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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Reporting: Simon and Schuster, Summer 2009

The weird thing about the publishers of New York City?  I think that they are trying to kill me.  I don’t have sufficient evidence to back up that claim quite yet, but examine what has occurred so far:

– Little, Brown and Company has a Fall 2009/Winter 2010 librarian preview.
– Not one week later, Simon & Schuster has a Summer 2009 preview.
– Followed by an Egmont USA preview the week after that.
– And Abrams is about to have their first preview as well.

Ladies and gentlemen I am not one to jump to conclusions but it seems pretty evident to me that the publishers of New York City have decided that the number one way to get me out of their hair is to feed me muffins in the hopes that I will then stagger out of their buildings and collapse upon the pavement outside from a combination heart attack / really heavy book bag.

Not that I am complaining.  S&S had their Summer 2009 preview the other day.  The preview began with me attempting to figure out how to orchestrate a distraction so that I could nip over and steal a copy of the Jan Thomas picture book Rhyming Dust Bunnies.  Fortunately I am the worst thief of all time (I actually try to whistle casually after committing a crime) and Rhyming Dust Bunnies remains sitting in those offices to this day.  Just waiting for a good review of it soon.

A fellow who appears to be in charge of S&S’s children’s division spoke first.  Jon Anderson is also known as William Boniface, author of twenty-five children’s book.  More importantly he is a graduate of the University of Minnesota (whoooooooop!).  After he spoke we were taken separately to the floor where they tend to do these presentations.  I believe that it is normally used for marketing and sales types.  You know they love you when they put you in the same room they put the people who make them money.

First up, the super special guest.  Lots of these previews have super special guests.  Little Brown likes to make theirs secret so that you never know who you’re going to get.  Penguin likes to show off new and upcoming authors at theirs.  And Simon & Schuster this time brought in . . . .

Okay.  So here’s the problem.  APPARENTLY everyone else in that room knew who this author really was.  She was introduced as Hallie Durand, author of the upcoming Dessert First (with illustrations by Christine Davenier).  But Hallie Durand, it appears, is not Hallie Durand.  Oh no!  She is really . . . someone else.  We shall call her "Durand" for the sake of not having another name to use.  Some people recognized her right off the bat.  I didn’t.

Ms. Durand also brought her posse with her, which was impressive.  You don’t get many posses at these things.  Even Sherman Alexie came alone.  But in tow came Ms. Durand’s ten-year daughter, her daughter’s friend, and a librarian from South Orange, New Jersey.  We took to the librarian immediately, even going so far as to persuade her to stay with us for the rest of the preview rather than join Ms. Durand and the girls who were going to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not after the initial speech.

Standing up there in her awesome belt (red and white consisting of a series of different sized circles) Ms. Durand told how by the third grade she was the kind of kid who still carried her copy of Madeleine to school.  In an effort to get her to stretch out of her comfort zone a little (a move, she later discovered, that was orchestrated by her mother) her librarian led her to a book called Polly and the Snow and it was love at first sight.  This transitioned nicely into a discussion of her new book and she did a good shout out of her friend and my fellow Kalamazooian Jenny Brown.  She talked about how the two of them would get together and would inevitably end up splitting a dessert.  Ms. Durand would always surreptitiously turn the dessert towards herself in such a way that she had access to the tastiest side.  One day Jenny called her on it.  "Why do you always turn the dessert for the best part?"  Stumped for an answer, Ms. Durand confessed, "Because I thought I was getting away with it."  Boom!  Instant book inspiration. 

Other stories involved how she would give up desserts for Lent as a kid, only to stock them up in the freezer until Easter (why have I never tried that?) but how that only meant that her mom would make her share that unfrozen dessert with her siblings.  It is nice to finally run across a book that unapologetically loves dessert.  At the moment Dessert First has blurbs from such variegated sources as Jon Agee and Brian Selznick. And as the book was described later, "Watch out Clementine because when given a choice kids usually choose dessert over fruit."  Whoo wee!  Them’s fightin’ words.  Oh, it is ON! 

I won’t be presenting the list S&S presented in the correct order because it doesn’t really matter in the end.  So we’re going in catalog order instead.  Got your Summer 2009 S&S catalog in hand?  Great, cause mine had a cute little insert.  Does yours have a cute little insert?  Oh, it does?  And here I was thinking I was so special.  Hrm.

