Kid lit offerings from niche publishers had a chance to shine recently, thanks to the Association of American Publishers and its Children’s Libraries Committee. The committee recently hosted a Tri-State Book Buzz event in New York City for librarians hailing from across the eastern seaboard, where they previewed spring 2014 book releases from 14 different publishers plus various smaller imprints.
The event featured breakfast, a special appearance by Nick Bruel, author of the “Bad Kitty” series (Roaring Brook Press), a raffle, and presentations from publishers Sterling, Disney, Macmillan, Penguin, Scholastic, Random House, HarperCollins, Sourcebooks, Tor Teen, W.W. Norton & Co., Simon & Schuster, Perseus Books, Workman, and Soho Teen.
Sterling Children’s Books will offer a menagerie of cute animal tiles in 2014, including the tale of a hippo that introduces foreign languages, How Hippo Says Hello, due out in February from author Abigail Samoun and illustrator Sarah Watts, and two tales of unusual friendships due out in April. In Puddle Pug by Kim Norman, illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi, a pug aims to befriend some pigs, while Frann Preston-Gannon’s How to Lose a Lemur is the story of a boy and the pack of critters that follows him.
Art related titles were the focus of Workman’s presentation. Famed illustrator James McMullan’s picture-book memoir, Leaving China: An Artist Paints His World War II Childhood, is out in March from the Algonquin imprint; it’s the story of his early childhood in China and a wartime journey with his mother. A Child’s Introduction to Art: The World’s Greatest Paintings and Sculptures, a hardcover compendium by Meredith Hamilton and Heather Alexander, is out in May from the Black Dog imprint.
Common Core enthusiasts were very interested in new titles from Sourcebooks, including When Audrey Met Alice Roosevelt by Rebecca Behrens, due out in February. For older readers, Sourcebooks will debut Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders in June, in which author Geoff Herbach creates an original male voice for the band nerd who takes on the cheerleaders.
Tor Teen presented the debut novel by William Campbell Powell, Expiration Day, a story about a human child coming of age among sophisticated android children. The publisher and attendees seem quite enthusiastic for its April release.
The crowd alternately was amused when Sourcebooks revealed the upcoming novel Ninja Librarians, Jen Swann Downey’s story of rogue members of the profession, due out in April.
Additional smaller imprints also revealed some of their hottest spring titles to the librarians in attendance, for example, Philadelphia-based Quirk Books, which librarians have come to rely on to produce a selection of strikingly unconventional books since 2002. The same holds true for 2014, with the second book in Ian Doescher’s “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars” series, The Empire Striketh Back, out in March. The series retells George Lucas’s story in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon.
Shakespeare is also a favorite of Natale Ghent’s Millhouse character, a theatrical guinea pig who is looking for the limelight; the illustrated tale will be out in May from Canada’s Tundra Books.
Guinea pigs popped up again as a hot topic when London-based Quercus Books shared its March release, Furry Towers, an addition to Jennifer Gray and Amanda Swift’s “Guinea Pigs Online” series.
Common Core titles were also present among some of the other publishers in attendance, such as National Geographic Children’s Books’ Stubby the War Dog by Ann Basuam, just in time for the 100th anniversary of WWI. Featuring lots of primary source material, the book debuts in May.
Also due out in May is Thames & Hudson’s Eureka: The Most Amazing Scientific Discoveries of All Times, perfect for expanding students’ science and history knowledge.
Tackling some more history—and art as well—is The Little Paintbrush by Bjorn Rorvik’s, illustrated by Thore Hansen. The picture book, due out in January, tells the story behind Edvard Munch’s legendary painting “The Scream.”
From Running Press Kids, librarians were introduced to a new novel from Ken Baker, chief news correspondent for the E! channel. How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love, out in April, is the story of a teenage girl who signs up for a reality show in which she must lose 50 pounds.
Other highlights of the jam-packed event were the introduction of a new children’s book imprint and the announcement of the pending republication of a classic tale from children’s literature.
Two standouts from POW, the new imprint the Brooklyn-based powerHouse Books, next spring will be 1 to 20, Animals Aplenty by Katie Viggers, due out in April, and Maxine Lee’s Big Whoop, due out in May.
And the New York Review of Books Children’s Collection announced to attendees that it will be republishing in 2014 The Glassblower’s Children by Maria Gripe, winner of the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for her contribution to kid lit. The book is a mythical Norse tale first published in 1973.
Nick Bruel’s appearance also struck a cord. The author spoke about the impact of his work on readers, especially on a boy with Asperger syndrome, whose parents say Bruel’s series helped him come out of his shell. Bruel also spoke about working with the boy to co-write his very own “Bad Kitty” book.