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1. Review of the Day: The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat

the-cookie-fiascoThe Cookie Fiasco
By Dan Santat
Additional Art by Mo Willems
Hyperion Books for Children (an imprint of Disney)
$9.99
ISBN: 978-1484726365
Ages 3-6
On shelves now

See, this is tricky. Very tricky indeed. On the one hand, as a reviewer of children’s books, not bound to any single periodical, I have the freedom to select any book I wish. As such, I like to highlight books that haven’t gotten a lot of attention. Imports, books from small presses, books that get lost in the ginormous publishing cycle each year, etc. It gives me a little kick. This isn’t to say I won’t review a bestseller, but what’s the point? The book gets lots of lovely money and doesn’t need my help. And though I absolutely adored the new easy book The Cookie Fiasco (part of the new Mo Willems “Elephant & Piggie Like Reading” series) I could see it sitting deservedly on the top of the New York Times bestseller list, as is right. A job well done then? Not quite. I made the mistake of reading some of the professional reviews of this book. Reviews that clearly had it in for this title from the start and failed to take into account what Dan Santat has managed to pull off here. It’s not just the art (which is far more complex than an initial reading yields). It’s not just the fact that it’s a brilliant story told in an easy book format with limited words. It’s not just the fact that it’s also a story about MATH (and why is it that no one is complimenting this book enough on that score?). It’s the fact that all these elements are combined together to make what I can honestly say is one of the best books of the year. Clever, funny, beautiful to look at, and an easy book that is actually easy (not a given), don’t pooh-pooh this one for its popularity. Take a moment instead to savor what Santat’s accomplished here. I like reviewing the underdogs, but sometimes the top dog IS the underdog. To prove it, I give you Example A: The Cookie Fiasco.

Three friends. Four cookies. It’s a conundrum, to say the least. When two squirrels, a hippo, and a crocodile find themselves with an insufficient number of snacks they attempt to solve the problem in a number of different ways. Perhaps someone will not get a cookie? Impossible! “We need equal cookies for all!” Could two people share one cookie together? Unfair idea. Do crocodiles actually like cookies? They do. Should they share by size? Unfair when you’ve a hippo for a friend. As the tension increases, the hippo finds the best way to relieve stress is to break the cookies into halves. Next thing you know there are twelve pieces. That means each person gets three apiece! Problem solved! Now about those three glasses of milk . . .

How would you definite a fiasco? In one of my favorite episodes of This American Life (titled, appropriately enough, “Fiasco!”) they defined the word as, “when something simple and small turns horribly large”. I don’t think you can truly appreciate this concept unless you have children. No one quite like a small, young person can take a basic idea like, say, eating banana slices rather than a whole banana before bed, and turn it into WWIII, complete with tears, mess, unearthly cries, and parents that vow they will never slice another banana again as long the world does turn. Children begat chaos and, as such, children LOVE controlled chaos. The kind of chaos that ultimately gets cleaned up by grown-ups in the end. Recently I’ve been noticing how it’s used in books more and more. Whether it’s the aquatic antics of Curious George Gets a Medal, the joyous free-for-all of I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More or what I consider to be the most absolutely insane, grotesque, explosion of the id upon the page, A Day at the Firehouse by Richard Scarry (seriously, you have to check it out), I love me a good jaunt through the wild side. Santat taps into this snowball effect all too well. The “fiasco” of this book sounds tame (the gentle breaking apart of the cookies) but like my 2-year-old son, the characters in this book react as if the hippo were snapping the very tendons of their limbs. It’s a gentle reminder that for kids, sometimes the greatest fiasco comes in bite-sized pieces.

Let it never be said that I am a librarian that cares about leveling. Lexile, Fountas and Pinnell, you name it, it’s not my cup of tea. As a public librarian I don’t really have to care, though. That’s my prerogative. Now I will freely admit that for an easy book The Cookie Fiasco has some slightly more complex words. Heck, the word “fiasco” is even in the title. That said, I really and truly believe that Santat did a stand up and cheer job with keeping the text on the simple side. My five-year-old is currently learning to read and doesn’t have an overt amount of difficulty getting through this text. Extra Added Bonus: The overly dramatic moments allow her to rage against the heavens with drama inflected voices. A nice plus.

You don’t need to teach your five-year-old fractions, you know. You’re not going to fail the Parent of the Year awards if you prefer to wait until the kid is a little older to bring them up. It’s fine. But by the same token, there’s nothing out there saying that you can’t be sneaky about them. The fact that the solution to everyone’s problems is fraction-based is notable. I try to read as many math books for kids published in a given year as possible and let me tell you, it’s not easy to find them. The thing about The Cookie Fiasco, though, is that it’s not promoting itself as a math book in any way, shape, or form. Santat just works it oh-so-casually into the text so that by the time you stumble upon it you’re caught off-guard. And hey, if you happen to mention that these are fractions to a kid, and then show what you mean with some additional information . . . well, that’s just your prerogative, isn’t it? Clever parent.

