all things science fiction-related? The general wisdom states that science fiction for kids doesn’t sell. How can that be when Star Wars is so huge? Is it like dinosaurs? Do they simply grow out of it? (Suddenly the appeal of the Captain Raptor picture books begins to make a lot more sense).
One item they did mention that intrigued me, however, was this Marvel Illustrated series. Picture this: You take classic public domain adventure stories like Treasure Island, The Man in the Iron Mask, etc. Then you find pencilers from Marvel, get them to turn the books into graphic novels, and whammo! Instant street cred AND something that fulfills the dearest hope of every parent who wishes their Spiderman loving tots enjoyed classic literature. How well do the books work? Haven’t a clue. Never saw any. But the idea is certainly strong.
Aside from that, the most interesting part of the presentation was when an upcoming Eli Manning bio was mentioned and the audience erupted into hisses. Fascinating. I will never understand sports. I had to look this Manning character up when I got home. Apparently he’s a football type personage. Learn something new every day . . .
ABDO was followed by Candlewick. It was about this point that I realized that I was seated directly in front of a tsker/sigher/groaner/moaner who somehow couldn’t help but growl every time a publisher tried to promote one of their books. I see that in my notes I have written, “Need to move. Empty space up ahead next to Laura Lutz.” I would take advantage of that fact later.
In the meantime, there was Sharon Hancock’s presentation to enjoy. Only ten titles were on display, but whatta ten. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is now finally in paperback, which is good. After that we heard about War Is . . . Soldier, Survivors, and Storytellers Talk About War which might have had the best byline of the day. From Robert Lipsyte, ” . . . a topic more taboo than sex – going to war.” That’ll lure them teen readers in. You betcha.
Wondering when eco-friendly publishing will start to hit the big companies? Well, the aforementioned Toby Alone by a French playwright is published on recycled paper. Plus if you take off the cover it unfolds to become a map of a gigantic tree. Which won’t do libraries any good, but is pretty cool to look at anyway.
I don’t generally pay much attention to anything aside from children’s literature, but when I heard the description of Sophomore Switch by Abigail McDonald I could only describe it one way: Candlewick Chicklit. Which is fun to say.
Let’s Do Nothing by Tony Fucile looks distinctly interesting. They described it as a kind of Mo Willems and Harry Bliss meet David Shannon thing. Mr. Fucile is apparently a “master of animation” who has made his name on many a fine animated film. The book concerns two boys who have done absolutely everything that do boys can do together for fun. Therein lies the last great unconquered land: Nothingness. Can they do nothing and, if so, for how long? Looks cute. A nice use of white backgrounds as well.
It seemed poor timing to have a book called The Uninvited by Tim Wynne Jones coming out while a horror film of the same name is in theaters everywhere. Then again, I don’t know that there are too many people out there who will be walking into bookstores and libraries asking, “Do you have the novelization of The Uninvited?” Plus this book doesn’t come out until May. We are probably safe.
Finally, The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman caught my attention. It seems to be blessed with the skill set of people that I like. First off there is the author, one Mr. Fleischman, who is a good man and an even better writer. Next there is illustrator David Roberts, who I last saw putting his distinctive style onto Andrea Beaty’s Iggy Peck, Architect. Third, it involves kids outsmarting an evil teacher. Seems (from a distance) like it may be an early chapter book. Dunno. Certainly it has an eclectic format and vibrant look.
Feiwel and Friends (how easy it is to misspell that as Feiwel and Freinds) took the stage next. I was distracted momentarily by their catalogs new paperback covers from Squarefish. Maybe I’m just behind the times but have you seen their jacket for Natalie Babbitt’s The Search for Delicious?
To say nothing of the backlists of Polly Horvath and Karen Hesse? Just saying . . .
But I am distracted. First up? A reprinted version of John J. Muth’s little known Stonecutter. Originally it came out in the early 90s before anyone knew what Zen Shorts were or why they should matter. The suggestion was raised that this would be a good graduation gift of some sort. Certainly it has an awfully tasteful cover design. Very elegant. Very adult. As for the story, it’s rooted in Tao principals.
