Ellen Myrick Publisher Preview (Spring 2023) Part One!
Hooray! It’s that time again! We’re taking a gander at the little guys. Once again Ellen Myrick of Myrick Marketing has done me a solid and given me a preview of some of the books coming out in the near future. That means getting a sneak peek at the independent publishers that create high quality children’s literature but don’t have those advertising budgets of the big guys. Me, I love these books. Often they come from overseas. Often they’re small or strange or quiet and simply won’t catch the eye of someone running out to grab, say, the latest Jennifer Lopez/Jimmy Fallon picture book.
So let’s take a look at what’s on the horizon in 2023. It’s always fun to dip into books that give you a greater understanding of the wider world.
Albatros, as it just so happens, is based in the Czech Republic. Not something that usually comes up when we discuss overseas titles. Particularly those of the snail-like variety:
Henry the Snail by Katarina Macurova
Cute Snail Alert! Hope you like your escargot adorable, folks, because there’s a whole slew of them in this post today. This first book involves a little guy by the name of Henry with a distinct disadvantage in life: no slime. And a snail without slime is a snail that can’t climb. Distraught at first, Henry learns to build up his other strengths and, in doing so, eventually joins the circus. Consider this ideal for a storytime pairing with a craft because, as Ellen told me, “Anytime you can talk about slime in storytime, it’s a good thing.”
And now a new publisher . . .
Dagfrid Viking Girl: Secret Viking Wishes and No More Ear Buns by Agnès Mathieu-Daudé and Olivier Tallec, translated by Nanette McGuinness
It takes precisely zero effort to get me to read a book that Olivier Tallec has illustrated. I don’t know why this is, but it’s true. Tallec’s style is absolutely, utterly, and inexorably engaging. And I didn’t know how much I needed a grumpy Viking girl in my life until I saw Dagfrid’s dang face on these covers.
Now don’t let these covers fool you. This is actually an early reader chapter book series. For whatever reason, I’ve discovered that other countries are consistently better at creating this particular age range of books than we are. We do okay, but our output is NOTHING compared to theirs. And this plot is all about a girl upending gender stereotypes left, right, and center. Plus, I’m sorry, but I love this description:
“Many things bother Dagfrid. Her name, for starters. And life as a viking girl isn’t exactly a piece of cake: you have rolled-up braids, like buns, on your ears, you wear dresses that are too long to run with, and you dry fish. In fact, fish is all you eat, even when you’re not a girl. But girls, they can’t even navigate and go explore America.
Well, until now. Because Dagfrid is really sick of dried fish.”
Woodwalkers: Carag’s Transformation by Katja Brandis, translated by Rachel Ward
If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I like Animorphs, but I wish they were more German”, then have I got good news for you! This series, a bestseller in Europe, starts off with Carag, who is a puma shapeshifter. One thing they’re stressing about the series is that it has humor. That right there is enough to make me sit up and take notice.
By the way, have you noticed how ever since the Batchelder mentioned that translators have to have their names on the covers in order to be considered, a LOT more books have started doing that? I LIKE this trend very much indeed!
The Perfect Sushi by Emily Satoko Seo, ill. Mique Moriuchi
Kimchi had its moment. Now it’s time for sushi. In this story a girl named Miko is absolutely obsessed with perfection. You know the kid. The one who always paints within the lines and writes all her lines neatly. So when she decides that she wants to make perfect sushi for her grandma it seems like a great idea.
Okay. A show of hands. How many of you out there have made sushi before? Part of the reason I like the premise of this book so much is that I have done a sushi making class with my sister and it is a WHOLE THING. In fact, I can hardly think of a better vehicle for showing kids that sometimes it’s okay for something not to be perfect when it’s made with love. And yes. I know you were wondering. There’s a recipe in the back.
All in a Day by Chihiro Takeuchi
Getting some serious Playmobile vibes off of this one. You feel it too? So if the name “Chihiro Takeuchi” is ringing any bells at all for you, that may be because she created (amongst other things) the fun nonfiction picture book Whose Bones are Those?, released in the States this year. This particular book is a bit different. Takeuchi is a Japanese cut paper artist, so she’s using her skills this time around to show what goes on throughout the day. The clock, as you can see, is ever prominent, and with it as your guide you can see what’s going on at different levels of the house at different times of day. There are also seek and find and other interactive elements.
How to Make Friends: A Bear’s Guide by Cat Rabbit
Australian! Models! Little dioramas! Karaoke! Need I say more?
So generally speaking, if your name is Cat Rabbit, I think that you may be legally obligated to create children’s books in some capacity. Cat Rabbit is an artist, you see, with a rather large social media following. Hearing this, I decided to see if it was true and yup. 162K followers on Instagram alone. That’s not small potatoes. There was even an exhibit of her work in Portland last month. The plot of the story itself is pretty much in the title. And sure, models are cute, but what I like about the art is the changing perspective from scene to seen. It’s excellent design, and I particularly enjoy the bird’s eye views.
Moth in a Fancy Cardigan by Charlotte Lance, ill. David Booth
Illustrated middle grade novel, alert! So somehow the muralist/graffiti artist David Booth (wildly famous in Australia, they say) was convinced by author Charlotte Lance to do this, his first illustrated chapter book for kids. In the story, Gary Grey Moth wants to be noticed. Florence Butterfly wants anything but. Will switching sweaters change their lives? There are two color illustrations throughout the story. Looks cute!
Are We There Yet by Sven Völker
Back in 2019 I was a real fan of Völker’s book A Million Dots. Partly because I always appreciate a picture book unafraid to tackle mathy topics. Partly because it managed to end up on the New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated list of that year. This book shares the simplicity of his previous title, but has a bit more structure in terms of a plot. Here’s how its publisher describes it:
Bear wakes up after his long winter’s sleep and joins his friend, Butterfly, on a journey. Where are we going? Asks bear. All journeys have secret destinations, says Butterfly. As they travel through forest, over hill and across a great river, Butterfly offers her wisdom about hardships, facing one’s fears and living in the moment. Bear’s natural impatience gradually softens into acceptance of the world around him. As the seasons change, the friends find themselves once more in front of Bear’s cave. Landscapes look different with different eyes and the end of one journey is the beginning of another.
Nomads: Life on the Move by Kinchoi Lam
It does seem more than a bit strange to me how few books children have on certain topics. We’ve seen nomadic life exemplified in picture books from time to time, but a nonfiction text that looks at how nomadic life came to be and the seven nomadic tribes that exist to this day is without compare. As the copy for this book puts it, “This book is a wonderful introduction to sustainable living as a contract to capitalistic societies.” Impressive Glossary too.
Snail Train by Ziggy Hanaor, ill. Christos Kourtoglou
And you thought I was kidding about there being more than one snail book today. Not a chance! Snails are clearly poised to be the hip critter of 2023.
If the first book we looked at today (Henry the Snail) was all about a snail that can’t make slime, it seems fitting to bookend today’s post with this Greek tale of Marjorie, a little snail who is TOO successful at producing slime. Everywhere she goes, her trail follows her, making it impossible to get some time to herself. We’ve all been there.
By the way, am I the only one who sees the title and the tune of “Peace Train” by Cat Stevens comes to mind? Just me? Got it.
Filed under: Publisher Previews
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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