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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Librarian Preview: Harper Collins (Spring 2012)

Here’s how paranoid I am.  I saw an allusion somewhere to someone having written up the recent Harper Collins 2012 preview and my first reaction was, “GAH!  Someone else is working my beat!!”  That was followed promptly by a sense of profound relief.  “Aww.  That’s awesome.  Someone else is working my beat.”  Then I actually opened the link in question . . . yeah, it doesn’t count if the preview is written up by the folks holding said preview.  Nice try, Bird.  Nice try.

In any case, I’ve put it off long enough.  It’s time to rummage through my notes and give the upcoming HC Spring season a thorough once over.  You ready?  You set?  Let’s go!

Oh!  By the way, this preview came before I got my brand new bright n’ shiny fancy dancy job.  Had I gotten the job before the preview I could have stayed for the whole thing.  As it was I had to run out halfway through to do storytime (which I was late for anyway . . . that’s where planning with getcha) AND I forgot my breast pump for the baby at the preview SO I had to go running back right after storytime . . . long story short, I love my new job.

Now then, where was I?  Ah yes.

Table 5: Balzer & Bray (starring Alessandra Balzer, Donna Bray with special guest star Kristen Rens)

“He’s a very young adorable guy but he’s really an old soul.”  Guess the fellow in question?  I begin with B&B not only because they sport my favorite initials but because of the first book on their list.  Check this out.  From the author who brought you Oh No! and Guess Again (one of the world’s best readalouds for older kids) and the illustrator who is being lauded and loved this year for his I Want My Hat Back comes Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.  The story is simple.  A girl finds a box of yarn and decides to knit things with it.  Things like sweaters.  For everyone and everything.  The yarn never seems to run out and that’s when it catches the eye of someone with greedy intentions.  Spoiler Alert: I am SO reviewing this the minute the second hand declares that it is 2012.  Sharp-eyed spotters may note that amongst the animals wearing sweaters you will find a somewhat familiar looking bear and rabbit.  Turns out Klassen plugged them in without realizing that folks would assume that they were the same animals as those in I Want My Hat Back.  Technically they aren’t (the rabbit, after all, is sort of an ex-rabbit at this point) but it’s a nice shout out just the same.  And no need to worry, mom.  Klassen makes sure to show the correct stitch pattern for his sweaters.  B&B would do well to pitch this one to the knitting community (Ravelry, Yarn Harlot, etc.).  FYI.

Next up, a little book just perfect for those of you who were as enamored of Peter McCarty’s Henry in Love as I was.  McCarty has just written a sequel called Chloe which focuses on the object of Henry’s affection.  It’s a great middle child tale, with Chloe the kid with ten older siblings and ten younger.  McCarty’s very good at touching on emotional moments, but let’s face it.  This book was just an excuse to let him draw a whole bunch o’ bunnies, and that’s awesome.  By the way, part of the plot involves popping bubble wrap, so if you ever wanted to pair a book with a bubble wrap-themed storytime (world’s easiest craft program) go to it.  Special Side Note: If you would like to see a bit of original art from the aforementioned Henry, just stop by the Children’s Center at 42nd Street and check out the children’s art display going on there right now.

Dear,  You’re awesome.  Thank you for the helpful Author Name Pronunciation Guide.  One small suggestion.  Please add Jeff Czekaj to your line-up.  Children’s librarians around the country would thank you.  B&B informed us that the correct way to do it is to say “Check-Eye” so that’s what I going with.  Oink-a-Doodle-Moo is his latest (not to be confused with the restaurant of the same name) and it kind of has a brilliant idea.  I’m sure another picture book has adapted The Telephone Game into its storyline, but none come immediately to mind.  Czekaj takes the game to its logical barnyard-based extreme.  First one animal tells a rooster “oink”.  It passes the message along, only now it’s “oink-a-doodle-doo”.  When the cow hears it, it passed on the message as “oink-a-doodle-moo”.  And so it goes.  With bright storytime friendly colors, this is something to keep an eye on.

Scott Menchin is one of those illustrators you know you’ve seen the work of before, but that hasn’t quite hit household name status (or children’s librarian household name status, for that matter) yet.  You probably know him best for his work on Doreen Cronin’s Bounce and Wiggle.  Now he’s penned a book of his own called Harry Goes to Dog School.  Much like Jeff Jarka’s Love That Puppy!: The Story of a Boy Who Wanted to Be a Dog this tale is about a boy who is inclined to be a bit more canine.  So really there’s nothing for it but to send him off to the Pavlov Royal Academy.  Which is to say, dog school.  They said this one was “in the tradition of Bark, George” which is a pretty clever book to invoke.  Tis beloved.

Kay, nuff o’ those picture books.  Let’s talk middle grade now.  Specifically let’s talk about Sara Pennypacker.  You want to know how popular that woman is right now?  My library system has holds on her 1994 novel Dumbstruck because folks love Clementine so much that they’ll track down everything she’s ever written (if they’re smart they’ll seek out of her fabulous picture book Pierre in Love too).  For those kids who’ve just barely grown out of Clementine, though, here’s something for the 8-12 set.  Summer of the Gypsy Moths (Pennypacker’s first stand alone novel since Clementine itself) follows two girls living with a foster mother.  When the mother in question dies the two decide to run “home”.  One of the girls is convinced that her mother will come back for her.  The other has been in a ton of homes over the years.  It’s a little darker than your average Pennypacker, but it sounds like it would make for a nice pairing with something like Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur.