There is a very odd trend in children’s picture books that I have noticed. It concerns the awfully beautiful Halloween picture book. First Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara goes and gets itself mentioned on the New York Times Best Illustrated books list. And now we have Only a Witch Can Fly, written by Allison McGhee and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo. You all remember Yoo, do you not? A year or two ago all anyone could talk about was her lovely The Little Red Fish. Now she goes a little more normal with a witch and broomstick flying book. It was one of the titles I felt compelled to pick up.
Fran Manushkin has a new title out with Tracy Dockray illustrating. The title? The Tushy Book. If we pair it alongside Michael Ian Black’s Chicken Cheeks we should be able to call 2009 The Year of the Rear.
James Preller returns to the world of sports after having wowed widely with Six Innings. This time the book is Mighty Casey, and it looks as if it might be an early chapter book, which would be nice. Two quotes from professional reviews were displayed prominently on the monitors at this time. One was for Mr. Preller and the other was for Matthew Cordell’s previous book Righty and Lefty. And if I don’t miss my guess, I think that was my Cordell quote. Maybe not, though. I reviewed it professionally for somebody, but it was a long time ago. Would have been nice if it was my own, though.
Top of the Order by John Coy? More baseball. To my mind, this one won the Best Cover award of the day. Wherefore all these baseball books these days, I wonder. We have Feiwel and Friends cranking them out on the one hand and people like Alan Gratz chugging even more out on the other. I do wonder if all this has to do with Mike Lupica’s smashing success. He really is a latter day Matt Christopher, isn’t he?
Dodger for President by Jordan Sonnenblick made me feel bad that I didn’t read the first one. I like to think of these books as Harvey for kids, but instead of a giant rabbit it’s a giant blue ape. After that there was Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor. At first I thought it would be a version of that Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode where Buffy is investigating the inner workings of a fast food joint. Close but no cigar. The gist appears to be pizza delivery = monster slaying. R.L. Stine wrote the blurb for it, which got me to thinking. Why aren’t there more kid horror series and books out there? Not teen horror series. We’re fine with Cirque du Freak, thank you much. But for kids, when they want something vaguely horrific it’s to the Stine or the Alvin Schwartz they go. Why aren’t more people capitalizing on this? I stand confused.
A teen adaptation of Wuthering Heights becomes The Heights by the Zombie Blondes fellow Brian James. The only question I have: Will Heathcliff remain a jerk? Love the title, though.
Eyes Like Stars I’ve mentioned before in the past because the cover is just a beauty. Aw, what the heck. Let’s look at it again:
Purdy purdy. And those clever little marketing personnel, they managed to get a double whammy of a blurbing. After her success with The Hunger Games (teens comment on my own review of it so frequently that it has become one of my most commented on posts) Suzanne Collins can do no wrong. So to pair her with Tamora Pierce blurbwise is pretty slick. Fans on the one side and fans on the other unite.
Finally, F&F ended with a look at their Summer Dog Promo line-up. These are their collection of incredibly kid-friendly dog covers from over the years. Here are a couple to show you what I mean:
There are others. You will see.
It was immensely rewarding to see Houghton Mifflin Harcourt take the stage next. Partly because I worry about them. Between mergers and potential downsizing and who knows what all they’ve been buffeted left and right lately. Also, they are one of the rare New York publishers that don’t give librarian previews any thought. F&F doesn’t either but they’re new and overextend themselves in terms of being kind to bloggers. Houghton/Harcourt remains shadowy and elusive. Like FSG or Holiday House.
But they were here and with one of the finest line-ups I’d seen in some time. My written notes at this point get a little needy (“I waaaaaaaaant it”) so I’ll try to temper my own enthusiasm a jot.
First up, everyone’s favorite Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (how many books are you cranking out, girl?) and her Steady Hands: Poems About Work. My patrons are constantly asking for community worker books. Add in the lovely illustrations by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy (information that was surprisingly hard to find online) and you’ve got yourself one heck of a fine little looker.
I read but never had a chance to review Karen English’s Nikki and Deja about a year ago. Well hopefully I will right that great wrong by getting a mitt on the sequel Nikki and Deja: Birthday Blues. Those of you upset that there aren’t more fun early chapter books about African-American characters should run, not walk, and find these books. Karen English is a name that you can trust.
