Recently I had the pleasure of attending the AAP Tri-State Book Buzz for Children’s and Teen Librarians here in NYC. This is an event where a whole heaping helpful of publishers gather together to do a kind of massive librarian preview for folks like myself. It’s a mix of big folks (Macmillan, Random House, etc.) and smaller houses you might not hear from otherwise. With that in mind, I’ve either already attended or am about to attend some of the big guys, so I’ll leave them off of this particular preview. Additionally, I had a meeting in the morning of the Book Buzz day so those publishers who just happened to present anything prior to 1 p.m. pretty much fell off of my radar. Sorry, guys!
Even though I only spent a small portion of my time at the Book Buzz I’m just going to highlight the books that caught my particular attention. Because honestly there were some truly interesting titles on display. Here’s just a small sampling of what I happened to see. First up:
Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection by Charlotte Zolotow, ill. Tiphanie Beeke (9781492601685)
This year (2014) I had a great deal of difficulty finding good poetry books. Honestly, at times it felt like I was pulling teeth to find anything halfway decent. This shouldn’t be so hard! So I was keeping a very sharp eye out for anything verse-like. I was quickly rewarded by this, the first collection of ALL of Zolotow’s seasonal poetry. You remember Ms. Zolotow, yes? Worked under Ursula Nordstrom? Mother of Crescent Dragonwagon? Yep, well I’ve always been a fan of her book Seasons as illustrated by Erik Blegvad so this is just a natural follow-up. It’s coming out in the same year when she would have celebrated her 100th birthday. If the illustrator (Tiphanie Beeke) looks somewhat familiar that may be because she was behind that rather lovely little book Fletcher and the Falling Leaves which came out a couple years ago.
Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita (9781492601562)
On the middle grade side of things we have Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita. Written by the author of the YA novel Secrets of my Hollywood Life the premise behind this one is that when a villain is vanquished in a tale it’s time for them to go to reform school. Our heroine is a normal girl who lives in a shoe with her siblings and is so poor that she’s forced to steal. One thing leads to another and the next thing she knows she’s in a reform school where all the teachers are former villains. Kinda writes itself, right?
This Book is Gay by James Dawson (9781492617822)
I don’t cover YA usually but for this book I shall make an exception. It was a little bit difficult to parse but insofar as I could tell this appears to be a handbook for dealing with sexual identity. It’s a YA nonfiction title with a forward is by David Levithan and it’s full of sketches, illustrations, and jokes. As they say, it’s for anyone exploring their own identity.
National Geographic Kids
Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee (forward by Tim Gunn) (9781426319204)
Now see, the reason I like National Geographic Kids is that they’re reliable. Take Why’d They Wear That?, for example. You know what you’re getting here, even if you don’t know the details. Mind you, the details are where all the good stuff is. Chronicling the history of the world through the lens of fashion, the book covers everything from the Syrian warriors who rode into battle in fishnets to an Archbishop of Canterbury who wore a hair shirt so full of bugs that they left his body and flew into the cold when he was assassinated. From togas to mini skirts, this book talks about clothing and explains why folks wore one thing or another with plenty of historical context.
Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall by Anita Silvey (9781426315190)
I think I heard about this book a little while ago and got very excited . . . until I realized that it wasn’t coming out until 2015. Fortunately that year is breathing down our neck and so tis nigh! Nigh, I say, nigh! From her childhood in WWII England to the jungles of Gombe this book covers everything Jane related. Riveting and full of images (including the photography of Michael Neugebauer) this has lots of great content from the field. It’s the most up-to-date title out there for kids. At least for an older readership.
Dirtmeister’s Nitty Gritty: Planet Earth by Steve Tomecek (9781426319037)
Steve Tomecek, the Executive Director and founder of Science Plus, Inc., and Digger his prairie dog sidekick talk all about dirt. Or, put another cuter way, dish the dirt on dirt. Tomecek had a New York Kids show on WNYC radio in New York City for eight years so he’s old school. In his book, Fred Harper from Marvel illustrates multiple peppy comic book sections that start off each chapter. Inside you’ll find DIY experiments, facts, and science bios along with lots of STEM connections. Happy science stuff.
How to Speak Cat by Aline Alexander Newman and NPR’s Dr. Gary Weitzman (President of the San Diego Animal Humane Society) (9781426318634)
This would be a companion to the previously published How to Speak Dog. The dog vs. cat voice in my head wonders which of the two books will sell better. In any case in this tome you get, amongst other things, an explanation of what the 30 different cat poses mean. Lots of expert cat training advice is in this one as well.
1000 Facts About the Bible (9781426318665)
You don’t have to be a library in a religious community to appreciate what National Geographic is going for here. Big and small pieces of information give some great background. Little facts include the tidbit that David was crowned with a 75-pound crown and, elsewhere, that the blue of the robes mentioned in the text came from sea snails. Easy to understand words are helped in no small part by the Biblical scholars who were consulted. Naturally this makes me wonder how long it took them to write the darn thing. My suspicion: quite a while.
Maddeningly they also teased us with Fall 2015 titles as well. With that in mind look for . . .
