Publisher Preview: Levine Querido (Spring 2024)
In these cold depths of winter, when the days are so short and the season just seems to stretch before us, there’s nothing quite like the warming promise of future books (future books!) to tide us over. The good folks at Levine Querido have been cranking out more beauties for us, and recently Associate Editor and Publicist Irene Vázquez was kind enough to walk me through their line-up. So sit back and enjoy the show!
The First Day of May by Henrique Coser Moreira
Who’s up for a Portuguese import? Would it sweeten the deal if I told you this adorable book has a tiny little print size and some nice embossing on the cover? Here’s the publisher description:
“Here is a book to celebrate firsts. That first magical day of spring, when it seems the whole world is bursting with life. That first time bursting out of your house after being cooped up for SO long. Your first time on the swingset. Your first time seeing a butterfly. Your first time exploring the world with someone you love. From Henrique Coser Moreira comes a wordless ode to joy and discovery that will stir readers young and old.”
You wordless picture book fans out there are bound to be intrigued by this exuberant and delightful ode to all the “firsts” in your life. The whole thing has a kind of early comics style to it. It’ll be out everywhere March 5th.
The Shadow and the Ghost by Cat Min
What’s the opposite of a shadow? Could it be a ghost? I mean, think about it. A shadow can only come out in the day. A ghost can only come out at night. With its spiffy horizontal trim and nice case art, this is a story where creator Cat Min wanted to express how every friendship is a miracle. How can these two creatures possibly be pals? Well, they correspond with notes under a rock, and across time and space they proceed to develop a lovely friendship. Irene called Cat an artist’s artist. She loves to work in watercolors, pencils, the works. And if her style looks at all familiar to you, it might be because she created the picture book Shy Willow back in 2021. Look for this one on April 2nd.
Joyful Song: A Naming Story by Lesléa Newman, ill. Susan Gal
Sometimes I think the publisher description says it best. Here’s a bit of info on the latest from this new Newman/Gal collaboration:
What a happy day! Zachary’s baby sister will have her naming ceremony. In the temple! With his moms, the congregation, and all their friends! He’s so excited he can barely contain it. On the walk from their home, they meet neighbor after neighbor who want to know the baby’s name. But – not yet! – his mothers tell him. The tradition is to have a great reveal at the ceremony. So they invite each neighbor to come along. A colorful, diverse parade blooms along the route, until…At last it’s time, and Zachary gets to reveal his sister’s name…What is it? A truly joyful moment for everyone.
One cannot help but always like Susan Gal’s work. Last time I saw her putting something out it was that remarkable The Tower of Life back in 2022. Here, she puts her rainbow palette to good use, thanks in large part to her pairing with Lesléa Newman. Put me down for a copy! I never miss a Gal. On shelves everywhere May 7th.
Grandma’s Roof Garden by Tang Wei, translated by Kelly Zhang
I’ve nothing but respect for any publisher that isn’t afraid to try their hand at a little translation once in a while. This book is a title coming to us from China, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Here’s a quick plot description for you:
“Granny may be old, but she’s certainly not feeble – or idle! She’s built a splendid vegetable garden from scratch on the rooftop of her Chengdu apartment building.
She collects thrown-away produce and feeds it to her chicks and geese – or composts it for the garden.
She waters, weeds, and teaches the neighborhood children to care for the garden like she does: with love, patience, and pride.
And come harvest time, Granny gathers her fresh produce and cooks up delicious meals for her friends and family…or gives them their own bags of yummy treasures so they can cook on their own!
Debut author/illustrator Tang Wei creates a love letter to an indomitable grandma of the city, inspired by her own childhood and a beloved relative. In rhyming couplets and quatrains reminiscent of Chinese nursery rhymes and folk chants, and vibrant colored pencil drawings, Wei shows how one person can create a beautiful green space in the heart of the concrete jungle, bringing together an entire community.”
It may not surprise you to hear that the author based the character of Granny on her own grandmother. She’s one of those older people who will continue to do the physical thing that they may be getting too old for (that’s gonna be me some day). What’s so nice about this particular book is that this marks a debut by Tang Wei. And with its earthy tones and endearing characters, I suspect it won’t have any trouble finding a home on people’s bookshelves. It’s coming out soon too, so look for it next week on January 16th!
Mani Semilla Finds Her Quetzal Voice by Anna Lapera
I won’t lie to you. I have this book lined up to be the next middle grade work of fiction I read. Why? Well, I credit part of that to its cover (I just find it so doggone appealing!) and part of it to the story itself. This marks a debut from a Guatamalan/Chinese author Lapera. In fact, Irene Vázquez, the very person who was presenting me this list, started out as Lapera’s mentor and is now her editor. From the very first pages Irene fell completely in love with this book. It reminded them of Lupe Wong Won’t Dance meets The Moon Within with a spoonful of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret? As they told me, some books pull away from how cringey it is to be 12-years-old. Not this one. In this tale, all Mani wants is to just get her period and for her mom to not to take her “back” to Guatemala. Then she learns the truth about her aunt. Mani was always told that her aunt died in a bus crash, but now she’s found letters that indicate that her aunt was actually a journalist who died in a more complicated way. You can find this one on your shelves March 5th.
Tilted Sky by Yao Emei, translated by Kelly Zhang
More middle grade fiction for you, but this one’s certainly more on the serious side.
“Is it too much to ask for an ordinary, boring life? All Bai Jian has ever wanted is a warm bed to sleep in, a safe place to return to at the end of the day, enough food to fill his belly, and a dad who’s not just going to abandon him on a whim.
From author Yao Emei and translator Kelly Zhang comes a heart-rending, emotional middle grade novel about a sixth-grade boy in China searching for a home and a family – and whose resourcefulness and generous heart carry him through. Readers who fell in love with Because of Winn-Dixie and Ghost will discover an inimitable voice in Bai Jian that will stay with them forever.”
I find that combination of Because of Winn Dixie and Ghost particularly appealing. Look for it on shelves May 7th.
And finally . . .
A Song for August: The Inspiring Life of Playwright August Wilson by Sally Denmead , ill. Alleanna Harris
Can’t go a whole publisher preview without at least ONE work of nonfiction, am I right?
This biography of August Wilson marks a debut from Denmead. Follows the man’s life from his childhood in Pittsburgh where he learned to love books and learning. Naturally the book shows how that love of words and turned into his eventual work as a playwright. Look for this one all the way up on June 4th.
Thanks once again to Irene Vázquez for showing me all these books. Be sure to look for each one in the coming year as well.
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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