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Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

Penguin Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)At last!  The season for previews has begun yet again!  And as of right now I am (checks watch) four previews behind.

Yipes!

Guess we better get started then.  If you want to read a recap of this same preview done already (and on time) though, check out this Early Word post by Lisa Von Drasek.

This Fall I’ve been hurry scurrying to each preview in a whirlwind gust of bad timing.  Either I’m entering late or I’m leaving early.  The Penguin preview was no exception.  With only a little time to spare before I conducted that day’s storytimes at my own branch, I burst in, grabbed a muffin, hit a chair, hyperventilated for precisely 3.8 seconds, and then ZOUNDS!  We were off!!

First up . . .

Grosset & Dunlap

Who surprised me by being the first imprint of the day (a fact that got me in trouble later, but the less said about that the better).  I had little time to be surprised when I saw which editor would be speaking to my table.  It was Editorial Assistant Karl Jones.  I may have seen Mr. Jones around and about before.  He’s been with Penguin little over a year, after all.  At this time, however, all I could see was the man’s mustache.  It was, to be blunt, epic.  I’m a huge mustache fan over here.  If I had my way every man I know would sport a handlebar (and maybe a monocle too, if I’m pushing my luck).  Though not precisely a handlebar, the mustache of Mr. Jones kept me thoroughly enthralled for the better part of his presentation.  Fortunately I had the wherewithal to keep notes all the while.

WhoWasBabeRuth Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)If the kids in your library system are anything like my own then there’s just something about that Who Was? series that makes them happy.  I don’t know if it’s the bobblehead portraits on the covers, the reading level, or the interior illustrations but the kiddos are kooky for these things.  Looking at the full list of subjects I see that they’ve covered almost all the bio basics.  Seems the only folks left at this point that get regularly assigned are Helen Keller and Matthew Henson.  At least three titles in 2012 are coming out in Spanish this April (Martin Luther King, Jr., Sacagawea, and a Thomas Edison that out of the corner of my eye keeps looking like James Dean).  This January Babe Ruth is joining the ranks in Who Was Babe Ruth? by Joan Holub.  Cover illustrator Nancy Harrison has really gone to town too.  The man’s multiple chins are on full display.  I suspect my Yankee loving patrons (this is New York after all) will snap it up right quick.

I’ve a girl in the children’s bookgroup I run who only wants to read books of the girly girl persuasion.  If it’s got a cheerleader on the cover, she’s interested.  As a result, I try my darndest to steer her towards similar books that have a little more meat and a little less glitter.  Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is now coming out with a series in the vein of Luv Ya Bunches or The Babysitters Club that follows four new friends as they work together on a school magazine.  The series is called Forever Four and the first two books in the series should be out this January.

Treasure Chest1 208x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Not in the catalog but on the radar is a new series by Ann Hood that got my attention.  Sometimes an author has an idea for a series that strikes me as such a good idea that I’m amazed no one else thought of it first.  I last had that feeling when I read the plot of the Found series by Margaret Peterson Haddix (a collection of “lost” children from history?  Brilliant!).  A similar feeling came over me when I heard about The Treasure Chest.  The first book in the series is “Angel of the Battlefield” and in it a brother and sister meet the child versions of various famous people.  Think of it as a step up from The Magic Treehouse.  I imagine Ann Hood could have a lot of fun with this.  Book #1 is all about the Florence Nightingale

It’s important for children’s librarians to stay abreast of online game website trends.  I say this because there’s nothing worse than having a kid ask you for something that requires you, the librarian, to turn to the nearest teenaged page for help (yeah, that happened last week to me).  Poptropica is one of those things I just don’t know much of anything about.  Basically it’s an offshoot of Funbrain.com and acts as a fun game site for kids. Penguin publishes the Poptropica: The Official Guide by Tracey West, so in case you’ve kids who go in for that sort of thing, have at it.

[Note taken during preview: "The ends of the stache turn up a little!"]

Lego Star Wars Mad Libs 210x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)My husband was in an elevator at Scholastic the other day when two employees were discussing a friend at a different publisher.  “Did you hear?  He’s working on Mad Libs.”  “No way!”  “Yeah.  But his boss hates his work.”  We tried to figure out exactly what that would entail (“Larry!  Too many adverbs, man.  Get an adjective in there once in a while”) then gave up.  This was on my mind when I saw the latest Lego Star Wars Mad Libs.  That’s three different brands all coming together at once.  Mind you, it wasn’t anything compared to The Onion Mad Libs coming out.  Well played, Onion.  Well played.

And on we go to . . .

Razorbill

Normally I wouldn’t cover YA all that closely, but seeing as how I left early that day I figure it’s worth a mention or two.

FutureofUs 196x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)First up, you may have heard me mention The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler before.  Probably in a past preview, I suppose, since the book is out next month.  I mention it now mostly because it gave me an idea.  You see, the gist of the book is that two kids in 1996 get a free AOL CD, pop it in, and end up looking at their own constantly updated Facebook pages fifteen years in the future.  Decisions they make in the present seem to affect things in the future.  Initially Jay wrote the boy p.o.v. and Carolyn the girl, but in time it all got sort of mushed together so that you can’t tell who has written one portion or another.  I like it because as far as I can tell this is the Facebook version of A Christmas Carol.  “I am the ghost of Facebook Past” and all that.  Fun!

AMillionSuns 193x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Next up, A Million Suns by Beth Revis.  This the sequel to her previous novel Across the Universe a.k.a. The One With the Cool Reversible Cover a.k.a. Not the Movie With All the Beatles Music.  I am particularly pleased to see this book because it slots into my new favorite category: Space Opera!!  Romance amongst the stars!  Awesome.

Then we get to Chopsticks.  Basically if there was a book to be talked about at this preview (prior to my abrupt departure) it was Chopsticks.  This thing is friggin’ insane.  I don’t think any of us could have predicted that one offshoot of the digital revolution would be publishers increasingly willing to consider print books that present stories in new visual ways.  Essentially, this is Jenni Holm’s Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf for the teenaged set.  It’s a tale told through stuff.  Photographs, notes, and Chopsticks Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)the inevitable IM conversations (always very difficult to replicate in a work of fiction).  Created by co-collaborators Jessica Anthony and Dodrigo Corral the story is about a girl named Glory, raised to be a piano prodigy.  When she falls in love with an artistic boy next door, something goes terribly wrong.  Piecing the non-linear clues together, readers have to determine what is real and what is a part of Glory’s madness.  Since the book begins with her disappearance, readers have to work backwards to fill in all the clues.  We got to look at some of the interiors and it was spectacular.  The kind of book you want to burrow into and inhabit for a while.  Also, I’m not sure how one goes about getting blurbs from both Daniel Handler and Junot Diaz, but nice work if you can get it.

FYI: The book will be accompanied by an app created by the British app designer Citrus Suite, released simultaneously with the book.

ThisOneTime 199x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)After a while, all YA novel covers start to blur together.  Hard to say why that is.  I suppose it has something to do with their similar themes.  Right now we’re seeing a sudden increase in Hunger Games-esque book jackets and the results are not pretty.  So if I had to dub the Best Jacket of the Preview here and now, that vote might go to David Lampson’s This One Time With Julia.  Just look at it.  Reminds me of the film An Education for some reason.  The plot is very different, of course.  They compared it to a John Green novel in a way.  In it an autistic teen falls in love with his murdered twin brother’s ex-girlfriend.  The feel of the novel (say they) is definitely along the lines of Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums with a healthy dose of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time for spice.

Not that the cover of Ghost Flower by Michele Jaffe is anything to sneeze at either:

GhostFlower Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

Here we have your average fairy tale ghost story with a murder mystery in there for spice.  A runaway teen is taken in by two rich girls who notice how closely she resembles their missing cousin.  The girl disappeared at the same time that the body of our heroine’s best friend was found.  Now she has a ghost to worry about and a flesh and blood murderer on the prowl.

Did I mention that angels are everywhere this season?  I’m seeing a lot more angels than vampires it seems.  No, the bloodsuckers haven’t completely gone away, but they’re certainly not being promoted at the same level (the snarky part of me wonders if we can start promoting Madeleine L’Engle’s Many Waters as the original teen angel book . . . no?).  At some point someone is going to write an angel-who-is-also-a-vampire novel, right?  I’m sure it’s already been done.  Anyway, this rambling is all just a prelude to Scott Speer’s Immortal City. Interestingly, this blurb requires you to be intimately familiar with other YA novels that have not quite attained household name status.  “L.A. Candy meets the mystery and romance of Fallen…”  I know Fallen (striking cover, that) but “L.A. Candy” evades me.  Maybe if they’d used Weetzie Bat instead…  In any case this is about a world where angels get MarcelShell 273x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)paid to guard starlets in Hollywood.  No lie.  That’s kind of a ballsy premise, so little wonder it comes from a guy who also happens to be Ashley Tisdale’s boyfriend.  And if you don’t know who Ashley Tisdale is, that’s why the good lord invented Wikipedia.  When’s her YA novel coming out anyway?

To see that Marcel the Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me is coming out from Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp makes me oddly pleased.  I knew this was going to happen but I wasn’t sure quite when.  Those of you unfamiliar with this Saturday Night Live skit, here’s what it was:

Now it’s a book.  I’m sure it’s written for the Urban Outfitters crowd more than anything else, but I still wouldn’t mind taking a peek at it.

Moving on!

Dutton

I didn’t get to see Dutton speak.  Nope.  Missed ‘em entirely.  So that brings us instead to . . .

Dial Books for Young Readers

CatastrophicHistory 201x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)And what book dominates the Dial section with a nice big two-page ad?  Tis former editor Jess Rothenberg and her Catastrophic History of You & Me.  Now when I was a teen one of the books I really enjoyed was Christopher Pike’s Remember Me.  You know.  The one where the girl died and then had to go around finding out who killed her.  Is anyone going to republish those old Pike novels or is that just silly thinking on my part?  Anyway, my point is that afterlife novels have always had a bit of cachet but right now they’re seriously hot.  I call this the Jay Asher Effect.  His Thirteen Reasons Why becomes this smash hit and the next thing you know books about dead and dying kids sprout up like wildflowers.  You’d have to stretch your definitions pretty far to find any similarities between this book and Jay’s though.  Jess identifies a real life ailment going by the name of Broken Heart Syndrome.  So in this book a teen’s boyfriend breaks up with her and . . . well, she dies.  Now she has to figure out how to move on, or if she even wants to.  Plus there are all the problems the people she left behind are dealing with.  Jess, the author is marrying my agent, for the record.  Small world, is it not?

MinervaLouise Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Switching gears as far as those gears can switch, there is good news on the horizon.  As of January Penguin will be reissuing the original Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke in hardcover.  I’ve always seen Minerva as a kind of poultry Amelia Bedelia.  To my vast amusement my whole table started talking about Minerva when they saw this book coming out.  The general consensus was that A Hat for Minerva Louise is the best in the series.  Anyone care to challenge such a claim?

In other Stoeke news, her other hen series (the woman is faithful to her species) The Loopy Coop Hens will issue the second title in the series: Pip’s Trip. And while the first book was a picture book, for this one they’re shrinking the size down to your standard Easy Reader dimensions.  You know what that means, don’t you?  Geisel Award potential . . .

Fun Fact: If you look at this cover . . .

Dragonswood Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

. . . and you think to yourself, “Ah. Ballet book,” then check yourself before you wreck yourself.  Not a ballet book as it turns out.  Nope.  Janet Lee Carey, who you might know because of her Dragon’s Keep (published by Harcourt interestingly enough) now has published a kind of sequel.  It takes place 100 years after Dragon’s Keep and is just your good old-fashioned fantasy tome.  The catalog managed to sport a blurb for Carey’s previous novel by Lloyd Alexander.  What with his being dead and all, that’s somewhat gutsy.  Even more interesting to me is the fact that the catalog says that one of the advertising campaigns will be in something called “Romantic Times”.  I think they mean this.

CampingTrip 223x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Back in 2009, Boyds Mills Press published Ginger Wadsworth’s Camping With the President.  The book looked at a moment in 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt ventured into the American West and took a four-day camping trip through Yosemite with naturalist John Muir.  A good idea for a picture book, it seems, since Barb Rosenstock and Mordicai Gerstein are coming at the same subject from a new angle.  The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and Our National Parks is a rather gorgeous offering of that same trip.  It’s premise is that because of this trip, Roosevelt later ended up establishing the National Parks.  In any case, Rosenstock’s the one behind that incredibly fun picture book bio Fearless about racing legend Louise Smith that I neglected to review.  Maybe I’ll make it up to her with this one.

