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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Librarian Preview: Small Publisher Spotlight (Summer-Fall 2020)

When I lived in Manhattan I would occasionally be privy to elaborate librarian previews put on by the largest publishers in New York City. These were often lavish affairs full of big name authorial guests, food, and the occasional signed art or poster giveaway. Of course, that’s not why we librarians attended. No, the chance to get a peek at what was being published in the future was a far more enticing lure. Leaving all that behind to move to Evanston was rough, but things change. The world keeps turning. Often those same previews are made available online for all the world to see. Which is nice, but who has the time?

Then, the other day, Ellen Myrick asked if I might like to see her give her own virtual presentation. From anyone else I might not be tempted but Ellen’s a special case. Myrick Marketing & Media LLC represents a plethora of small publishers. In this particular case, she proceeded to show me new and upcoming books from Barefoot Books, Cassava Republic Press, Child’s Play, Cicada Books, Diamond Book Distributors, Floris Books, Gecko Press, Inhabit Media, Karadi Tales, Kube Publishing, Lantana Publishing, Magnetic Press, Manga Classics, NubeOcho, Pajama Press, Peachtree Publishing Company, The School of Life, Tiger Tales, Tiny Owl, Tilbury House, Toon, and What on Earth Books. Phew!

Naturally I can’t show you everything Ellen showed me. However, I can highlight some of the keen titles that caught my eye. Who knows? Maybe you’ll see something cool in this mix too!

Barefoot Books

STEM is the name of the game with these scientifically minded board books. They’re simple enough and pretty enough that I wouldn’t mind giving them a closer glance.

The Bread Pet

Slated to release in August, this book appears to have beaten everyone else in the world to the punch. It’s science and bread, together in a book at last! Check out the recipe at the end to make both the starter and bread. A clever idea. Wish I’d thought of it first.

The Tiny Baker by Hayley Barrett, ill. Alison Jay

Not to be confused with the delightful Tiny Chef show on Instagram. This is Alison Jay changing up her style a tad. I just like any book where big buggy eyes remain big buggy eyes.


Princess Arabella at the Museum by Mylo Freeman

The general rule here is that if a book contains Mondrian in any way, shape, or form, I instantly love it. Case in point . . .

Mayowa and the Masquerades by Lola Shoneyin

Child’s Play

The Rosa experiment books by Jessica Spanyol.

Very young science experiments in books that are just barely above the board book age range.


Scruff by Alice Bowsher

I don’t know why I felt so drawn to this silly little story, but I did. There’s just something charming about it. Wouldn’t you agree?

Underground: Subway Systems Around the World by Uijung Kim.

Contains maps with statistics as well as seek-and-find elements.


Mister Invincible

Now we get into some comics. This one won in Bologna for best MG comic this year. In it, our hero has the power to move between comic book panels. Does anyone else get a whiff of Little Nemo from this?

NorthStars: Yeti Wedding

I’m sorry. It’s yetis getting married and Santa Claus is involved in some way. The concept alone is my favorite thing.

Wild Thing or My Life As a Wolf by Clayton Junior

An homage to Call of the Wild.

If Ur Stabby by Kaz Windness

I’d recommend this for your middle schoolers, actually. It goes in some fairly dark places sometimes. Not for fluffy unicorn lovers.

The Death of Nancy Drew

Ah, we all heard about this one a few months ago when it made the news rounds. It’s the only YA on this list but since Nancy is usually strictly MG territory, I’m including it.

Megaghost by Gabe Soria

This really and truly sounds like the comic Ghostrider meets Cosmic Commandos. Believe me. It is.


The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Gerda Muller

You know, it’s strange that we don’t have a quintessential version of this yet. How to account for that?


All’s Happy that Ends Happy by Rose Lagercrantz, ill. Eva Eriksson

On the one hand, I’m happy to see another Dani book. On the other hand WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT’S THE LAST ONE?!?!?

The Kiosk by Anete Melece

This one appeared on the 100 Best Picture Books list at Bologna. It’s by a Latvian illustrator and is about a woman who lives in her kiosk. Don’t pity her or anything, though. She’s really quite happy. That cover can show her there or not there as you, the reader, prefer.

Bibbit Jumps by Bei Lynn

Sometimes all the best early chapter books come from overseas. This one’s Chinese. Are you not already charmed? Cause I sure am.

Selma by Jutta Bauer

An incredibly soft and simple German import. A good soothing story for panicky times.

Migrants by Issa Watanabe

Ellen told me that this wordless Peruvian book about the immigrant experience has a Duck, Death and the Tulip feel. Preposterous? Well . . . no. I can totally see what she meant.

How Do You Make a Baby by Anna Fiske

Again with the Germans! This time, though, they don’t actually get too far into the logistics of babymaking. This is for you science-minded folks.

The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King

A New Zealand filmmaker brings us this comic. Warning: May contain tentacles.

Inhabit Media

Please Don’t Change My Diaper by Sarabeth Holden, ill. Emma Pedersen

Like your picture books to be written by Indigenous voices? This one is by an Inuit author and is vying for the Cutest Baby award today.

Karadi Tales

Sadiq Wants to Stitch by Mamta Nainy, ill. Niloufer Wadia.

Set in a Nomadic community a boy is fascinated by his mother’s embroidery. Mom teaches him but wants him to be a shepherd.

The Mountains of Mumbai

Physically this is one of the longest horizontal picture books I’ve seen in a while. It was described as having a town mouse, country mouse kind of story where two girls visit one anothers’ homes. Pairs well with Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy.

Kube Publishing

My First Iqra by Orin Azizah

Here is a board book to show you how to write in Arabic. It shows how to do the characters and has dry erase board elements to make it truly interactive.


Yo Quiero Mi Sombrero by Jon Klassen

Can you believe that this is the first time this book has appeared in Spanish! They’re doing all the hat books as well. Good for them!

And they’re also doing Chris Haughton’s books.

Sam Can’t Sleep by Davide Cali

A tiny little bat is on a mission. Also appeared on the 100 Best Books in Bologna list. Easy to understand why.

I’m a Zcary Vampire

Consider pairing this with Leonardo the Terrible Monster. After all, in this book a little vampire must pass the test to scare someone. Things don’t go according to plan.

This Poop Is Mine by Gusti

Normally I’m not one for scatalogical humor, but I love how the little fly on this cover is shaking his fists in rage.

Pajama Press

Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler ill. Jennifer Faria Lipke .

This intergenerational tale is illustrated by a woman of Chippewa descent. Worth discovering.


Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights by Deborah Hopkinson

Crazy that this should come out in the same year as Kathleen Krull’s The Only Woman in the Photograph, eh?

William Still and His Freedom Stories by Don Tate

Leave it to Don to come up with a fascinating tale. One of Still’s claims to fame was that he preserved a lot of the stories of the Underground Railroad. And I don’t even have to say it, but just in case you doubted, this book is meticulously researched. You should see the endpapers!

The Candy Mafia by Lavie Tidhar

I love a good tagline. This one reads: “Bugsy Malone meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Beautiful.

Tiger Tales

It’s Only One by Tracey Corderoy, ill. Tony Neal

A book that’s all for obeying the social contract. Has the distinction of being one of the few books to acknowledge noise pollution too.

Tilbury House

Starting Over in Sunset Park by Jose Pelaez and Lynn McGee, ill. Bianca Diaz

This book is all about immigrating from the Dominican Republic to Brooklyn. It doesn’t sugarcoat anything, but it also ends on a hopeful note.

Tiny Owl

The Secret of the Tattered Shoes by Jackie Morris, ill. Ehsan Abdollahi

By far one of the most sumptuous fairy tales I’ve had the pleasure to discover this year. It’s a 12 Dancing Princesses book. Jackie Morris did the text and it is by far one the best written books as well. Enjoy!

Last: The Story of a White Rhino by Nicola Davies.

You’ve probably seen nonfiction books by Nicola Davis before. Well, this is the first book she’s illustrated and it’s based on a true story.

TOON Books

Black Heroes of the Wild West by James Otis Smith, intro by Kadir Nelson

AAAHHHHH!!! This is the one I MUST get my hands on, stat. It’s got Stagecoach Mary AND Bass Reeves!! Can someone speed up summer a bit for me so that I can see the finished product? Thanks.

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. Thank you so much for shining the spotlight on independent children’s book publishers, Betsy!
    If anyone would like to see the preview, just reach out to me!

  2. Heard Nicola Davies speak at IBBY last year, but didn’t know about her latest title. I love her work. Thanks for sharing this great (and extensive!) list.