So I’m talking to a friend the other day and the subject of this book comes up. “Do you think it could be a Caldecott winner?” they asked me. I was stunned. Under normal circumstances easy books do not win Caldecotts. It’s not unheard of for them to garner awards above and beyond the Geisel (see: Frog and Toad Together which won a Newbery) but nobody usually puts enough work into the art of an easy book to even start the discussion. Yet after my friend mentioned this possibility to me, I began to remember what Santat did with The Cookie Fiasco. A sane man would have just slapped together some pictures, grabbed his paycheck, and skedaddled. Santat, on the other hand, went a little crazy. He decided that the wisest course of action was to create teeny tiny multi-colored models of the heads of all his characters. That way, when they imagine different solutions to their cookie problem, the heads will indicate that this an idea and not what’s actually happening. Now look closely at those models. Even when they look simple, Santat’s obviously been thinking about them. For example, when the hippo suggests that the squirrels share a cookie together, the accompanying model is of a single squirrel body with a heads of the two characters attached. Did you notice that the heads are red and blue but that the body is purple? Love that attention to detail there. I also started paying attention to repetition in facial expressions. Insofar as I can tell, Dan never has the exact same facial expression on a character appear on its model version twice in a row. Either the mouth is slightly open or the eyes are looking in a different direction. Remarkable.

And now, an ode to good speech balloons. It is not a commonly known fact, but speech balloons can make or break a book. Done poorly, as they often are, they make good books bad. They draw attention to themselves and not to the action on the page. You might think that since Santat is constantly mucking with the font sizes and sometimes the fonts themselves in this book, that is a bad thing. You would be wrong. The placement of these speech balloons is superb. There is never a moment a parent, whether or not they’ve ever read a speech balloon a day in their life, will get confused about the order of who speaks when. Which, when you think about it, really is a speech balloon’s sole job anyway.

Finally . . . what I didn’t like about the book: The female squirrel’s ponytails. Seemed superfluous. They come right out. That’s about it.

As I mentioned before, book doesn’t need me to review it. It’s been on the New York Times bestseller list and will certainly garner a Geisel Award if there is any justice in the universe. It has sold mad bank and will continue to sell well into the future. That said, I feel a need to defend its honor. This isn’t some random title in a popular series. If it came out without the name “Mo Willems” anywhere in sight I bet it would STILL be a massive hit. It has humor and fractions and killer art, and all sorts of things going for it. I review very few easy books, and even fewer popular easy books, in a given year, but I can always make exceptions. And this book, put plainly, is exceptional. Top notch stuff all around.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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2. Preview: Will Hyperion be Marvel’s next star?

Of late, Marvel’s Hyperion character has been getting a wee bit of a push. There were several Hyperion toys at Toy Fair and now an all new all different Hyperion #1. Hyperion started as the “superman” in the JLA analog The Squadron Supreme, and he’s had many realities, many versions and now he’s got a […]

5 Comments on Preview: Will Hyperion be Marvel’s next star?, last added: 2/26/2016
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3. Marvel/Hyperion Announce YA Novels Based on Rogue, She-Hulk

TweetA curious but interesting move today, as Marvel and Hyperion have just announced that they will be releasing a series of YA novels this year based on some of Marvel’s most prominent female heroes. So far Rogue and She-Hulk books have been announced, to the delight of Dan Slott.  This is one of the first [...]

13 Comments on Marvel/Hyperion Announce YA Novels Based on Rogue, She-Hulk, last added: 2/12/2013
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4. The World's Most Wonderful Rotem Moscovich: Editors Panel

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Rotem is a senior editor at Disney Hyperion and the bee's knees.

Her answer to the question, what makes a compelling book is: "Emotional connection, whether picture book or novel. And how is this book different? A new voice, or point of view? Does it impress me?

Dream project? Rotem says: Really want to find a middle grade novel that makes you cry... and is happy, like Anne of Green Gables. For picture books it has to be AWESOME.

Wendy asks if there was a book that hooked you from the beginning and went on to do well in the market/critically?

Hook's Revenge by Heidi Schulz is the book that comes to mind first for Rotem, and she's happy to announce the sequel will be out in September.


What's the difference to you in a project where you acquire it, but it needs a lot of work, vs. a project you don't accept?

"It's having the vision of how to help the author make a book sing. The book has to go to the right editor and the right house, it's an alchemy."

A book you wish you could have worked on? Rotem says, Dory Fantasmagory, it's hilarious.



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5. Marvel Marvels, Announces HYPERION, NIGHTHAWK, X-MAN Series

Marvel announced a ton of books this morning. The rumored second Iron Man ongoing just wasn’t enough for the publisher it seems — they also included a new take on the Punisher and ongoings for three obscure heroes; Hyperion, Nighthawk and an X-Man?   First up, the publisher debuted a solo ongoing series for Hyperion, a character that […]

0 Comments on Marvel Marvels, Announces HYPERION, NIGHTHAWK, X-MAN Series as of 10/23/2015 4:35:00 PM
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6. Review of the Day: The Red Hat by David Teague

51xONVs2CGLThe Red Hat
By David Teague
Illustrated by Antoinette Portis
Disney Hyperion (an imprint of Disney Book Group)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781423134114
Ages 4-7
On shelves December 8th

