February 17, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Random House Fall Kids | Preview Peek

Early on the morning of May 23 in the Louis L’Amour Room of the Random House building on Broadway in New York City, there was a magical gathering of librarians, reviewers, and publishers. Attendees consumed a delicious breakfast as editors from each imprint shared upcoming titles. Reprints and anniversary editions mingled with debuts, series additions, and new books by favorite authors—so many new fall goodies that the handout was nearly 120 pages long!

Lee Wade and Anne Schwartz were up first, beginning with a new Daisy book from Caldecott winner Chris Raschka, Daisy Gets Lost (October). The whole room seemed to sigh as slides of the book’s lively illustrations took center stage. Rocket’s Mighty Words (July) by Tad Hills is meant to teach early language, and Dream Dog (September), written by Lou Berger and illustrated by David J. Catrow, will add to what will turn out to be a season full of cute canine offerings.

Brush of the Gods (June) by Leonore Look and illustrated by Meilo So, is an introduction to artist Wu Daozi; it’s already garnered four starred reviews. A completely different style of dazzling art can be seen in The Beginner’s Guide to Running Away from Home by Jennifer LaRue Huget, illustrated using wire and cloth by Red Nose Studio. Kids will want to figure out just how the illustrations were created.

Random House editor Maria Modugno got a bit teary introducing what she called her most important book yet, Snowflakes Fall (October), written by Patricia McLachlan and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. The tag line? “No two the same, all beautiful.”

The Random House imprint has also “gone to the dogs.” Readers will enjoy a dog’s-eye view of a day at school through poetry and photographs in Dog-Gone School (July), written by Amy Schmidt with photographs by Ron Schmidt. And in Bad Astrid, written by Eileen Brennan and illustrated by Regan Dunnick, the protagonist confronts the school bully; both characters are playfully represented as pups.

The Alfred A. Knopf imprint’s pitch began with—yes, you guessed it, a dog book! Dog Loves Counting (September) by Louise Yates follows Dog Loves Books and Dog Loves Drawing. Legend Anita Lobel is also back with Lena’s Sleep Sheep (August); the title says it all. And picture book offerings were rounded out by bullying expert Trudy Ludwig with The Invisible Boy (October).

Moving on to early literacy, Step into Reading is starting a new line of comic readers, incorporating speech balloons. Step into Reading is also introducing a new level 3 reader about Anne Frank. And Ruth Chew’s “witch” titles are coming back into print as Stepping Stone books.

The list of middle grade titles kicked off with the dystopian novel that started it all. Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a handsome new edition featuring a poster and a new short story. And for readers who love Wonder, check out Twerp by Mark Goldblatt, in which the bullying of a special-needs sixth-grade boy is recounted in short chapters with an accessible voice.

For pure fun, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (June), Chris Grabenstein’s book-based puzzles and scavenger hunt, make this into an ode to libraries. Action lovers should try the new post-apocalyptic thriller by Peggy Eddleman, Sky Jumpers (September).

Delacorte has a new middle-grade novel that its editors call “an exciting find.” Set in the 1959 segregated south, it follows an 11-year-old boy who is a great pitcher, but who stutters. Paperboy by Vince Vawter is being compared to The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird.

New Knopf middle-grade will include a trilogy of historical mysteries by Cynthia Voigt, starting with Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things (September). Equally intriguing are two other historically inspired books debuting in October, Will in Scarlet (October) by Matthew Cody, a Robin Hood origins story, and The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson, based on the London cholera epidemic of 1854.  Although fiction, Hopkinson has included extensive back matter and primary source excerpts.

Wendy Lamb Books began its preview pitch with the movie tie-in version of The Watsons go to Birmingham, showing off photos from the movie set, and then shared a few novels, including Odessa Again by Dana Reinhardt, a YA author making her middle-grade debut, and a new Kevin Spencer novel, Vote, by Gary Paulsen. Both titles were released in May.

Random has several YA sequels debuting soon, including Untold (September), Sarah Rees Brennan’s sequel to Unspoken; Brian Falkner’s second Recon Team Angel novel, Task Force (September), and Sarah Zettel’s Golden Girl (June), a follow-up to the BFYA listed novel, Dust Girl.

Delacorte also made a big impression with its teen line-up. In the new Mistborn Trilogy by fantasy master Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart (September), the Epics took over earth 10 years before; now humans are ready to fight back and get revenge for the family members they lost. Lauren Kate is also introducing a new series, beginning with Teardrop (October) in which a 17-year-old Louisiana native’s tears have the power to raise Atlantis. James Dashner also begins a new trilogy about gamers and cyberterrorists with The Eye of Minds (October). And those are only the tip of the iceberg!

Nonfiction readers will enjoy the YA edition of Sonia Nazario’s immigrant story, Enrique’s Journey (August), which includes an update on Enrique’s attempts to be reunited with his mother.

Highlights in YA from Knopf includes Chasing Shadows (August) by Cybil Award winner Swati Avasthi incorporates graphic novel chapters to represent one character’s thoughts while in a coma, and David Levithan celebrates the 10th anniversary of Boys Meets Boy with Two Boys Kissing (August), based on a true incident of two boys trying to break the record for the longest kiss. Adele Griffin and Margo Lanagan both have new books coming from Knopf as well.

Listening Library, the Random House audiobook division, boasts a stellar line-up of new productions, including H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine (June) read by Derek Jacobi, an upcoming Kate DiCamillo middle-grade novel Flora & Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures (with the print edition coming from Candlewick in September), and the much-loved novels of Rainbow Rowell, Fangirl (September), joining the already released and acclaimed Eleanor & Park.

The morning finished with a talk from guest author Robin Wasserman about her upcoming horror novel, The Waking Dark (Knopf, September). Robin shared how difficult she finds it to talk about her own writing, and especially about where her ideas might originate.

She also said that, as a teen, she babysat a great deal and lived in terror that something bad would happen on her watch. (Hint, hint: this ties in significantly with one of her characters in Waking Dark.) She also talked about how much reading horror helped her get through bad times at school. She believes that enjoying horror fiction is not about being scared, but about being brave.

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.

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