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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Librarian Preview: Simon & Schuster (Fall 2010)

At my last librarian preview you might have heard me mention how silly and foolish I felt for not bringing along my laptop to any of these events.  I mean, I have a shiny MacBook Air.  Light as a feather with a nice long battery life, and why shouldn’t I take it with me to a preview or two?  So it was that I found myself with laptop in tow at the Simon & Schuster Fall preview.

An apology before I begin.  I knew from the get go that I would not be able to stay for the entire preview this time.  On this particular day I had a painful invasive medical appointment scheduled for noon and so I would have to leave a day of pleasantness for something deeply dislikable.  As such, I did not hear all the presenters speak.  I will, however, try to fill in the details as best as I can.

Our special guest of the day (S&S always begins with their special guest, rather than the other way around), was Cassandra Clare.  The Clockwork Angel is her newest book and I gotta say, I’m loving its cover.  She’s a YA author by trade, so I haven’t read any of her books.  Ms. Cassie is perhaps best known for her Mortal Instruments trilogy.  Now she has gone and written a prequel series, of sorts.  The books will be part of the Infernal Devices series and book #1 is Clockwork Angel, taking place 130 years before the action in The Mortal Instruments, in 1878.

In describing this new series, Ms. Clare confessed to harboring a deep and abiding Victorian London fixation, where she lived for a time.  For this particular series she was very precise about the date.  1878.  The perfect year for any author who wants sewers but no telephones.  In other words, a London that doesn’t smell really bad, but also where you don’t have too much technology yet.  I liked that attention to detail.  I liked a lot of things about her, actually.  Ms. Clare was disarming and charming.  For example, when discussing how folks sometimes ask her if she dreams her books she says that she doesn’t but she did have one dream involving her characters.  They were ahead of her at a grocery store and had too many items in their shopping carts.  Hard not to love that description.

For this new series the main character is an American by the name of Tessa who is summoned to London by her brother.  She believes that he has sent her word saying he’s made his fortune there.  However, she is met at South Hampton by warlocks who claim they’ve captured her bro.  Tessa, you see, has a rare shape-changing power that the baddies would like to get their hands on.  She escapes them (Ms. Clare said she wasn’t giving much of anything away since this all happens within the first ten pages), and promptly meets up with the Shadow Hunters.  Research for this book proved to be fun for the author.  For example, she spent one year reading only Victorian books (1830-1901) or titles about the Victorian period.  She considered lots of primary sources, even going so far as to wade through a lot of dull diaries of folks traveling "the continent" with titles like "My Gleanings" or "My Thoughts" or "Musings".  Poor baby, she went to London several times herself for hands on research.  While there, Ms. Clare wanted to go ON Blackfriars Bridge and through The Devil’s Acre (called back in the day) which is now apartments.

As for whether or not it’s a good idea to read the Mortal Instruments books first, it doesn’t really matter.  Naturally you’d want to start with the first book in either series, but they interlock like puzzle pieces and everything is explained in both series.  You’ll just happen to recognize details and family names if you’ve read the previous series.  This made me wonder if Ms. Clare had ever read the Edward Eager books.  I’ve always loved that the kids in Magic By the Lake and The Time Garden interact with one another in both books.

With that out of the way, it was time to encounter . . .

Margaret K. McElderry Books

I mention that it begins with McElderry, but from my notes I see that there was a bit of switching between different imprints, so that there wasn’t a hard and fast title here or there, necessarily.

Justin Chanda came on up to recognize his team of  Karen Wojtyla, Gretchen Hirsch, and Emily Fabre. Once I attended a Mad Men party held by some agents, including my own.  I was convinced that I’d seen editor Gretchen Hirsch there, and my mistake is understandable.  The woman is class incarnate.  Don’t believe me?  Check out her Gertie’s New Blog for Better Sewing.   

The first book on the menu today was Stalling by Alan Katz, ill. Elwood H. Smith.  You may know Alan best as one of the more irreverent poets for children out there.  Under normal circumstances he is paired with David Catrow.  In fact, my eyes were so surprised by the new illustrator that it took a second look in the catalog to confirm that Katz is the author behind books like Where Did They Hide My Presents? and Going, Going, Gone!  Granted, he’s been paired in the past with Edward Koren on Oops so I dunno why I was so surprised.  In the case of Stalling you’re looking at a boy who is pulling out all the stops to keep himself from having to go to bed.  Said the imprint: "Let’s call it the Anti-Goodnight Moon".  I like some of the ideas of what to do to keep yourself occupied at night: "Inflate a critter! / Paint with glitter."