There is a story out there, and I don’t know if it is true, that the great children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore had such a low opinion of children’s books that involved “gimmicks” (read: interactive elements of any sort) that upon encountering them she’d dismiss each and every one with a single word: Truck. If it was seen as below contempt, it was “truck”. Pat the Bunny, for example, was not to her taste, but it did usher in a new era of children’s literature. Books that, to this day, utilize different tricks to engage the interest of child readers. In the best of cases the art and the text of a picture book are supposed to be of the highest possible caliber. To paraphrase Walter de la Mare, only the rarest kind of best is good enough for our kids, yes? That said, not all picture books have to attempt to be works of great, grand literature and artistic merit. There are funny books and silly ones that do just as well. Take it a step even farther, and I’d say that the interactive elements that so horrified Ms. Moore back in the day have great potential to aid in storytelling. Though she would be (rightly) disgusted by books like Rainbow Fish that entice children through methods cheap and deeply unappealing, I fancy The Red Hat would have given her pause. After considering the book seriously, a person can’t dismiss it merely because it tends towards the shiny. Lovingly written and elegantly drawn, Teague and Portis flirt with transparent spot gloss, but it’s their storytelling and artistic choices that will keep their young readers riveted.

With a name like Billy Hightower, it’s little wonder that the boy in question lives “atop the world’s tallest building”. It’s a beautiful view, but a lonely one, so when a construction crew one day builds a tower across the way, the appearance of a girl in a red hat intrigues Billy. Desperate to connect with her, he attempts various methods of communication, only to be stumped by the wind at every turn. Shouting fails. Paper airplanes plummet. A kite dances just out of reach. Then Billy tries the boldest method of reaching the girl possible, only to find that he himself is snatched from her grasp. Fortunately a soft landing and a good old-fashioned elevator trump the wind at last. Curlicues of spot gloss evoke the whirly-twirly wind and all its tricksy ways.

Great Moments of Spot Gloss in Picture Book History: Um . . . hm. That’s a stumper. I’m not saying it’s never happened. I’m just saying that when I myself try to conjure up a book, any book, that’s ever used it to proper effect, I pull up a blank. Now what do I mean exactly when I say this book is using this kind of “gloss”? Well, it’s a subtle layer of shininess. Not glittery, or anything so tawdry as that. From cover to interior spreads, these spirals of gloss evoke the invisible wind. They’re lovely but clearly mischievous, tossing messages and teasing the ties of a hat. Look at the book a couple times and you notice that the only part of the book that does not contain this shiny wind is the final two-page image of our heroes. They’re outdoors but the wind has been defeated in the face of Billy’s persistence. If you feel a peace looking at the two kids eyeing one another, it may have less to do with what you see than what you don’t.

Naturally Antoinette Portis is to be credited here, though I don’t know if the idea of using the spot gloss necessarily originated with her. It is possible that the book’s editor tossed Portis the manuscript with the clear understanding that gloss would be the name of the game. That said, I felt like the illustrator was given a great deal of room to grow with this book. I remember back in the day when her books Not a Box and Not a Stick were the height of 32-page minimalism. She has such a strong sense of design, but even when she was doing books like Wait and the rather gloriously titled Princess Super Kitty her color scheme was standard. In The Red Hat all you have to look at are great swath of blue, the black and white of the characters, an occasional jab of gray, and the moments when red makes an appearance. There is always a little jolt of red (around Billy’s neck, on a street light, from a carpet, etc). It’s the red coupled with that blue that really makes the book pop. By all rights a red, white, and blue cover should strike you on some level as patriotic. Not the case here.

Not that the book is without flaw. For the most part I enjoyed the pacing of the story. I loved the fairytale element of Billy tossed high into the sky by a jealous wind. I loved the color scheme, the gloss, and the characters. What I did not love was a moment near the end of the book where pertinent text is completely obscured by its placement on the art. Billy has flown and landed from the sky. He’s on the ground below, the wind buffeting him like made. He enters the girl’s building and takes the elevator up. The story says, “At the elevator, he punched UP, and he knocked at the first door on the top floor.” We see him extending his hand to the girl, her hat clutched in the other. Then you turn the page and it just says, “The Beginning.” Wait, what? I had to go back and really check before I realized that there was a whole slew of text and dialogue hidden at the bottom of that previous spread. Against a speckled gray and white floor the black text is expertly camouflaged. I know that some designers cringe at the thought of suddenly interjecting a white text box around a selection of writing, but in this particular case I’m afraid it was almost a necessity. Either than or toning down the speckles to the lightest of light grays.

Aside from that, it’s sublime. A sweet story of friendship (possibly leading to more someday) from the top of the world. Do we really believe that Billy lives on the top of the highest building in the world? Billy apparently does, and that’s good enough for us. But even the tallest building can find its match. And even the loneliest of kids can, through sheer pig-headed persistence, make their voices heard. A windy, shiny book without a hint of bluster.

On shelves December 8th.

Source: F&G sent from publisher for review.

