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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Librarian Preview: Candlewick, Brilliance Audio, Harper Collins, HMH, Scholastic, Sourcebooks, & Sterling (Fall 2011)

Heh heh.  You know when I said I’d write up the Day of Dialog librarian previews that I saw?  Well, I wasn’t kidding.  In fact, I’ve decided to be extra efficient and just cram the whole lot of them into one big, superlative, overcompensating post.  Before I do, however, I should note that a couple publishers presented their Fall list and will not show up in this compendium either because I have already reported on their books (Little Brown) or because I am about to report on them in full (Lerner & Penguin).

Skipping the YA as per usual, here’s a quickie librarian preview of folks, some of whom don’t usually even do librarian previews.  At this presentation they were often under the wire, unable to give enough time to describe the books in their roster.  As such, this is going to feel like a slightly abbreviated version of those long little preview posts I do.  Doesn’t mean there aren’t tasty tidbits to be found, though.


I confess that when this preview began I saw the book that would leap to the top of my To Be Reviewed pile.  On sight I adored I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen.   In fact, I’ve already reviewed it so if you’ve a desire to know more about a bear’s pointy red hat is gone and the sneaky nogoodnik who pilfers it, seek thee no further.  Sharon Hancock said it reminded her of the first time she saw The Pigeon or a Scieszka/Lane Smith title.  If you’re going to ALA this June, see whether or not the Candlewick booth is giving away some of those fabulous red pointy signs that advertise the book.  You may wear them as hats.

The other book they mentioned that got my attention was The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce , illustrated by Carl Huner and Clare Heney.  It’s one of those books I may have to get my hands on IMMEDIATELY.  Monica Edinger (of Educating Alice) gave me a personal recommendation on this one.  I would have been interested anyway.  I mean, it’s Frank Cottrell Boyce.  Can the man even do wrong?  If so I haven’t seen it.  In this book two Mongolian boys are befriended by girl when they move to her country.  Love that cover too.

Brilliance Audio

I never ever report on audiobooks, which is a shame since they’ve some nice stuff coming out.  Just the other day in my library I had a patron who will be auditioning with an audiobook company and she wanted to read the books and listen to the company’s take on them, which I thought was a good idea.  Brilliance Audio at first seemed to mostly be doing YA, which was a bummer, but a couple of their titles did stand out for me.

First off, the fellow presenting (apologies since we weren’t given handouts of the presenters’ names) mentioned that since his company was doing the audiobook of Katherine Paterson’s book The Flint Heart, he though it would make a lot of sense to make Katherine’s speech from that morning’s opening address, a bonus track.  Clever man.

Next he brought up some Summer-Fall 2011 titles.  One that I’m excited to see, in book form too, is Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach.  This title was introduced with the understanding that often audiobooks have to buy the titles they want to produce on faith alone.  It helps, however, if there’s an author they can rely on, and with Ms. Broach that trust is already there.  Having penned Shakespeare’s Secret and Masterpiece, she’s really making a name for herself.  This latest title uses classic horror and thriller elements takes place in a real part of the world referred to as “the Bermuda Triangle on land”.  Booga booga!

Flat Broke by Gary Paulsen has yielded a lot of discussion amongst my librarian brethren.  We’ve been trying to determine whether or not the story stands on its own or if it would make more sense to read Paulsen’s previous novel Liar Liar first.  Howsoever you chose to do it, the story follows a broke kid who’ll do anything to make a little cash.  Interestingly the original title was “Flat Busted” until some courageous soul realized that title wouldn’t play in Peoria.  Brilliance Audio also announced that they fully intend to release 15 titles of Gary’s backlist over the next few years.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald was next up.  It’s always a good sign when a title and cover can get people laughing.  If you’re unfamiliar with the book (and indeed I’ve been meaning to read it myself) it’s about a kid who until now has been able to get out of school reading assignments.  It’s also packed with tips on how not to read and the audiobook version will contain a bonus interview with author and a song that terrorized Tommy Greenwald (the author) when he was a little kid about reading.

Down the Mysterly River by Bill Willingham was described as a “cross between The Wind in the Willows and The Wizard of Oz.”  Oh?

Finally, there was just enough time to say that Brilliance Audio will be responsible for producing the audiobook version of the short story collection The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.  If you’re unfamiliar with this book (and I have every intention in the world of reviewing it soon) it’s a title that takes Van Allsburg’s classic picture book/writing assignment The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and gives each image to a different children’s author.  Star studded doesn’t begin to cover this title and it’s a real pity we didn’t get to hear more about the audiobook because I would have liked to know if all the stories in the book were read by their own authors or by a single person.

Harper Collins

Actually Harper had a publisher preview this morning, but since I couldn’t go I figured I’d write up what they said at the Day of Dialog instead.