Mary Downing Hahn has done it again. Closed for the Season was one of the few ARCs on the HM/H table that they were handing out. I plucked it up immediately. Murder and old abandoned amusement parks? Thems good eatin’.
I was not initially intrigued by Laura Purdie Salas and her book Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School. But the addition of Steven Salerno as illustrator was quite smart. The poems compare various children to animals, but it’s Salerno who can make the comparisons really stick. Something to look out for, anyway.
A peek at Matt Phelan’s blog the other day revealed that he had been working on something called Big George by Anne Rockwell. In the midst of all this Lincoln lovin’, it’s nice to see George Washington trying to getting a little attention of this own. Now, am I alone or is this image of George kinda smoking?
Yum. He can stare at me from a dollar bill any day of the week.
The picture book cover of Button Up!: Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Petra Mathers, brought instant laughs the minute it appeared on the Powerpoint screen. So full credit to you, Ms. Mathers. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find this image online. The world will simply have to take my word for it.
Fans of the Klise sisters will be pleased to hear that they’re moving into entirely new territory. Dying to Meet you: 43 Old Cemetery Road, Book 1 dives into gothic, creepy territory. And directly after we heard about that, up on the screen popped The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks. Now I am a Jinks fan through and through. To my mind, she can do no wrong. Whether it’s the Pagan books on the one hand or the Evil Genius books on the other, she’s tops in my book. I’m a bit sad to hear that this tale (best described by Chasing Ray the other day) isn’t going to be for a middle grade audience but a teenaged one. And I am very disappointed with the cover too. It’s fine, but this is Jinks we’re talking about. Surely a little production value could be pulled out for her, right? She’s utterly deserving of it, after all.
The Most Loved in All the World by Tonya Hegamin is an Underground Railroad quilt picture book story. So expect yet another round of that old the-quilts-were-real vs. the-quilts-weren’t-real debate to circle through yet again.
If you were a fan of Joyce Sidman’s This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness, then you may be pleased to hear that she has another book out as well. With her partner in crime Pamela Zagarenski, Red Sings from Treetops appears to be out in April. Other series favorites, at least on the non-fiction end of things, is that great Scientists in the Field series. I am convinced that frogs are going to be the new penguins in terms of popularity. So it was not entirely surprising that the next book out from the SitF folks is The Frog Scientist by Andy Comins. It just seems natural.
Earlier I gave the Best Cover Award of this preview to Top of the Order, and I stand by that. However, the first runner-up will have to go to Joseph Helgerson’s Crows and Cards. Now this is a book that could go one of two ways. It will either be brilliant, witty, and a sparkling novel, or it will go downhill real fast. It’s inspired by a passage in Huckleberry Finn, and if you take a close look at the cover you might be able to guess which one. 1849 St. Louis is the setting as well. My fingers are crossed for it.
A new Just Grace book is coming out. This time it’s Just Grace Walks the Dog, by Charise Harper. In the midst of the description I see that I have written in my notes, “I wish people said ‘hijinks ensue’ more often than ‘hilarity ensues’.” Strange.
And finally, HM/H has decided to put out a Michelle Obama biography, thereby becoming the first of the big publishers that I know of to take this particular route. Cleverly done. One does have to wonder, however, how long it will be until the Obama girls start getting books of their own. If the news media coverage is any indication, not long. Not long at all.
Here’s the thing about the Little Brown presentation that came next. Unlike the other publishers present, Little Brown does have librarian previews for New York folks. In fact, they had one a couple months ago for this very list, as seen here. No point in writing such a thing up twice, but here are some additional details to know about this most recent look at the list.
Victoria Stapleton woke the sleepy little room up. Using terms to describe books like “Really, it’s almost icky how much I love Grace Lin” and “Kids with wings. Its got a good beat and you can dance to it,” she was a pleasure to watch. She also answered my earlier query about why nobody ever says, “Hijinks ensue.” Granted, what she said instead was “Hijinks commence”, but we go with what we can.
The list introduced me to the fact that The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has inspired a YouTube dance craze (expect to see that reported on more widely in my next Video Sunday). And I was pleased to see the new cover for Michelle Zink’s Prophecy of the Sisters. The old one didn’t really do it for me. This one proved much nicer. Oh. And that Jerry Pinkney wordless version of The Lion and Mouse? I still want it. Badly.