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7. Clementine and the Family Meeting

Clementine and the Family Meeting. Sara Pennypacker. Illustrations by Marla Frazee. 2011. Hyperion. 164 pages.

The very first thing Margaret said when she sat down next to me on the bus Monday was that I looked terrible.

The fifth Clementine novel may just be the best. (Or do I say that each time a new Clementine?!)  The first four novels in this wonderfully-delightful-must-read series are: Clementine (2006), The Talented Clementine (2007)Clementine's Letter (2008), Clementine, Friend of the Week (2010).

I love and adore Clementine. I do. I love her personality, love her narration, love her family, love her neighbors (Margaret and her older brother, Mitchell), love her friends, love her classmates, love her teachers, love her principal.

I love seeing Clementine with her family. I love seeing the interaction between family members. Her conversations with her mom, her conversations with her dad. And then there's Clementine's little brother. She calls him a different vegetable name every single time she refers to him. And most of the time, well, she thinks of him as a little bother. Someone not really worth having a relationship with. But things begin to change...perhaps a bit slowly...in this fifth novel. For she begins to see, perhaps just a bit, that her brother is a person. There's a very, very sweet scene--though not mushy by any means--where her brother chooses HER to read to him his bedtime story. Another favorite scene of mine shows Clementine with her Dad at Home Depot, I believe. She wants a tool belt exactly like his.

Anyway, Clementine and the Family Meeting is a novel about changes, about how it's okay to have conflicting feelings about changes. That changes can bring a mix of emotions and feelings. You might be scared, worried, happy, sad, or even mad. Changes might make you more confused than anything else. There's going to be a BIG, BIG, BIG change in July for the family. Clementine will be getting a new brother or sister. And how does Clementine feel about the situation? Well, you'll just have to read and see for yourself!!!

But Clementine isn't just worried about one not-so-little thing. Clementine wouldn't be Clementine if there weren't more going on in her life to distract her. She's also worried about her science project and her science partner. About the rat, Eighteen, which was her and Waylan's project. Eighteen escaped and can't be found anywhere....

So I definitely recommend this one. If you've read the first few in the series, you probably don't need me to convince you how great the books are. If you haven't met Clementine yet, you should seek her out. But start at the beginning. That would probably be best!!!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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8. Blackout

by John Rocco   Disney / Hyperion 2011 On a hot summer night New York City encounters a blackout, bringing out the best in people. A far cry from the blackouts a few decades back!   All the little girl (or long-haired boy) wants to do is play a board game with her family. His/her sister is too busy talking on the phone. His/her dad is up to his elbows in oven mitts in the kitchen. His/her

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9. The Way We Fall (YA)

The Way We Fall. Megan Crewe. 2012. Hyperion. 320 pages.

Sept 2
Leo,
It's about six hours since you left the island. The way things have been, I know you wouldn't have expected me to come to see you off, but I keep thinking about how you waved and waved from the dock five years ago, when I was leaving for Toronto.

The Way We Fall reminded me of Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It. Not that the catastrophe's are that similar. They're not. (I still haven't decided which is more devastating...) Perhaps it is the personal touch of the narrators that make them similar. Miranda writing a personal journal that might--one day--be shared with others; Kaelyn writing specifically to an ex-best-friend, Leo. (She wanted to be more than friends, he didn't. There was awkwardness, silence, and avoidance.)

So The Way We Fall is set on a small Canadian island. Kaelyn's father is a doctor, a specialist, whose expertise is about to become essential. For there is a virus, a very deadly virus, spreading through the island. Within a week or two the island will be under quarantine to keep people from spreading the virus to the mainland. The survival rate is almost non-existent, out of hundreds of cases, only a handful have survived. (I can't remember if it is five or eight--but it is a SMALL number.) Once people start showing the symptoms, that's it, that's the end of hope and the beginning of misery. Because in the first few days, victims KNOW what's happening, true, they forget by the time the illness has progressed, and by the time it reaches the final stages they're beyond caring, but still, it's NOT a pretty way to go. The dust jacket says it all, "it starts with an itch you just can't shake. Then comes a fever and a tickle in your throat. A few days later, you'll be blabbing your secrets and chatting with strangers like they're old friends. Three more, and the paranoid hallucinations kick in. And then you're dead."

So The Way We Fall is a the personal account of our young heroine, Kaelyn. Through her eyes we witness the best and worst of humanity--as the island's society collapses a bit. As some people in the community go out of control...

Read The Way We Fall
  • If you're a fan of survival stories like Life As We Knew It or Ashfall
  • If you're a fan of dystopias, this one is plague/virus driven



© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 Comments on The Way We Fall (YA), last added: 2/11/2012
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10. Listen to My Trumpet! (Elephant and Piggie)

Listen to My Trumpet. An Elephant & Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2012. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Gerald! Sit! Sit! Sit! Do not move! I HAVE A TRUMPET!!! Do you want to listen to my trumpet?

I absolutely love and adore (in every way) Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books. I do. (Some people anticipate YA releases, for me, it is all about Mo.) I just love, love, love these two characters. I love Gerald, the elephant. I love Piggie, the pig. I love the way these two animals interact. I love the way their friendship is depicted. I love the humor, the emotion. I love the way the emotion is illustrated--the facial expressions, the body language. I just find this series of books for young readers to be practically perfect in every way. These books are just too much fun to be missed. So the newest release in the series is Listen to My Trumpet! It did not disappoint. I just loved it!!!

In this one, Piggie is oh-so-happy to share her "music" with Gerald. Is Gerald equally happy to hear his friend's "music"? Well, Gerald is tactful, I'd say. (An elephant (or a person) with less restraint might have said much, much more.) And I do like the fact that Gerald doesn't hesitate to be honest with his friend, all the while being thoughtful and considerate. Of course, there's a twist to this one--like so many others in this series--and I won't spoil it for you.

The illustrations are so much fun in this one!!! I mean the text is good; the text is funny. There is much to love about it. But the illustrations really steal the show in this one!!! I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED all the illustrations of Piggie trying her best to play the trumpet. (For example, page 11 and 16). And I loved the illustrations of Gerald trying to listen to Piggie play her trumpet. (For example, page 20 and 21).

Other books in the series:

I Will Surprise My Friend
Can I Play Too?
Elephants Cannot Dance
I Am Going
Pigs Make Me Sneeze
Watch Me Throw The Ball
Are You Ready to Play Outside
I Love My New Toy
I Am Invited to A Party
My Friend is Sad
Today I Will Fly
There Is A Bird On Your Head
We Are In A Book
I Broke My Trunk!
Should I Share My Ice Cream? 
Happy Pig Day

Read Listen To My Trumpet
  • If you love Mo Willems
  • If you love Gerald and Piggie, if you think Elephant & Piggie is one of the b

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11. Fusenews: At the sign of the big yellow fuse

  • Ain’t he just the sweetest thing?  Author/illustrator Aaron Zenz recently wrote just the loveliest ode to his four top favorite children’s literary blogs, and then went and created original art for each.  In my case he created this little Fuse guy (or possibly Fuse gal) based on the bright yellow Fuse you see at the beginnings of each of my posts (I put it there in lieu of my face because I can only look at myself so often before going stark raving mad).  This, I should point out, is not the first time a little Fuse person has been created for this blog.  Katherine Tillotson, an artist of outstanding ability (I’m biased but it also happens to be true) created not one but TWO little Fusemen in the past, both for separate birthdays.

I’m a fan.  So thank you Aaron and, once again, thank you Katherine.  Fusemen of the world unite!

  • *sniff sniff*  Smell that?  That’s the distinctive odor of a brouhaha brewing.  Sort of a combination of burnt hair, dead goldfish and patchouli.  And you wonder why I don’t cover YA books.  Sheesh!  One word: drama.  Seems that a YA blog called Story Siren plagiarized the work of others for her own blog posts.  Folks noticed and suddenly the internet was was heaping helpful of flames, burns, accusations, and other forms of tomfoolery.  For a sane and rational recap we turn to our own Liz Burns who gives us the run down in Today’s Blog Blow Up.  Ugly stuff.
  • And while we’re on the subject of YA (which I just said I don’t cover, and yet here we are), I thought we were done with whitewashing, folks.  So what’s up with this?  Harlequin Teen, you got some explaining to do.
  • In other news, book banning: It’s what’s for dinner.  Take a trip with me to The Annville-Cleona School District where a picture book fondly nicknamed by some as Where’s the Penis? is getting some heat.  If you’ve ever seen The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Adam Rex, then you know that calling it “pornographic” works only if you are unaware of what the word “pornography” actually means.  I would like to offer a shout-out to librarian Anita Mentzer who has handled the whole situation with class and dignity.  You, madam, are the kind of children’s librarian others should aspire to be.  Well done.  And thanks to Erica Sevetson for the link.
  • We may not yet have an ALA accredited poetry award for a work of children’s literature but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a Poet Laureate or two instead.  Rich Michelson, gallery owner and

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12. Kudos and Publishing Industry News

I am happy to announce that Katia Raina sold her Historical Young Adult novel titled, Castle of Concrete to namelos - pub. date TBA.  This was the first book she wrote and is her debut novel. I remember reading this manuscript at one of our New Jersey Writing Retreats.  It is set in the collapsing Soviet Union and is about a shy Jewish teen who falls for a boy whose political convictions make her question her own identity.  I am sure you will all join me with congratulating Katia.  Just goes to show if you don’t give up and you work hard, it will happen!  Wishing Katia more published books to come.

Harper Announces Paperback Mystery Line, Bourbon Street

Harper Collins will launch Bourbon Street Books to publish “all types of mysteries,” featuring paperback originals, reprints, backlist titles, and reissued classics. The line starts with fall with two paperback originals: British author Oliver Harris’s debut THE HOLLOW MAN and Lynda La Plante’s seventh book in the Anna Travis series, BLOOD LINE, both publishing on October 23. Also in October they will bring back into print Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey with Harriet Vane series and in winter they will reissue four Mary Kay Andrews novels — Happy Never After, Homemade Sin, To Live and Die in Dixie, Every Crooked Nanny ― all originally written and published under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck.