Now for a title that is being heavily pushed by its editors and marketing team.  I don’t want to give anything away, but if you have a second to two, dip to the end of this write-up to check out the TWO marvelous “Meets” Jordan Brown came up with for Neversink by Barry Wolverton.  Basically it’s a talking animal book but one that they’re banking on.  Involving everything from arctic birds to Scandanavian folklore the story is set amongst the auks with a puffin hero and a Walrus named Egbert (I briefly wonder if that’s an oblique Beatles reference, then shake it off).  Owls invade with intent to steal “delicious fish smidgens”.  Basically they’re selling this as an animal fantasy for folks who don’t love animal fantasies.

Anyone out there a fan of Dianne Wynne Jones’s The Dark Lork of Derkholm?  Man, there’s a timely book that needs to either get a new cover or be turned into a major motion picture.  In the same vein we find The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by debut author Christopher Healy.  It sounds vaguely like a Dungeons & Dragons title, but not so much.  In this fantasy world minstrels are the ones with the real power since they operate like little singing CNNs.  Problem is, like the network news, minstrels have a tendency to get things wrong.  It was Prince Guster, not Charming, that saved Rapunzel (and anyway, she actually saved him).  Prince Liam (again not Charming) saved Sleeping Beauty (a real brat).  And so on.  Now four princes and four princesses are off on a quest to stop a similarly misrepresented witch.  Cute concept.

For those of you waiting for a sequel to Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday . . . you’re going to have to wait longer.  A lot longer since I’m pretty sure the man is dedicated to the idea of NOT doing a sequel (but that doesn’t rule out the idea of someday doing a graphic novel starring the alien J.Lo yes yes? Yes?).  Rex’s latest is Cold Cereal, a title that includes everything from the origins of orthodontia to Bigfoot and so on and such.  Long story short, three kids must save the world from an evil breakfast food cereal company.  This is the first in a trilogy and is fully illustrated with the occasional faux commercial.

Oh.  And sometimes Rex will put a piece of art from the book online:

By the way, I should note that at this point the publishers are getting clever.  If they don’t have the final cover on hand in a print out but they’ve seen it in a JPG they need merely bring an iPad to the preview and we get the gist of the book’s final look.  Snazzy.

Fans of Jerry Spinelli (the man who owes allegiance to no one publisher) will be happy to hear about his latest book Jake and Lily.  The book follows two twins, a boy and a girl, who’ve done everything together.  That is until they both turn eleven.  Suddenly Jake wants to hang out with other people and, worse still, his new friends are bullies.  She’s devastated, making this an accessible title about growing up.

On the darker front is the new Patricia McCormick.  Never Fall Down is based on the story of a real kid who survived the Khmer Rouge killing camps.  So basically, hand this one to your upper end YA readers.  The book channels the actual kid’s voice and should be a bit of an emotional roller coaster as well.

Let’s see, I’ve gone through about ten books at this point and yet none of them have been dystopian.  It couldn’t last.  With Partials by Dan Wells you’ve got the line, “The Only Hope for Humanity Isn’t Human” right there on the cover.  High stakes post-apocalyptic fare is the name of the game.  Think Blade Runner only instead of robots you have engineered organic humanlike creatures who war against the humans.  When a virus decimates the human population what few are left go to Long Island.  There, no baby born has been immune to the virus in the last ten years (so Children of Men might be another comparison).  A girl who is also a medic must work to save the rest of her species.  Wells is primarily an adult author, and this marks the first in a trilogy to come.

Pretty cover alert.  A couple years ago Harper Collins came out with a Persephone-inspired YA novel by the name of Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman.  Well, they’re going a different route this time with Brodi Ashton’s Everneath.  Cover compare and contrast time!

Yep.  Like the new one.

Anyway, in this book a girl is sucked down into the ground.  Six months later she returns to say goodbye to everyone she ever knew.  Complicating the matter is the smoldering immortal bad boy versus the mortal nice boy that she loves.  The book is contemporary and, they say, this is one author who is not afraid to put her characters through the ringer.  This appears to be the year of Persephone inspired tales too.  On the graphic novel side of the equation will be George O’Connor’s Hades from First Second.  Which I have read and which is awesome.

“Stop the countdown.  Save the world.”  Actually, it’s probably save to say that teens today don’t remember the 2006 television show Heroes, so the similarity here to “Save the cheerleader.  Save the world,” will go right over their heads.  Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris begins when a girl is hit by a truck and wakes up just in time to see the school stoner save her life.  Now she’s discovered a clock counting down and somehow it’s tied into the end of the world (echoes of The House With the Clock in its Walls comes to mind).  HC called this a fast-paced Veronica Mars-esque mystery.