Lunchtime! In New York when one attends a library function and gets a free lunch the food tends to be exactly the same every single time. I’m not sure why this is. With all the fantastic restaurants in this city you would think that there would be a tendency to try more than one sandwich place over and over again. Well apparently this was to be the day of small miracles because we had many fascinating choices of sandwiches in consistently huge sizes. You got one big sandwich (I chose the chicken with pesto) three cookies, a salad, and a fruit of some sort. My fruit was an orange, which I consider one of the most impossible fruits to eat. I am aware that once you remove the peel, the orange conveniently slices itself for your enjoyment. It is the peel that is the rub here, though. Clearly this fruit does NOT want to be eaten (and the same can be said for the banana). With that in mind, I obey its wishes and uneaten it shall remain.
There was no real Coke, which was not surprising. NYPL has never given me real Coke at an event. Pepsi or Diet, never those lovely little red cans. Ah, but listen to how I complain. After devouring 70% of the food in my bag it was time for a new set of presenters. Up first, Lerner Publishing Group, now celebrating their 50th anniversary. Based out of Minneapolis (whoop!) there was no mention of the infamous Angel Girl during the talks. Not too terribly surprising I suppose, though the cover of that book did appear in the opening mosaic of different Lerner books. As for the presenter of Lerner, she was dressed in a kind of hip Mondrian-like dress, with a pair of fantastic shoes. Someone near me said the outfit was Michelle Obamaesque. That is apparently a term now. Be advised.
I was pleasantly surprised by the list presented. First up, Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Siebert winning author Sally M. Walker. The description? “It’s very CSI Jamestown”. It has a great cover too. I envision it as a book that might make for a delicious booktalk, should the need arise. Another non-fiction book followed it up. The Vermeer Interviews: Conversations with Seven Works of Art by Bob Raczka constitutes an in-depth look at seven of Vermeer’s paintings. The subjects of each painting are “interviewed” about their lives and the painting itself. One hopes that the girl with the pearl earring shows a little more chutzpah than old Scarlett Johansen.
A children’s librarian’s job is to constantly fill in their own brain’s gaps. For example, the other day I had a girl come in who wanted to a read a series that her older sister was into. Problem was, she couldn’t think of the name of the books or the character. She thought up the name McDonald and then maybe the first name Melody or something. I was clueless, but had I been aware of the Mallory series by Laurie Friedman (illustrated by Jennifer Kalis) all would have been made clear instantly. The newest title in the series Red, White and True Blue Mallory is slated to hit shelves in April of 2009.
Pamela F. Service first came to my attention when her post-apocalyptic Arthurian legend books (yes you read that correctly) were republished thanks to Tamora Pierce. I enjoyed Tomorrow’s Magic quite a lot, and it certainly does make for a great booktalk. These days Ms. Service is indulging in lighter fare. Alien fare, to be exact. The kind of books where a kid learns that he’s an alien and is given missions here on earth to accomplish. The second book in this Alien Agent series is Camp Alien. A good thing to hand those kids that also liked Bruce Coville’s My Teacher is an Alien titles.
Speaking of dystopian novels, if you’re in need of what was described as “a rip-roaring, post-apocalyptic end of the world series”, there’s something out by one John Brindley out called The Rule of the Claw. Could also be called “Dinos return to take over the earth”, but that might be too simplistic a call.
I was intrigued too by a Vicki Cobb non-fictionish series called Body Battles. Essentially the books give kids a cartoon look at exactly how bodies battle various common ailments. For example, one such title in the series is Your Body Battles a Broken Bone. Could be popular. I’ll have to see the books close up to check.
I was particularly happy to see National Geographic take to the stage next since I’m a big fan of their titles. Classy, high-quality, visually stimulating, these books are kid-friendly to their core. They’re switching to a two season list these days, with new books in the Spring and Fall. This was the Spring list and it was lovely.
