March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

MacMillan Fall Kids | Preview Peek

While the rest of us are busy booking our summer getaways, publishers are focusing on their fall lists. On the afternoon of May 16, a large group of librarians and book reviewers gathered at New York City’s Flatiron Building for Macmillan Children’s fall 2013 preview event.

After snacks and socializing and a peek at original picture book art from upcoming titles, small groups were formed and sent off to various conference rooms. Editors from each imprint rotated through the rooms, presenting to each group, now only 12–15 large. As you might imagine, it is a treat to hear about new books from the editors who worked on them, and in such an intimate setting.

From picture books to chapter books, early readers, graphic novels, middle grade and teen novels and nonfiction, the afternoon held delights in all areas. There were too many books to mention here, so I will share some of the highlights.

Picture books from veterans include This is Our House (Farrar, July) by Keats winner Hyewon Yum, a lovely reflection on immigration and the passage of the seasons. The book that generated the most enthusiasm in my group was Hello, My Name is Ruby (Roaring Brook, September) by Philip C. Stead, which shows echoes of P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother?

In recognition of the upcoming season, there was Fall Ball by Peter McCarty, full of lovely drawings. Snow was a feature of more than one title, including Big Snow (Farrar, September) by Jonathan Bean, which offered some welcome racial diversity.  When It Snows (Feiwel & Friends, August) by Richard Collingridge boasts illustrations reminiscent of The Polar Express.

Given that the event took place in a New York City landmark, it seemed only fitting to preview Herman and Rosie (Roaring Brook, October) by Gus Gordon, which celebrates the city and its music lovers. And there was much oohing and aahing over Princess Tales (Feiwel & Friends, October) by Grace Maccarone, which is illustrated by Gail de Marcken.

Middle-grade readers can look forward to a new novel from Jack Gantos, From Norvelt to Nowhere (FSG, September), and a novel from Cathrynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (Feiwel & Friends, October). The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya (Feiwel & Friends, October) by Jane Kelley offers a tearjerker about friendship.

And, most unusually, Uncrashable Dakota (Holt, November), by Andy Marino, presents a sort of alternate reality—it follows the 1912 liftoff of the airship Titanic. This would make a fascinating read-along with Deborah Hopkinson’s Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, as many facts about the actual Titanic are presented with just a slight difference in this fantasy.

Common Core was mentioned in conjunction with several books, including two nonfiction picture books: Eat Like a Bear (Holt, October) by April Pulley Sayre, wonderfully illustrated by Steve Jenkins, and A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road (Roaring Brook, October) by Bonnie Christensen. For middle-grade students, The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by the fabulous Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan intrigued all listeners. Bill O’Reilly’s Kennedy’s Last Days gets a YA version from Holt in June, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the assassination. This was touted as an exemplary adaptation from an adult title, with excellent back matter and a plethora of photographs.

ReaLITy—“Real Books for Real Teens”—is a program designed to shine a light on Macmillan’s realistic literary fiction. Upcoming titles in that program include Freakboy (Farrar, October) by Kristin Elizabeth Clark, a protégé of Ellen Hopkins, whose debut is a verse novel about a boy who, from the outside, seems to have it all. But on the inside he sometimes wishes he was a girl. Editor Joy Peskin spoke passionately about Freakboy’s potential to save the lives of transgender teens.

Another MacMillan YA literature initiative is Fierce Reads. New books joining the program in the fall include This Song Will Save Your Life (Farrar, September) by Leila Sales, about a girl who finds friendship and self-acceptance when she discovers DJing. Two much-anticipated sequels in this line were also announced, Monument 14: Sky on Fire (just released by Feiwel & Friends) by Emmy Laybourne, and Siege and Storm (Holt, June) by Leigh Bardugo, the follow-up to Shadow and Bone.

Editor Liz Szabla believes that she has found Julie Halpern’s breakout novel, and it’s called The F-It List (Feiwel & Friends, November) about a girl whose best friend is dying of cancer. Consider it a variation on a bucket list. And Tumble & Fall  (Farrar, September) by Alexandra Coutts is about how three teens choose to spend their last days in the face of an approaching apocalypse.

Last but certainly not least, First Second presented its fall 2013 graphic novels, an embarrassment of riches that begins with Boxers & Saints, a two-volume novel of China’s Boxer Rebellion by Gene Luen Yang, which can be read independently or purchased as a box set.

Coming in October, Battling Boy by Paul Pope (called “the Mick Jagger of comics”), which is perfect for Rick Riordan fans. And in August, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff debuts; it’s described as Indiana Jones with a woman as the protagonist.

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.