So are paranormal YAs on the wane?  Maybe so.  I’ve been seeing a definite rise in thrillers lately, and HC is banking on them being the next big thing (I think the beauty of The Hunger Games‘s popularity is that it’s all things to all people so it can be credited with the rise in dystopians AND thrillers).  Slide by Jill Hathaway features a killer at large.  Our heroine is a girl with what appears to be narcolepsy, but is actually a case of her sliding into other people’s minds.  When she slides into the murderer who killed her sister’s best friend she must learn how to control this power.  A sequel is, as you might imagine, already in the works.

Historical fiction alert!  I can say that about this next one since it is set in the long and far distant past of the 1990s.  The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth focuses on girl living in Montana utterly aware that she is gay.  When this fact becomes public knowledge she’s sent to a religious conversion camp to be “fixed”.  Personally I’ve never seen this tackled in a novel for teens before, though I’m sure it’s cropped up somewhere.  Anyone know?

Moving away from her customary comfort zone of killer unicorns (a statement I’m fairly certain has never been written before) Diana Peterfreund tackles the tricky twisty territory known as science fiction.  In For Darkness Shows the Stars (upon which I place the Awesome Title of the Preview Award) we are in the future where most people are the human equivalent of drones.  The anti-technology folks have taken over.  At the age of fourteen our heroine fell in love with a servant boy.  Now four years later he’s returned.  That is all that I know.

Ding!  And then we circle around to . . .

Table One: Starring Farrin Jacobs and Phoebe Yeh

Regarding the cover of Cynthia Hand’s second book in the Unearthly series, those clouds on the cover?  They will be foil and, yes indeed, they will glow in their own particular way.  Hallowed is an angel book.  Angels, as it turns out, are a lot more prevalent than I’d initially thought.  This season alone I’ve seen loads of them about.  Harper Collins may or may not be the publisher with the most angels, though.  I dunno.  It’s hard to figure out that kind of thing.  In any case, in this book we were informed that the death of a main character (obviously they weren’t saying who) made the copy editor cry.  I think that’s the literary equivalent of getting the cameraman on a movie to cry.  And as Ms. Jacobs said, “I’m sorry I want to make everyone cry, but I do.”  They assured us that even though this is part of a series the book is a complete entity in and of itself.

By the way, you may be noticing that suddenly I’m reporting on the YA novels just as frequently as I am the middle grade and picture books.  If you’re not a fan of this switcheroo blame my new job.  Suddenly my interest in YA has increased tenfold.  Not that I’ll be actually reviewing any of it on this blog, but there’s no reason why I should describe the books from time to time is there?

Later in 2012 Abrams is going to publish the adult graphic novel My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (actual name).  It’s a true autobiographical tale of the author’s semi-friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer in high school.  I mention it here because serial killers are cropping up in YA novels by the cartload these days and you might want to consider looking at something of a nonfiction bent before diving into the bulk of the fiction.  Kimberly Derting is responsible for the Body Finder novels and The Last Echo is the third in that series.  In it our heroine is the kind of girl who can sense dead bodies.  Mind you, she can’t really help anyone until after they’re already dead, but that didn’t stop the FBI from recruiting her to help them find serial killers.  In this particular book the story is complete in and of itself but the emotional storyline carries over from the previous novel.

I don’t really pity the vampire series but they’re definitely not the beloveds they once were.  There are exceptions to such rules, of course.  The Evernight novels continue unabated and author Claudia Gray will be coming out with Balthazar this March.  The galleys, by the way, appear to be brown.  Be reassured that the final copies will be more gold.  As we all know, kids don’t pick up brown covers (this is true).  We were told that folks need not have read the previous books in the series to appreciate this newest one.  Noted.

Kirkus, always on the ball when it comes to upcoming releases, has already bestowed upon The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers a nice little star.  Written by Lynn Weingarten we were told that this is one author who excels in describing heartbreak.  Our heroine feels it firsthand when she reunited with her Sophomore boyfriend after the summer and is promptly dumped.  After she decamps to the bathroom an older girl says she can make it so our heroine will never have her heart broken again.  All she has to do is break someone else’s heart in seven days and collect one tear.  Oh la la!  How teen, non?

A little fun with Syrie James and Ryan James’s Forbidden.  Watch this.

Wings go up.

Wings go down.

Wings go up.

Wings go down.

Hee hee.

Mother-daughter author teams abound in child and YA fiction but mother-son teams are comparatively rare.  No longer.  In this angel book (#2 in this preview thus far) a girl moves from place to place a lot with her mother.  Trouble is, the girl can’t help but feel that she’s constantly on the run.  Too true.  Seems that the girl is turning into an angel and the prevailing wisdom states that when that happens to someone they either have to be killed or protected.  Our heroine is the kind who has to be killed and the boy sent to do away with her falls for her instead.  There is also a Buffy-like group of friends which makes the book sound a bit like the upcoming fall 2012 novel The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski.  Hm.  New trend?

Oh.  That thing I said a second ago about mother-son teams being rare?  Well here’s a second one.  Darkness before Dawn is by J.A. London, a pseudonym for such a pair.  This one is a post-apocalyptic vampire novel, which makes me wish we had more mash-ups of this sort.  Anyone who can write me a vampire novel set in a reality-show obsessed dystopian world will make my day.  This book assumes that vampires have won the war against humans.  Now humans live in cities where they’re essentially the food supply.  That’s all I know about it, though.

No images for this next tidbit of news, but Sharon Creech fans of the world unite!  Absolutely Normal Chaos, Chasing Redbird, and Ruby Holler are all due to get brand new looks.  Also, Fall 2012 is going to see a new Creech novel by the name The Great Unexpected.  And the people rejoice.

There’s something about the cover of the new Walter Dean Myers novel All the Right Stuff that pleases me inordinately.  Maybe the mildly retro font reminds me of the movie Do the Right Thing.  Dunno.  In any case, this is a YA title about honoring the social contract.  Kids don’t always know that they’re part of one.  In this particular novel a fatherless boy is shot in a drive-by.  In the ensuing novel everything from Locke to Rousseau is covered.  Interesting.

The only cooking related celebrity I know is The Pioneer Woman and that’s probably because she’s a blogger.  She actually had a picture book out with Harper Collins this year (Charlie the Farm Dog by Ree Drummond, illustrated by Diane DeGroat).  Now one Tyler Florence is doing the same, solidifying HC as the celebrity chef picture book publisher.  I’m not proud.  I looked Mr. Florence up.  Apparently he has a show on the Food Network.  He also has a series of picture book due out on shelves.  The first is Tyler Makes Pancakes (yep, his own name).  Number two will be about making spaghetti.  Number three about a dessert of some sort.  The books each look at where all the ingredients for these foods come from.  La.

Years and years and years and years ago Bruce Degan, an illustrator of Magic School Bus fame, spoke in my children’s room, then housed in the Donnell Library.  Had I thought it through I might have realized he was a local.  In fact, he’s Brooklyn-based and the reason I know this is because he has a book coming out, one he’s both written and illustrated, called I Gotta Draw.  In this story a kid lives in a small Brooklyn apartment with his family.  So small, in fact, that his art is constantly getting in the way.  The book sort of examines the visual learners of the world.

Remember Uncle Ned’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell, and illustrated by James Ransome?  I sure as heck do because that book ends up on a lot of school lists of required reading.  Well, that book came out in 1993 and is still in print to this day.  Now Mitchell and Ransome have reunited at long last in When Grandma Sings.  In this picture book (historical) a girl can read and her grandma can’t.  When her grandmother’s singing gives her a chance to go on tour she does so with her granddaughter.  The trouble?  They’re touring the segregated south.  This is a book that covers both a meaningful relationship and history.  A good companion to last year’s The Green Book by Calvin Ramsey and Floyd Cooper, don’t you think?

When one thinks of poetry and The Civil Rights Movement the name that comes up consistently is Ntozake Shange ( it’s pronounced “En-tee-zaki”).  Time and again she has written the best in the biz, so to speak.  Now with Freedom’s a-Calling Me she is paired once more with Rod Brown.  The two worked together on We Troubled the Waters, a book that gave libraries everywhere no end of cataloging trouble due to its scenes of lynching.  In this book Brown created paintings inspired by the Underground Railroad.  He then passed those on to Shange who wrote poems to accompany them.  This is an upper end picture book for the 8-12 year old crowd.

Now I’ll confess to you that I’m not covering every book I heard about in this preview.  Some books just seemed more interesting than others, or I don’t have much to write here (and basically if I can’t write about a book to make enough space to present its cover, it ain’t happening).  I’ll also confess that I had every intention of skipping this next book.  Nothing against it personally but I wasn’t sure what to say about it.  The title is Lone Bean and it’s by Diana Ross’s daughter Chudney Ross, a Teach for America teacher.  Aside from the fact that the mom in this book is never around and that they’re selling it to kids who’ve graduated beyond Judy Moody I wasn’t inclined to necessarily mention it.  Then I saw the cover.

And suddenly I want to read this book more than any other in the whole entire world.  Wow.  And for the best cover award of the preview, to my own personal mind, I give this the prize.

I’m a blurb snob.  If I see an author blurb too many books I just can’t trust ’em anymore.  James Dashner, I’m looking at you.  You may be the nicest guy alive but, man, you gotta cut down on your blurbing, baby.  Basically if I hear that a super popular author doesn’t blurb very often I pay a lot more attention when they do.  J.K. Rowling, for example, and we certainly saw what happened to the books that Stephanie Meyer promoted.  Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate books have been circulating quite nicely in my library system but he’s never blurbed anyone.  Now, interestingly enough, he’s placed his name on Kevin Markey’s Super Sluggers series.  We didn’t see the blurb in question but I believe he says that he’s always been a fan of The Great Brain books by John Dennis Fitzgerald and that these are in a similar vein.  Huh!  Noted.

I don’t normally read books outside of their given publishing year but by some stroke of strangeness I ended up reading the Sarah Prineas Winterling book the other day.  I think I was feeling guilty that I missed the chance to read her The Magic Thief series when I had a chance.  This one sports one of the lovelier covers of the spring season and is an interesting little title.  Fer, the heroine, lives with her grandmother and has always felt that she didn’t fit in.  When she rescues a boy from wolves in her woods he helps her discover a portal into another world.  There an evil sorceress rules the land and it’s up to Fer to see past the woman’s disguise and find a way to bring back the spring.  Kind of Narnia-ish but with more Puckish elements.  One of those good middle middle fantasies.  Not too high.  Not too low.

Best title of the preview?  Well I know that I for one was fascinated by the look of Black Boy White School by Brian F. Walker.  The author himself was sent a prep school when he was a kid, so this title is certainly touched by his own experiences.  They didn’t tell us much about it, and certainly the title speaks for itself, but this is one of those debuts I’ll be looking at closely in the future.

Author Kavita Daswani is another adult author making the crossover to teen literature.  In Lovetorn we meet a girl from Bangalore who moves to Southern California.  While there she develops a crush on a boy, which is mildly problematic because back in Bangalore she was engaged to be married.  She’s from a very traditional family, you see, but she has a friend who is entirely Americanized.

You know what this preview needs more of?  Angels!!  Yep, it’s angel book #3, this time in the form of Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins.  Our heroine is the daughter of two angels, one on the up-and-up and the other of the fallen variety.  Lot of covers this year with boys standing behind girls, I’ve noticed.  This one is no exception:

Oh!  And this is interesting.  Remember Memory Boy by Will Weaver?  Here, this’ll trigger a couple memories:

I was familiar with it since back in 2005 and 2006 I tried reading as many dystopian and post-apocalyptic novels for kids as I could.  Yeah, that’s my lame way of saying I-was-into-dystopians-before-they-were-cool.  In any case, one of the book on my list was Memory Boy about a family escaping to the wilderness.  It was sort of the Life As We Knew It of its day.  Well, now there’s a sequel coming out about the same family.  Called The Survivors it’s about pretty much just that.  Memory Boy, meanwhile, is being rereleased and the two books have matching covers:


Caught your breath?  Because we’re moving on to . . .

Table #3: Greenwillow Books (Starring Virginia Duncan and Martha Mihalick)

“This is her bridge year.”  Nope, I wasn’t familiar with the term either but apparently Amelia Bedelia turns fifty in 2013.  Thing is, her books are never anything but popular year in, year out.  These new little picture book version of L’il Amelia (my term, not theirs) are written by Herman Parish, the fellow who’s kept the AmBe flowing all these years (again, my term, not theirs).  I actually like these little pbs quite a bit.  For one thing patrons ask for them by name, they really do.  Also, they tend to cover topics not entirely looked at elsewhere.  Case in point the newest book Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote.  I don’t suppose the book will cover “hanging chads”, eh?

Ah, Karen Beaumont.  It is to you I credit that storytime staple I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More.  Now she’s back and they got Little Bea and the Snowy Day illustrator Daniel Roode to illustrate her Dini Dinosaur.  Essentially a cute dino in overalls gets down and dirty.  The book covers body parts in rhyme.  There’s just something about Ms. Beaumont and titles where kids get filthy.  Let’s just call it her thing. Everyone needs a thing.  This one’s hers.

You remember Laura Dronzek, don’t you?  That’s Kevin Henkes’s wife, the one behind the illustrations in their collaborative book Birds.  Now she’s helping out author Helen V. Griffith in the book Moonlight.  The premise is pretty cool.  Basically the idea is to show kids that while they’re asleep the world is still going on.  So it is that in this book a little rabbit waits for the moon.  That night the moon touches everything with its light, including dreams.  Very sweet stuff, but not in a sickly sweet way.

YA author Kelly Bingham is perhaps best known for her girl-gets-arm-chomped-off novel Shark Girl.  Now she launches herself into the picture book realm with Z Is for Moose.  Lucky for her, artist Paul Zelinsky is the fellow behind the illustrations and, let’s face it, these are NOT your typical Zelinskys (Zelinskies?).  He’s kind of let his goofier instincts take over and the results are, not to put too fine a point on it, a delight.  In this book a zebra is directing an alphabet book and the moose simply cannot WAIT until it gets to “M”.  Trouble is, he keeps popping up in previous letters’ entries in his anticipation.  You can probably guess his response when “M” turns out to go to a Mouse instead.  The freakout that ensues is akin to something Mo Willems Pigeon-worthy.  This looks like a natural companion to Fiona Robinson’s What Animals Really Like, I think.  Readaloud potential, indeed.

Before I say anything about Elisha Cooper’s Homer I suggest you check out this Under the Green Willow blog post about Cooper’s visit to the Harper Collins offices almost a year ago.  Now I’m a big time Cooper fan, though I tend to like his books where people are little more than tiny black brushstrokes on a page.  He’ll occasionally do some pbs starring animals, though.  Books like Magic Thinks Big or Beaver Is LostHomer is a dog lovers book.  Those of you enamored of Cooper’s landscapes (I’ve a poster of one framed in my baby’s nursery, actually) will be happy to know that they occur in this book as well to some extent.  Plus the Greenwillow blog featured an additional image from the book:

Esmé Raji Codell a.k.a. Planet Esmé is back in the book writing ring, baby.  Filling the ever present need for more starting school books she comes out with It’s Time for Preschool, illustrated by Sue Rama.  It covers all the different situations a kid might face in preschool, allowing them to feel what it’s like to be there.  The book also includes five tips for parents on how to make it a happy day in the back.

After all these years, it’s happened. Kevin Henkes has come up with a new mouse character.  What’s more, he’s tackling the easy reader format for the first time.  Penny and Her Song and Penny and Her Doll.  These were described as “Novels for six and seven-year-olds”.  At this moment in time the first book is out in March, the second in September, and the third (Penny and Her Marble) sometime in 2013.  The books aren’t leveled, for the record, which was very important to Kevin.

Oo!  Here’s an interesting pairing.  Fans of Jackie Urbanovic may celebrate the fact that she has been bestowed the honor of being the next Jack Prelutsky illustrator.  I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus is his latest collection of poems and it looks like something like The New Kid on the Block.  Haikus, traditional rhymes, concrete poems, you name it, you got it.  We talked a little bit about how ubiquitous the man can be sometimes.  Apparently one of his poems was adapted into a Natalie Merchant song on her last album.  True story.

2012 is going to be the year when the novels of authors that died in 2011 start appearing.  The last novel of Eva Ibbotson is coming out from Scholastic and is called One Dog and His Boy.  Meanwhile on the Harper Collins side of things the last Diana Wynne Jones novel Earwig and the Witch is about to appear.  In this book a young orphan is quite attached to her orphanage.  Unfortunately for her, a strange couple takes her in and it isn’t too long before she discovers that they’re a witch and a wizard.  When she befriends the cat and finds a strange spellbook the tables abruptly turn.  Paul Zelinsky is the illustrator on this one as well and he plays a bit with the book’s design.  In fact, Paul worked very closely with the book’s designer on where each illustration should go.  He was insistent that no picture should appear before its scene is mentioned in the text.  Clocking in at just over 100 pages, this might be a good lower level fantasy for the Dahl fans out there.  The book is also coming out in tandem with its British edition, though they have a very different illustrator, as you can see:

David Macinnis Gill’s Black Hole Sun series is getting a whole new look and it’s for the better.  From this:

To this:

I’m a fan.  And not just because the covers remind me of old-school Conan the Barbarian.  Really there’s only a couple things you need to know about Invisible Sun, the second book in the series:

1. I’m dubbing this a space opera.

2.  It’s Blade Runner and Mad Max and La Femme Nikita all mixed together.

3.  You can read the second book without having to read the first.

4.  The hero’s name is Durango.  Which. Is. Awesome.


Table #3: Now with more editors!  Starring Maria Modugno, Annie Stone, Margaret Anastas, Rosemary Brosnan, Molly O’Neill, and Sarah Shumway

Last one.  I had to leap up and leave before I got to Table #4 (the Anne Hoppe, Barbara Lalicki, Tara Weikum, Erica Sussman table).  Truth be told I left before this one too, but when I returned to fetch my pump I was offered food, which I accepted.  Then, as I ate, some of these books were pitched to me.  Clever dickens.  So while this is not a complete look at what they have coming out next season, it is at least a taste.

First up, could anyone have predicted the meteoric rise of Eric Litwin and James Dean’s Pete the Cat books?  Initially self-published these books are now the poster children for Self-Published Done Good.  We have people asking for Pete the Cat by name in our branches.  The latest book is Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  It covers counting.  All I care is that it used the term “Groovy” in the title.  If the next Pete the Cat title features either the phrase “Right On” or “Far Out” I will personally start a fan club.

Here’s an interesting idea.  What if a literary character pretends to be someone else and then gets her own series as that character?  I’ve never really heard of this before so the new Fancy Nancy series is intriguing to me.  Dubbed Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth it’s taking FN into the mystery genre.  If it gets little girls everywhere to want their own trenchcoats, bonus.

Fans of A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid may be happy to hear that everyone’s favorite skunk lover is back.  Looks like she’s changed allegiances, though.  In Petunia Goes Wild she decides that she really should have been born an animal.  Schmid was also responsible for the vastly adorable Hugs for Pearl as well this year.  If that book amused you, I have it from the proverbial horse’s mouth that a Pearl sequel is also in the works.  Busy man.

I will do a lot of things to read a Jeanne Birdsall (Penderwicks) book.  I will even read what she writes if she’s writing about dogs.  That’s how much I like her style.  Lucky and Squash is her latest and, if I was hearing this correctly, the animals are based on Ms. Birdsall’s actual dogs.  How are they pitching this one?  With what may be the most awesome line of the year.  “It’s Pyramus and Thisbe . . . as dogs.”  Sold!

Actually, good one-liners abounded at this particular table.  Emma Dodd has this great clear-cut style that I’ve always admired.  Her latest book is Foxy, a tale of magic gone awry (asking for a pencil and getting a penguin, etc.).  Or, as they put it, “Imagine Aunt Dora from Bewitched . . . as a fox.”   Sold!  Again!

A couple years ago I remember reading something somewhere where a writer was complaining about William Carlos Williams’s famous poem “This is Just to Say”.  You know the one I mean.  It’s the poem where the poet gives this backwards semi-apology for eating all the plums in the icebox.  For folks who wanted to friggin’ eat those plums, this apology is insufficient (see: The Cheshire Cheese Cat for an excellent explanation of what constitutes a good apology).  Forgive Me, I Meant To Do It by Gail Carson Levine is a lot of fun because it sort of plays off of that faux apology stance Williams perfected in his work.  Interestingly, this is the first time Levine has crossed over into the poetry realm.  The book is also illustrated by Matthew Cordell who is having one heckuva 2012 year.  I think I counted a whopping FIVE books coming from the fellow (keep an eye peeled for his Another Brother because it is awesome).  For a quick glimpse of what the poems in this book will look like, observe:

When you live in New York City you have friends in cool places.  Two of my friends are writers on The Daily Show, so my ears pricked up a tad when I saw that the head writer from the same show had written a book for kids.  Actually, he’s been writing it for years, in a way.  An ongoing feature at MAD Magazine’s blog (how odd is it that Cracked is more well-known in the online world than MAD Magazine?) Planet Tad is now being turned into a book with paper and pages and everything.  30% of the content will be recycled blog material and 70% wholly and entirely new.  Though, of course, I’m still fascinated by the idea of a MAD Magazine blog for kids.  Do they have a regular webcomic series?  If not, why not?

Give a professor at Berkeley the freedom to write a fantasy novel with kids and the result may well be The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet.  Or, as I like to think of it, the new pretty cover fantasy book.  In this story a girl moves to Paris to live there for a year.  While there she encounters the titular cabinet which happens to contain mysterious bottles filled with what appears to be earth.  Sarah Prineas (of the aforementioned Winterling) gave it a blurb.

Remember Surviving the Applewhites?  It was a Newbery Honor book by Stephanie B. Tolan a couple years ago.  Lighter fare than your usual Newbery winner too.  Years ago I made a list on Amazon called So You Like Kids Books With Craaaaaaaazy Families, Eh? and it was prominently featured.  Well Tolan has now penned a sequel to the original.  The original, for the record, is getting a new cover which will match the new book.  In Applewhites at Wit’s End (the sequel) the family loses a great deal of its money in the financial crises (timely!).  To avoid having to move to a hovel in Hoboken (“A Hovel in Hoboken” would have also made a good title for this book, IMO) the Applewhites decide to run a summer camp.  The narration, like the previous novel, shifts between Jake and E.D.  By the way . . . check out the new cover.  Am I the only one reminded of the old play/movie You Can’t Take It With You when I see it?

New Lauren Oliver!  I’ll let the covers speak for themselves:

And while I’m on the subject, have you seen the new paperback cover for One Crazy Summer?  They found a way to fit in all the awards it won:

Frank Morrison (a John Steptoe New Talent Award Winner FYI) is the fellow behind the art and fans will be happy to know that yes indeed, Ms. Williams-Garcia is working on a sequel.  Have no fear.

Sometimes it’s hard for a parent to tell if a book is a religious Christmas title or a secular (insofar as Christmas can ever be secular) title.  A Christmas Goodnight may not be clear in terms of its title but the cover will clarify things fairly quickly.  Written by Nola Buck the story follows the traditional manger tale and pairs it alongside a contemporary family with their creche.  It’s basically a What Does Christmas Really Mean? kinda book.  The illustrator, one Sarah Jane Wright, is interesting since she was discovered on Etsy.  I wonder how many have/will be discovered as potential artists that way?  The art itself consists of a fabric/stationary/scrapbook mix-up.  “Vintage gentle but fresh feel”, they said of it.  I rather like that description.  Sounds like they’re talking about a good wine.

Magic candy factories are a dime a dozen.  Which is to say there is one candy factory book out there that is famous, but really that’s all you need.  Magical bakeries, on the other hand, are relatively rare. In Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood, a first book in a proposed trilogy, some kids experiment with what appears to be a very interesting cookbook.  A Paris baking competition also plays into the novel in some way.  I’m not entirely certain how but if there are cupcakes involved then yum.

Early chapter death books.  There’s a category for ya.  Patricia MacLachlan is back with Kindred Souls, a standalone title featuring an eight-year-old boy and his eighty-eight-year-old grandfather.  The boy is under the distinct impression that his grandfather is going to live forever, so when the man is taken to the hospital it makes for an unfortunate reality check.  Visiting, the boy is determined to fulfill his grandfather’s last wish and, in doing so, let go.  Said one person of this book, they were determined not to cry while reading it.  That thought, however, didn’t last long.

I think I love this one for its title alone:

I mean, how perfect is that.  Has the term “meltdown” every been used in a picture book before?  Because we’ve all been there (or seen someone else who has been there) and the results are usually not very pretty.

Finally, we’ll end today with S.J. Kincaid’s Insignia.  Set in the future, it’s a World War III novel where the wars take place in outer space.  Our hero is a gamer with a gambling dad.  Then the kid is recruited for his gaming skills and finds a band of misfits that become his family.  They’re pitching this one as a book that falls on the younger side of YA, with definite boy appeal.  Not an overwhelming tagline on the cover (“Impossible is just the beginning”) but the cover is of interest to me.  Is this what Hunger Games hath wrought?  I like it, though I worry that it’ll date by leaps and bounds in the near future.  But we shall see.

And that was it!  The long (very long) and the short of it!  And now  . . .

Best Meets:

This was the meets-i-est preview I have ever attended, bar none.  Check out these winners.

“A Pixar movie meets Watership Down” – Neversink by Barry Wolverton

“Redwall meets Angry Birds” – Also Neversink by Barry Wolverton

“Before I Fall meets Fringe.” – Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

“The Apocalypse meets Jane Austen.” – For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

“Polly Horvath meets The Fockers.” – Applewhites at Wit’s End by Stephanie S. Tolan (though that particular “meets” always makes me thing “So . . . Polly Horvath then.”)

“Crunch meets Savvy.” – Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood

“Ender’s Game meets Hogwarts.” – Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

And finally . . .

Jackalope Count:

Zero, but trust me on this.  There are jackalopes in them thar previews.  I’ll show you yet.

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. Wow, what a lineup! Thanks so much. Is the new Fancy Nancy series a chapter book series? I can’t tell for sure (just looked it up in Baker & Taylor).

  2. Chris in NY says:

    Oh, oh. I just read the Cabinet of Earths ARC and liked it a lot. I thought the title was already out, though. Hmmm. Interested to see if you read it/like it.

  3. Your blog is bad for my wallet. These books may be coming out, but I check all the old links you share and then I end up wanting those books for my classroom too! BTW- I am very excited that you will be mentioning more YA books. I am always looking for books that gifted readers can read and sometimes the YA books meet that need.

  4. Kristi Hazelrigg says:

    I’ve added Emma Dodd’s Foxy to my to-read list, but I have to give credit for that to the Bewitched reference. However, I think the publishers misspoke there: it was Samantha’s Aunt Clara who was the adorably inept witch, not Dora. Aunt Clara was played by Marion Lorne, who was posthumously awarded an Emmy for her role. There was never an Aunt Dora (but Samantha’s mother was Endora).

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Kristi, I may have heard them wrong on that one. Fast note-taking is not my strong point. And Aaron, you rock. Don’t know when you’ll see that puppy but one of these days, you bet . . .

  5. God, Betsy, what a marathon! Thank you so much for running all these down… I have so many to add to my lists, and I’m getting on the horn with B&B right away. Thanks especially for sharing the new covers – I love the new One Crazy Summer, the girls with their heads held high. That will sell itself to parents and to girls with attitude. Been waiting for that Adam Rex FOR. EVER.

  6. What a load of work! Thanks for writing that up. P.S. I’m thrilled that YA is tugging at you.

  7. The new Fancy Nancy is indeed a chapter book, or so my vendor informs me.

    Oooo, is the cover for Gypsy Moths by Julia Denos? Sure looks like it. WANT

    My teens liked the old cover of Black Hole Sun enough to steal it a few weeks after it went up on the new shelf.

  8. Joyce Sidman also has a book based on the ‘This Is Just to Say’ poem! She writes as a class of kids who are studying Williams and write their own poems apologizing for various mistakes. I used it in a writing class I taught at summer camp, and the kids LOVED it!

  9. Gah, I keep waiting to see Giant Dance Party in one of these previews. Books certainly take a long time to come out, do they not?
    Thanks for the round up! Many exciting titles here to watch for!

  10. Jennifer in GA says:

    Am I the only one who wants Jeanne Birdsall to STOP doing anything that isn’t Penderwick-related until the Penderwicks are done?? I mean, three years between books is far too long to wait!

  11. Karen Gray Ruelle says:

    Yup, yup, waiting for Adam Rex to do a sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday. Such a great book!

  12. Cecilia posted what I was gonna say! Joyce Sidman’s This Is Just To Say is a work of genius, and I do not say that lightly! But I suppose I can make room in my heart for another book of poetic apologies. If it’s decent.

    And hm, can’t think of any picture-book use of “meltdown” … but Llama Llama Red pajama offers meltdown-esque linguistic flava. “Please stop all this llama drama” gets said a lot chez nous. Close?

  13. Those new Applewhite covers sure do look like Mr. Brett Helquist’s work . . . Is that correct?

    And even though I didn’t go crazy for ONE CRAZY SUMMER, like everyone else did, I really really really like that new cover!

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Yep. It’s Helquist. The man keeps busy. He’s a good fit here, I think. Sometimes I find Helquist pairings a bit off, but this one’s right on the money.

  14. AHHH! SPOILER for I Want My Hat Back!

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      True. But then again it’s 32 pages long. Hard not to discuss that fact when talking about the book.