Well the cute little insert is for, of all things, a new imprint at S&S.  In a time when economic shortfalls have been causing some publishers to cut their beloved imprints (I still love you, Brenda Bowen!!) others are introducing new ones that, one presumes, have been in the works for a while.  Meet Beach Lane Books.  Sporting an image that looks like a David Frankland silhouette (a safe guess, I think) Beach Lane Books is based out of San Diego.  Where there are actual beaches (and, one must assume, actual lanes as well).  All that I can figure is that the people in San Diego are some kind of geniuses.  Think about it.  We will have a magnificent list of authors and illustrators.  We will be associated with Simon & Schuster.  And we will get to live in freakin’ San Diego while we do all of this.

Just to prove their point, VP and Publisher Allyn Johnston did a nice little conference call / Powerpoint presentation with us from Anaheim.  I once had breakfast with Ms. Johnston in what happened to be the world’s strangest Anaheim hotel, so I should have remembered that she was based out there.  Now Beach Lane is starting out with a primarily picture book-based list for this coming fall, and then they’ll transition into fiction with stuff by folks like M.T. Anderson.  They do mostly younger books, I see, which is nice for me since I tend to avoid YA.  On the upcoming list are books by Lois Ehlert (finally doing something Halloweenish, which thrills me), a Mem Fox / Steve Jenkins pairing called Hello Baby! (Lisa Von Drasek: "It’s one of my favorite books of the year."), Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas (also known as: The book I was unable to steal), two OTHER Jan Thomas books (Can You Make a Scary Face and Love Is In the Air, neither of which were stealable either, for the record), a new Marla Frazee book by Liz Garton Scanlon called All the World, and a Mem Fox / Leo and Diane Dillon title called The Night Goblin.

Moving on.  Margaret K. McElderry Books.  The woman apparently turns 97 in July so be sure to pass on your birthday greetings to her.  I’m currently working on a theory that working with children’s books ensures longevity.  However, I want to prove this theory without having to use that old too-heavily-used phrase "working with children’s books keeps you young."  Bleack.  Far better: "Working with children’s books stops your cells from dividing."  Much catchier.

So what’s on the list?  Well, it appears that Betsy Franco must sacrifice small goats beneath a harvest moon on a regular basis.  How else to explain her explosion of fabulous books with great illustrators in 2009?  Not that she’s done too shabbily before (Steve Jenkins ain’t no one to scoff at, y’know) but first there’s A Curious Collection of Cats with newbie fabulous illustrator Michael Wertz and now there’s Pond Circle, illustrated by Stefano Vitale.  You know Vitale, yes?  He illustrates books like Alice Walker’s There’s a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me and the like.  We had a piece of art from that book in my library once, and the man really does paint his pictures on wood.  Honest-to-goodness flat pieces of wood.  He lives in Venice (speaking of living the dream) and the spreads in this newest book looked, from a distance, stunning.  It even has a factual portion at the end entitled (groan) Facts to Pond-er. 

Poet Janet S. Wong has a book coming out with E.B. Lewis called Homegrown House.  Fun Fact: The text of this book was signed back in 2002 or so.  Ms. Wong had met Mr. Lewis at a conference or something and it was her deepest dearest desire that he illustrate this book.  The problem?  The man is in demand.  I mean, really in demand.  He’s basically been booked up until now, so it’s very rewarding to see the title coming out.  The story is about a girl who has to deal with parents who are never satisfied with the houses they buy.  They always want to do "better" and that takes its toll on their daughter.  Fortunately she has a strong relationship with her grandmother and that, as it turns out, becomes her home.  With the current housing crises going on I doubt kids are going to identify with a child that keeps getting into better and better homes, but at least they’ll understand what it’s like to have to move when you like where you’re at.

While hearing about A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe by Barbara Odanaka (illustrated by Lee White) I was passed a note from a fellow librarian.  Passing notes, as it turns out, may be verboten in 5th grade but it’s just fine n’ dandy at publisher previews.  The note read: "This is very close to Dinner at Panda Palace . . . kind of an unconscious homage."  Noted.