Book of Nature Poetry edited by J. Patrick Lewis
Treasury of Norse Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli
Welcome to Mars by Buzz Aldrin
At this point in the proceedings, mention was made of a magazine I’d not heard of before. It’s not like I’ve been following the periodical trends for teens and pre-teens since I was one myself. So to hear that there’s a publication out there called Justine that contains “more teen book reviews than any other magazine” . . . well that’s just downright cool it is. Voila:
Based out of Philly. A quarter of this little publisher’s output consists of books for kids. I often say that small publishers just need one book to sustain them for life. Well Quirk produced Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children so I’d say they’re pretty much good to go. For, like, ever. Most of their children’s books coming out in 2015 are just sequels, but there was one adult title that actually caught my eye.
Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix (9781322126760)
A classic horror novel set in a Swedish furniture store, written like an IKEA catalog.
Next up, Chris Vaccari, a man clever enough to name drop his local library branch (Kips Bay). Chris thrives in a BookBuzz atmosphere. He is calm. He is at ease. And yet, all at the same time, he is capable of packing in loads of information about the books Sterling is producing soon. Case in point:
Good Question: History Series: Did Christopher Columbus Really Discover America? by Emma Carlson Berne (9781454912590)
This is a series that dare to question history. Particularly useful when we’re talking about that ever so controversial Italian Columbus.
Little Traveler series – How Tiger Says Thank You (9781454914976), How Penguin Says Please (9781454914969) by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Sarah Watts
These are the latest two books in this series to come out. I should note though that my librarians are BIG fans of these books. They’re finding them easy to hand sell and really filling a need for those parents that wish to get their small children interested in other languages.
ABC Universe – done in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History (9781454914099)
Just consider it an oversized board book for the budding little astronomers in your life.
I’m Not Reading by Jonathan Allen(978-1910126240)
Man. Way back at the beginning of my blogging career, around 2006 I reviewed the Jonathan Allen baby owl book I’m Not Cute. It’s nice to see the series not only still kicking around but upgrading to a whole new board book form.
Ally-Saurus by Richard Torrey (9781454911791)
Who says only boys get to love dinosaurs? Yet when Ally starts school she finds she’s the only girl there who’s into dinosaurs. She is subsequently snubbed by princess lovers (and on this, the 10th anniversary of Mean Girls). I know I’ll be looking forward to this.
A Dozen Cousins by Lori Houran, ill. Sam Usher (9781454910626)
The plot is simple: one girl has a dozen boy cousins. She loves them but they sure do bug the heck out of her. Nice and multicultural, this is utterly pleasant (and more interesting than a lot of the other “big family” tales out there).
The Birthday Cake: The Adventures of Pettson and Findus by Sven Nordquist (978-0735842038)
I believe this is a reprint of an older title. In it, Pettson is a forgetful farmer and his neighbor gives him a kitten named Findus. So he reads the kitten so much that the cat starts to talk. In this book it’s Findus’s birthday (which somehow happens more than once in a year). The dilemma? Our intrepid heroes need flour for a cake. To get the flour they need a bike, to fix a tower they need to get into the shed, to get into the shed they need a ladder to get to the sunroof, and so on and such. Phil Pullman did the blurb for the books and said that it has a folktale feel. Noted.
Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser (978-0735841567)
If you buy nothing else I mention to you today, buy this. Show some of the art. On the endpages you see a boy with his father and one of the man’s wheels of cheese is rolling down the hill and flies into the sky. Later, a squirrel wonders how the moon got into his tree. Worried that someone will think he’s the thief he tries to roll it off the tree. The cheese next gets stuck on a hedgehog and a goat gets stuck in it. The art is the real lure here. A-maze-ing.
The Bernadette Watts Collection: Stories and Fairy Tales by Bernadette Watts (978-0735842120)
Turns out, Ms. Watts is beloved in Europe. They just call her Bernadette there. In this book you will find thirty-eight timeless tales with an Eric Carle forward. The result is a book containing pitch perfect, sumptuous backgrounds.
Perseus Books Groups (Running Press Kids)
Go, Pea, Go! by Joe Moshier and Chris Sonnenburg (978-0762456789)
I’ll give ’em this. I have never seen a potty book that used peas in some manner. This book features one such rhyming pea. He is told by his family to go. See the world. A potty chart and stickers are part of the ensemble.
Butterfly Park by Elly Mackay (978-0762453399)
A paper cut artist takes it to the next level. In this story a girl moves next to a butterfly park and then goes and sees that there aren’t any there. She then gets the community together to plant the plants that attract butterflies.
My Life in Dioramas by Tara Altebrando (978-0762456819)
In this tale a 12-year-old girl’s family is selling their red barn home. She’s against this move so she creates dioramas of each room to best preserve her memories. She also tries to throw a wrench in the works to prevent the sales. One color illustrated dioramas for each chapter. Essentially, it’s all about moving forward.
And that was that. Phew! I can’t imagine how tricky it would be to organize such a thing. Many thanks to the folks who presented. I’ve high hopes for these books.