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In previous posts on the Penguin Preview (found here and here) I failed to mention how the day began. To be blunt, it started with me ignoring the obvious. This is not a strange thing. My parents once bought a piano for our home when I was a kid and it took me somewhere around two to three days to notice it was there (in my defense, it was not a big piano). Two days ago my husband replaced one of our posters and I could have merrily walked past it, I’m sure, for a week. In this particular case it involved the Penguin board room. For a long time it has been in a state of delightful disarray. You see years and years ago they hosted a fantastic Truck Town release party for Jon Scieszka, David Shannon, Loren Long, etc. wherein all the guys wore matching jumpsuits and the room was converted into a kind of truck repair shop. Along one back wall was the front end of a semi (as I remember it). I’ve just done some digging in my files and located the post where I wrote about it here. How six years do fly.
In any case, that truck continued to exist in the board room until pretty much now. When I walked into the board room this time I not only managed to not notice that it was gone (forgivable) but to also miss that the walls looked like the image at the top of this post.
Credit Jon Anderson with this. Apparently it was his life goal to locate every last Simon & Schuster award winner on the children’s side of things and to frame their be-medaled jackets. And not only has he included all the Caldecotts and Newberys (no easy feat when you consider how publishers have a tendency to eat one another over the decades) but he threw in the Coretta Scott King Awards, the Printz Awards, and even a Nebula or two. It was delightful. Lots of fun to look over.
Enough of that. On to Viking!
This year I have carefully been keeping track of all the books that Kirkus stars. This is partially because Kirkus doesn’t star all that many things and partly because I like their taste. When I get a chance I go out, locate the starred books and read them through. One such starred item will be hitting bookstores this May and goes by the name of Heroes of the Surf by Elisa Carbone (illustrated by Nancy Carpenter). Based on a true story, this work of picture book fiction follows a true incident from May 1882 when a steamship ran aground in New Jersey. The folks were rescued by sailors who came through terrible waves and weather to save them. Sharyn November called this one “the happy Titanic” because it’s one of the rare seaside disasters where everyone was saved. Ms. Carbone was the author of the middle grade historical fiction novel
6 Comments on Librarian Preview: Penguin Books for Young Readers – Viking, Philomel and Puffin, last added: 4/13/2012
And now the thrilling conclusion!
Just kidding. I’ve lots more to do. But if you already read Part One then this should fall along the same lines.
In the past this imprint was best known for its teen fare. A slow and steady increase in their middle grade offerings, however, has turned it into the kind of place I can report upon. Undead Ed by Rotterly Ghoulstone (how awesome would it be if that was his real name?), illustrated by Nigel Baines is going to be the kind of thing you hand to the Zombiekins fans of the world. It’s middle grade zombie fare, which means horror + comedy. A lot more horror in a way since our hero is a zombie himself. Now middle grade books that involve zombiefication can do it one of several ways. The best known book where the protagonist is undead at this point in time may be David Lubar’s Accidental Zombie books. Yet even those books only turn the hero into half of a zombie. In Undead Ed a kid named Ed is pursued by his own dismembered arm. And as all 1950s bad movies have taught us, murderous hands = a good time. This book also includes a skeleton named Clive. I feel that’s worth noting.
Next up, a book that makes me just a little bit sad. Catalogs often contain outdated galley covers of books that have since changed their look for one reason or another. The problem comes when you prefer the abandoned jackets that will never see the light of day. I admit to being weirdly excited when I turned the page in the old Penguin catalog and saw, to my delight, the world’s weirdest cover for Nikki Loftin’s The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy. Unfortunately it is not the final. The cover that you are seeing to the right here is fine and all, notable because it shows a chubby boy (which is actually pretty rare cover-wise). But oh . . . if only you could see the original. Like a claymation version of H&R Pufnstuf, it was. Admittedly it looked handmade in a really weird way, but that was what I loved about it. It stood out. Now it will sort of blend in with the rest of them. The story is about a girl sent to an academy where the kids run wild and eat whatever they want. Yet when it becomes clear that the children are getting fattened up for a very specific reason, it’s up to our heroine Lorelei and her friend Andrew to save the day. This is a book recommended to fans of A Tale Dark & Grimm with just a hint of Coraline for spice. Tasty.
