November 21, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Macmillan Fall 2016 Preview Puts Back-to-Cool Creativity on Display

 

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Everyone please take a moment to admire the playing card sculptures created for Macmillan’s fall 2016 preview by Summer Ogata, inspired by Heartless, Marissa Meyer’s new look at Alice in Wonderland’s tyrannical Red Queen. Lewis Carroll’s classic was not the only old favorite revisited on their upcoming list. Some date back even earlier. Like, to the beginning of the world. Paul Fleischman and Julie Paschkis, creators of Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal have teamed up again for First Light, First Life: A Worldwide Creation Story, combining origin-of-the-world stories from around the globe into one fluid narrative.

A slew of picture book titles feature the classic trope of making new friends—with a cross-species twist. For very young readers, Julie Fogliano and Chris Raschka offer Old Dog Baby Baby, an expressive, repetitious look at the relationship between the title characters. In Gabriel Alborozo’s retro-styled The Mouse and the Moon, a lonely mouse and fish begin a conversation, each believing the other is the moon. In Little Bot and Sparrow, Jake Parker explores migration and separation from friends. And Tony Johnston’s A Small Thing . . . but Big proves, in the words of editor Neal Porter, “the least creepy book about a little girl and an old man in a park that you’ll ever read.” In it, a dog named Cecile anchors a friendship between her child-averse owner and a shy girl.

Connie Hsu of Roaring Brook Press present Little Bot and Sparrow.

Connie Hsu of Roaring Brook Press presents Little Bot and Sparrow.

Old and new favorite creators return as well. Jerry Pinkney provides the warm, precise illustrations for Richard Jackson’s In Plain Sight, a gentle tale of a grandfather and granddaughter playing I Spy. April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins pair up for another rhyming informational text, Squirrels Leap, Squirrels Sleep, loaded with back matter and Jenkins’ signature cut-paper images. Kelly DiPucchio delivers two potential crowd-pleasers. Fans of Everyone Loves Bacon will flip for the companion, Everyone Loves Cupcake, about an overeager baked good. In Dragon Was Terrible, Greg Pizzoli’s bold illustrations depict a dragon behaving suspiciously like a tantruming toddler. Mike Curato, whose earnest elephant Elliott won hearts in two previous books, explores Brooklyn’s iconic Coney Island in Little Elliott, Big Fun.

Readers longing for more adventure may enjoy Nilah Magruder’s How to Find a Fox, in which a girl armed with a camera tromps around seeking a wildlife encounter. Trevor Lai’s Tomo Explores the World kicks off a STEM-filled picture book series about a child inventor who wants to be the first to break away from the family business, fishing.

Neal Porter of Roaring Brook Press showing off the four-page fold-out illustration from Giant Squid.

Neal Porter of Roaring Brook Press showing off the four-page fold-out illustration from Giant Squid.

The STEM-infused stories continue for slightly older readers. Jacqueline Kelly begins an elementary chapter book series, “Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet” with Skunked!, featuring Cal and her younger brother, Travis, rescuing wildlife. Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann team up for Giant Squid, a lyrical nonfiction treatment of the mysterious creature, paired with cinematic illustrations in oils. First Second, Macmillan’s graphic novel imprint, debuts a projected 18-book “Science Comics” series covering topics such as volcanoes and coral reefs. If you prefer the absurd to the real world, Marcie Colleen’s Super Happy Party Bears frolic full-color in the Grumpy Woods while John Himmelman returns with Bunjitsu Bunny Jumps to the Moon.

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In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives by Kenneth C. Davis combines several sought-after nonfiction features—thorough research, reflection on the omissions of traditional history, and diversification of American stories—in presenting the lives of five people enslaved by founding fathers. Spunky white girls abound, though, on much of the middle grade list. The main character in Kate Beasley’s Gertie’s Leap to Greatness has garnered comparisons to Ramona Quimby and Clementine. Barbara O’Connor applies her talent for small town resilience to a girl-and-dog story titled Wish. The Wolf Keepers marks Elise Broach’s first standalone novel since 2008 and melds history, mystery, and suspense when a zookeeper’s daughter and a runaway get lost in Yosemite National Park. Consider pairing it with James Preller’s The Courage Test, which incorporates the history of Lewis and Clark into a father-son road trip.

Janet Tashjian (“My Life As . . .series) brings some fantastical diversity to the list with Sticker Girl, featuring Martina Rivera and her magical sticker collection. Ben Hatke’s latest graphic novel, Mighty Jack, reimagines Jack and the Beanstalk in rural America (and in the same universe as Zita the Spacegirl—rejoice!). Things get stranger in Patrick Griffin’s Last Breakfast on Earth by Ned Rust, a former James Patterson coauthor, whom editors compared to Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Adams. Classic children’s literature alert! Ann M. Martin has collaborated with Annie Parnell, Betty MacDonald’s great-granddaughter, for Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure in which the child-whisperer’s niece moves into the upside-down house in a (slightly) more modern town

A high-concept premise allows for reflection in YA debut Into White. Randi Pink imagines the experience of a black teen who finds herself turned into a blond, white girl at her mostly white high school. In Nicole McInnes’s 100 Days, three narrators reconfigure their friendships in the face of one girl’s rapid aging disease. Kristin Elizabeth Clark (Freakboy) adopts a lighter tone with her second novel, Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity, featuring a trans teen on a Paper Towns-style quest. Kami Garcia goes on supernatural hiatus with The Lovely Reckless, her first contemporary romance, set in an underserved school in a DC suburb.

Grieve not, fantasy readers. Leigh Bardugo offers Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows, and Mary Pearson concludes The Remnant Chronicles with The Beauty of Darkness. The aforementioned Heartless imagines the Red Queen as an ambitious teenager. For fans of grim wasteland dystopia, Flashfall by Jenny Moyers combines mining, radiation, and mutant creatures; fans of shiny tech dystopia should consider The Ones by Daniel Sweren-Becker, exploring the consequences of allowing, then banning, genetic engineering.

Sometimes, real life feels cataclysmic enough. In Blood Red, Snow White, Printz Award darling Marcus Sedgwick fictionalizes the life of Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons), who worked as a journalist in Russia during the revolution and engaged in a love affair with Trotsky’s secretary. Maybe the Red Queen should take a look?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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