I much prefer attending previews for books that will be out five months from now.  That said, it’s always slightly unnerving when you’ve gone to a preview to hear about books on an unseasonably cool May day and they start talking to you about Christmas titles.  Them’s the breaks though, so we heard about Jeannette Claus Saves Christmas by Douglas Rees, ill. Olivier Latyk.  In this tale Santa’s daughter takes the sleigh out on behalf of Santa because he has a cold.  The reindeer, however, are nasty individuals and strand her when she is only halfway through (no word on whether or not Rudolph is present at the time).  So it is that our intrepid heroine finds some stray dogs and cats and ropes them in instead, thereby saving Christmas.

What’s in the Egg, Little Pip? by Karma Wilson, ill. Jane Chapman is the third and final book in the Pip Trilogy (they didn’t call it that, but I think it has a nice ring to it).  Chanda reiterated that it is his personal opinion that Ms. Wilson is one of the best poets for kids out there today.  "She sets the standad."  In this particular book Pip prepares for the coming of a new brother or sister.  I dunno why but I got a kind of Jane Simmons Daisy and the Egg vibe off of this one.  Good for the little ones, certainly.

I’m fairly certain we have historical books that consider the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  I’m almost positive of it.  Still . . . not many come to mind.  All the more reason why we should consider Firestorm! by Joan Hiatt Harlow then.  The story follows the friendship between a pickpock and a jeweler’s son.  Poppy is a pickpocket who befriends Justin, the aforementioned son who wants to prove to his father than he can handle more responsibility.  Say they, it raises questions of morality without being preachy.  Joan wrote Star in the Storm which I read a number of years ago and enjoyed, as I recall.  She has a pretty keen historical fiction bent to her.

Then the room purred.  This occasionally happens when someone introduces an anticipated title by a favorite author.  Fallout by Ellen Hopkins falls into that distinct category.  One of the most banned writers out there, ("and we’re damn proud of it") Ms. Hopkins’ notoriety grows with each passing book.  This title will be the conclusion of the series that originally began with CrankGlass was the companion novel, and now Fallout is the companion to the both of them covering two generations.  In a particularly interesting move, the jacket is an amalgam of the previous two covers (show).

See look:





The book tells of two of the four children of Christina and displays the fallout to her addiction.  There’s a lot of nature vs. nurture to swallow here as well as a side order of gut wrenching tragedy and hope.  Kids actually do devour these (I’m not sure where all the food metaphors came from, except possibly because I hadn’t eaten any of the muffins at the preview at this point).  I can personally attest that I had a teen in my bookgroup once who desired one of the books (I think it was Glass) when she saw the cover on sight.  A massive book, it can be devoured in two hours.  And will be.

If a purr was the response to the Hopkins title then happy sighs met the much anticipated Zombies Vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.  You may have missed the story behind this one.  Allow me to catch you up.  Holly and Justine have been arguing on their blog since 2007 about the superiority of zombies vs. the superiority of unicorns.  It is, shall we say, a distinctly 21st century debate.  Team Unicorn is Holly, and Justine is Team Zombie.  In this book, twelve short stories of each creature alternate chapters and are clearly identified by icons.  The zombies are zombies, but "these are unicorns like you’ve never seen them before."  How does it all fall out?  Meg Cabot & Garth Nix = Unicorns.  Cassandra Clare & Maureen Johnson = Team Zombie.  And to top it all off, Holly and Justine introduce each selection in a dialogue format so that they can yell at one another about Zombies Vs. Unicorns.  Nutty.  We are informed that this is definitely for ages 14 and up.  I’m a big fan of the cover.  It reminds me not a little of that alternative artist Henry Darger.  Here’s the spread that goes under the jacket, for example:

Finally, we have Sarah Beth Durst’s newest title Enchanted Ivy.  Sarah’s a lot of fun.  She’s one of the few authors for kids that I know (aside from Jane Yolen) that you can find at Science Fiction and Fantasy writers conferences.  For me, I’ll remember Sarah best for her Into the Wild, an original take on fairy tale characters being real. This particular novel is straight up teen fiction and is about a girl who has always wanted to go to Princeton.  Once there, however, she discovers the school’s dark underbelly. The gargoyles talk, the dragons are out for human blood, and some boys are occasionally were-tigers.  Amusingly, our heroine is just trying to get admission!  It doesn’t appear to be based on a fairy tale, interestingly enough.  That usually Ms. Durst’s backbone to any tale.  I found the cover to be interesting too.  There are two slightly different versions out there:


Is she wearing shorts?  Unclear.  I just hope that the gargoyle featured is actually one of the gargoyles at Princeton.  If not, it’s a bit of a waste.  Talk about instant available content to work off of, after all.

