March 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Scholastic Fall Books | Preview Peek

Needless to say, publishers want to get the word out about their hottest upcoming titles. One way to achieve this is through previews to educators, but these are often available only to those who either live in New York City or attend conferences. More publishers, however, including Simon & Schuster and Scholastic, are previewing their books online, making the whole process more accessible to all.

I recently viewed Scholastic’s online preview for Fall 2013 and—great news—you can watch it, too. It’s a star-studded list and here are some of the titles that have me pretty excited for the coming months:

Starting with the picture books, Robie Harris’s When Lions Roar sounded really lovely and sweet.  It’s a story about dealing with your fears, something that so many young children grapple with. Chris Raschka’s illustrations feature muted colors (compared to some of his other work) and white space to give the book a comforting feel.  Editor David Saylor says that the story “will make the scary things go away.”  While we librarians sometimes often grow weary of such statements, this book likes like it will offer comfort to little kids facing a big world.

For major “wow” factor, there’s Train by Elisha Cooper, which features all manner of trains as they travel through the U.S.  A sure hit for transportation fans.

Hiding Phil by Eric Barclay is among a number of animal stories in the picture book category.  Phil is an elephant that three kids want to keep as a pet—if only they can keep their parents from finding out.  A great storytime read-aloud.  Trouper by Meg Kearney, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, is a story about a three-legged dog, who wants to be adopted. This poignant tale is based on Kearney’s real-life dog, Trouper, who was saved from a kill shelter.

Get ready for the Dream Teams of children’s literature. The Green Bath is the lively, final collaboration between author Margaret Mahy and illustrator Steven Kellogg; editor Arthur Levine calls it “brilliantly bubblicious.”  Ready for another How Do Dinosaurs… story?  How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague addresses temper tantrums and the “terrible twos.”  I could almost hear the drumroll when The Birthday Queen was presented. A new book from Don and Audrey Wood, it’s incredibly vibrant and eye-catching.

Next up was the early reader category.  Pam Muñoz Ryan is launching a new series based on a previous picture book character, Tony Baloney: School Rules.  With a focus on school adventures and sibling relationships, this is a fun, rhyming read.  You all should know about another new series: Discover More Readers. This nonfiction set addresses multiple levels on multiple topics and is right in line with the Common Core.

Next on the docket: graphic novels. The Lost Boy by Greg Ruth features black and white art with a creepy feel that recalls Dave McKean’s work in The Graveyard BookDogs Of War by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox features three short stories about canines at work in three different conflicts. Finally, The Silver Six, by A.J. Lieberman and Darren Rawlings, is about a group of orphans who escape to an uninhabited moon while being chased by a ruthless henchman.

As for middle grade, there are some intriguing new titles.  Perennially popular Gordon Korman launches a new series, The Hypnotists: Book 1, which is about a kid who is a true mind-bender.  And look out, Star Wars fans. Jeffrey Brown’s Star Wars: Jedi Academy is a cool mash-up of Jedi fandom and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  Matthew J. Kirby’s The Lost Kingdom is a reimagining of Colonial America that combines Kirby’s love of Jules Verne’s stories and the legend of a Welsh prince. Sounds fascinating, right?

One of my favorite presenters, though—and I think you’ll agree once you see the video—is editor Barry Cunningham booktalking The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable.  He describes it as “a little bit of The Little Princess, a little bit of The Thief Lord, and certainly a book for the book huggers.”  At which point, he hugs the book.  Librarian hearts will swoon.  Once past that, you’ll realize that this is a book about a young girl’s journey to Russia to discover her heritage; it’s all romance, beauty, and adventure.  This one could be top of my list.

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg sounds particularly moving.  Set in a rural village outside of Port-au-Prince, it’s a novel in verse about a girl who must overcome great odds to pursue her dream of being a doctor.  Editor Tracy Mack rightly says that this book teaches empathy through the power of story.

In the Young Adult category, Walter Dean Myers has created a prequel to his books Fallen Angels and Sunrise Over Fallujah. It’s Invasion, a World War II story about two unlikely friends. Using primary source photos, The Nazi Hunters, by Neal Bascomb, will surely appeal to fans of Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb. Bascomb’s true story about government agents searching for escaped Nazi war criminals reads like a spy novel.  And in more nonfiction, James L. Swanson brings history alive for teens with “The President Has Been Shot!” about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Fans of Kristin Cashore and Tamora Pierce, look out for Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow, which features strong, smart women who must dig deep to overcome adversity.  Speaking of Tamora Pierce, her prequel to The Will of the Empress, Battle Magic, is on this list as well.

Editor David Levithan gave a compelling booktalk for Jeff Hirsch’s Darkest Path, stating that Hirsch “amazingly, keeps thinking of new ways that our world can go wrong.”  In this case, America is in its second Civil War with battle lines drawn across religious affiliations.  It sounds completely gripping.

This being YA, romance is in the air. (but no love triangles that I could tell, hallelujah).  Natalie Standiford’s The Boy On The Bridge is about an American college student who travels abroad to Cold War era Russia and falls in love. Torn, set in modern-day, war-ravaged Afghanistan, sounds like a difficult read, though also a romantic one.  David Massey shares a story about a cross-cultural romance with a touch of magic realism, illuminating hope in dark times.

These are just the highlights, so make sure to check out the preview for yourself. The e-catalog is also available. There you’ll find information about format, prices, publication dates, and more. Happy reading.




  1. Thanks Laura! Looking forwArd to The Boy on the Bridge, and I can vouch for The Silver Six – Milo and Ezra both tore through it!