First up, Every Human Has Rights as written by the National Geographic Society. The title is fairly self-explanatory, but the commentary included in the book is not. You see, there’s a student community out there by the name of ePALS. ePALS Classroom Exchange is a program that allows schools to connect to other classrooms around the world in the name of learning. They also pair classrooms up on projects. One section of the website says “Find a Project. Find a Classroom. Do a Project Together”, and then they offer you choices. You can create a profile for your classroom and make use of a host of different options on the site. In any case, ePALS was contacted to comment on this book, which seems like a really good idea.
Ann Bausum, author of many a fine book including Freedom Riders, has a title coming out called Our Country’s Presidents. And there, front and center, is a big old picture of Obama, who also wrote the book’s forward. One wonders where he finds the time. Bausum has another book coming out as well that I am extremely excited about. It’s called Denied, Detained, Deported: The Dark Side of American Immigration. Talk about a subject that has never really had a book of its own in the juvenile sphere! I generally don’t receive National Geographic review copies, but if anyone happens to get a spare copy of this book, pass it on my way. I’d love to see it up close.
Thomas B. Allen was responsible for that great book George Washington: Spymaster, which came out a couple years ago and was a lot of fun. Now he and Roger MacBride Allen have come up with Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War: how the North Used the Telegraph, Railroads, Surveillance Balloons, Iron-Clads, High-Powered Weapons, and More to Win the Civil War. With a subtitle like that you might expect the cover to be unpleasantly wordy. Yet I was pleased as punch to find the design of the cover integrates text and image almost seamlessly. Incorporating the words into the layout itself is key. I’m quite fond of this new take on all things Lincolnish.
Author Rosalyn Schanzer comes out with a Darwinian nod with her book What Darwin Saw. It’s a fun look at old Mr. D, and those of you going to ALA should know that Ms. Schanzer will be signing free copies of this title while there. You lucky dogs, you.
You may have heard me complain in the past that the one guy not getting so much as a smidgen of attention this year, in spite of the fact that it is his 200th birthday as well, is Edgar Allen Poe. Poor Mr. Poe. No love for you. As the National Geographic presentation continued I scrawled a petty “No Poe” at the top of my page. This notation was swiftly crossed out, however, when I saw that the book Nevermore was subtitled A Photobiography of Edgar Allen Poe. Great cheers! As far as I can tell this is the very first Poe biography I’ve seen anyone produce this year. I continue to believe that there is room for more, but we shall see.
Earth in the Hot Seat: Bulletins from a Warming World by Marfe Ferguson Delano comes with one of the best non-fiction covers of the day. The interior format, filled to the brim with photographs, was referred to as a “magazine format”. I’ve never really heard a book described in that way, but you can instantly understand what they mean when they say it.
I’d not heard of the Zigzag series either but it’s gratifying to learn that National Geographic has created a series for younger kids too. Two due out this year include The Bones You Own and What’s in That Egg, both by Becky Baines. They’re cute.
Finally, Secret Subway by Martin W. Sandler sounds to be a book that will prove interesting to more that just the denizens of NYC. I first heard of Alfred Beach and the secret subway system he built long before the subway tunnels we know today when I read the fiction title Downsiders by Neal Schusterman. Schusterman’s novel is about people who have created a society primarily based in the tunnels where Beach laid his defunct system to rest. I know that I’ll want to read Sandler’s book, if only to determine whether or not it was really true that Beach intended his subways to travel by gigantic pneumatic tubes. Sounds crazy, but if it worked . . .
Peachtree Publishers came next. Everyone had varying degrees of Powerpoint at their disposal, but with Peachtree the entire format went to another level. Montages of picture books played while they discussed their projects. Quotes from novels cropped up when longer prose was discussed. The sole flaw came when some images bounced jarringly across the screen. Otherwise, for a very full and sleepy audience, this served as a nice pick-me-up.
I liked the sound of one series I’d not encountered before. Anyone read the Roo Quartet by Harry Horse? It is appears to be written by the same Harry Horse who died a year ago. Whatever the matter, his final Roo book is The Last Castaways and it seems quite charming. Possibly an early chapter book too, always a rare find.
Double Eagle by Sneed B. Collard III (I’ve always loved his name) is another fiction title from a prolific writer. Though I understand the necessity of the title, I’m not a fan of it. Fortunately I do quite like the cover, and the concept is fun as well. It’s good old-fashioned treasure hunting for lost Confederate gold. Interestingly, you might even be able to call it historical fiction since Collard has set the story in, of all times, 1973. Curiouser and curiouser.