As part of the Harper Paperbacks imprint (it has a logo and a list, but it’s not an imprint–just a “line”), Bourbon Street will draw resources from the Perennial staff and any Harper Collins editor will be able to acquire for the line. It falls under the direction of Jonathan Burnham and Cal Morgan.

Former Harper UK executive John Bond and former Harper Press senior editor Annabel Wright have formed Whitefox Publishing Services. They “deliver bespoke, cost-effective and flexible creative excellence to help publishers, agents and writers to solve every publishing challenge.”

Eric Winbolt has been promoted to the newly created role of digital creative director at Harper UK, reporting to group publisher Belinda Budge.

Alice Rahaeuser has joined Random House Children’s as production associate, reporting to Timothy Terhune. Most recently she worked at Neuwirth and Associates, managing book production for customers including Tor, The Experiment and Pegasus Books.

At Harlequin, Emily Rodmell has been promoted to editor at the Love Inspired imprint.

Annie Stone has joined Harlequin Teen as associate editor. Previously she was an assistant editor at Harper.

Laura Hopper has joined Hyperion as editorial director of franchise publishing, based on the West Coast, focusing on identifying, developing, and editing new print and digital projects within the Disney/ABC Television Group for Hyperion. Hopper was vp of the motion picture department for Brillstein-Grey Entertainment, and most recently she represented writer and director clients on various film and television projects.

Victoria Comella has joined HarperCollins 360 as publicity manager. Previously she was a publicist at Putnam.

Jeanette Shaw has been promoted to editor at Perigee Books/Prentice Hall Press.

Cengage’s Gale has sold Sleeping Bear Press to Minnesota-based Cherry Lake Publishing. Sleeping Bear and their staff of 10 will remain in their Ann Arbor, MI offices.

Graphic Arts Books has acquired the trade titles and publishing rights of Pruett Publishing Company in order to build and expand its imprint, WestWinds Press. Pruett, based in Boulder, CO, was founded in 1954 and , specializes in western regional publishing.


Filed under: publishers, Publishing Industry, success Tagged: Harlequin Teen, Harper Collins, Hyperion, Katia Raina, Namelos, Random House, Sleeping Bear Press

5 Comments on Kudos and Publishing Industry News, last added: 9/10/2012
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13. Web of Words: Sutton

50 Book Pledge | Book #52: The Age of Hope by David Bergen

I present a passage from Hyperion‘s Sutton by J.R. Moehringer.

And he didn’t always care if his stories were true.

Is that bad?

Not necessarily. Truth has its place. In a courtroom, certainly. A boardroom. But in a story? I don’t know. I think truth is in the listener. Truth is something the listener bestows on a story—or not.


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14. Web of Words: The Time Keeper

50 Book Pledge | Book #56: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

I present a passage from Hyperion‘s The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom.

Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.


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15. City Dog, Country Frog


City Dog, Country Frog. Mo Willems. 2010. Hyperion. 64 pages.

City Dog didn't stop on that first day in the country; he ran as far and as fast as he could.

Change is a part of life. Seasons come and go. Life goes on and on and on. You enjoy living life in the moment. You treasure good times, good memories. Such is the message of Mo Willems' more contemplative picture book, City Dog, Country Frog. Within the book, City Dog makes two friends. Both in springtime. The first spring he meets a Country Frog. The second spring he meets a Country Squirrel.

Readers meet City Dog (in the country) on five occasions: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring Again. In the first three, City Dog is happy with his friend Country Frog. In spring, they play froggy games. In summer, they play doggy games. And in fall, they sit back, relax, and remember. In winter, City Dog is surprised by the absence of his friend. The moment of loss, of sadness, isn't over done. It's quiet. It's profound. But spring comes again, and with it comes a new opportunity for friendship, for life, for reconnecting.





© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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16. Elephants Cannot Dance


Elephants Cannot Dance! (An Elephant & Piggie Book). Mo Willems. 2009. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Gerald!
!
Let's Dance!
I can teach you! I am teaching all my friends.
I would love to learn how to dance.
Piggie would love, love, love to teach her best friend Gerald how to dance. She is teaching all her friends, you know, and Gerald is her best, best friend. Gerald knows this won't be easy. For he knows that elephants cannot dance. But for Piggie, his best friend, he's willing to try. And try. And try. And try. Will Piggie's perseverance pay off? Will Gerald learn to dance? Or will Piggie have to accept the truth that elephants cannot dance?

While Elephants Cannot Dance is not the funniest in the series, I did enjoy it!

I love, love, love this series!!!

For fun, here's a couple of YouTube videos featuring Mo Willems:





© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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17. Can I Play Too?


Can and I Play Too? Mo Willems. 2010. Hyperion. 57 pages.

Piggie! Let's play catch!
Yes! I love playing catch with friends!
I will throw.
I will catch.
Excuse me! Can I play too?
Piggie and Gerald are getting ready to play catch when they're interrupted by a snake who wants to play catch too. Can these two friends find a way to make that work? You know, since snakes do not have arms to catch or throw with?!

This one is funny. I love it when these two best friends try to solve problems. Some of their solutions are quite different. I won't say it's the best of the series. (I have my own favorites.) But I did like it.

