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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Amber and Clay: A Laura Amy Schlitz Cover Reveal

So the nice Candlewick lady, she sez to me, “Would you like to do a cover reveal for the latest book by Laura Amy Schlitz?” And I sez nothing, because I attempted to type the words, “YESYESYESYESYES!!!!!” so quickly that I shattered all my phalanges.

Untrue, you say? Darn tootin’. But what is true is that I was very excited by the offer. It’s been years since we’ve had a full-blown novel from the unparalleled Newbery Award winner. This time, the destination is ancient Greece. And the book? Well, the publisher can tell you better than I:

Laura Amy Schlitz; illustrated by Julia Iredale
ISBN: 9781536201222
On-sale 3/9/21
Illustrated Middle Grade, 544 pages, Ages 10 and up

The Newbery Medal–winning author of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! gives readers a virtuoso performance in verse in this profoundly original epic pitched just right for fans of poetry, history, mythology, and fantasy.

Welcome to ancient Greece as only genius storyteller Laura Amy Schlitz can conjure it. In a warlike land of wind and sunlight, “ringed by a restless sea,” live Rhaskos and Melisto, spiritual twins with little in common beyond the violent and mysterious forces that dictate their lives. A Thracian slave in a Greek household, Rhaskos is as common as clay, a stable boy worth less than a donkey, much less a horse. Wrenched from his mother at a tender age, he nurtures in secret, aided by Socrates, his passions for art and philosophy. Melisto is a spoiled aristocrat, a girl as precious as amber but willful and wild. She’ll marry and be tamed—the curse of all highborn girls—but risk her life for a season first to serve Artemis, goddess of the hunt.

Bound by destiny, Melisto and Rhaskos—Amber and Clay—never meet in the flesh. By the time they do, one of them is a ghost. But the thin line between life and death is just one boundary their unlikely friendship crosses. It takes an army of snarky gods and fearsome goddesses, slaves and masters, mothers and philosophers to help shape their story into a gorgeously distilled, symphonic tour de force.

Blending verse, prose, and illustrated archeological “artifacts,” this is a tale that vividly transcends time, an indelible reminder of the power of language to illuminate the over- and underworlds of human history.

Marvelous. Simply marvelous.

But wait. There’s more.

This book, as you may have noted above, is illustrated by none other than Julia Iredale (you can get a taste of her work here, if you like). Of this book, Ms. Iredale has this to say:

“Working on the illustrations for Amber & Clay has been such a wonderful experience every step of the way. Getting to read the story and dive deep into the mythic world of ancient Greece has been a treat for me, not just as an illustrator, but also as a lover of history and philosophy, which Laura Amy Schlitz has interwoven so beautifully throughout her book. As a book cover designer, I always love the process of reading a complex story with many parts and attempting to distill it down to its most essential and impactful elements. The hope is always to tell enough (but not too much!) to capture the mystery and wonder of the story at a glance. Many thanks to Matt Roeser, Jackie Shepherd, and the whole team at Candlewick Press for their help in getting there!”

I may have to insist that all the cover artists get to have their say when I do cover reveals from here on in.

Oh! Right! The reveal! Nearly forgot.

If you want something beautiful to read in 2021, you could hardly do better than this:

Many thanks to the nice Candlewick lady, a.k.a. Tracy Miracle, for offering me the chance to show this book to the world. And thanks too to Laura, for writing it.

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.