Whoa.  Well now that’s a get.  Though Kadir Nelson’s hugely acclaimed We Are the Ship was published by Hyperion, his latest book Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans is comparable in size, but coming out with HC.  Well played, guys.  The book covers slavery in America and leaves the viewer wondering how is it possible that this man can do books this gorgeous with such a level of consistency?  Looks like we’ve a new book for our Caldecott discussions.  Let’s just hope that there’s some relationship between the text and the images (the downfall of We Are the Ship).

Recently I hosted a bunch of big name children’s authors in my library.  Amongst my panelists were Judy Schachner (Skippyjon Jones) and Anna Dewdney (Llama Llama).  Had I gotten Laura Numeroff as well I think I could have gotten three contemporary iconic children’s literary characters in one fell swoop.  Numeroff, author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, is back with a new one, by the way. If You Give a Dog a Donut, illustrated by Felicia Bond, is the latest and it elicited instantaneous “awwwwws” around the room.

While it is true that it is difficult not to think of that great College Humor piece I Think They’re Running Out of Material for New Shel Silverstein Books, I still felt a bit of excitement upon hearing that HC will be releasing a new never-before-seen Silverstein collection called Every Thing On It.  Inside you’ve 145 brand new never-seen poems.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Silverstein is the Tupac Shakur of children’s literature (maybe more so than Margaret Wise Brown).  And he still goes out like crazy, I should note.  Kids and adults never get tired of him.  It does the heart good.

Bumble-Ardy by Maurice Sendak is something I’ve mentioned on this blog before, probably in a Fusenews.  As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now it is the first picture book Mr. Sendak has written AND illustrated in 30 years.  Which is to say, most of my lifespan.  It also happens to originate from an old Sesame Street skit that has been lurking the back of the brains of most average law-abiding Americans without their knowledge.  Like so:

The difference in the book version is that now everyone is a pig, not just the guests.  HC is going all out for this one too.  They’re firing up the Annie Liebowitz so that she’ll take Sendak’s picture.  They’ve got him booked on morning shows.  The whole kerschmozzle.  You’ll see.

Wildwood by Colin Meloy follows an interesting trend I’ve been noticing recently: Fantasy novels set in towns I moved to post-college.  Okay.  Maybe that’s not much of a trend.  But between this book taking place in Portland, Oregon and Anne Ursu’s title Breadcrumbs taking place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I’m pleased.  This book, by the way, was written by the lead singer of The Decemberists, which makes me ponder children’s books written by musicians.  Meloy isn’t the first, of course  Dar Williams wrote those nice Amalee books a couple of years ago (and even allowed me to interview her).  It could well be that the better a musician’s music is, the better the novels they write for kids (which would explain Madonna’s awful titles).  In this story a girl’s baby brother is stolen by crows and taken to The Impassable Wilderness.  With a classmate in tow the girl, Prue, sets off to get him back and finds an entire world within the woods worth exploring.

For Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver, man, you should see this galley.  They really went all out for this one.  A beveled cover?  Gold and gilt?  Even a Rebecca Stead blurb?  Well this is Ms. Oliver’s first middle grade fare (normally she’s the YA type) so I’ve moved this one up on my To Be Read shelf.  To top it all off Kirkus has already given it a star.  Nice.

Speaking of Breadcrumbs, I’d forgotten that that was a Harper Collins title as well.  Written by Anne Ursu (author of The Cronus Chronicles) this book is a present day take on The Snow Queen.  It sports blurbs from folks as varied as Gary Schmidt and Ingrid Law, which is interesting, and then there’s the cover.  Absolutely gorgeous.  There will be lots of interior illustrations too, don’t you worry.  Definitely a book to keep an eye on.

Speaking of nice jackets, I was so taken with The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell that I sort of blanked out when they were describing it to the audience.  It’s Karen Cushman by Gail Carson Levine by way of  . . .  dang.  Lost the third name.  In any case, in this book an herbalist’s apprentice wants to make her own business . . . I think.  Sorry, I just wasn’t doing a good job at this point.  Cover blindness.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Fans of Eileen Christelow will be pleased as punch to learn that there’s a new monkey title on the horizon.  Five Little Monkeys Reading in Bed shows off the monkeys as they keep reading long after they should be going to bed.  I’ve noticed that Christelow’s titles always get checked out of my library with great frequency and that I never have to push them.  There’s groundswell support for this lady.  You bet.

I know that I said earlier that you should keep your ears cocked for Mock Caldecott discussions when that new Kadir Nelson book hits bookstore shelves but the same will have to be said for Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Beth Krommes.  The two joined together years ago for Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow before Krommes later won a Caldecott for The House of the Night.  Now the duo is back together again, and the book is one continual poem rather than a whole lot of them.  This time the book looks at spirals in nature (snails, elephant trunks, etc.). Beautiful nonfiction.  We librarians go gaga for that.

