March 18, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Chronicle | 2014 Preview

BearsSeaEscape-resizeSan Francisco’s Chronicle Publishing House was packed with librarians and booksellers for the Fall 2014 Preview. The program opened with the unveiling of the summer reading partnership between San Francisco Public Library and Chronicle Books and featured art inspired by Sue Ganz-Schmitt’s Planet Kindergarten (2014), illustrated by Shane Prigmore.

It’s hard to not be overly gushy and enthusiastic about Hervé Tullet’s Mix It Up (Sept.), an interactive book extraordinary in its simplicity and innovation. Guests of the preview were able to “visit” with its author, Tullet, via videochat as he sat in his studio apartment in Paris.

Children and adults alike will love the nods to books and movies in the new Benjamin Chaud book The Bear’s Sea Escape (Aug). The first book featuring Chaud’s father and son ursine pair, The Bear’s Song (2013) was compared to the “Where’s Waldo” series, as readers are presented with busy spreads where they attempt to locate the main characters. In Sea Escape, Chaud shows mini-scenes from the the  cross-section of a ship, including a hilarious homage to the movie Titanic, with Papa Bear at the prow of the ship, having a bit of a self-pitying Rose moment. Two floors below him, the audience watches a screening of the movie itself.

Before Flora and the Flamingo received a Caldecott honor earlier this year, Chronicle had already signed on for a sequel (and a sequel’s sequel) to the inventive wordless picture book about a ballerina who befriends a flamingo. In its follow up, Flora and the Penguin, Flora takes to the ice and forms an unexpected friendship with a penguin. Original art from this title was displayed along with the scarf that provided the color inspiration for the book.

FloraPenguin-resizeWhen editor Tamra Tuller finishes working on a book, she shared that she never reads the finished copy.

“By that point, I’ve already read it nine million times, and I’m always worried I’ll find an error that will be unfixable.”

Her exception was the finished book Rhyme Schemer by K. A. Holt (Oct.).

“I picked it up just intending to browse through it. I couldn’t put it down all day. [While riding the] BART on the way home, I was laughing and crying like a crazy person.”

Illustrations were just as big a draw. Ryan Hayes’s cover design of Barry Jonsberg’s The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee (Sept.) shows how the main character Candice likes all her ducks in a row and how she’s just like the yellow duck in the middle, swimming her own way.

Ginee Seo, director of children’s publishing, grew up a huge fan of comics, and she told attendees how Cathy Camper’s Lowriders In Space (Nov.) blew her mind. The book’s illustrator, Raul the Third, is a fine artist from Boston, and his style for this title was inspired by his childhood experiences as a kid with no money for art supplies. He had to get creative with cross-hatching and basic ink colors from ballpoint pens and lined classroom paper.

LowridersSpace-resizeBram Stoker’s niece and Sherlock Holmes’s sister, crime fighters and mystery solvers, are back! Senior designer Jen Tolo Pierce focused on the cover art in her presentation of Colleen Gleason’s second “Stoker & Holmes” book: The Spiritglass Charade (Oct.). As with the first book, when working on the cover art, Chronicle chose an object that was intrinsically related to the story. An artisan glassblower from North Carolina designed an orb for the cover. This process is done in one sitting—which can take up to eight hours. “You feel like you’re falling into it, just like the one in the book,” says Jen. Participants were able to examine the actual orb, which shifts mysteriously when turned.

Attendees were also lucky enough to experience the nonstop comedy show that is author and illustrator Mac Barnett. In Telephone (Sept.), his latest picture book (illustrated by Jen Corace), zaniness abounds as the message a mother bird attempts to pass on to her son is told and retold (and misheard) to hilarious results. What a hoot! Barnett started off his talk by discussing several different career paths he almost took, including his plan to be a professor of Icelandic literature.

In the present, he set out to prove that adults are excellent and mature listeners, as illustrated by a game of telephone.

Telephone-resizeI was in the middle of the room, and what I heard and passed on was “The language of birds is anxious.” When we got to the grand finale of listening, the report was:

“The language of turds is dangerous.”

Much hilarity ensued at that point, and the laughter rose again when Mac revealed his original sentence: a quotation from Gilbert White, an English clergyman:

“The language of birds is very ancient….Little is said, but much is understood.”

Afterward, we looked at other books, including backlist titles and more upcoming gems.

Here were a few top choices:

Based on the song by Bob Marley and  adapted by his daughter Cedella Marley, the multicultural, exuberant One Love illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Aug.) will also be available as a board book.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld’s Duck, Rabbit (Aug.) is simply hilarious, A sturdy board book that will hold up to multiple reads.

Lorena Sminovich’s You Are My Baby: Pets, and You Are My Baby: Woodland (Sept.) are elightful board books that allow readers to flip two sets of pages: one for the parent animals and the other, smaller nested pages for the baby animals Kids can laugh at the mismatches they create in this mix-and-match game and delight when all the babies are back with their parent.

Amy Cheney About Amy Cheney

Amy Cheney is a librarian and advocate, serving the underserved for over 25 years including preschoolers, middle schoolers, adults in county and federal facilities, students in juvenile halls, non-traditional library users and people of color. She began YALSA-Lockdown, a list serve for librarians serving youth in custody, which led to the formation of Library Services for Youth in Custody (LYSC). She founded In the Margins book award and committee, which brings national attention to self published books by, for and about people of color living in the margins. Her theme song is "Short Skirt, Long Jacket" by Cake. Learn more at Write2Read.