Grosset & Dunlap
0 Comments on Librarian Preview: Penguin Books for Young Readers – Razorbill and Grosset & Dunlap (Summer 2012) as of 1/1/1900
There are many reasons to love Little, Brown but at the moment the company has my heart because their last librarian preview consisted of less than thirty books in total. And when you’re dealing with less than thirty books, typing up what they have is much easier on the old post-natal still-carpal-tunnely digits. So it was that we hopped on over to The Yale Club (conveniently located a mere 2.5 blocks from my workplace), sat down to tiny sandwiches involving salmon, brie, and what looked suspiciously like apple slices, and listened to the upcoming roster of what can only be deemed “goodies”. Goodies ah-plenty, goodies galore.
But before all of that, there were several other things to check out. Unlike some publishers, LB & Co. isn’t afraid to display around the room art from books that due out in the distant future. In this way I saw art from the fall 2012 Julie Andrews Edwards / Emma Walton Hamilton number Celebrate the Seasons: A Collection of Poems and Songs, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. I also saw art from September 2012’s Ten Tiny Toes by Todd Tarpley, illustrated by Marc Brown. There was other art as well, but I don’t want to give away what those books were quite yet.
And then there were the special guests to contend with. Guests, yes. Plural. Sometimes Little, Brown will manage to snag one of their biggies as they hop through town. In the past Darren Shan would come early on, for example. This time it was an author I’d been hoping to see at a preview for some time. Really, ever since I heard that he and his editor were now part of the LB&Co family.
If you read my Video Sundays then you may have seen that Mr. Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) was on Rachel Maddow’s program last month. Before he spoke with her, though, he took some time to pop over to The Yale Club to read us a selection from his YA novel Why We Broke Up. It was good. I’ve seen him talk about the book several times now and with him there’s not that horrible repetition there that you sometimes get when an author clings to a set script and refuses to deviate from it so much as a word. Well played, sir. Well played.
All right. Now the books. First up, a lady who had never done one of these previews before but was just ducky:
(Some discussion was made as to whether or not she has the same name as the woman who played Mindy in Mork & Mindy, but it was determined that we were thinking of Pam Dawber).
And we begin today with the award for Best Authorial Name. And no, this is not a pseudonym. Galaxy Craze (I’m just going to sit here and savor that name for a while before I write anything else . . . annnnnnd, we’re done) is a former actress who may or may not be the offspring of English hippie parents. You may have seen her in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives. With her name on the cover like that, I suspect that some kids may mistake her moniker for the book’s title, but that’s fine with me since “Galaxy Craze” would make an awesome title too. So here we have a book that combines two passions that, to the best of my knowledge, have
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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, nonfiction picture books
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, Marjorie Priceman
, 2012 librarian previews
, 2012 reviews
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Jazz Age Josephine
By Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
Atheneum (an imprint of Simon & Schuster)
Ages 6 and up
On shelves now
When we try to name the biggest and best picture book biography authors out there, two names spring immediately to mind. The first is David Adler. Mr. Adler specializes in picture books that go by the straightforward titles of “A Picture Book of [Enter Name Here]“. It makes him easy to spot on a shelf. All his books look pretty much the same with stories that reduce their subjects to a couple key points. They are serviceable in the best sense of the term. They serve a purpose. They also couldn’t be more different from the works of the great picture book biographer Jonah Winter. Where Mr. Adler is all white borders and straightforward fonts, Mr. Winter’s books leap off the shelf and make a dive for your jugular. They pop and smack and wrest your attention away from the glittery fictional pack. His latest, Jazz Age Josephine, is no different. A witty and glam look at a person rarely seen in picture book bios, Winter uses his storytelling skills to spin the tale of a fine lady, never told in quite this way before.
“Well, she was born up in St. Louis, and she grew up with those St. Louis Blues / Yes, she was born in old St. Louis, and she grew up singin’ nothin’ but the blues, / She just had one old ragged dress and a pair of worn-out old shoes.” That was Josephine Baker back in the day. Fortunately, the kid had pep. She could move and goof off and her dancing was so good that it earned her some money from time to time. Little wonder that when her home was burned by angry racists she headed straight for New York City. There Josephine was able to get some roles on the stage, but the minstrel parts were particularly galling. So off she flew to Paris and once she got there, “Paris, France – instant fame! / Everybody knows her name!” And though she missed her home, she was a jazz age baby and a hit at long last.