I’d seen the cover of the lusciously illustrated The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park (illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline) but I was utterly unaware that it was a Christmas story until they mentioned it at the preview.  It’s a clever one too.  You know how the three wise men brought gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the baby Jesus?  Well we can usually guess at what frankincense is, but what the heck is myrrh?  In this story we find out what myrrh really is, and our hero, a boy, selects a big chunk.  Later he sells it to three well-dressed men, though the book never says that’s who they are.  Is it just me or are we getting some really interesting Christmas books this year?  Between this and The Money We’ll Save by Brock Cole, there’s a lot to look forward to.

I confess to you that I’ve just finished reading The Inquisitor’s Apprentice by Chris Moriarty, partly because of how it was discussed at this preview.  Spoiler Alert: It’s awesome.  First and foremost, check out that cover.  Gorgeous, right?  Taking place at the beginning of the 20th century, New York is still a thriving metropolis, but each ethnic community has its own different kinds of magic.  Our hero is a nice Jewish boy can see witches and who unexpectedly becomes an inquisitor’s apprentice, charged with stamping out runaway magic.  With his partner he needs to find out who wants to kill Thomas Edison (who has invented a mechanical witch detector).  This is Moriarty’s middle grade debut and a star from Kirkus is already forthcoming.  More about this one soon.

The nice thing about Linda Urban is that she knows how to make a good 10-year-old. A Crooked Kind of Perfect was one such example and it may well be that Hound Dog True, her latest, is as well.  In this book the heroine’s uncle is the janitor in her new school, and she couldn’t be more thrilled.  Now she’ll be able to hang out with him and be his apprentice so as to avoid other kids.  Of course things don’t necessarily go that route, but I could relate so well to that plot.  In school I was the kid who clung to the recess attendant at all times.  If I’d had a janitor uncle, you can bet I’d have grabbed hold of him too.

I was a little surprised to find that the hugely popular Scientists in the Field series hadn’t yet done Polar Bear Scientists, but here it is.  By Peter Lourie (who already did whales) the book takes a look at scientists trying to help the new poster children for global warming.  In fact, data recording from the scientists in this book during the making of this book helped to designate polar bears as an endangered species a couple years ago.  Sibert nomination fans, do take note.


Now here’s a company that was almost too effective at speaking quickly.  John Mason and Emily Heddleston had a schedule to keep and devil take the person who stood in their way!  In very fast, very brief terms then you had:

Bailey by Harry Bliss –  A dog goes to school.  This is one of those books that uses Bliss’s comic + picture book style.  Only Kevin O’Malley can rival it.

Mouse and Lion by Rand Burkert, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert.  There is room enough in this world for more than one Aesop fable based on the old lion/mouse story, is there not?  I was just shocked to see this book, in part, because I was unaware that Ms. Burkert was still alive.  She hasn’t worked in years but now we’ve this gorgeous piece, edited by Michael di Capua.  Ms. Burkert, for the record, did the paintings with a brush with one single hair.  It’s so good to have her back.

My Rhinoceros by Jon Agee – Also, coincidentally enough, edited by di Capua with a blurb by Sendak for spice.  In this story a boy has a pet rhino that happens to be a natural crime fighter.

Fly Guy Vs. the Flyswatter by Tedd Arnold – Fly Guy goes to a flyswatter factory.  Not much more to say about that one.

Drawing From Memory by Allen Say – Oh, I’ve seen this!  Seen it and really need to read it.  Part memoir and part graphic novel it follows Say’s early years.  In a strange way, it makes a kind of counterpoint to Ed Young’s The House Baba Built (also out this year).

Bad Island by Doug TenNapel – I’ve been scrounging for good graphic novels this year.  This one . . . well expect me to say more about it soon.  What I will tell you, in the meantime, is that Booklist gave it a starred review.

Speaking of graphic novels, the new Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi will be out this fall, so you can alert your kids accordingly.

Super Diaper Baby 2 and the Invasion of the Potty Snatchers by Dav Pilkey – I had to explain the concept of this series to my husband recently.  I think Mr. Pilkey would have been amused by the conversation.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is due out soon and is definitely the book Scholastic’s going to work to push the hardest.  The title tells two independent stories that take place decades apart.  And Selznick doesn’t make it easy on himself, making the older story the one he illustrated.  Hugo Cabret‘s movie, by the way, is due out this fall.

Seriously Norman by Chris Raschka – It’s not just YA folks getting into the middle grade novel game.  Picture book specialists are headed that way as well.  This year Mr. Raschka tries his hand at his own  The book follows the goofy adventures of four kids.  Or, as they described it, “The Phantom Tollbooth meets A Wrinkle in Time”.


Near the end of the Scholastic presentation they were pretty much just saying the names of books, so I’ve skipped those to move on to the slightly less high-strung Sourcebooks.  First up, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, illustrated by Mark Pett.  As you might imagine, it’s about pretty much what it says.  You know this kid.  She’s the kind that always wins the talent show.  Who does everything with aplomb.  So when she makes her first mistake it happens in a very public way and she realizes that sometimes mistakes are okay.

Zeke Bartholomew: Superspy! by Jason Pinter.  Honestly, I just adore the cover:

Sally’s Bones by MacKenzie Cadenhead is definitely along the Tim Burton line of things.  Illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth the story follows a girl with a dead mom who acquires a little skeleton dog.  The thing is . . . I have this nagging suspicion that there’s another book coming out this year that is also about a kid with a skeleton dog.  Only in the other case it’s a boy.  Does anyone know what I’m talking about?

Usually when a book concentrates on eating disorders it’s immediately labeled as YA.  Yet in the case of Reasons to be Happy by Katrina Kittle the statistics stating that 40% of 9-year-olds have dieted made it clear that this is not solely a teen problem.  This story is about a girl with Hollywood parents.  When her mom dies she turns to bulimia for comfort.  Hard stuff, but something kids do want to know more about (and should).


I admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Peter Yarrow picture book adaptation of Puff the Magic Dragon when it came out.  Those illustrations were just subpar, man.  Now Sterling is adapting another old folk classic, but this time with great art.  Blowin’ in the Wind by Bob Dylan is being illustrated by Jon J. Muth, which is a rather clever pairing.  There will even be a CD in the back of Bob singing the song.  Fabulous.

Thanks to books like Jeremy Tankard’s Me, Hungry I’ve discovered that kids love good caveman speak.  With that in mind, Caveman A B.C. Story by Janee Trasler may turn out to be a big hit.  Or, at the very least, a ideal companion for Tankard’s title.

We get a lot of requests in my library for easy reader nonfiction.  It’s not as simple to track down as you might think either.  That’s why I was pleased to hear about the American Museum of Natural History’s easy reader series, including titles like Baby Dolphin’s First Day, Wolf Pup, and The World of Sharks.  Particularly the shark books.  Sharks are always popular.

It was only a manner of time.  Lisa Loeb has been doing children’s CDs for several years now.  Eventually that was going to morph into books as well.  So it is that Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke is due out this fall.  Her switcheroo is a smart move.  More one hit wonders should follow in her wake.  I wonder what the Mambo #5 guy up to these days . . .

And that, as they say, is that!  A bunch o’ books.  A bunch o’ publishers.  A quickie glance at what the rest of the year may bring.

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. Aww, no fair! The cover art for The Princess Curse isn’t available on Baker & Taylor or Amazon. Oh, well. The Unforgotten Coat does sound terrific-looking forward to that. My September cart is getting very, very full. Oh, dear. And the Publishers Weekly fall announcement issue hasn’t come out yet.

  2. Brilliance Audio’s presenter was Tim Ditlow, he was previously publisher at Listening Library.

  3. Whew! I’m exhausted just reading this. Thanks again for a great preview!

  4. I’m a little in love with Breadcrumbs. Eager to get my hands on Wildwood.

    I enjoyed Inquisitor’s Apprentice in lots of ways, but I have some conflicted feelings about growup-stuff-that-shouldn’t-affect-kid-readers, and I thought the end was a little too rushed/jampacked.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Yeah, I didn’t mind the end of IA but I had my own issues with the passive protagonist. That said, this was probably THE most New York book I’ve encountered in a really long time. Should make for a fun review.

  5. >I have this nagging suspicion that there’s another book coming out this year that is >also about a kid with a skeleton dog. Only in the other case it’s a boy. Does anyone >know what I’m talking about?

    The other book is a picture book from Random House I’m pretty sure. The little boy’s dog dies, but comes back as a skeleton to rescue him from the human skeletons on Hallowe’en. I can’t remember the title though.

  6. Henry H. says:

    Just to clarify, are you saying that you think there was no relationship between the words and pictures in We Are The Ship or that the committee thought so? Or both? They work together perfectly, in my opinion.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I have no idea what the committee decided, but my suspicion has always been that the book never got a Caldecott because of the essential requirement that a book’s words and pictures relate to one another. You can read We Are the Ship without the picture and lose nothing. Likewise, the pictures do not always correspond to what is being said on one page or another. A ballplayer would appear on one page but the discussion about him would have happened 5 pages before. Now if Nelson’s newest book consistently shows the subjects in conjunction with the words on the page then the committee wouldn’t be able to say that there’s no relationship between words and pictures. That’s my hope anyway.