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Justin Chanda, David Gale, Alexander Cooper, Courtney Bongiolotti, and Lydia Frost took to the stage.   

First up, The Day Ray Got Away by Angela Johnson, ill. Luke LaMarca.  Which is to say, a new Johnson title!  Excellent.  This picture book is all about big parade balloons, and how one in particular decides to get away.  So when his ropes snap, chaos ensues, and he flees and has a splendid time (giving other balloons some ideas).  The format is nicely broken up by panels.  Illustrator Luke LaMarca looks like a good companion to Ms. Johnson.  He did The Curious Demise of a Contrary Cat, which I was rather fond of.  This appears to be an entirely different style, though.  And I’ve already found myself mentioning this book to folks.  The other day I met a small child who is balloon obsessed.  Her mom wanted some good balloon recommendations, and I thought of Harvey Potter’s Balloon Farm by Jerdine Nolen, which I adore.  But why limit my suggestions to small balloons?  So I brought up Ray, and she liked the idea.  Now all we have to do is wait for the final product.

Not too long ago I asked my readers to suggest the best and worset celebrity picture books out there.  I got a lot of answers, but nobody, not one soul, mentioned Michael Ian Black.  This is interesting.  He’s the only celebrity picture book author to ever make it onto the 100 Books for Reading and Sharing list, produced by NYPL each year.  Maybe he’s too minor a celebrity to count?  I mean, how many of you have even seen The State?  Still and all, a celebrity picture book author he is, there’s no getting around it.  Perhaps he’ll be my generation’s Kay Thompson.  You see, the problem is that he’s good.  Real good.  I didn’t want to admit it until now, but when I saw the premise behind his A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea, illustrated Kevin Hawkes, I knew I had to speak out.  These two have gotten together again after their Chicken Cheeks hit.  This one is simple (and is the first book by Mr. Black not to feature an upside down animal head on its cover).  Now you may think a pig parade would be the greatest thing EVER!  Who wouldn’t want to see that?  But in reality, it’s a terrible idea.  As the book leaps between the fantasy of pigs in funny costumes playing instruments and the reality of what that would actually be like, Hawkes also alternates between his customary light cartoony method of art with a hyper-realistic style.  So it goes between an idealized idea, and the realistic pictures of real pigs not playing along.  Say they, it gets exponentially more funny.  And speaking of exponentials . . .

Consider The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett (and a lot of rabbits).  Ostensibly it’s based on the Fibonacci series of numbers "but it’s really about the rabbits".  Physically it’s like a little calendar.  You hold it vertically to read until you reach the end when the rabbits in December pop out in a crazed mass. Gravett has conquered die cuts (Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears) and multiple flaps (Spells) so it only stands to reason that pop-ups would have been next.

Here’s a quickie interior spread, by the way:

Oh, but S&S is excited about this next one.  So super excited you can practically see them jumping in place about it.  If you haven’t heard of The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi you will.  As an object, it may be DiTerlizzi’s loveliest (check out that hardcover jacket).  In this story a girl by the name of Eva Nine has her sanctuary destroyed.  She escapes and begins her search for other human beings like herself.  Says David Gale, it’s classic children’s literature in a space age setting.  There are two colors throughout the interior illustrations (much like an actual classic children’s book I could name).  DiTerlizzi’s also gone all Tolkien on us with this book, going so far as to create his own language, maps, critters, etc.  And then we get to the augmented reality component. 