I did a cursory check of the reader reviews of this book online and saw that some folks were a bit peeved that Mr. Winter dared to mention hot topic issues like racism and minstrel shows. I think that highlights why it is that this is the first time such a biography for kids has been attempted (there was Ragtime Tumpie by Alan Schroeder in 1989 but that just looked at Josephine’s youth). The story of Ms. Baker is more difficult than your average Rosa Parks / Frederick Douglass bio. If you’re going to talk about Josephine then you have to talk about why she left America. You have to talk about what the state of the country was at that time, and why she felt she couldn’t return there. Then there are other issues as well. For one thing, is it possible to talk about Ms. Baker without mentioning the banana skirt? Winter doesn’t talk about the costume (six-year-olds are notoriously bad at pronouncing the word “burlesque”) but illustrator Marjorie Priceman does include a subtle glimpse of it from the side in two separate pictures. Meanwhile Mr. Winter does a good job of making it clear that Josephine was sad to be away from the States but that to become a star she had to go elsewhere. Interestingly the book ends at about that point, leaving the Author’s Note to explain her work with t
Granted we are currently IN the Spring of 2012 so this is probably less of a preview and more of a . . . uh . . . here and now discourse. But by my reckoning Blue Apple Books is one of those smaller pubs that don’t get a lot of airplay next to the big boys. So with this, the last of the spring previews (I’ve a Summer one already ready and waiting) let’s tip our hat to the spate of books you may not hear about here or there, you may not hear about anywhere.
When you open a Blue Apple Books catalog you usually find a letter at the front from its publisher, the author Harriet Ziefert. In this most recent catalog the letter begins with a selection of sentences from various unsolicited manuscripts Blue Apple has received. My favorites included, “I feel this book would be a great fit for Albert Whitman” and “I believe the subject matter and themes of this book fit with the mission and vision of Charlesbridge Books.” I suspect that Albert Whitman and Charlesbridge get similar letters addressed to Blue Apple. Ziefert then turns these into an explanation of what they look for in manuscripts, which would actually make for rather good reading for all up and coming author/illustrators. Ziefert includes twenty different questions like “What will linger after the last page is read and the book is closed?” and “Can it be read on several levels? Does it add up to more than its words?” amongst others. All legitimate questions that are worth considering by everyone from review committees to materials specialists. In this case it’s how Blue Apple is trying to build its brand.
Now the first book on this list has already been explained at length on this site. I reviewed Lucy Rescued by Harriet Ziefert just last month, but I never really gave you the story behind the book. Harriet herself is not a dog person but her brother’s canine companion has a tendency to collect beanie babies. The dog has ten and each night will take all ten upstairs. In the event that one is missing nobody in the family, canine or otherwise, gets any sleep. Using this as an inspiration, Ziefert came up with this book. I should also note that the dog therapy you see in this title was well researched. Easy to do here in town. I suspect that New York has more than its own fair share of doggie psychiatrists.
The Bear Underwear books by Todd H. Doodler are pretty standard fare. You’ve got your bear. He’s got his underwear. End of story. I was amused, though, by Bear’s Underwear Mystery, partly because as you can see by the cover, it’s a touch risqué. I keep hearing that classic stripper tune with the trombones whenever I look at it. The latest has tabs and numbers and counting and a small mystery. It’s also in a 7 X 8 inch board book format. Board books fare very well in my libraries these days, so there you go.
It’s baaaack! Preview season is up and running and to kick it all off we begin with one of the biggies. Thanks to my new fancy dancy job I am now able to stay for a whole librarian preview without rushing back to cover the reference desk. So that’s nice. The downside is that there are now SO MANY great books to mention in a given preview that there’s no way I can get to all of them. With that in mind I’ll be limiting myself to just the children’s fare, unless there’s a teen title that just begs to be discussed (and they exist). I’m also going to split this preview into more than one post. Sure, it’ll eat up some valuable weekly blog time, but compared to working on it day after day with nothing in the interim, this is preferable.
So without further ado . . .
Dial Books for Young Readers
Actually let me talk about my library again for a second. NYPL recently got this new catalog called Bibliocommons. I’m kind of hooked on it, truth be told. Basically it allows your catalog to act like a kind of social networking site like Goodreads. I can rate and comment and do all kinds of things to my books on that site. I can also make easy-to-find lists that are useful to my librarians and patrons. One list I’ve been playing with the idea of making would be a Great Read Aloud Picture Books of 2012. It’s a little early in the season, sure, but I’ve already seen some great ones. Great ones like Duck Sock Hop by Jane Kohuth, illustrated by Jane Porter. There are ducks. They hop in socks. Best of all the book scans when it rhymes so reading it to the masses works. This is the book that introduced me to the idea that the phrase “sock box” is fun to say. It really is.
Another fun one comes to us via an unexpected source. K.L. Going is probably best known for her YA novel Fat Kid Rules the World (coming this year to a movie theater near you). Bit of a gear shift for her then to suddenly be traipsing into picture book territory. That’s precisely what she did, though, with her upcoming Dog in Charge. Clever Dial made sure to pair her with the best too. Dan Santat is behind the illustrations which are, as you might expect, fantastic. The man does a darn good bulldog. I look forward to the booktrailer whenever Dan gets around to making it (raises eyebrows significantly in the direction of L.A.).