I was on a nice panel at Rutgers with Jim Murphy once, where I learned that the man is a natural born speaker.  There I was with my carefully typewritten notes (15 point font, so I could see them) and he just breezed off brilliance without so much as an index card to his name.  Now he has a new book out called A Savage Thunder: Antietam and the Bloody Road to Freedom that my library’s Materials Specialist was lusting after (her words, not mine).  The book discusses how Antietam set up the legal apparatus that would eventually lead to the freeing of the slaves.  It is interesting to me how many books for kids this year are concentrating on individual Civil War battles.  We’ve this book in the non-fiction category and on the fiction front there’s The (Mostly) True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick which covers Gettysburg and Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run by Sam Riddleburger and Michael Hemphill.  Whence the trend, I wonder?

And finally for McElderry, on the fellow blogger front Andrea Beaty of Three Silly Chicks has a new title out.  Consider it a paranormal Goodnight Moon, if you will.  It’s Hush, Baby Ghostling, and once again Beaty is paired with illustrator Pascal Lemaitre.  They posted pics of it on the big screen.  Very cute.  Will do nicely during the Halloween season. 

Moving on, we come to Atheneum Books for Young Readers with Emma Dryden in the hiz-ouse.  Like the kids say.

So, I don’t know much about adult literature.  Contemporary adult literature, that is.  I read a bit of it, but right now I’m reading Trollope’s Cousin Henry, so that’ll give you a sense of how up-to-date I am.  What I’m trying to say is, I had no clue author Anne Ursu was big in the adult fic world.  Is she?  I liked her Shadow Thieves book that came out the other year.  I thought it was swell (and appeared during a year when lots of books involved shadow stealing, which was interesting).  I missed reading Book Two in this Cronus Chronicles trio, and now book number three The Immortal Fire is on the horizon, and I’m lagging behind.  Ah well.  It has a really lovely cover by . . . is that Brandon Dorman?  It is!  That’s my BOY!  Best cover man in the biz, to my mind.  But I’m biased.  Don’t trust me a jot.

Now it seems a bit strange to me that a single company (in this case, S&S) should own the rights to TWO different comic-like series involving girls name Amelia.  That’s strange, yes?  The first is the Amelia’s Notebook series, which has done very well in my library over the years.  The books also have just paired up with the website FunBrain (the people who originally brought you Diary of a Wimpy Kid online) so that Amelia #1 (Amelia Writes Again) is available for free viewing there.   That’s Amelia #1.  Amelia #2 is a series that was originally self-published but was so well done that S&S finally decided to buy it up themselves.  If you’ve ever been to an ALA Conference you’ve probably run across creator Jimmy Gownley and his Amelia Rules! booth at some point.  He’s a hard man to miss.  Effusive, friendly, willing to hand over his product just to get you interested.  In fact, several librarians around me said that he was one of the best public speakers they’d ever seen!  The Amelia Rules! books are good old-fashioned kids comics.  They call ’em "Peanuts for the 21st Century", which isn’t quite how I’d describe them but close.  Maybe a better description would be "L’il Rascals but actually funny", or something along those lines.  A couple years ago Mr. Gownley kindly handed me three collections of Amelia Rules! which I enjoyed very much in the airport . . . and then never got around to reviewing later.  Fortunately I operate according to a set of rules that will allow me to right a great wrong.  Two of the Amelia Rules collections (The Whole World’s Gone Crazy and What Makes You Happy) will be republished this year.  Originally Diamond Comics released the first four.  S&S will do 1-4 four as well, and then Gownley will create a new 5-8.  Number five, oh Amelia fans, is slated for Fall 2010 so keep your ears peeled.  Looking at his marketing campaign in the S&S catalog, clearly the man had some input.  I mean, Amelia Rules! podcasts?  Librarian listserv announcement?  Authors take note of what this guy is doing and steal his ideas.  Oh!  And Cybils Award bloggers will be pleased to note that The Cybils were mentioned when describing the various awards Amelia Rules! had won.  So boo-yah.  Best quote when describing the series: "Ladies love Pajama Man". 

Trains by Lynn Curlee is a cool train book.  Things I noticed during the presentation of this book:

#1:  Lynn Curlee is a dude.
#2:  I loved this line made when describing the book: "I don’t know any little boy who doesn’t have a train fetish  . . . people should be buying stock in Thomas & Friends."  Totally.

