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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2011)

Once you get into the swing of these librarian previews, they start to come easier to the old typing fingers.  For Spring 2011 I’ve mostly been keeping to the publishers with smaller print runs until now.  Candlewick.  Chronicle.  Lerner.  Harper Collins sort of marks the first foray into the big leagues.  Each table took thirty minutes apiece to present books, so I’ve had to make some judicious pruning.  For the most part, I won’t be discussing YA (no huge surprise there).  However, I should also note that I had to skip out before the end of the presentations this particular day.  That may affect what I report on as well.

Knowing, as I did, that I would have to flee I took it upon myself to start at the Greenwillow table.  And why not?  Greenwillow is a superb place to begin any round-up.  Presided over by Steve Geck, Virginia Duncan, and Martha Mihalick, I got a full roster of upcoming goodies.

First up, Henkes.  Lots of luscious Henkes.  I was perusing my own library’s picture book shelves the other day and discovered to my horror that we are bereft of Henkes!  Quick inspection revealed a veritable treasure trove of Henkes in our overflow, but for a brief second there it seemed as though he was entirely checked out.  The solution to such a skull-numbing proposition?  Buy more Henkes, I guess.  Now recently the man has been indulging in a new and very distinctive style.  If you’ve seen Old Bear, A Good Day, or My Garden then this style is familiar to you.  Unlike the Lilly books these images have grown big and full, the colors falling into varieties of greens and purples.  Little White Rabbit, his latest picture book, is no exception to this.  Think of it as Runaway Bunny but without the creepiness factor (oh yeah, I said it!).

Not that this is the only 2011 Henkes offering, of course.  Some of you may recall that the man has a penchant for middle grade novel writing as well.  Here’s a question: Do any of you find it really hard to weed older Kevin Henkes novels?  Books like Sun & Spoon don’t fly off my shelves, yet I can’t bring myself to weed them because . . . well . . . because they’re friggin’ Kevin Henkes, for crying out loud!  His latest doesn’t look like a shelf-sitter, though, and maybe that’s due partly to the name.  Like Olive’s Ocean, Junonia is another sea-related bit of Henkes fare.  It’s a little younger than his previous Newbery Honor winning book, concentrating on a nine-year-old about to turn ten.  The title is taken from a distinctive and very rare shell (though if you Google it you’ll find it’s also the name of a plus-sized women’s store).  The interior illustrations he includes will be blue.  Cool.

You may have heard me give little coos of pleasure in my last HC preview when discussing Perfect Square by Michael Hall.  Hall was responsible for last year’s My Heart is Like a Zoo, which was a visually fun book, but didn’t have much of a story.  Perfect Square makes up for that with a tale that almost conjures up Leo Lionni’s Little Blue and Little Yellow in its simplicity.  I say that if you want to start your Caldecott 2012 countdown early (make that super early) you should grab this book and give it the old looksee.

Had a mother in the library the other day asking for the new Amelia Bedelia picture books.  Lucky for me we actually had one on the shelf.  Now with her newest title Amelia Bedelia’s First Field Trip, I’ve gotten to thinking about the potential market that’s out there for books that cover “firsts” that aren’t your usual fare.  Sure, Amelia has done the standard “first day of school” and such but first field trip?  First apple pie?  First Valentine?  Makes sense.  Add in a first trip to the doctor’s office (seriously… add that) and you’ve got yourself a clever little niche market.

Christoph Niemann recently appeared on the New York Times Best Illustrated list of 2010 for his rather visually lovely Subway.  But let’s be honest.  The bulk of you don’t live near subways.  The bulk of you probably serve kids who couldn’t care less about the people who ride in a hole in the ground.  That’s why Niemann’s next book That’s How is so interesting.  Based on conversations he’s had with boys, the story shows one kid asking another how things like fire engines and elevators work, getting in return some pretty goofy animals-inside-of-things answers (the cover is a pretty good example right there).  It’s a pretty cute concept and I’m wracking my brain to try and figure out if anyone’s ever done anything similar before.  Did Seuss?  I keep conjuring up Seuss, but I can’t say why.  Sound plausible?

Not long ago I wrote a post about whether or not a Caldecott would ever go to a book illustrated entirely with photographs (could = yes, would = *sigh*).  One of the folks I had in mind as I asked this was Nina Crews.  Nina’s the rare fictional picture book illustrator who uses photos to illustrate her texts.  Seven years ago she came out with the Neighborhood Mother Goose, and Greenwillow informed us that to this day the book continues to sell several copies thousand each year.  Wow.  Wouldn’t mind a bit of that staying power myself, eh?  Her newest book The Neighborhood Sing-Along is very much along the same lines.  To my delight I pretty much knew every song in here, though I was surprised by the inclusion of La Bamba (those music rights must be pretty affordable).  Unlike the cut and paste technique of Neighborhood Mother Goose, the kids in this book are Photoshopped, and the transition is much smoother and more natural.  Best of all, now when parents and nannies come up to me after storytime demanding books with songs in them, I’ll finally have something to hand them.  Sheet music is not included, but sometimes the words are enough.

The illustrator of my own book, Brandon Dorman, has a pirate offering on the horizon.  First off, did you know that Pirates of the Caribbean 4 is being made and is slated for next summer?  Me neither!  Well in time for a tie-in comes Brandon’s own Pirates of the Sea! It pretty much allows him to do exactly what it sounds like: Make a bunch of goofy looking pirates.  Good man.  Now let’s see what he can do with a giant or two…

Solid middle grade for the Magic Tree House set.  So say they.  I actually do get a fair number of parents asking for recommendations for when their kids have devoured every single last Magic Tree House book on record.  Normally I just point them at The Secrets of Droon and they’re good to go for another month.  After that it can get tricky, and The Six Crowns: Trundle’s Quest by Allan Jones (illustrated by Gary Chalk) offers at least one solution.  In the tradition of furry creatures wearing clothes, battling evil, a hedgehog pairs up with a goofy sidekick named Esmeralda (50 points for having a goofy girl in a book, by the way) to unite a bunch o’ crowns and, presumably, save the world.  It’s a young Redwall, basically.

How to Self-Publish:  Step One – Self-publish.  Step Two – Sell 15,000 copies of your book to local stores.  Step Three – When Harper Collins offers to publish you, say yes.  That way your book is guaranteed to live the ultimate Eragonish dream.  Bryan Chick followed these rules to the letter, and this year his The Secret Zoo came out.  Next year we’ll be seeing The Secret Zoo: Secrets and Shadows which pits our child heroes against their greatest adversary yet: Snotty teenagers.  Because when you think of it, a child’s natural enemy is always the kid who has preceded that kid into puberty.

There’s not a real name for the genre of middle grade where everyday kids meet small not-so-everyday critters of a magical variety.  Not one I know of anyway.  But if we were to label such books Overly Observant Fantasies (or OOF!) then The Unseen World of Poppy Malone by Suzanne Harper would be OOF-tastic.  This first book, A Gaggle of Goblins, follows a child skeptic and her paranormal investigating parents.  First thoughts that come to mind: That’s a pretty good premise, and Harper (the author not the company) gets extra points for the name of the heroine.  There’s something easy on the ears in a name like “Poppy Malone”.  I like it!  Harper’s done some YA before, but this is her first middle grade fare.  Worth watching.


On to table #2 of the day.  Here we find ourselves with the esteemed Anne Hoppe, Barbara Lalicki, Rosemary Brosnan, Annie Stone, and Margaret Anastas.

The other day a well-known author mentioned to me that an equally well-known publisher (not HC) was awful when it came to hiring authors and illustrators of color.  Said this person “name me five books written by an African-American that they have published”.  I could, but it took some serious effort and proved her point.  HC has always been better than some about that kind of thing, particularly when it comes to books with Hispanic characters and bilingual texts.  For example, consider Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy’s upcoming Ten Little Puppies / Diez Perritos.  Illustrated by Ulises Wensell, a Spanish artist, and translated by Rosalma Zubizarreta, it reminds me a bit of that adorable Henry Cole illustrated One Pup’s Up by Marsha Wilson Chall.  Best of all, it shows a range of different dog breeds at the end.  Kee-yute.

Gail Carson Levine returns to her roots.  Admit it.  You’ve been patiently waiting all these years for her to write another book like Ella Enchanted.  Some of her fantasy fare got a little too YA for your collection, and then there were those unfortunate Disney fairy titles…  Well put your glad hearts to ease then fellow citizens.  With A Tale of Two Castles we’ve a story that’s just as appropriate for the smaller fry as ever.  In this story a girl in a village is supposed to become a weaver, but her passion is to act.  In the end, she does neither of these things and somehow ends up a detective’s assistant.  All well and good, except perhaps for the fact that the detective is a dragon.  Together they help solve an ogre-related mystery that may or may not have some relation to the tale of Puss in Books.  A Tale of Two Castles marks the start of a new trilogy for Levine, and I’ve little doubt that it’ll go like hotcakes once folks catch wind of it.

I do get kids in my library asking for Alex Rider, yup.  And so I shoot them off to Teen Central (a good 8 block walk away) because we don’t carry those books in the section for kids.  That isn’t to say we couldn’t stand to have some fast-paced action once in a while.  Enter Dan Gutman.  He’s just one of those guys that I never have difficulty hand-selling.  Not a day goes by when they aren’t asking for My Weird School or one of his time traveling baseball books.  Now Gutman brings us The Genius Files, and its first installment Mission Unstoppable.  Coke and Pepsi are a pair of twins that get themselves in a heap of trouble (for some reason I just heard that in my head as spoken by the voice of Waylon Jennings).  It’s an action packed cross country adventure where they visit a variety of real life and ridiculous tourist locations including . . . including . . . INCLUDING . . . HOUSE ON A ROCK!!!!!  Oh man, oh man.  I didn’t even know I’d been counting the days for House On a Rock to show up in a children’s book until now.  Best. Tourist. Attraction. Ever.  Dan Gutman, I salute you.

Pretty covers come and pretty covers go, but I think the prettiest of this preview by far was the one for Diane Stanley’s The Silver Bowl.  Now a number of years ago Ms. Stanley wrote Bella at Midnight, which was an underrated fun fairy tale of the Cinderella/Joan of Arc variety.  It didn’t get a ton of attention at the time of its release, which is a pity.  Maybe the cover wasn’t pretty enough.  The Silver Bowl may serve to right that great wrong, written as it is in a similar vein.  In this book a serving girl is given the job of polishing the royal family’s silver.  Only trouble is, when she looks into the bowl, she has the gift of seeing into the future.  And what she sees is the devastating toll about to be wreaked upon the royal family all thanks to a terrible curse.

There is a problem with the newest Will Hobbs book.  It’s quite simple.  I just can’t read its title without thinking of Billy Bass.  You remember Billy Bass, don’t you?  That simply charming little faux mounted fish that would sing right at you whenever you pressed a button / walked by / breathed heavily.  Yes sir, he was the most POP-ular toy in existence (I hope the drops of sarcasm I’m smearing all over my words are apparent on your end).  Well when I read the title Take Me to the River by Will Hobbs, that’s it.  It’s all over.  Billy Bass has won.  Fortunately, very few children remember Billy Bass these days (I suspect he’s just biding his time before he rises again from the undead) so they’ll be far more interested in the fact that Mr. Hobbs’ book is about two boys who take a trip down the Rio Grande only to find themselves seeing border tensions up close.

I’d said I wouldn’t mention any YA today, but I gotta at least include a plug for my girl Lesley Livingston.  Seriously, if you ever need a YA author to visit your school, try contacting Ms. Livingston.  She is a hoot and I love seeing her whenever she happens to crop up in NYC.  Tempestuous is the third in her current fantasy series, and all the strands from her previous books are pulled together here.  They call her books examples of “rich, beautiful writing,” and I can’t help but agree.  Woo-hoo!

Sick of Purplicious?  Of course you are.  Want a purple alternative?  A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid should do the trick.  It involves a girl and her passion for skunks.  She just really really wants one.  Her parents are not giving in, of course, and when she persists they finally inform her that skunks stink.  This accusation horrifies Petunia and . . . well, you’ll just have to read on from there.  Schmid is one of those fellows who should have more attention.  This book might be the right vehicle for exactly that.

Speaking of the “licious” books, Silverlicious by Victoria Kann is on the horizon.  Someday we’ll solve the mystery of whatever happened to Elizabeth Kann, you and me.  Why she disappeared without a trace from the series after book #1.  That kind of thing.

I was a little surprised to see an Amy Krouse Rosenthal / Jen Corace pairing at this point.  Not that I don’t love them.  Not that they haven’t been paired before (Little Hoot, etc.).  And both of them have done books for Harper Collins at different times.  But they’re usually paired together at Chronicle.  Now HC has followed suit and given us their This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations.  We shall see what we shall see.

I’ve come around to Fancy Nancy.  I admit this fact.  I’m not too proud to say it.  What started as mindless frills has turned into a smart little series on a variety of non-fiction topics.  Poetry, poison ivy, that kind of thing.  Two new offerings are on the horizon, Fancy Nancy: Aspiring Artist (incorporating real art into the images ala the Olivia books) and Fancy Nancy: Stellar Stargazer (with a glow-in-the-dark cover).  To which I say, bring ’em on.

Things got a little strange at this point.  Probably because we started talking about Weird Al Yankovic.  Yes, I know that the cover of his new picture book When I Grow Up only lists his name as “Al Yankovic”.  Whatever, dudes.  The man will always be Weird Al to me.  It’s a generational thing.  In any case, it seems odd to me that he delayed this long to go the celeb picture book route.  Considering that he’s made his living off of clever rhyming, why not put it to constructive literary use.  Don’t go thinking that this is a Weird Al version of classic picture books . . . though come to think of it, that could veer towards the awesome.  Even more so if he parodied OTHER celebrity picture books.  Oh man!  Can you imagine him rewriting The English Roses to be all about Madonna or the his take on Spike Lee’s books?  The mind boggles.  Anywho, this one’s much more standard.  A boy at school is given a chance to say what he wants to be when he grows up, and he launches into a ridiculous array of jobs.  It includes everything from giraffe milker (awesome) to gorilla masseuse.  It could do without the heartfelt ending (must all celebrity picture books have heartfelt endings?) but it’s heads and tails better than anything Steve Martin’s ever been able to whip off.  So I’m tentatively positive here.

Kay, nuff of that, because finally I get to mention the best of the best.  The reason why halfway through this preview I started bouncing in my seat like an overexcited Jack Russell Terrier.  Feast your eyes, my pretties!  Frances Hardinge is back back back!  And so is Mosca Mye with her homicidal goose Saracen!  It’s Fly Trap, and it’s big and bold and wonderful and I have a galley that I am physically forcing myself not to read right now (no 2011 books until 2011… that’s the rule).  But the minute we count down to 2011 baby, BAM!  You know what I’ll be diving headfirst into.  By the way, the title of this book makes me think that I missed the joke of the previous title.  That’s Hardinge for you.  Consistently amazing.


On to Balzer & Bray!  Which is to say, a table featuring Alessandra Balzer, Donna Bray, and Jordan Brown.

First up, Mo gets back to business.  Enough of this silly let’s-let-other-people-illustrate-my-books nonsense.  Bah!  This is what I want!  Books like Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator.  Right off the bat, I’m getting a distinct Bernard Waber vibe off of this one.  That may have something to do with the way in which Mo draws alligators (as opposed to Waber’s famous crocodile).  Mixing in a bit of James Marshall and Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s Dog & Bear tales as well, the book consists of six very short stories about Amanda and her mildly neurotic stuffed alligator.   In one story, for example, Alligator discovers that he (or is she a she?) was a mere 7 cents.  The best story may be the last when Amanda brings home a stuffed panda.  We were assured “Mo really hates pandas”.  I can get behind that.

For the next one, altogether now . . . .


Pretty, right?  I approve too.  Picture books about folks like Coco Chanel, for example, make zero sense to me (what with the whole Nazi connection and all).  But Audrey Hepburn?  Delightful!  For one thing, she was one of the first celebrities to come up with the idea of dedicating herself to good causes.  Author Margaret Cardillo has been paired with Julia Denos.  Denos . .  Denos . . . now where have I heard that name recently.  Ah ha!  Yes!  That was it.  Someone at my table, by the way, requested that this book have some paper dolls.  Sounds like ideal swag for ALA to me.

Had a kid in my library the other day looking for books on robots.  A small kid.  Naturally Robot Zot was the first thing I thought of, and maybe easy books like Swing, Otto, Swing.  After that, though, I got a little wonky in the brain.  I realized that the book I wanted to hand him was this one from the Harper Collins preview, Clink by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Matthew Myers.  Myers has a style not dissimilar to that of Dave Shannon, actually. In this story an out-of-date robot is stuck in a robot shop where no one will buy him.  Heck, he can’t even make toast without burning it.  But then he meets a boy who can’t decide on a bot until he sees little Clink.  The boy is the type who likes burnt toast and fixing things.  As they say, a match made in heaven.

As a librarian I have a hard time not constantly making associations between books.  So with Cat Secrets by Jef Czekaj (let the record show that I spelled both his first and last name correctly) my first thoughts went to There Are Cats in This Book by Vivian Schwarz.  Of course, unlike the cats in Vivian’s book, the cats in Jef’s are highly suspicious sorts.  They are willing to divulge their cat secrets, but ONLY if the kids reading the book are willing to do different things to prove that they too are cats.  I think the napping aspect will appeal to a lot of adults.  And of course, it has a book trailer:

Bob Shea has gone into the Save Betsy’s Storytimes business, for which I thank him.  My evidence?  First Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime.  Now I’m a Shark.  Actually, the book reminds me quite a lot of I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry, but with a twist.  In this book a tough shark shows how terrified the other ocean denizens are of him.  However, he does happen to have one completely and utterly ridiculous fear.  Could make a nice Shark Vs. Train companion as well, come to think of it.

Donna Bray had the wherewithal to say of the new Robert Louis Stevenson penned A Child’s Garden of Verses (with illustrations by Barbara McClintock), “I think this is his breakout book.”  Keep ’em coming, Bobby.  This is a book that for a second there I thought was coming out in 2010.  Rather it’s a March 2011 debut and it looks lovely.  It should too when you consider that Barbara’s been working on it for something like TEN YEARS.  Coming in at 112 pages, it is apparently also the only multicultural version of this book ever produced.  Surprising when you consider that folks like Brian Wildsmith, Tasha Tudor, Gyo Fujikawa, and Diane Goode have all tried their hands.

Doreen Cronin’s just full of surprises.  Rather than continue on her merry picture book route, she’s pulling out The Trouble With Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery and her first chapter book.  It’s your basic barnyard noir.  A retired search and rescue dog is tapped out of retirement by some chickens with a request.  Animal detective books in a hard-boiled detective style are certainly out there.  So for fans of Rex Tabby, The Stink Files, or Chet Gecko, here’s another one to consider.

It took me a moment to wrap my brain around the fact that Invisible Inkling by Emily Jenkins (illustrated by Harry Bliss) is a young chapter book more than anything else.  At 160 pages it’s about a kid who has an invisible . . . pet sort of.  After our hero rescues what I believe was described as a bandipet from a bulldog, the pet in turn tries to help the boy out with bullies to disastrous effect.  And since it’s Emily Jenkins, you know it’s gotta be good.

Anyone ever notice that Andrew Clements only writes about white kids?  Or rather, when he does have a kid of color as a main character, that tends to be the point of the novel.  Well, when they described How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy (by Crystal Allen) as Andrew Clements-esque I found myself thinking that THERE was a fridge-sized gap in my collection.  Fun contemporary characters and situations starring African-American boys.  Because aside from Christopher Paul Curtis, The Toothpaste Millionaire, Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs, and the Julian books, it’s hard to find all that much.

Eric Luper has a genius for coming by my workplace when I’m not around.  For example, when he recently stopped by to hand me a copy of his upcoming middle grade novel Jeremy Bender Vs. the Cupcake Cadets, I was nowhere in sight.  Luper’s pretty well known for his YA fare, so Bender marks a kind of departure for him.  In this book, a kid spills some grape soda and needs money to cover up the evidence fast.  His solution?  Tootsie.  Which is to say, he’s going to pretend to be a girl to infiltrate a girl scouts-type organization so as to sell cupcakes.  To my surprise, I had a hard time coming up with a middle grade novel where a boy pretends to be a girl.  Books where girls pretend to be boys are a dime a dozen (though almost always historical or fantasy), but boys as girls?  Rare.  Good idea, that.

Of Juniper Berry by M.P. Kozlowsky, Jordan Brown said that it was the kind of book that turned him into a reader as a kid.  Then he invoked John Bellairs, and I was pretty much sold right there.  If you’re looking for good creepy middle grade, seek ye no further.  In this book, our heroine (Juniper) is the daughter of some pretty distant parents who also happen to be actors.  One day she sees them disappear into the local woods and finds that in there lurks a creature that can sell you anything you’ve ever wanted.  It’s a fairy tale wrapped in a contemporary story “about a girl who wants more than Facebook.”  The art happens to be by Erwin Madrid.

The cover of The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander amused me right from the start.  The premise amused me even more.  In this book, there’s this kid (Mac) who can solve all your problems, for a price (sounds a bit like the creature in the woods in Juniper Berry, eh?).  Throw in some mystery and adventure and humor and we may have a pretty darn good guy book here.  Hope they like the cover (to say nothing of The Godfather reference) as well.

The other day Matt and I were joking around and I said something like, “Man, I wish someone would write a book with a young Mark Twain running around today.”  Matt pointed out that normally you can’t mash-up historical figures in our fiction, but why the heck not?  Someone should write a book about the clones of Mark Twain, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Sappho, Edgar Allen Poe, and Harriet Tubman hanging out in a middle school together.  In lieu of that, we have The Secret Journeys of Jack London by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon.  Looking at the cover, you’d have no idea it was an alternate history fantasy either.  In this middle grade book, 17-year-old Jack London (yes, that Jack London) investigates the goings on of a Wendigo.  It’s basically a paranormal adventure.

This will make some of you very happy, I’m sure.  The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place are back, baby.  Yes, everyone’s favorite raised-by-wolves sibling trio has returned and they’ve gone to London with their governess Miss Lumley.  Need you really know any more than that?

And then I left.  So unfortunately I cannot tell you what the deal is with that version of The Three Musketeers that’s being illustrated by Brett Helquist (not a bad notion, though!).  I can’t tell you what the middle grade novel Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai is, except that it seems like it’s going to be a pretty big deal.  Nor what inspired my favorite blogger cook The Pioneer Woman (her agent once gave me her book and I’ve been hooked ever since) to write her own picture book, Charlie the Ranch Dog.

That said, not all is lost!  For you see, editor Molly O’Neill took it upon herself to actually come to me a little later to personally tell me a bit about some of the books on this list.  The stuff I missed anyway.  Amusingly, Molly stopped by the same day that Mo Willems was spotted casually reading through the easy books in my children’s section.  Let that be a lesson to you librarians out there.  Always keep your Easy Books organized.  You never know who might be pawing through them next.

First up, Molly showed me Before You Came by the mother daughter team of Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest.  David Diaz apparently got that oil painting out of his system with Me, Frida and is back to his previous digitally enhanced style.  This is a cute little mommy book that may find a life not too dissimilar from that of Neil Gaiman’s Blueberry Girl in terms of readership.

Molly earned my interest with A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron by making it clear up front that she is not a dog person.  This comes as a bit of a relief.  I am not a dog person either.  And yet, Molly was won over by this book and was beginning to win me over as well.  Said she, “This author can channel dog like no one I’ve ever known.”  Having written the YA novel The Ring about a female teenage boxer, this book is about a pretty dog trying to find its way home.  Sounds like something for the Ann Martin fans out there.  On top of that, it has blurbs from the aforementioned Patricia MacLachlan as well as Kathi Appelt and Gary Schmidt.  And not to ruin it for you, but don’t you fret dog lovers.  This one doesn’t die.

The newest Rosemary Wells looked so different to me from her usual fare that I honestly didn’t recognize that it was her handiwork.  Her new series is called Kindergators, and I have to admit she does a pretty nice reptile.  Each book in the series will cover a different behavior problem.  As you can see from #1 (Hands Off, Harry!) she’s starting off with personal space. Consider it an alternative to The Berenstain Bears.

There’s something bout the cover of Summer Jackson Grows Up (by Teresa E. Harris) that instantly appeals.  I don’t know what it is, but it makes me want to read the book.  Maybe it’s to be credited entirely to illustrator AG Ford.  In any case, this is about a girl who wants to be grown up NOW.  It’s got kind of a Fancy Nancy vibe, but without the double frou.  I’ll be interested in seeing where it goes.