Finally, I was talking with someone the other day about 9/11 children’s books. On the one hand you have non-fiction middle grade titles like Wilborn Hampton’s September 11, 2001: Attack on New York City. And you had picture books too, like Jeanette Winter’s September Roses. But when I perused the holdings of New York Public Library recently, I couldn’t help but notice that after 2004 these books pretty much peter out. In the last five years there haven’t been all that many 9/11 titles, for the young or for the old. That may change with Carmen Agra Deedy’s Fourteen Cows for America. As with any young reader 9/11 tale, the book needs a hook. Kalman latched onto a Fireboat. Gerstein a tightrope walker. And Deedy has found a story, a true story, of when Kenyan Masai tribe gave American diplomats 14 cows after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. We’ll be watching with interest to see where the story takes her.
Rosen Publishing is a funny entity. It’s one of the few publishers in town where I know old college friends who work there. I’m sure you’ve seen the company’s work before. They tend to create a lot of rote titles that libraries get requests for. So if you’ve a local school that always does a 2nd grade project on banking then you’d be interested in their titles on How a Bank Works or How a Credit Card Works. They also churn out paperback bios of currently popular people that can be tossed the minute they aren’t popular anymore. My best Rosen association has to do with their backlist catalog. You might not think that they have a backlist, but in fact they’ve many old titles to their name. At one point in the distant past (think early 70s) they even came out with a series called the “How to Deal” books. And the best of these, by far, was the title How to Deal With Parents Who Are Activists. I imagine in-laws of progressives everywhere surreptitiously handing this book to the kids in those families, in the hopes of turning them onto the path of true conservatism early on. We gave the book to a friend of mine, a real red diaper baby, and she appreciated the sentiment though she is now a kickin’ labor organizer. So there you go.
Curiously Rosen didn’t really discuss any of the books written on our handy dandy handouts. They just discussed eBooks and what they produce. Moving on . . .
That leaves Sterling for last. Started in 1949, we learned that Sterling’s first book was about the card game Canasta. Which is awesome. I’ve always been a little confused about the whole Sterling/Barnes & Noble connection. Who owns who? Does Sterling own B&N or does B&N own Sterling? Turns out that B&N bought Sterling around 2002 or so. Now the company is branching off and getting into the middle grades more than they have in the past.
A couple things caught my eye. Abe’s Fish comes to us via Jen Bryant, the woman who brought the world the highly lauded A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. It’s another Abe Lincoln book, but I trust the author so I’ll keep an eye peeled for it. I was also intrigued by Michael Sussman’s Otto Grows Down, in part because the illustrator on the project is Scott Magoon. Plus the concept is about a kid so jealous of his little sibling that he begins to grow in reverse and do everything else in reverse too. Quote: “There’s a funny picture of him in the bathroom that you’ll have to see for yourself.” Uh . . . noted.
The Richard Scarry backlist is apparently in Sterling’s hands, and so it is being reprinted. Scarry fans rejoiceth. There is a series of Sterling biographies coming out, but no one particularly surprising is in the mix. You know what I would love to see? I’d like to see a line of biographies come out that includes the old standbys, but always works in one new person. So you could have your Joan of Arc, but also your Madam C.J. Walker. Your Neil Armstrong alongside your Huey P. Newton. Your Thomas Edison and your Emma Goldman. At least there’s one relatively new face in the crowd. Recently Matthew Henson’s star has really risen. He may become a permanent inclusion on such lists from here on in.
Quiet Bunny by Lisa McCue appears to be channeling the long dead spirit of Garth Williams. And The Twelve Dancing Princesses by John Cech, illustrated by Lucy Corvino, is more than a little lovely. It’s probably one of my favorite fairy tales too (just after Tatterhood), though a special place in my heart will always think that the old Errol Le Cain version is best. Note to Self: Find the old Errol Le Cain version . . .
And that, my dears, is the long and short of it. I love this previews, you know I do, but boy are they exhausting. A great big thank you to the presenters then. I know I’ll have to add a couple more books to my To Be Read pile before the year is out.
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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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