I would definitely recommend this series! These books are great fun.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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18. We Are in a Book





We Are In A Book! Elephant and Piggie Series. Mo Willems. 2010. September 2010. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Piggie!
Yes, Gerald?
I think someone is looking at us.
Someone is looking at us!
Who is looking at us? A monster?
No. It is...a reader!
A reader is reading us!
How is a reader reading us?
The reader is reading these word bubbles!
I didn't just love this book. I love, love, loved it. I really, really LOVED it. As in, it getting instant favorite-and-best status. It is part of Mo Willems' Elephant & Piggie series. (Yes, I do LOVE that series. I love some more than others. Some I just like. A few that I'm really super-excited about.) It stars two best friends: Gerald, the elephant, and Piggie, the pig. Now that these two are self aware--aware that they are the stars of the book--what will these two do? What fun is to be had? And what will Gerald do when he realizes that the book has to end because all books end? Can Piggie find a solution?

This book is funny. It is awesomely funny!!! (I wouldn't say I'm laughing quite as much as Gerald. But. It's close.)

Other books in the series:

Can I Play Too?
Elephants Cannot Dance
I Am Going
Pigs Make Me Sneeze
Watch Me Throw The Ball
Are You Ready to Play Outside
I Love My New Toy
I Am Invited to A Party
My Friend is Sad
Today I Will Fly
There Is A Bird On Your Head


© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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19. Sissy Spacek Inks Memoir Deal with Hyperion

hyperion.jpgHyperion has acquired a memoir by Sissy Spacek, written in “her authentic, big-hearted voice.”

The book is scheduled for a 2012 release with the tentative title, Barefoot Stories. Jim Stein of the Innovative Artists Talent and Literary Agency negotiated the deal with editor Sarah Landis. The deal includes audio rights. Landis will edit the book.

The press release offers this quote from the soon-to-be-author: “I’m thrilled to be writing this book. I just wish I had studied harder in English class.”

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20. I Broke My Trunk!

I Broke My Trunk! (Elephant and Piggie) Mo Willems. 2011. Hyperion. 64 pages.

I have not seen Gerald today. Why?
Gerald! What happened to your trunk?
I broke my trunk.
How did you break your trunk?
It is a long crazy story.
Tell it! Tell it!

I Broke My Trunk is the newest book in the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. Gerald, the elephant, does have a long and crazy story to share with his best friend, Piggie. The story of how he broke his trunk. Did he break it when he lifted his friend Hippo? No! Did he break it when he lifted Hippo's big sister? No! Did he break it when he lifted his friend Rhino? No! How about lifting a piano, two hippos, and a rhino? No! Then how did Gerald break his trunk?! Will Piggie believe this crazy story? She may just end up with a long and crazy story of her own to share!

I liked this one. It was very funny. It was very playful. I liked the dialogue, the language. For example, I loved this exchange:

Gerald: Then, I had an idea! I wanted to lift Hippo onto my trunk!
Piggie: Why?
Gerald: Because!
Piggie: Okay.

It just felt right. Everything about these books feel right. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Gerald and Piggie. I love their friendship. I love the way they think and act. These books are just too much fun!!!

Other books in the series include:

I Will Surprise My Friend
Can I Play Too?
Elephants Cannot Dance
I Am Going
Pigs Make Me Sneeze
Watch Me Throw The Ball
Are You Ready to Play Outside
I Love My New Toy
I Am Invited to A Party
My Friend is Sad
Today I Will Fly
There Is A Bird On Your Head
We Are In A Book


© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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21. Aliens on Vacation

by Clete Barrett Smith Disney / Hyperion  2011  When Scrub is shunted off to his Grandmother's for the summer he discovers that her Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast is more than a name...  Scrub just knows his summer is going to suck. Having to spend his summer helping his grandmother run her Star Wars hippie-decor B&B in the middle-of-nowhere Washington was bad enough, but knowing that his best

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22. The Throne of Fire (MG)

The Throne of Fire. Kane Chronicles #2 Rick Riordan. 2011. Hyperion. 464 pages.

Carter here. Look, we don't have time for long introductions. I need to tell this story quickly, or we're all going to die.

The sequel to Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid. Once again it is narrated by a brother-sister team, Carter (14), and Sadie (13). These two were raised apart and they're only now getting to know one another. But surviving dangerous situations one after another after another has helped these two bond a bit. Though they still bicker over who gets to tell what as the story unfolds. In this adventure, the two are looking to piece together the Book of Ra (it is in three sections, each hidden in a secret location). They're hoping the Book of Ra will help them resurrect Ra, a retired Egyptian god. A god they're hoping will be strong enough to help them defeat Apophis. And to add to the pressure, they only have a week to do it.

I'm not a big fan of how this one is told. Of how the book(s) are being recorded on audio, of how both are hoping that by sharing their stories other magicians will step forth to help the two battle the forces of evil and save the world.

And I'm not a big fan of the alternating narrators. It's not that I dislike either Carter or Sadie. It's just that I feel if it was told by one character, that maybe just maybe I'd connect more with the story? I'm not sure if it's the way the story is told or if it's just the story itself.

While I'm mentioning all the little things I didn't quite love, let me focus on the "romance." For me. It distracts from the story. To have Carter DROP EVERYTHING because he discovers the location of a certain someone?! To leave the saving the world to his sister and her friend just so that he can find her, "save" her, and maybe just maybe see if she feels the same way about him as he does about her?! I mean when I got to that section I was like YOU'RE KIDDING ME?! HE'S REALLY GOING TO DO THAT? And I felt the same way when Sadie left Carter--earlier in the novel--to go London so she could celebrate her birthday party with some friends. I mean the world is ending in less than five days and instead of finding a way to STOP it from ending, you want to party?! And Sadie's interest in Anubis and Walt?! It felt weird to me. Not necessarily her having crushes on them both. But on either one being even remotely interested in her in that way. I mean she *just* turned thirteen. And Walt is sixteen. And Anubis--well he's a god, and she's human. I thought the book had more than enough drama without Carter and Sadie being distracted by puppy love.

So what did I love? Well, I loved how compelling the second half of this novel was. I mean once the action starts, it STARTS. And it's hard to put it down once it starts getting good. Once things start to come together, I wasn't distracted by the things that didn't quite work for me. I just had to keep reading; I had to know what happened next.

The Throne of Fire has action, adventure, and drama. Also mythology--Egyptian mythology--of course.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

3 Comments on The Throne of Fire (MG), last added: 5/19/2011
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23. Build your interactive children’s book – win an iPad2!

Illustrators can now jump with both feet into digital publishing with the help of some free software and a contest launched by InteractBooks.com

“What better way to showcase all that our InteractBuilder e-book software can do on the iPad and iPhone than holding a contest to find the very best interactive book it can make?” asks the Interact Books website .

“And who better than you to produce this book by using your developer talent and our app software for the Mac and PC?”

A Youtube video doesn’t do the reading experience justice, but an actual iPad encounter with The Tortoise and the Hairpiece by Don Winn, illustrated by Toby Heflin and distributed on the Apple iTunes store demonstrates how the touch screen interactions and subtle animations of an interactive book (let’s call it an i-book) make for a whole new storytelling language.

I-books or interactive e-books aren’t quite the same as the e-books now making headlines for trouncing paperbacks in sales at Amazon.com.

They’re a new animal — maybe a new art form, and it may be months or even years before anyone knows where this fusion of interactivity and literacy is going, aesthetically or commercially speaking. Developers and a few publishers are delving into the format, but no leader for an interactive book-building engine or platform has emerged — yet.

InteractBooks

In the meantime Austin, Texas based-InteractBooks wants to push the innovation timeline up a little by launching the first ever contest for an interactive children’s book. Entries must be built with their free InteractBuilder software.

First place prize – 16gb white or black WIFI iPad2, or $500.  lnteractBooks will  also publish your title and give you a three year membership in the InteractBuilder community (a $300 value)

  • 2nd Place wins a 32gb iPodTouch or $200* and a two-year membership to the InteractBuilder community.
  • 3rd Place yields a $100 Best Buy Gift Card and a one-year membership to the InteractBuilder community.

All runners up and anyone entering the contest with an InteractBuilder-approved book will have a free year’s membership in the InteractBooks builders community. 

The deadline is September 18 and the winner will be announced  October 1, which doesn’t give you much time.

InteractBooks logo

That’s why the InteractBook folks are encouraging illustrators and authors to mull over the books they’ve already done, published or unpublished, with pictures and text ready to go — and see how they might adapt their story to this new media

1 Comments on Build your interactive children’s book – win an iPad2!, last added: 8/9/2011
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24. Vroman’s Bookstore to Appear on Parks and Recreation TV Show

Vroman’s Bookstore, an independent bookstore in Pasadena, will be appearing on season four of the NBC series, Parks and Recreation. According to Jacket Copy, the bookseller will host an author event headlined by Leslie Knope, a parks department bureaucrat played by Amy Poehler.

Hyperion will release the actual title in paperback format in October. Poehler’s character wrote Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America, a 240-page humor book contains illustrations, photographs and commentary from all of the show’s characters.

Here’s more from NBC.com: “Each chapter will explore a different aspect of the fictional town’s history and expand upon events hinted at in the series, such as: the time the whole town was on fire, its long list of ridiculous town slogans, and the ongoing raccoon infestation. Knope, a resident of Pawnee since her childhood, provides all of the research and comical insights into this Midwestern town that fans have grown to love.”

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25. This Week on the mediabistro.com Job Board: Macmillan, Quirk, Hachette

This week, Macmillan is looking for an online marketing manager, while Hachette Book Group needs a new publicity director for its Nashville division. Disney/ABC is seeking a senior production editor for Hyperion and Voice, and Quirk Books is hiring a subsidiary rights manager. Get all the details on these gigs and more below, and check out additional just-posted jobs on mediabistro.com.

For more job listings, go to the Mediabistro job board, and to post a job, visit our employer page. For real-time openings and employment news, follow @MBJobPost.

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