I have a little difficulty talking about his next book since I don’t want to give away too much. Which is to say, I’ve already read it, loved it, and I’m saving my good st
At last! The season for previews has begun yet again! And as of right now I am (checks watch) four previews behind.
Guess we better get started then. If you want to read a recap of this same preview done already (and on time) though, check out this Early Word post by Lisa Von Drasek.
This Fall I’ve been hurry scurrying to each preview in a whirlwind gust of bad timing. Either I’m entering late or I’m leaving early. The Penguin preview was no exception. With only a little time to spare before I conducted that day’s storytimes at my own branch, I burst in, grabbed a muffin, hit a chair, hyperventilated for precisely 3.8 seconds, and then ZOUNDS! We were off!!
First up . . .
Grosset & Dunlap
Who surprised me by being the first imprint of the day (a fact that got me in trouble later, but the less said about that the better). I had little time to be surprised when I saw which editor would be speaking to my table. It was Editorial Assistant Karl Jones. I may have seen Mr. Jones around and about before. He’s been with Penguin little over a year, after all. At this time, however, all I could see was the man’s mustache. It was, to be blunt, epic. I’m a huge mustache fan over here. If I had my way every man I know would sport a handlebar (and maybe a monocle too, if I’m pushing my luck). Though not precisely a handlebar, the mustache of Mr. Jones kept me thoroughly enthralled for the better part of his presentation. Fortunately I had the wherewithal to keep notes all the while.
If the kids in your library system are anything like my own then there’s just something about that Who Was? series that makes them happy. I don’t know if it’s the bobblehead portraits on the covers, the reading level, or the interior illustrations but the kiddos are kooky for these things. Looking at the full list of subjects I see that they’ve covered almost all the bio basics. Seems the only folks left at this point that get regularly assigned are Helen Keller and Matthew Henson. At least three titles in 2012 are coming out in Spanish this April (Martin Luther King, Jr., Sacagawea, and a Thomas Edison that out of the corner of my eye keeps looking like James Dean). This January Babe Ruth is joining the ranks in Who Was Babe Ruth? by Joan Holub. Cover illustrator Nancy Harrison has really gone to town too. The man’s multiple chins are on full display. I suspect my Yankee loving patrons (this is New York after all) will snap it up right quick.
I’ve a girl in the children’s bookgroup I run who only wants to read books of the girly girl persuasion. If it’s got a cheerleader on the cover, she’s interested. As a result, I try my darndest to steer her towards similar books that have a little more meat and a little less glitter. Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is now coming out with a series in the vein of Luv Ya Bunches or The Babysitters Club that follows four new friends as they work together on a school magazine. The series is called Forever Four and the first two books in the series should be out this January.
10 Comments on Librarian Preview: Penguin Young Readers Group (Spring 2012), last added: 11/3/2011
Fun Fact: Librarian previews done in the presence of small attention seeking babies yield surprisingly drool-soaked notes. Not so drool-soaked that a person couldn’t decipher them later, but wet with the moisture of someone else’s mouth just the same.
Still and all, the good people of Lerner Publishing Group (Lindsay Matvick and Terri Reden if you want to get specific) weren’t exactly unaware of the effects babies have on one’s output. Hence the tardiness of this post, I suppose. They sat down with me at my favorite local chocolate cafe (Lily O’Brien’s, in case you ever want to meet with me too) and showed me what the Spring 2012 season has to offer. Everything from real world alien investigations to real world stories about never forgotten Harlem bookstores. 2012 is shaping to be a heckuva year.
First up, the Tana Hoban of the 21st century. At least that’s how I dub British crafty blogger Jane Brocket. Color photography may date to a certain extent, but Tana Hoban’s books still circulate like nobody’s business. Like Hoban, Brocket has an eye for concepts and she complements each one with lush photography. Her newest is Spotty, Stripy, Swirly: What Are Patterns? Pretty self-explanatory, except that I wonder if the title is slightly different overseas. They’ve a rather different view of the term “spotty” if my Harry Potter has taught me anything.
First came joeys. Then larvae. Now Bridget Heos is back with Stephane Jorisch (a fellow you may now know best from the Betty Bunny books) for What to Expect When You’re Expecting Hatchlings: A Guide for Crocodilian Parents (and Curious Kids). The book covers facts about crocs and their offspring. Makes me wonder if Ms. Heos will start covering some of those animals we get requests for all the time like bats or sharks. Shark Week is every week in the public library. Note, by the way, that there is (or will be) free material on the Lerner website to accompany this book.
