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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2013

Because it’s never too early to start with the drooling.

Knowing as I do that I should probably be working on my third Newbery/Caldecott prediction list, I’m temporary eschewing that bit of fun to mention some of the titles that I am both seeing and hoping to see in the coming 2013 season.  There’s a whole whopping roster of delights and goodies out there that you may not have even heard of.  Thankfully I was able to think up a nice swath of them and get most of their covers.

Let’s do this in a systematic way.  By category!  First off:


Grandma and the Great Gourd by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, illustrated by Susy Pilgrim Waters

Two things struck me about this title.  First and foremost, the fact that it even IS a folktale.  Do you know how rare those are these days?  Seriously, they’re like flakes of gold in a river bend.  Normally only small independent publishers dare put them out anymore.  The fact that Roaring Brook has tried their hand is inspiring.  But what really caught my attention was the presence of Susy Pilgrim Waters.  That’s the woman who did the mural for the Children’s Center at 42nd, my former stomping grounds for a good four years.  Folks would come in all the time, admire it, and then ask what children’s books she’d done.  “Uh . . . she did the cover of Ruth White’s Way Down Deep” we’d answer lamely.  Now in 2013 she’s doing at least one book jacket and an actual honest-to-god picture book.  Bloody blooming time!

Picture Books

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean

Bean’s back, baby!  Remember Jonathan Bean?  Oh, he was just the toast of the children’s literary world a couple years ago.  For a while he was producing some seriously fine stuff.  Then he dropped out of sight for personal reasons.  Now he’s making a slow comeback and he’s doing his re-debut with a truly personal tale.  This is sort of a picture book memoir account of the time his family decided to construct their own house.  It goes through the step-by-step ways in which you put a building together.  Considering how many books I’ve read this year in which people rebuild their homes (Buddy by M.H. Herlong, What Came From the Stars by Gary Schmidt, etc.) this picture book will fit right in with the rest.  Be sure to check out the awesome family photos at the back.

Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird

What the . . .  Gee willikers, how the heck did THAT book end up on this list?  Must be some kind of strange coincidence.  But while it’s here it would be a crime for me NOT to mention it, right?  Right?  Heh heh . . . heh . . . hooo.  So yes, my first picture book is out this coming spring.  It involves gigantic blue furry giants who dance.  There is also a small child.  And I am pleased to report that this is the first picture book in my experience that has ever included krumping.  Seriously.  Don’t know how I can sell it to you any better than that. [For those of you not entirely certain what krumping is, I refer you to this YouTube video]  Anywho, book by me.  Woot to the woot to the woot woot woot.

Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon

Awesomeness in a single book.  I don’t know this Meshon fellow but after this book I’ll never forget him.  It’s sort of an awesome look at one boy and his love of baseball in America as well as Japan.  Features all kinds of details about life in Japan, what you yell at the players, the alternatives over there to big foam fingers, etc.

Would make for a great companion to My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe.  Love.

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

If I were to pinpoint the book that I am the most upset had to come out in the same season as my own, it is this one.  I am actually a little tongue-tied with this.  It is, without a doubt, Bob Shea’s greatest creation.  A book so good and glorious and funny and smart and uniquely Shea that I have proselytized its name to every person of my acquaintance at least once.  It’s reader’s theater.  It’s hilarity.  It’s clearly going to have to be a movie or a television show at some point in the very near future.  I will say no more.  It hurts my eyes to look at it too long, it’s so shiny with wonderfulness.

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Oh yeah.  You read that right.  Snicket meets Klassen.  Genius, right?  These two crazy kids were just made for one another.  Sorry I don’t have a visual for this yet (I only got to see a sneak peek at an undisclosed location) but I have gotten a chance to read it cover to cover and it is steeped in goodness.  It also happens to be Snicket’s most kid-friendly picture book to date (not that I didn’t love that screamy little latke, do not get me wrong).  But this book taps into a fear, names it, does away with it, and works.  Lurve.

Graphic Novels

Poseidon: Earth Shaker by George O’Connor

Well, duh.  I’m sorry, am I supposed to say more than that?  Aside from saying wantwantwantwantwant?


Jinx by Sage Blackwood

Though it was mistakenly sold to me at one point as an eco-thriller (few descriptive terms turn me off quite as fast as that one) a librarian I know and trust and who very rarely steers me wrong assured me that this was one fantasy novel worth reading and loving.  Good thing I’ve a copy on my shelf then.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Actually, I finished this one recently and boy does it have a killer first chapter.  Seriously, folks should go out and get it just to see how you can make your book stand out from the pack.  It’s going to be a little hard to shelve this one since it is straight up middle school.  I’ve never read such a middle school book in my life.  Seriously, it isn’t children’s and it isn’t YA.  Junior High is this title’s perfect home.  The plot involves a boy who runs away to New York City to audition for E.T.: The Musical.  Find it.  Read it.  Enjoy it thoroughly.  Then tell me exactly where you’ve shelved it so that I can follow suit.

The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry

Oh, by the way.  In 2013 you’re going to see at least three novels out by syndicated cartoonists.  Yep.  The fellers behind Over the Hedge, Pearls Before Swine, and Zits are all coming out with books.  This one is from the Over the Hedge guy and I have never NEVER seen such a Bloom Countyish book in all my livelong days.  Seriously, there’s a certain point when it starts to get weird how early-Bloom County this book is.  That said, it’s one of the most nuanced looks at bullying I’ve seen for 2013.  and speaking of which . . .

The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale

Apparently this book is already a bit controversial since it outlines what you need to do to become a bully.  Looks interesting, though.  Are you aware just how many bully books are out in 2013, by the way?  Good thing I’ve a Literary Salon this Saturday to discuss that very issue (I may as well just rename this post “Shameless Plugs Galore” or something similar).

33 Minutes (… Until Morgan Sturtz kicks my butt) by Todd Hasak-Lowy

Another one I’ve already read.  Another bully book.  Another strong contender.  Actually it’s less bully book and more middle school love story.  Sort of the antithesis of The Kind of Friends We Used to Be.  It’s like a middle school death of a relationship tale with funny pictures.  Very enjoyable and weirdly touching.

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett Krosoczka

It’s a buddy cop middle grade book starring mammals that have bills and lay eggs.  Do I really need to say more?

Mister Orange by Truus Matti

Oh oh oh!!  So very excited to read this one.  Truus Matti gained a fair amount of attention for a small but wonderful middle grade novel a year or two ago called Departure Time.  It was absolutely amazing, that book.  Now’s she’s back and her new publisher is the enchanting Enchanted Lion.  I am very VERY excited to see this.  You have no idea.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis

This one of the other syndicated cartoonist books, this time from the Pearls Before Swine guy.  The deadpan humor is remarkable.  It’s sort of a notebook novel in the Wimpy Kid vein but to my mind it bears far more similarities to Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze.  You will actually laugh out loud with this book, and I don’t usually say that about the titles I read.  But so far, when it comes to 2013, this is the funniest book I’ve seen.


Stardines Swim High Across the Sky by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Carin Berger

It’s sort of a follow-up to Behold the Brave Umbrellaphant. Only this time Berger created the art not just with collage but by constructing elaborate boxes that were then photographed for the pictures (see here at Seven Impossible Things).

So to sum up: Prelutsky cleverness meets the first book that might (oh please, oh please) give Berger some of that lovely award attention she so greatly deserves.

The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Zachariah O’Hara

Admittedly I only got just the smallest glimpse of this one recently but what little I saw pleased and amused and made me very happy indeed.


A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke

I think the title and cover speak for themselves, yes?

Frog Song by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin

Spirin!  Frogs!  Gorgeous gorgeousness!

The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, illustrated by Stacy Innerst

Though some bios have come out about the Beatles, few play up their humor sufficiently and fewer still are picture book bios.  Krull, as we all already know, is such a pro that I am quite certain the reading experience will be sublime.

Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson

Yep.  Looks about right.

Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin

Though he’s probably best known for his current National Book Award nomination for Bomb, I first noticed Mr. Sheinkin when he wrote the delightful King George: What Was His Problem? Everything your schoolbooks didn’t tell you about The American Revolution back in 2008.  Since then he’s garnered tons of attention on the YA nonfiction side.  Now he sort of moves back to the juv with this fantastic account of the true story of how some men decided it would be a good idea to dig up our president and hold his body for ransom.

And finally, I leave the best for last.

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham.

It causes me physical pain not to show you any art for this because believe me when I say it’s a stunner.  Ms. Heiligman, whom you may know best for her award winning Charles and Emma, has written a picture book biography of math guru and possible itinerant saint Paul Erdos.  The text looks superb but Pham’s art . . . you’ve never seen anything like it.  It’s making me hyperventilate a little over its beauty.  She has gone above and beyond the call of duty and I don’t think we’ll even get to see the book until next June.  So please, do yourself a favor and put it on your radar.

That’s all for now!  I know that there’s lots I haven’t seen, but these are the books that make the shrunken shriveled heart within my check do a little pitta-pat.  Let me know what else you’re looking forward to seeing!

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. Elle Librarian says:

    Thank you for the lovely preview of books to come, as always! I am definitely looking forward to Ashes by Laurie Halse Anderson, the conclusion of the Seeds of America series that began with Chains.

  2. I’m really looking forward to Mister Orange as well! And that Pet Project looks great too!

  3. Hooray for giant fuzzy dancers!

  4. Awesome choices, Betsy, one and all (and as someone who also has titles coming out in 2013, I feel your pain re: Bob Shea unleashing this book this year… too bad I like him so much or I might have to hate him!). Can’t wait to see your book!

    One correction: Stephan Pastis’ strip is Pearls Before Swine (Hilary Price, who should also do kids’ books, does Rhymes With Orange).

  5. Ooo, when’s the estimated date of arrival for that Beatles’ book? My kids’ birthdays are in April and that would be perfect for them.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Looks like it has a March 19th laydown date, so you are in luck!

      And gah! Thank you, Erica! Off to correct pronto pronto pronto!

  6. Jennifer in GA says:

    I am now at least $100 poorer due to preorders from this list!! 😀

  7. YIPPIE! I’ve preordered.

  8. Oh yes! A book about a mathematician!

  9. So many great books next year! And I totally dig the giants’ shorts on your cover.

  10. Karen Gray Ruelle says:

    Congrats, Betsy! And a great list.

  11. HUGE congratulations, Betsy! Very exciting and you completely have me especially intrigued now with the reference to krumping and giants!

  12. Giant dancing blue monsters, unicorns and delicious darkness from Klassen & Snickett – oh my, what a lot of tasty treats! Many congrats, Betsy – love the look of Giant Dance Party!!!

  13. Love these recommendations. They look perfect for my kids’ age groups. You’ve just saved me a whole bunch of WORK! :)

  14. Someone needs to send a copy of that sloth book to Kristen Bell.

  15. Betsy – GIANTS DANCING WHILE HOLDING CUPCAKES? I can’t even…so adorable!

  16. A Little Book of Sloth is pretty much the cutest thing on the planet. Every single one of the many, many pictures has the the awwwwww factor, hands down. I really wish I had rooms full of kids to whom I could show this off, while talking up the ‘slothpital’ (mmph giggle.) Congratulations on your books, too. What a year!

  17. this list is such a public service!! and best of luck with the krumping monsters, betsy!

  18. just now catching up on my blog reading – Can’t wait to see Take me out the Yakyu.

  19. Maria van Lieshout has a new book out in 2013: Flight 1,2,3. Loved her Backseat A B See!

    I’m always interested in stories set in Virginia, so I’m anxious to read The Milk of Birds by Sylvia Whitman. It’s about a teen in Richmond, VA who corresponds with a teenager in a Sudanese refugee camp. Whitman is a debut author and I have not read an ARC, so I know nothing other than the synopsis.

    I thought Between Shades of Grey was remarkable, so I’m looking forward to Ruth Sepetys’s next novel, Out of the Easy. It’s set in 1950s New Orleans and is centered around the daughter of a French Quarter prostitute. There’s precious little in the way of children’s/YA historical fiction set in Louisiana (other than My Louisiana Sky, nothing is coming to mind), so I can’t wait to read this. Too often, fiction about New Orleans risks falling into easy stereotypes (voodoo, Mardi Gras stuff), but I’m hopeful that Sepetys doesn’t do this.

    This is also more YA, but I’m dying to read Marissa Meyer’s sequel to Cinder. I thought that was a tremendously fun read, and I’m not a big fan of dystopian fiction. I’m quite weary-and wary–of the genre now.

    Congratulations on Giant Dance Party. Hope it’s a success!

  20. Well, scratch that. The publisher content in Sylvia Whitman’s The Milk of Birds entry says that she is a debut author, but her Amazon bio says that she is not.

  21. I’ve read Jinx and really liked it a lot. Good middle grade fantasy. Unfortunately I want to read the next in the series now. Glad it rated a mention on your list.

  22. “This one is from the Over the Hedge guy and I have never NEVER seen such a Bloom Countyish book in all my livelong days. Seriously, there’s a certain point when it starts to get weird how early-Bloom County this book is.”

    It’s not the first time Michael Fry’s work has been said to resemble that of another.


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