BoyWind Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Over and over again I hear about news stories that are ideal for picture book adaptations, though I’m never clever enough to come up with the notion myself.  A year or so ago I saw one William Kamkwamba speaking on The Daily Show about his role in the adult nonfiction work The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.  The true story is about how William brought his Malawi village electricity by creating a windmill out of scraps.  Now the story is a picture book, and what excites me is this new illustrator they’ve gotten for it.  West African Elizabeth Zunon uses a collage style for this book that resembles nothing so much as a smoother Bryan Collier style.  Check out her website to see what I mean.  Zunon is a really fascinating up-and-comer at the moment.  She has two books out this fall including Jeanne Walker Harvey’s gorgeous My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey and Patricia MacLachlan’s Lala Salama.  Methinks I smell a future star in the works.

OneCoolFriend Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)It makes sense that after penning the incredibly dark autobiography Stitches, David Small would want to turn to lighter fare for the picture book set.  Something about the graphic novel format must have stayed with him, though.  In Toni Buzzeo’s (well played, Toni!) One Cool Friend, Small inserts speech bubbles and other visual elements into a sweet story about a kid and his penguin.  In this story a boy more comfortable in formal wear than casual jeans goes to the aquarium with his father.  Once there he snatches up a penguin, takes him home, and proceeds to care for the little bugger.  Boy/penguin friendship tales don’t exactly abound, so consider this a nice companion piece to Oliver Jeffers’s Lost and Found.  It’s Small by way of Mr. Popper.

LittleBunnyFooFoo 299x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)There are a couple Little Bunny Foo Foo picture books in the world, but credit to Cori Doerrfeld for taking the time to come up with a backstory.  Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story Scieszkaizes (that’s a term, right?) the classic song, giving the Foo some justifications for all that head bopping.  We would have also accepted the title “Little Bunny 2: Revenge of the Foo”.

WhenBlueEgg Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)You’d think New Yorkers would be sick of our city.  I mean, it’s not like pop culture doesn’t constantly showcase us every other minute.  Be that as it may be, show a picture book with images of Manhattan to a group of NYC librarians and listen to the room erupt in coos.  When Blue Met Egg by Lindsay Ward features a little bird who mistakes a snowball for an egg.  Determined to show the egg the town she is all the more disturbed when warm weather arrives.  Think of this as a happier version of Briggs’s The Snowman with pretty Brooklyn Bridge gatefolds.

BoysWartime Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Folks ask me what kinds of books kids and parents are looking for these days.  Well, usually I’ll say Mexican wrestlers, because that’s my go-to answer, but you know what else they want?  Works of fiction showing kids in the midst of wars.  I’m serious.  And while our old Dear America books serve that need fairly well, what they really seem to want is something like Laurie Calkhoven’s Boys of War books.  I’ve had patrons demand to know, in no uncertain terms, why we only have two of her books on our shelves.  The honest answer at the time was that she only wrote two books.  Now a third, Michael at the Invasion of France: 1943 is due out this coming February.  Here’s hoping Laurie pens a fourth or my patrons may shed my blood.

BettyBunnyWants Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)There’s nothing better than seeing a favorite illustrator get their just desserts (no pun intended).  I’ve faithfully followed the career of Stephane Jorisch over the years.  So who would have guessed that it would take Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake to bring the man to greater attention?  Betty Bunny fans of the world might want to consider rejoicing too since a sequel is on the horizon.  Betty Bunny Wants Everything involves Betty being told that she can only have one toy at the toy store.  This, as you might imagine, does not work out quite as her parents would hope.  And best of all we heard that a third Betty Bunny book is due out in 2013.  Its plot?  How to tell the truth.

WomenExplorers Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)I would be amiss in not mentioning former NYPL staffer Julie Cummins and her upcoming book Women Explorers: Perils, Pistols, and Petticoats.  Julie wrote that Women Daredevils book a number of years ago, which happened to be the first book I knew of to include the story of Ms. Annie Edson Taylor (until Queen of the Falls came out, of course).  Here’s hoping her latest book provides equally interesting fodder.  At the very least, it should make for some good booktalks.

MyFamilyWar Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)The Kindertransport appears to be one of those historical events gaining steam in the literary community.  First Lily Renee: Escape Artist covered it and now My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve does too.  It was originally published in Germany, which makes me all the more curious about it.  I like my translated tomes.  I was a bit surprised to see the reading level listed as “Grades 7 and up” though since the cover looks younger to me.  Still, good to know.

EveryDaysDog Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)When I heard that Marilyn Singer’s Every Day’s a Dog’s Day: A Year in Poems follows four dogs through the course of a year, I instantly figured it would make a sterling companion to Jon Katz’s Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm.  With illustrations by Miki Sakamoto, I’m not a dog person but I know enough to know when a dog book sounds like it might work.

TemptationAngels Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Are you experiencing angel withdrawal since I last mentioned one of their books (wasn’t it ages ago?).  Well fear not, cause here’s another.  Yep.  This one is A Temptation of Angels (no bandying about with THIS title) and here you have angels meet Steampunk.  In this standalone novel (quiet applause) our heroine discovers that she is an angel.  Sort of a Buffy thing.  There’s a romance in there too, though I kind of love that she has to chose between “the devastatingly handsome childhood friend who wants to destroy her” and “the angelic brothers protecting her.”  Brothers plural?  Oh, go with them, girl.  That’s a plot twist I’d loooove to see.

In 2011 you couldn’t take three steps without tripping over a work of fiction containing ravens.  Now I have learned that the hot animal of 2012 is apparently going to be . . . The Jackalope!  First I hear that Chronicle has a book coming out called Project Jackalope by Emily Ecton and now I see that the latest Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon is going to be Dragonbreath: Revenge of the Horned Bunnies.  Twenty points to the person who can find me a third Jackalope tale for ’12.  Don’t be shy.

PugsBug Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Has your Sheep in a Jeep been feeling lonely?  Does it yearn for others of its kind?  If so then Pugs in a Bug may be just what the doctor ordered.  Because there are pugs.  And they appear to be in a bug.  Honestly the rest of the book could be about eating tacos on the beach, for all I care.  I just like that cover.  Credit author Carolyn Crimi and illustrator Stephanie Buscema with this one.

A show of hands.  How many of you out there like Tedd Arnold?  Very good, very good.  Now how many of you have been following his career since the beginning?  I mean, the man’s been around for a good 25+ years, and in that time his drawing style has kind of morphed.  Here’s an example of what I mean. About twenty-five years ago Tedd wrote a little number called No Jumping on the Bed! It looked something like this:

NoJumping1 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

(Dig that wild font)  Now they’re republishing that book but with brand new illustrations.  The result looks something like this:

NoJumping Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

Crazy, right?  Better still, Arnold has the main character of the sequel reading the original book to himself in the pages.  Clever duck.

Remarkable 198x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)So they introduce Remarkable by Lizzie K. Foley to us by saying that it’s the most impressive debut they’ve seen since Savvy.  Strong words, no?  Then they proceeded to compare it to Holes in terms of its connections between characters.  And thus the bar goes up another notch.  I’m rather pleased with the premise, though.  In the town of Remarkable, everyone there is precisely that . . . except Jane.  This may well be a rallying cry for the dorky girls of the world.  Or at least the ones with overly talented siblings.

And on that note let’s take a trip to scenic . . .

Philomel Books

Did you know that if you rearrange the letters in the name “Philomel” you come up with “Hello, Imp!”  Yep.  That’s precisely the kind of on-topic thinking that earns me the big bucks, folks.

BigLittleHugs Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Anywho, first up on the list is a little bit o’ Bond… Felicia Bond.  Having managed to pen and illustrate a book that will remain on many a “Must” list for years to come (I am referring to her If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, y’see) she has extended beyond her usual “If you give a [blank] a [blank]” repertoire.  Here in Big Hugs, Little Hugs you have what they said was her first written work in roundabout a decade and one done with a bit of collage.  Basically it shows how different parent animals hug their baby animals.  They sold this one to us by calling it “The craziest animal hugs you’ve ever seen.”  Huh.  That should be the blurb.  It’s definitely eye-catching.

SoYouWant Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)So here’s the conundrum with So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small, and winner of the Caldecott Award;  When the book first came out it made a point of saying that no woman or person of color had ever been president.  Fair enough.  Well, now that means that the book is historically inaccurate . . . but it’s the inaccurate version (accurate at the time) that won the big shiny gold sticker.  Can the book be updated without losing its Caldecott status?  Apparently so.  Many was the call placed to ALA before an illustration showing Barack Obama striding into the room was included.  They assure us that this is the final change  . . . at least until a woman gets elected too.

When I first saw the cover of Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street, I know my initial reaction should have been “Peter Abrahams?!  Isn’t that the Echo Falls author everyone always cooing about?  He’s writing a middle grade now?  Sign me up!”  And I did feel that way, honest I did.  But the cover of this book distracted me just a tad.  It’s not a bad cover.  It just felt a touch familiar . . .

RobbieForester Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

InquisitorsApprentice Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

Abrahams is also best known in adult circles as the author behind the Spencer Quinn mysteries.  The plot of this book involves a modern day Robin Hood fighting injustice in contemporary Brooklyn.  Hmmm. Maybe they need to send that girl to Occupy Wall Street, eh?

Speaking of jackets, here’s one that I liked in about thirty different ways:

Ripper Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)

Boy, that’s clever.  That’s just . . . can the designer of this book teach a course for others on how to make a book look enticing?  No extra points for the subtitle (“You thought you knew him.  You were dead wrong” sounds like a rejected movie poster line circa 1993).  But that cover is something else.  This is one of those multiple Jack the Ripper YA novels coming out at the moment.  Only unlike books like Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star this book isn’t set today.  It takes the rather fascinating historical fact that shortly after Jack the Ripper’s crimes stopped in London a letter appeared in a New York City newspaper by someone claiming to be The Ripper.  In Ripper by Stefan Petrucha the author takes that idea and runs with it.  Working in the proto-Pinkerton Agency (which is funny since there’s a 12-year-old Pinkerton novel coming out from Caroline Lawrence called The Case of the Deadly Desperados) the book also thinks to include then Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt (which harkens back to that camping book I mentioned earlier).  Fun.

FrogFly 267x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)The word “fun” also applies to Jeff Mack’s nicely twisted Frog and Fly: Six Slurpy Stories.  The story tells six tales and in each one (spoiler alert) the fly gets eaten by the frog.  The images are of a cartoonish style as well, and we were told that the book harkens back to classic cartoons of yore.  We shall see.

OldRober 300x252 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Sometimes I love a single book by an author so much that everything subsequent to that book gets compared (either fairly or unfairly) from then on.  Years ago Barbara Joosse wrote Nikolai, the Only Bear and it so touched me that I’ve looked at her work closely ever since.  These days she tends to pair with illustrator Jan Jutte, an artist who comes across as a cross between Jon Agee and Hergé.  Their latest collaboration is Old Robert and the Sea-Silly Cats.  They called it a Cat and the Fiddle for a new generation.  You might also call it a feline companion to Seadogs.

DoubleDogDare 198x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Good old, Lisa Graff.  How many children’s authors can you name who have won contests that allow them to learn how to make chocolate and cheese?  Not many, I’d wager.  Chocolate and cheese are delicious, but the story behind her latest book Double Dog Dare doesn’t traipse in that direction.  In this book a boy and a girl engage in a dare war.  Think of it as a dare version of The Lemonade War, eh?  Lisa knows how to hit right in the center of kid-friendly fare and she has something like 23 state award nominations to prove it.  I got my copy.  You bet.

LookingLincoln Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Now let’s backtrack a bit.  Remember when I said I left this preview early?  Well I arrived at it late as well.  Not normally a problem except that I missed my chance to check out Maira Kalman’s art for the upcoming Looking at Lincoln.  For quirky little reasons of her own Kalman has chosen this moment in time to introduce Lincoln to kids.  Not when his 100th birthday meant that we were drowning in Lincoln bio after Lincoln bio.  I like that.  Perhaps in three years she can do a moon landing book, and then in another three a September 11th story.  In any case keep an eye out for this one.

MethMoon 198x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Switching gears entirely, Jacqueline Woodson leaps as far away from her Pecan Pie Baby books with the upcoming Beneath a Meth Moon.  I’m kinda loving the meth circle that make’s up the title’s second “O”.  Meth isn’t a New York City drug for various reasons, but around the country it’s become a bit of a problem.  In this post-Katrina novel, a girl moves to the suburbs after her home was destroyed.  When a boy she likes gets her hooked on meth she has to deal a sudden addiction.  Woodson hasn’t done a straight YA in a couple years, they say, so this is a true return to form.

LittleDogLost Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Once in a while you’ll hear about a librarian who wrote her first children’s book.  Monica Carnesi is one such individual, but what’s particularly cool about Little Dog Lost: The Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic is that not only did she write the thing, she did the art as well.  The true tale follows a harrowing incident when a little dog got trapped on an ice floe in a frozen river and had to be rescued in the Baltic Sea.

YouAreALion 270x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)Taeeun Yoo’s art is consistently gorgeous.  It doesn’t matter if she’s drawing fish or little girls as witches, she’s consistent in her awesomeness.  Now with You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses she produces yet another lovely book that will undoubtedly sell like hotcakes.  Suggestions of books to pair this with included the Jean Marzollo/Jerry Pinkney title Pretend You’re a Cat, as well as the Janet Wong title Twist: Yoga Poems.

And then I left.  No lie.  Just like that *poof!* I was gone.  That meant that I happened to miss . . .

Viking

as well as

G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Fangbone 201x300 Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012)A particular pity since Michael Rex has something coming out called Fangbone: Third-Grade Barbarian that I kinda sorta really want to take a closer look at.

That rounds that up, then.  Except, of course, for the final awards:

Cleverest Catalog Idea: Two pages dedicated entirely to Grimm Brother fairy tale related books?  Way to ride the trends, Penguin! From old favorites like The Rough-Face Girl to new ones like Jane Yolen’s Snow in Summer, you guys are good at what you do.

Best Meets: I dunno.  I didn’t hear as many as I read.  Certainly there were some fine contenders, though, including this little number -

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens.” – Dark Eyes by William Harlan Richter (though I would personally call it Kiki Strike for teens).

Thanks for reading!

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Elizabeth Bird About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently New York Public Library's Youth Materials Collections Specialist. 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 NYPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. These look great! Thank you very much-I love reading the preview posts. Were any Olympics books mentioned? They seem to be a bit absent from the 2012 catalogs that are out.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Thanks, folks!

      Olympics books? Maybe, but not while I was there. Maybe someone who was there will see this and speak to that.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out, Betsy!

    I always look forward to reading your Librarian Previews — the next best thing to actually being there!

  3. Tammi Sauer says:

    Ooh. La. La. A brand new Librarian Preview! Thanks so much for posting.

  4. Eric Carpenter says:

    I’m a bigger fan of the Tedd Arnold’s earlier style than what he’s doing now, so i’m kind of sad to see NO JUMPING ON THE BED redone. I guess my hope for a reissue of my favorite Arnold title THE SIGNMAKER’S ASSISSTANT probably won’t be happening unless it too gets new illustrations.

  5. Jennie says:

    I’m a huge fan of books told in stuff (even wrote my final YA lit paper on them) so I’m super excited to see Chopsticks!

  6. “The general consensus was that A Hat for Minerva Louise is the best in the series.”

    No argument from me!

  7. Carrie says:

    That Robbie Forester cover looks like Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer too.

  8. Abigail says:

    Okay, I’ll bite, how did they get Zombie Lloyd Alexander to do a quote?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Well, it’s a quote for her previous book which came out quite some time ago. However, I love the name “Zombie Lloyd Alexander” so much that I think I’ll have to go as that next Halloween.

  9. kmc says:

    romantic times recently rebranded itself RT. poke around, it’s been around for a long time, and reviews primarily romance novels though has expanded into mainstream and YA, etc. They also do a HUGE convention each year for romance readers and writer where they give awards. they’re still known within the industry and among romance readers as “Romantic Times”.

    was the story about the overheard conversation in the scholastic elevator really neccessary? I mean, publishing is a small world, childrens publishing even more so. And there are only a few people in it who work on Mad Libs. Is it really kosher to broadcast someone’s work/boss issues on a widely read industry blog so you have a clever story to connect to a preview? Seems kind of jerkish to me.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      The Mad Libs story is several years old. Anyone it might have affected is probably long gone and, since there are so many divisions of MadLibs and different areas, I don’t think anyone could possibly be hurt by it. However, if you prefer to see it as “jerkish”, all power to you.

  10. Nancy Rose says:

    Just an FYI — Maira Kalman has done a 9/11 book — FIREBOAT, which got 5 starred reviews when it came out in 2002.

  11. Samantha says:

    Love these previews, thank you. I just reread it – for the purpose of taking notes. Several of these books are landing on my 2012 birthday/holiday buying list.

  12. kmc says:

    while there are many versions of mad libs and different areas of the brand, there are like 3 people who work on them in publishing, if that. lots of books does not mean lots of staff.