Lerner has some similarities to those publishers that just crank out titles covering subjects that kids are assigned in schools all the time. The difference is that their series titles tend to be pretty good. Recently they started putting out a series that covers different breeds of dogs and cats. I sort of assumed that was the end of it and that we wouldn’t hear any more. Not at all! Behold the new “My Favorite Horses” series. Covering American Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, Lipizzans (like in The Star of Kazan by Eva Ibbotson!), Morgan Horses, and Shetland Ponies (no Assateagues?), the books discuss everything from breed history to info on riding and owning your own horse. Consider purchasing for the ho
What publisher created the first librarian preview, inviting local carriers of MLIS degrees to their places of work to show off the upcoming season? I don’t have an answer to that, I’m just asking. With my NYC preferences and tunnel vision my inclination is to believe that it was one of The Big Six based out of Manhattan. Still it’s not as if other publishers in other cities don’t do the same thing. Take Chronicle, for example. They’re a San Francisco publisher and as recently as November 8th they created a blog post about a recent Librarian Preview that showed off their upcoming Spring/Summer season.
As much as I wish that I’d had a chance to fly out to San Fran and back, my post today is based on something a little smaller. A couple Chronicle reps came out to New York and hosted a dinner preview for some of the folks in town, highlighting their awfully pretty list. I was present. I took notes (which I promptly spilled large amounts of food upon). I report dutifully back to you.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a mystery to me. Not her success, mind. The sheer swath of clever titles she produces from such a wide range of publishers causes one to tip a hat and bow down low before her. No, my confusion is based more on her rabid fan-base and “The Beckoning of Lovely” projects she has going on. Sometimes I feel like I need a crash course in Rosenthal 101. Chronicle has done well by the Rosenthal, of course. Her Duck! Rabbit! hit the top of the charts, helped in no small part by artist Tom Lichtenheld. Now the duo returns with Wumbers. And no, I’m sorry, but it is not a counting book narrated by Elmer Fudd (as awesome as that might be…). Wumbers are words plus numbers. The catalog says that the book pays tribute to William Steig’s CDB! (note to self: Make sure library system has enough copies of said title). Then, by way of explanation it goes on to say, “…cre8ors Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have wri10 and illustr8ed this s2pendous book that is 1derful 4 readers in kindergar10 and up.” Get it? Got it? Gr8.
You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot of call for road trip related books in the NYPL system, but you would be underestimating the average New Yorker’s overwhelming desire to get as far from this little island as possible. So I know we’ll have plenty of requests for Maria van Lieshout’s Backseat A-B-See when it comes out. A combination alphabet and street sign book, this will be the perfect thing to hand to those parents who, until now, have only had Tana Hoban to turn to when the wanted street si
While the message is encouraging in and of itself, Joe Sabia’s TED talk on The Technology of Storytelling is also a brilliant example of how to do an iPad presentation with skill, humor, and facts. I can’t imagine how long this three minute, fifty-one second talk took to put together, but it’s kinda worth it. Inspires one to punch up their presentations, it does. Thanks to @145lewis for the link.
Meanwhile, when it comes to children’s literary scholars it’s a good idea to remember Michael Patrick Hearne. Whether he’s annotating A Christmas Carol or The Wizard of Oz (the man knows his way around an Alice in Wonderland too) this is a go to guy. That’s probably the reason the BBC spoke to him when they came up with the piece Wizard of Oz’s Dorothy was ‘first feminist role model’. That title’s a touch misleading (Dorothy is actually considered to be the first American feminist role model in children’s literature) but the background is interesting:
I’m working on another librarian preview at the moment (suckers take a bloody long time, I tell you). There are some previews I don’t write up, though. Why? Because you can view them at your leisure on your own time from the comfort of your own home (always assuming your home has an internet connection, of course). Case in point, the Scholastic Spring 2012 Librarian Preview is up and running. Should you wish to check out what those folks have on hand, get your one stop shopping done here:
Wanna see me sit on a floor? I mean, seriously, who can resist that alluring sight? The second of my two About.com videos is up and running. This time I recommend early chapter books for new readers. Everything from Anna Hibiscus to the Bad Kitty books. Those About.com folks are splendid editors. Check out all the floor sitting action here:
And for our off-topic video, I know I’ve posted this one before but with the release of the new Muppet movie I feel it ties in so very well. One of my favorite movie mash-ups: