Simon & Schuster’s recent preview of its fall children’s books in New York City was a unique and unprecedented opportunity for celebration this year, as librarians and teachers gathered during the event to help celebrate award-winning author/illustrator Ashley Bryan’s 90th birthday.Bryan, winner of the 2009 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his lifetime contribution to children’s literature, had traveled to NYC from his home in Maine to present his newest book, Can’t Scare Me, which debuts next month.
Bryan’s reading aloud from his book to the warmly receptive crowd was a tough act to follow but publisher Justin Chanda piqued our interest by noting, “It’s rare to be reminded why you are in the business,” as he introduced The Boy on the Wooden Box, a Holocaust memoir. The book, which debuts late this month, is the story of Leon Leyson, a boy who was saved by Oskar Shindler. Unfortunately, Leyson died before seeing the book’s release.
I was also excited to learn that Bill Joyce, author the of multi-platformed The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2012) will publish, in cooperation with Moonbot Studios, The Mischievians, a story of global mischief-makers, and that Phyllis Reynolds Naylor will end her “Alice” series with Now I’ll Tell You Everything. In the new book, Alice updates her life up to the age of 60.
Naylor isn’t the only author updating a beloved story. After 25 years, Patricia Polacco has written a companion to The Keeping Quilt called The Blessing Cup. Meanwhile, only 11 years after The House of the Scorpion, a book that many believe started the rise of dystopian fiction, Nancy Farmer will pick up where she left off in her sequel The Lord of Opium. And after seven years, Ellen Hopkins has finally completed Smoke, a sequel to her acclaimed 2006 title, Burned.
In September, Brian Floca’s long-awaited Locomotive will chug onto many of our bookshelves. The month also brings “Talk Like a Pirate Day” (the 19th), which will be celebrated with Pirates Love Underpants, the latest in author Claire Freedman and illustrator by Ben Cort’s “underpants” franchise.
October will also see some timely releases. Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin have reunited their barnyard friends for Halloween in Click, Clack, Boo! Also for Halloween is The Power of Poppy Pendle by Natasha Lowe, a sweet story about a good witch with bonus recipes.
And then the preview became dogs galore, with the introduction of Debra Frasier’s Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe; God Got a Dog by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Marla Frazee; and Bob Dylan’s If Dogs Run Free, based on one of his lesser-known songs. Dylan isn’t the only celebrity with a book based on a song this year: Jewel has debuted Sweet Dreams, while John Lithgow’s Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo will drop in October. Both books come with CDs.
What do you get when you team up two zany guys like Jon Sciezska and Mac Barnett? You get a redo of a benign book entitled Birthday Bunny into the hilariously entertaining Battle Bunny. It’s a picture book with fun illustrations by Mathew Myers that kids of all ages will find amusing. Who could resist a book that is described as a “hip kid’s Elements of Style” featuring a Tim Burton-ish teacher?
You should also be checking out Thrice Told Tales: Three Mice Full of Writing Advice by Catherine Lewis, illustrated by Joost Swarte.
A couple of trilogies-plus-one books are on their way: Rick Yancy’s Final Descent, the fourth in his “Monstrumologist” series, and Fire and Ash, the fourth book in Jonathan Maberry’s Rot & Ruin series.
Sharon Messenger and Lisa McMann prove to be busy ladies with several books on the fall list. Messenger will debut Keeper of the Lost Cities: Exile and Let the Sky Fall. McMann has three upcoming titles this fall, Island of Fire, the latest in her “Unwanteds” series—described as Hunger Games meets Harry Potter—Bang, the second in her “Visions” series, and Don’t Close Your Eyes.
Those looking for books to meet your Common Core needs will have a wealth of titles to choose from on S&S’s list. For interesting stories about real people, try Jeanette Winter’s Henri’s Scissors, a true life story about Matisse, or The Tree Lady, which tells the story of Katherine Olivia Sessions, the woman responsible for the millions of trees and plants that populate Balboa Park in San Diego. And Let’s Go Nuts! Seeds We Eat may fit nicely into a science curriculum.
Lastly, I was delighted to learn that two-time Caldecott Medalist Nonny Hogrogian and her husband, Newbery Honor Medalist David Kherdian, have collaborated on a new book: Come Back, Moon, which will be released in October.
It’s also exciting to find out that Simon & Schuster has launched a website and app for the parents and educators of beginning readers called Ready To Read; it features classroom guides, activity sheets, and certificates.