Y’all probably already knew this if you’re Angie Sage fans, but come June 2011 we’ll see the newest Septimus Heap book Darke.  If you have not read the Septimus Heap books before, some advice.  I began with #5.  Don’t do that.  It does not make for a very coherent reading experience.

And I’m not doing YA today, but Molly just loved 22-year-old Veronica Roth’s Divergent so much that I figured I’d at least give it a glimpse.  Considered a kind of sophisticated older sibling to Hunger Games, this takes place in dystopian Chicago, so that’s good right there.  In this society everyone belongs to a distinct group that has determined what the flaw at the heart of humanity can really be attributed to.  Is it personal greed?  Is it human nature?  When you get older you can choose which group to belong to.  There are elements of Brave New World and 1984 to this one.  Molly pointed out that some teens face big life-affecting choices of their own at this stage (which college to attend, etc.) and so a book about the nature of choice will speak to them particularly.

Finally, the sequel to Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror is on the horizon.  For those kids amongst you hankering for the sequel, keep an eye out for Falcon Quinn and the Crimson Vapor.  Good stuff.

Thanks to Harper Collins for treating us to a lovely day, and thanks too to Molly for taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me up to date!

And now, the winners…

Best Meets:

“Corduroy meets Wall-E.” – Clink by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Matthew Myers.

First Runner-Up:

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets The Sopranos.” – The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

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. Tee hee hee hee!
    Well, I guess Junonia the store is named after the shell, too.
    I am SO excited that there’s another Frances Hardinge book. And MORE excited that it’s out in May!! And I applaud your restraint in not reading your galley before 2011. You are truly amazing.

    I want to reread Fly By Night before May now…!

  2. Great stuff!

    Re: “La Bamba.” It’s actually a Mexican folk song, so I’m guessing it’s in the public domain.

  3. A Dog’s Way Home looks terrific-I love that it’s set around the Blue Ridge highway. I try to get as much Virginia-based children’s/YA books as I can find, granted it’s not awful (I will forever love L.M. Elliott for setting Annie, Between the States in and around Fauquier County), so I’m excited about this one. I found the author’s website and she’s received admiring reviews from some of my favorite authors for the book (still not sure if it’s actually set in VA, since only “Appalachia” is mentioned in one of the reviews, but that’s not the most important thing).

    Baker and Taylor has the Summer Jackson book as Summer Jackson: Grown Up (in case people were trying to find it in their preferred distributor).

    Also very excited about Crystal Allen’s book. Yes, we need more books like this, especially in my rural/semi-suburban county.

    Thank you for these writeups. I do appreciate them. I’ve been pouring over the 2011 online catalogs, but your writeups add a more personal touch (since some sites don’t have descriptions for every new book).

  4. Hardinge, Willems, Shea and two Henkes? Sounds heavenly.

  5. Before reading your post I scanned the cover art.
    Where had I seen the the cover on “The Fourth Stall” before?
    Then it came to me in a flash, and I immediately went out to Amazon and pulled up “The Godfather”.

    Of course…had I read your description of the book first…
    But it was nice to solve the mystery.

  6. Chris in NY says

    The hardest thing about reading these book preview roundups? Having to wait for the books I am dying to read NOW!

  7. Looks like a great roundup of books – I only wish we didn’t have to wait until spring to see them!

  8. Boy, do I like the cover of I AM SHARK, that is all smiles.

  9. Wow. I love Harper Collins. There is just way too much to be excited about on this list!

  10. I see some great books here. I can’t wait to read them! Another Kevin Henkes book. Yes!

  11. As always, thank you for your librarian preview write-ups. They get me so excited about what’s coming. And it also makes me sound smarter to parents and other librarians when I can describe a book yet to be published or tell them about upcoming sequels. It really doesn’t matter if I actually am smarter, it’s important that I *sound* smarter. So, thank you. Now comes the hard part … waiting.

  12. Like you, I cannot bring myself to pull Words of Stone from my collection, although I’ve never been able to convince a student to read it. It’s my favorite Kevin Henkes chapter book, but I’m excited to read this new one!

  13. Wow — Just Being Audrey — I love it already!