Simon & Schuster’s spring book preview this week in New York City featured both rising and long-shining stars of the book world. Jason Reynolds, poet and debut author of the urban teen tale When I Was the Greatest, charmed the audience of librarians with stories of his upbringing in Brooklyn, while collage artist and picture book author Lois Ehlert closed the program by speaking about her own childhood in Wisconsin.
The event was a chance for the dread-locked Reynolds to introduce both himself and his new novel, which will debut January 7, 2014, to attendees who may not have been familiar with him or his work.
Reynolds also shared some words of encouragement that he once received from children’s book author and illustrator Christopher Myers, son of renowned author Walter Dean Myers, who said—in reference to his father—“When he’s done, who is going to do it? I think you should do it.” When I Was the Greatest deals with the hardship of growing up in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.
Another highlight of the event was the announcement of Tim Federle’s Five, Six, Seven, Nate, a sequel to Better Nate Than Ever debuting in January, which elicited cheers from the crowd. The excitement continued with John Corey Whaley’s Noggin, a wacky coming of age story about a boy whose head is transplanted on someone’s body. Talk about losing your head! It debuts April 8, 2014.
Serious topics were also touched upon with the introduction of Hidden Girl: The True Story of a Modern-Day Child Slave, a compelling memoir by Shyima Hall. Meanwhile, Brendan Kiely’s The Gospel of Winter, a fictional story that deals with the topic of sexual abuse in the priesthood, was described as “Doubt meets Speak.” Both titles will premiere on January 21, 2014.
On a more lighthearted note, J. Duddy Gill’s quirky The Secret of Ferrell Savage(2/4/14)—a middle-school tale of romance, family, and cannibalism—is bound to be a fun title to book talk.
Surprisingly, poultry in all shapes, sizes, and abilities are well represented on the Spring 2014 list from S&S. Looking for a chicken with super powers? Sarah Dillard’s Extraordinary Warren: A Super Chicken (2/11/14) is for you. Facts about chicken and other animals can be found in Chickens Don’t Fly and Other Fun Facts (2/4/14) by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, illustrated by Pete Oswald. Also early next year, Harvey Fierstein’s The Sissy Duckling (1/21/14) will be reissued in paperback with a CD of Fierstein reading the story, while Lauren Thompson’s Wee Little Chick will be reissued as Little Chick (1/21/14). New Yorker artist Mike Twohy makes sure roosters are represented with Wake Up Rupert (2/18/14), while Elizabeth Rose Stanton offers up the most unusual fowl of the flock with Henny (1/7/14). Not a typical chicken, the titular character Henny was born with arms.
In related tales, Simon Spotlight has a new level reader, Katy Duck Goes to Work (4/22/14).
There will also be a fair amount of other critters in the mix next spring. In Shoe Dog (3/25/14), Megan McDonald and Katherine Tillotson introduce us to a loveable pup with a bad habit, while Monica Sheehan uses a canine to inspire in Be Happy! (4/15/14). In Matilda’s Cat (3/18/14), by Emily Gravett, a sweet tale of the relationship between a feline and a girl, with an unexpected twist.
Librarians who love books that feature libraries will be excited for two titles next spring. First is Toni Morrison’s new picture book Please Louise (3/4/14), which pays homage to libraries, and was inspired by Morrison’s experience working in a library as a young girl. And Deb Caletti’s teen novel The Last Forever (4/1/14), features both libraries and the World Seed Bank in prominent roles.
Transportation is yet another theme the theme for several books next spring. Peter H. Reynolds and his twin brother Paul collaborated on Going Places (3/18/14), in which building a go-cart leads to flights of the imagination. And Simon & Schuster also announced that what Kenneth Oppel did for planes in Airborne he does for trains in his new novel The Boundless (4/22/14).
Books that may be helpful in implementing the Common Core were also evident at the preview this week. Highlights include two titles written by the grandchildren of famous men: Malcolm Little: The Boy Who Grew Up to Become Malcolm X (1/7/14), written by his granddaughter Ilyasah Shabazz, and Grandfather Gandhi (3/11/14), written by his grandson Arun Gandhi, along with Bethany Hegedus and with illustrations created by Evan Turk.
Teachers will have fun showing the illustrations of Brendan Wenzel for Angela DiTerlizzi ‘s Some Bugs (3/4/14), Carolyn Fisher’s illustrations for Cindy Jenson-Elliott’s Weeds Find a Way (2/4/14).
The librarians in attendance were treated to a talk from Lois Ehlert, whose collage works have long been a staple of libraries, speaking about her childhood. The occasion was to celebrate the publication of the 79-year-old’s picture book memoir called The Scraps Book, which debuts March 4, 2014.