There’s a cute Megan McDonald/Katherine Tillotson picture book coming out called It’s Picture Day Today.  I’m hoping to see a copy soon since it’s out in June.  Of course, I’ve been hearing about this book for some time, so hopefully there will be galleys to pick up at ALA or something.

Jacqui Robbins and Matt Phelan (who paired together for The New Girl . . . and Me, which is my number one choice for Best Use of Ellipses in a Picture Book Title) are back with Two of a Kind.  The verdict?  Matt Phelan does very good evil little girls.  Man. 

I was delighted beyond words to see that Alan Snow has a new book coming out.  Did you guys all read his middle grade fantasy novel Here Be Monsters?  It originally was released with a brown cover, which my homeschooler bookgroup refused to touch.  Then suddenly S&S rereleases it with a blue cover and the kids can’t get enough of it.  In any case, the book How Kids Really Work kind of looks like it’s going to be akin to David Macaulay on acid.  Bodies suddenly become elaborate Rube Goldberg devices (translation for my British readers:  Heath Robinson contraption).  Actual descriptive blurb from the catalog: "Imagine if Monty Python wrote Grey’s Anatomy."  Not the show, people.  Though, that would be pretty funny too, come to think of it.  I would watch that show.

Name me the best picture book about allergies you can.  Go on!  Hit me upside the head with it!  Anything come to mind?  Well, James Howe and his Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores books are coming out with one.  It’s Horace and Morris Say Cheese (Which Makes Dolores Sneeze).  Dolores has a cheese allergy.  So there you go. 

Quick question regarding the number of school shooting novels coming out right now:  Why now?  Is it because 2009 marks the 10th anniversary of Columbine?  I just don’t know.  I’ve seen three or four new novels addressing this issue, and now Sharon M. Draper’s out with Just Another Hero.  I brought this to my children’s bookgroup the other day, showed them the cover, and asked them what they thought it was about.  It’s interesting to note that while librarians instantly said, "school shootings" when asked what the book was based on, my kids never guessed that.  They figured some kind of crime, but school shootings didn’t come immediately to mind. 

Here’s a good sign.  A book’s cover is shown on a Powerpoint screen.  The audience reaction is immediate laughter.  100% Wolf by Jayne Lyons also happens to have a great concept.  Like all the members of his family, Freddy Lupin is going to become a werewolf.  Unfortunately, when he does change he doesn’t become a cool, snarling, vicious wolf.  Nope.  He becomes a cute, fluffy, pink and groomed poodle.  Fortunately, this may turn out to be exactly the disguise he needs to save his family from a nasty werewolf hunter that’s trying to destroy everything.  Best overheard line when the editors were discussing this book, " . . . . and in this way this book is not unlike Hamlet."  I can’t remember the context.  Just liked the line.

Poe.  I like Poe.  Gris Grimly likes Poe too, I think.  And just in time for Halloween we’re going to get to see his new Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Death and Dementia.  Considering that Grimly’s Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness did four times better than the publisher originally expected, this should do pretty well also.  I’m looking forward to it.  Extra points for remembering that 2009 is the 200th anniversary of Poe’s birth.  No one ever mentions that these days.

Finally for Atheneum, did you know that Zilpha Keatley Snyder won three Newbery Honors for her books The Egyptian Game, The Headless Cupid, and The Witches of Worm.  Always the bridesmaid, eh?  Well good news, Snyder fans.  All three books are being rereleased with David Frankland covers (he’s done covers for The Penderwicks, The Cabinet of Wonders, Highway Cats, etc.).  Check ’em:


Interestingly, they’re releasing them in hardcover as well as paperback with these covers.  And on top of all that, Snyder’s newest book William S. and the Great Escape is going to also be released in the same style. 

Onward to the imprint Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers then.  Now, I know the Erec Rex books by Kaza Kingsley.  In fact, I think I once mentioned on my blog that I’d had a student come to my library who only wanted to read her books.  Ms. Kingsley reads this, and then she sent to me (to give to the boy) a signed copy of the newest Erec Rex title.  She’s a class act, that Kaza Kingsley.  And somehow I’d missed the fact that her books weren’t always with Simon & Schuster.  Apparently she had published these on her own and they were so blooming brilliantly popular that I just assumed she’d had some huge publisher at her back.  Now she does.  They’re rereleasing the first two Erec Rex books in paperback and then number three, Erec Rex: The Search for Truth, will be out in June. 

I’ve a copy of Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight sitting on my To Be Read shelf in the May section.  It’s short and cute.  A kind of text and image combination that makes it appealing to the kids who like the visual aspects of the form.  Plus, how can you not love a hero that goes on adventures with a Westie?

They started off presenting Always by Alison McGhee (illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre) by saying that the two most overused phrases on flap copies are "universal" and "deceptively simple".  Which made their description of this book all that harder since they say that Always is both of these things.   If Pascal Lemaitre is going to become our next big thing (and why not) this might be the book to do it.  We haven’t had a good Belgian in the biz since de Brunhoff, after all. (Now watch as my readers point out fifty great Belgian illustrators I was previously unaware of).

New terms: Yaccarino-esque.  You like it?  I’m going to use it for now on to describe those books that I feel invoke a kind of Dan Yaccarino feel to them.  Take Clang! Clang! Beep! Beep!: Listen to the City by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Bepe Giacobbe (and recently profiled on Seven Impossible Things).  Definitely Yaccarino-esque, though perhaps with a Milanese twist.  The book brings the sounds of the city to rip-roaring life in the midst of bright gorgeous colors and a pseudo-retro look.  And the book doesn’t say which city it’s talking about, so you don’t have to make any assumptions. 

I’m sort of skipping over all the YA on these lists since there was so much STUFF discussed that I don’t even have to go into ’em.  But Jenny Han has her second novel coming out, and if you liked Shug then you’re probably going to be pretty thrilled to see The Summer I Turned Pretty on the list.  As the editors said of Ms. Han, she "takes the ordinary and makes it magnificent."  Plus this book has kind of a fun cover.  Look!  A girl with freckles! 

At these S&S previews there’s a little table off to the side of the room where people can look at some of the titles being discussed.  Even before The Hermit Crab by Carter Goodrich was mentioned, I snuck a peek and then found myself reading the whole thing.  You know how some animators become picture book author/illustrators and you get only a vague sense of their cinematic bloodline?  Yeah.  Not Carter Goodrich.  I’ve not seen an illustrator who storyboarded so clearly in all my days.  The book feels like a film on paper.  I can’t tell you exactly how.  It just had that sense to it.  The story itself (which Kevin Lewis then read to us in its entirety) is about how some people just prefer to avoid the spotlight, even if they’re considered to be heroes.

They’re simultaneously publishing Ronald Kidd’s newest novel The Year of the Bomb in both hard and softcover this coming June.  It’s a good old-fashioned McCarthy era novel.  I liked Monkey Town (his previous novel) quite a lot (what do you think of the new paperback cover?) so I’m inclined to like this as well.  Ages 12 and up, bah!

Happy News: There’s a sequel to Dan Gutman’s The Homework Machine in the horizon.  Happier News: They’ve corrected the mistake they made when they reissues THM with just a white kid on the cover.  When The Homework Machine first came out it had this awesome cover showing the four main characters’ mug shots.  Then it gets rereleased in paperback and just the white kid appears.  Boo!  Now it looks like everyone else has made the cover in Return of the Homework Machine.  Awesome.

Good old Trucktown.  That Scieszka/Shannon/Long/Gordon Frankenstein monster of a series has kept my small truck-obsessed patrons well and truly happy for a while here.  You know what I like, though?  When a series that’s doing well decides to pull out all the stops and go completely and utterly bizarro for a bit.  That’s the only justification I can find for the upcoming Truckery Rhymes.  It’s nursery rhymes acted out by trucks.  Which. Is. Weeeeeeird.  Good thing I’ve a fine appreciation for a nutty concept.  And brother, it don’t get much nuttier than trucks wearing baby bonnets. 

Ard Hoyt.  I was living in Minnesota when the Minnesotan librarians I knew went all kooky for his illustrations on Mary Casanova’s One-Dog Canoe (I think a loon was involved somewhere).  Then he does her Utterly Otterly Day which may be one of the cutest otter books I’ve ever seen.  You librarians out there get requests for picture books with otters in them, right?  I do.  Now Mr. Hoyt is taking a different tactic.  He’s illustrating a Laurie Halse Anderson’s straight up fictional picture book!  The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School is dedicated to Ms. Anderson’s daughter (who, I do believe, works in a New York bookstore and has tattoos that match her mom’s).  It was mentioned that some people weren’t sure if Hoyt could do girls quite right . . . then they found out he had six daughters.  Six!  Daughters!  He’s like Tevye!  By the way, wouldn’t this book pair beautifully with the new Neil Gaiman/Dave McKean book Crazy Hair which Harper Collins is coming out with?  Now someone go turn that old creepy made for TV movie The Peanut Butter Solution into a picture book and you’ll have a trio. [Note to Publishers: Whatever you do DO NOT turn The Peanut Butter Solution into a picture book).

One book that I read in its entirely at the preview was Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Barry Moser.  I know that Moser is no stranger to Palatini silliness.  I mean, he did her Three Silly Billies and Earthquack.  But now Palatini has taken on an Aesop’s fable.  Do you know how hard it is to adapt an Aesop fable into a 32 page picture book?  Them stories are short!  Short short short.  And as it happens, this Palatini/Moser mix is exactly what the old story of The Fox and the Grapes needed.  It works, and I see that I have written in my notes "This. Is. Hilarious."  So there you go.  Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes.  Good stuff.

Autumnal titles usually concentrate on Halloween-inspired antics.  Not so the new Jane Yolen / Bagram Ibatoulline pairing in The Scarecrow’s Dance.  Gorgeous interior autumnal spreads appear in a book that was described to us as "remarkable".  One librarian sitting in front of me turned and grinned when this book was mentioned.  "Of course he already know that he likes his scarecrows" she said.  Hee hee.  Yes he do. 

Aladdin up next, and what’s this I see?  The last in the Pendragon series?  Alrighty. 

Now Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell has unfortunately chosen to call itself "Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls" which isn’t really fair.  I mean, the whole reason Diary of a Wimpy Kid is as popular as it is is because girls read it.  But as one of my kids in the library pointed out to me, it’s not like you could say this new series was for specifically for boys.  It’s uber-pink and girly-girled up.  That said, it was immediately appealing to my children’s bookgroup.  To the point where one of the girls started reading passages out loud to the amusement of others.  If you are looking for a good gross girl section, they highly recommend the part where Nikki describes her homemade vomit, and how to make it.  This is sort of a pinker version of Ellie McDoodle, and that’s okay. 

George E. Stanley is probably best known for writing a lot of S&S’s Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, with some Childhood of Famous Americans titles on the side.  So what does he write about straight out the gate when given the chance to do his own thing?  It’s a book about a boy looking for a father figure who instead falls in with his neighbor . . . the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.  Pulling no punches, this one.  It’s Night Fires by George E. Stanley and it’s a doozy.

Historical fiction and Shakespeare go hand in hand . . . when you’re talking about YA material.  But what about from the middle grade end of things?  Here’s a fun idea: Young Shakespeare.  In Wicked Will by Bailey MacDonald, young Shakespeare befriends a girl named Viola who is dressed as a boy and they solve a mystery.  My husband points out that in the movie Shakespeare in Love Shakespeare befriends a girl named Viola who is dressed as a boy and they have a romance.  Granted, the name Viola probably could have been changed to Rosalind, but I still like the idea of a young historical figure solving mysteries.  Possible Ideas for Future Books: (1) Young Poe and his partner in crime Lenore solve a mystery in a graveyard.  (2) Young Charles Dickens and his buddy Nancy solve mysteries in the poor house.  (3) Young Sylvia Plath and her . . . no, no . . . maybe not.  Young Ayn Rand and . . .  I’ll stop now.

There’s a new Fablehaven book on the horizon and it’s by Brandon Mull.  I should confess that I’ve never read a single Fablehaven title.  One of my friends is a schoolteacher in Hawaii.  I believe she teaches second grade and the kids in her class are bloody obsessed with Fablehaven.  Can’t get enough of the doggone books.  So it clearly has its fans (and it’s Brandon Dorman illustrations – woohoo!).  By the way, I’m looking at the cover for #3 Grip of the Shadow Plague, and I’m thinking to myself, Why have I never seen a centaur with a potbelly?  They’re always so ripped.  Wouldn’t it be kind of fun to see one that was out of shape?  Just thinking out loud here.

FYI: Fiendish Deeds by P.J. Bracegirdle is coming out in paperback and it still has its killer cover.  Haven’t read it?  Do that thing.  That thar’s a good series.  I’m looking forward to that "Behind the Book" feature they say is coming in the catalog.

I’ll just be skipping most of Simon Pulse since that’s not my bag baby . . . except to say, "HEY!  They’re republishing Christopher Pike!"  It’s just his Last Vampire books and not Remember Me or anything, but it’s a start.  Bring back Remember Me!

One last note then before I sign off.  There is hidden in the catalog a sneak peek at some of the Fall 2009 pop-up books slated to be on the menu soon.  Sabuda is tackling Beauty and the Beast, Reinhart Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes, and most interesting of all is David Carter.  You know the guy who brought us Blue 2 and One Red Dot?  Well, his fifth crazy pop-up book is just called White Noise.  In my heart of hearts I know it can’t possibly be based upon Don DeLillo’s novel, but I like to think that it might be.  Just in case.  Or maybe that awful Michael Keaton movie that came out a few years ago.  Remember that one?  Hearing ghosts in the white noise of televisions and stuff?  No?  Just as well.

And now, the bests . . .

Best Meets:  "Stand by Me meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers" – The Year of the Bomb by Ronald Kidd

First Runner-Up: "Mean Girls meets The Saddle Club" – The Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart

Second Runner-Up: "Jurassic Park meets the Spiderwick Chronicles" – The Awfully Beastly Business series

Third Runner-Up: "The Addams Family meets Carl Hiaasen" – Fiendish Deeds by P.J. Bracegirdle.

Funniest Two-Page Mismatched Pairing: Pages 106 & 107.  On the left-hand side you see a Nightmare on Elm Street-esque book called Sleepless by Thomas Fahy.  The image shows a girl bleeding from beneath her sleep mask.  On the right-hand side?  The ultra cute and cuddly The Big Storm: A Very Soggy Counting Book by Nancy Tafuri.  Run, little bunnies, run!  Escape the gruesome horror that sits on the other page!

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth 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.


  1. i wonder if you could put a link to all of your posts on publisher previews on the sidebar so that i could easily access them when i’m ready to order? :)

  2. Honey, I can’t even get my SLJ people to replace the old dead links on that sidebar. That thing is a graveyard of old blogs. You can always google Simon & Schuster Fuse #9 2009 and it’ll come up, though. Much faster.

  3. Um… which is to say Fuse #8. Doggone numbers…

  4. Laura (!) says:

    So glad to know that 1) I’m not the only one who thought Lynn Curlee was…um…a woman, and 2) I’m not the only one who didn’t know Hallie Durand was not who she claimed to be. Over dinner that night, Lisa VonD was exclaiming that it was really . . .

  5. If the beach lane books logo isn’t designed by David Frankland, my next guess would be Marla Frazee.

  6. Huh. You know what? That’s the better guess. I think you may be right.

  7. First, I resent that I’m being made to wonder who Hallie Durand is. Second, how does that book have over 20 reader reviews already on Amazon, and it hasn’t even been released yet?

  8. Sometimes that happens when the book was released in another country first and then in America. But that’s obvious not the case with Dessert First. I’m as baffled as you are. Where did all those people come from? How did they get copies? There are even negative reviews already! As for Hallie Durand, I feel for you, dude. I’d say who it was if I could. Not to fear. I’ll probably blurt it out in another post soon. I’m a blurtable personage.

  9. Marla Frazee says:

    Well, shucks, I know who Hallie Durand is, and yeah, I designed the logo. But that’s no secret. It says so in the cute little insert.

  10. >checks cute little insert< Well I’ll be damned.

  11. Laura (!) says:

    Hallie Durand is Holly McGhee who founded Pippin Properties (a literary agency). Mystery solved!

  12. Yup. And Ms. McGhee told me it was okay for that news to be out there, so I’ll rescind my godlike comment editing powers and let this one stand.

  13. Jessica Burkhart says:

    Thank you so much for the mention! :)

  14. Jayne Lyons says:

    Hi – just would like to confirm that obviously I had the image of the lovely if slightly gloomy Hamlet in mind when writing 100% Wolf – a work I must confess approaching genius. The good prince was famed for his love of pink poodles I believe. You might like to check out the website – there is a link to a You Tube reading of the first chapter. It is, I must in all modestsy note, hilarious. Thanks for the mention.