Here is how it works.  You go to a certain website.  You then hold a specific picture from the book (one of three) to your web cam on your computer while logged onto that site.  When you do so, on the website a map will unfold that "you" are holding.  We were shown a video of how that would work, but it was a little difficult to determine without holding the book ourselves.  The website is now live, but I’ll need a final copy of the book before I test the technology out.  Just thinking about it to myself, I really think we should do something wth ghost stories with this.  It would be cool to have a ghost story and then to go to a website where, if you hold the book up, a ghost appears on the website with you.  I’m a little surprised that Patrick Carman hasn’t been all over this technology too.

Pies and Prejudice by Heather Vogel Frederick is soon to be out.  Not to be confused with this particular book of the same name.  Makes for a fun compare and contrast, though.


Frederick circulates quite beautifully in my own children’s room.  I’m sure her newest will as well.  In this book, Emma and her family move to England.  Her replacement is a Mr. Darcy-ish boy, joining the bookclub as the members decide to read Pride & Prejudice.  Cute.

At long last we’ve a sequel to Mac Barnett’s from Brixton Brothers adventure, The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity.  In book #1 he was on the run from librarians.  Now a bonafide detective in book #2 Steve Brixton is trying to discover a lost diamond, when a larger case comes up.  The author of his favorite Bailey Brothers series is kidnapped and Steve’s on it.  I see that they may be giving a new cover to the first book in its paperback format (shown later in this post).

And as for book #2, I’m loving this new cover.  How often do you get to see gunplay on a children’s book jacket?  I don’t even think it’ll get challenged anywhere.  Unless you see the gun, bullets on their own aren’t considered objectionable.  Funny, eh?  I can attest that #1 is always checked out in my library (partly because I always recommend it) so I’ll be entirely pleased to add #2 to the collection.

I had already seen the cover of Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry when book designer Laurent Linn showed it during a recent Children’s Literary Cafe at my library.  That said, it’s just as eye-popping the second time around as it was the first.  In this newest post-apocalyptic zombie book, a boy apprentices with his older zombie-hunter brother.  What sets this apart from the usual zombie-hunting pack is that in this book the zombie hunter makes a point to read letters of closure before killing the zombies.  Each zombie was originally a loved one, after all.  The book has garnered blurbs from Nancy Holder and Michael Northrup.  By the way, doesn’t the cover kind of remind you of the one on Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793?  Just a tad.


I know that after the huge success of The Monstrumologist (a.k.a. the book title I cannot spell) folks were hankering for a sequel.  That sequel hits shelves in October (appropriate) in the form of The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey (not this book of the same title, mind you).  In this book, Dr. Warthrop and Will are trying to save a guy from becoming a wendigo.  In doing so you have New York at the turn of the century, as well as the Canadian wilderness.  Along the way, a serial killer somewhere is also killing folks in a weird way (audience member hisses, "Yesss!").  After talking about this we learned that The Monstrumologist is getting a new cover in pb. I’m fascinated by this, since I always thought the hardcover was gold.  I remember being given a bookmark of the first book at one of these previews and then coming back to my bookgroup.  At one point in our conversation the bookmark fell out of my bag and my kids started acting like . . . well, like wendigos, really.  They demanded the book there and then which, even if I’d had it, I don’t know that I would have given them.  This is a pretty YA series, after all. 

The memoir of Smile for the Camera by Kelle James is set in the 1970s in NYC and is the story of a girl who leaves an abusive family to go to NY to become a model.  Mind you, 1970s NYC was not a place you wanted to be back then.  So it’s not too surprising to learn that this is a gritty memoir of bad mistakes and finding yourself.  They call it almost a stream of consciousness.  Spoiler alert, she’s okay now so apparently things eventually turned out well in spite of becoming buds with somene accused of being a mass murderer (Son of Sam, I wonder?).  Extra points for the cracked snowglobe cover.  I feel like I’ve not seen that look on a book before

Hm.  Hautman’s back, eh?  Pete Hautman, I mean.  I guess he never really went away.  Last year he had that Scholastic book with the great title.  What was it again?  Ah yes.  How to Steal a Car.  Now with S&S he’s coming out with Blank Confession, a title described as being like The Usual Suspects because you don’t know who to believe.  Boy walks into a police station to confess to a murder.  Once he finishes, he disappears.  And really, do you need top know any more than that?  It’s described as a quick read and hard to put down ("so it’s good that it’s short").


I was so pleased to finally get a copy of Keeper by Kathi Appelt the other day, so my feeling towards this particular imprint are warm and fuzzy at the moment.  And right from the start they began with an interesting little title.

Too Busy Marco by Roz Chast… doesn’t look like Roz Chast at first.  Which is to say, when she does picture books she doesn’t tend to do animals.  She’s a people person.  For that matter, the art here is far bolder and less sketchy than her usual style.  It may serve her well.  Pairing well with the aforementioned Stalling by Alan Katz (who was once illustrated by Ms. Chast’s fellow New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren and how’s THAT for connections?) this is a bedtime story about a bird who doesn’t want to go to bed.  That’s one way of looking at it.  Another way is to call it a love story to Ms. Chast’s actual bird.  The bird in the book is Marco (he has a real world equivalent) who wants to do lots of stuff before bed like invent underwater paint and the like. Apparently Ms. Chast really is a birder, and will tell you bird related stories when asked.  My favorite mentioned was about her African Grey.  They’ve a very large vocabulary, so she taught it the words "cheep cheep" because it’s so meta.

I grew up with the nickname Betsy.  It isn’t that common a name.  And I was pretty certain that the only Revolutionary War era Betsy out there was Betsy Ross.  She of the quilting fame (slash legend).  Now I hear that there’s a second Betsy out there, and one of more kickass credentials.  Granted, her tale is more of an oral legend than anything else, but we’ll take what we can get.  In The Legend of Betsy Dowdy by Kitty Griffin, ill. Marjorie Priceman, we hear about a kind of female Paul Revere, (and in North Carolina it is considered "absolutely true").  Her farm was the only farm that had heard the British coming.  I’m just happy to see Ms. Priceman getting some more work out there.  After her Caldecott Honor win, she’s been a little quiet.

I think Chris Raschka gets better as he goes.  Is it possible for a guy like him to simplify even further?  Maybe.  In Little Black Crow, Raschka sort of tackles the wonder of wondering.  They were calling it his most accessible book to date, and I hope that they are right.  In this story of a boy and a crow, the kid wonders about the bird.  Then, in time, he comes to wonder if the crow wonders about him.  Essentially, they say that this takes a message that almost seems hokey (animals and people ain’t so different) and turns it into something meaningful.  It’s a Dick Jackson book to boot.  One where Dick says "All of life is touched on," in this title.

‘Nuff o’ that.  Let’s see some pigs in Italy.  A pig party may be a terrible idea (and I bet Olivia Starts a Band would have something to say about that) but pigs in Venice, or Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer?  That’s awesome.  This is the first Olivia book in 3 years, which makes a strange bit of sense to me.  I think to myself, "Yeah.  That’s right."  I haven’t encountered Olivia during the height of my blogging era.  In her absence, of course, she’s sort of built herself quite the media empire.  In this particular adventure (one that sports a LOT more color than the previous titles) we discover that Olivia is a fan of gelato.  Who ain’t?  Interestingly enough, I have gotten picture book Venice requests in my library, you know.  And now that Olivia’s gone there, I suspect I’ll be getting a lot more.

Now . . . with this next book I got very interested and very confused very fast.  First off, we’re talking about a book called Lulu and the Brontosaurus.  A book written by Judith Viorst (she of the Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day fame).  A book illustrated by Lane Smith.  So my thoughts upon seeing this book go in precisely this order:

– Viorst?  Longer book?  Not picture book?  Tis possible?

– Are there still Brontosauruses? 

– How old is she anyway?

That last one was rather rude.  One can hardly ask a lady her age.  But as it happens, Ms. Viorst at the age of 79 wanted to create something fresh.  Fresh it may be, but it sounds like it will pairs particularly well with a similar title coming out this year called Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown.  In this story, a Veruka Salt-esque girl always gets what she wants . . . until she wants a Brontosaurus.  Her parents say no so she goes out, finds some animals (in a rather My Father’s Dragon-ish manner), and meets a Brontosaurus.  As it turns out, though, the dino also wants a pet.  There’s a choice of three endings here, which is fun.  And to answer my second question, apparently Ms. Viorst DOES address the now outdated Brontosaurus term in the book (whew!).

Aw, Amelia.  You’re always good.  The next and newest Amelia story, True Things (Adults Don’t Want Kids to Know) by Jimmy Gownley is approaching.  Admittedly I’m having a hard time getting over the physical changs to Rhonda.  So odd seeing her with good hair.  In this particular book Amelia turns eleven and has to deal with the problems that go with that.  Her friends are fighting.  She has a crush on a boy.  And her grades drop.  Add onto that the fact that Tanner is dating Amelia’s English teacher.  But as long as Violet makes it onto the cover, that’s all I care.  They ended with a great quote from Gownley on this one.  Amelia isn’t just the friend he wishes he had when he was a kid.  She’s the kind of friend he wishes he could have been.

Previous purrs and happy sighs in the room turned into little coos when Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson was next revealed.  Said S&S:  "I’m done.  Thank you!"  It’s just a little bit anticipated, this one.  The Chains sequel continues Anderson’s penchant for fantastic historical research.  This is from the boy’s point of view, Curzon, after he and Isabel have crossed the river.  Some discussion was made of Ms. Anderson’s magnificent writing "cabin" in the woods, which is lit with gaslights and a pot belly stove.  For this book, the author rented the right clothing, down to the leggings, and then wrapped her feet in newspaper to feel that cold to write about it properly.  She found a good five degree below zero day, and proceeded to walk from her house to the mailbox, which is about a quarter of a mile.  She got halfway there.  Suffice it to say, Laurie Halse Anderson feels adequately prepared to write about cold.

I liked very much that Nevermore by Kelly Creagh was described as "the thinking girl’s Twilight."  In it a Poe-inspired Goth boy and cheerleader girl are paired on a school project.  Note their choice of fella on the cover.  I approve.  He’s good and gaunt.  Varon (Raven anagram) is Poe-obsessed and wants nothing more than to go to this other strange world that he thinks Poe discovered.  Varon’s writing makes its own reality, and as he writes the cheerleader into his stories it spirals out of control and he’s trapped there and she has to save him.  Say S&S, this is a book with no easy answers, lots of mystery, creepy villains, and real love.  Kelly Creagh is a teen librarian and Poe fangirl so the book is fairly steeped in Poe lore.   On the jacket, there’s a hidden layer (the text of The Raven).  Very interesting too to note that in the catalog Varon sports a lip ring while on the final cover he is lip-ringless.  I approve.  He looks better without it.

With lip ring:

Without lip ring:

Beach Lane Books

Andrea Welch was our conference call contact since the elusive Allyn Johnston was not available.

So.  Let’s get right too it.  Boss Baby by Marla Frazee.  Power tie.  Briefcase.  He conducts many many meetings and makes many many demands.  Basically anyone who has ever been bossed around by a new baby will relate to this brand new book.  I admit it.  I am charmed.  I am also going to apparently have to buy this for every new parent I meet, so true it is.  And I’m going to want to do it before anyone else gives them the same book.  Frazee, I suspect I’ll be personally bankrolling you for many years to come.

Here’s another Boss Baby spread:

Speaking of presents, it’s always interesting to watch what I give my niece on a given birthday or Christmas season.  Last Christmas one of the many books I got for her was Brownie and Pear by Cynthia Rylant and Brian Biggs.  Not only was it a hit with the small fry but it goes out of my own library with an almost mechanical regularity.  Now the follow-up, Brownie and Pearl: See the Sights by Cynthia Rylant, is coming out as well. It is one of the first see-the-city-sights picture books I have seen to mention a requisite trip to the cupcake shop too.  Clever clever.

This is what we call in the business ("the business" in this particular meaning "my head") a golden pairing.  Mem Fox + Jan Thomas = Counting Goats.  If Mem Fox is the queen of the written picture book word, then Thomas is her new visual equivalent.  Let’s Count Goats was described at some point as "crazy funny".  All I care is that it may be the ideal read aloud.  We shall see.

And then I left.

But that makes me feel bad.  To just take off while there were other books discussed.  All right then.  I’ve got my catalog in front of me.  So that was everything they talked about while I was there.  Here’s what they didn’t talk about, or what I may have missed due to my unfortunate bowing out.

Just to prove that Koren and Chast aren’t the only New Yorker cartoonists that need to be mentioned today, Bruce Eric Kaplan, or the-guy-I-never-thought-would-write-a-picture-book, has written a picture book.  It’s called Monsters Eat Whiny Children and if I didn’t know better I’d say he was perhaps a bit touched by the feather of Shel Silverstein.  There are worse things to be touched by.

Oh!  I was so sad that I missed the discussion of Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer too!  Ms. Sauer was the author of that charming Chicken Dance, penned by one Mr. Dan Santat last year.  I’m sure you recall.  Mr. Magoon, on the other hand, is illustrator to many fine books, like Rabbit and Squirrel and Hugo and Miles in I’ve Painted Everything.  Here the two come together with just the sweetest l’il ole monster book ever to hike down the pike.  A monster by the name of Bernadette (so, y’know, right there that’s good) is an ordinary monster with a penchant for doing unmonsterly things from time to time.  She needs to find a way to make friends.  That’s pretty much all there is to it.  Aw, but look at that little cover.  Adorable.

Here’s an interior spread to give you a taste:

Mostly I’m going to pass over the celeb picture books here . . . except perhaps to mention that on the far distant horizon, at some point, there will be a picture book called Nighttime Symphony penned by Timbaland and illustrated by Christopher Myers.  Now, it’s not due out for a long time.  Certainly not this fall.  But I have a great affection for Timbaland.  I have the distinct impression from watching his videos at my gym that he is a super nice guy.  This could be untrue, but watch him in a video sometime.  The man is having the time of his life and everybody wants him to be in their shoot.  In his biography in the catalog he is said to have collaborated with "Justin Timberlake, Madonna, and Bjork".  Surely they mentioned Bjork and not, say Katy Perry because librarians are all grown-up Bjork fans.  That and the fact that Bjork created the greatest librarian song of all time.

I took home some books from this preview and left them out on my coffee table.  Then at one point my husband walked by talking to me while I was distracted.  All I heard was "something something something good title : Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze."  I woke myself up and bit and agreed, "Yeah.  That is a good title."  So good that I wrote it down in my file of Great Titles for Projects That Don’t Exist Yet.  The problem?  What my husband was saying was how clever Alan Silberberg is for writing the book Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze since that’s such a great title.  A great title and, hopefully, a great book too.  I like Alan.  He wrote that amusing Pond Scum book a couple years ago.  That makes me all the more inclined to read his newest book now.  Particularly since he illustrated it himself.  The book is also significant since it looks like just another Wimpy Kid-esque title, but tackles the far more serious subject of losing a parent and the aftermath of recovery for the family.

New paperback cover alerts!

The Traitors’ Gate by Avi

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron

The Magician of Hoad
by Margaret Mahy

And that’s about it.  Finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

Best Meets:

The unequivocal winner is a blurb that came from Nancy Holder for the zombie book Rot & Ruin : "George Romero meets Catcher in the Rye."

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. Colleen says:

    I am intrigued by a half dozen of these books at least (and my son will be thrilled to pieces to hear about the new Amelia) but man, I have to say some of these covers are just amazing! WOW!!! So happy to see so many non-photo covers in particular(that zombies/unicorns cover is especially awesome).

    Great job as always Betsy!

  2. I heard about Zombies vs Unicorns from Diana Peterfreund at the Kidlitosphere conference last October. I can’t wait! This was a few days after I’d given Diana’s book RAMPANT a rave review. Her unicorns could defeat a horde of zombies with no problem!

  3. I love the cover of Clockwork Angel, so much so I may finally read the City of Bones trilogy.

    The Boss Baby looks very cute.

    Very happy to hear the second Brixton Brothers is coming out. I like the new cover. I loved the first book and cover.

    For some reason kids didn’t take to the first Brixton Brothers cover. It was hard handsell to kids in HC. Even with the Jeff Kinney blurb

  4. Gretchen Hirsch says:

    Aw, thanks for the shout-out, Betsy! I’m glad we finally got to meet.

  5. Cassandra Clare says:

    I’m glad you enjoyed the presentation! I as nervous the whole time so now I don’t even remember what I said. Good to be reminded. And I love Edward Eager. Half-Magic! Knight’s Castle! Such great books.

  6. That Forge cover may be the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!

  7. I can’t wait for Zombies vs Unicorns. So many books, so little time. Thanks for the cover comparisons.

  8. Melissa (Book Nut) says:

    Sarah Beth Durst has another coming out. Woot! Thanks for the roundup otherwise, too. Some interesting looking books coming out this fall.

  9. tammi sauer says:

    Thanks for the monsterly mention. You totally deserve a cupcake with sprinkles.

  10. Alan Silberberg says:

    Hey Betsy – I like you too. And tell your husband he has great taste in titles (among other things!)