April 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Famous Chef, Chickens with Superpowers, and Hurricane Katrina Lead the Pack at Random House Preview | 2015 Spring Preview

whatpetWhen you mention Random House Children’s Books, many renowned names in children literature come to mind, but none more than Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. On the day of the Random House Summer Preview, February 18, it was announced that a never-before-published Seuss book, What Pet Should I Get, would be released in July. The publication of this title will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Fox in Socks and I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew, of which new editions will be released in July and August.

Fifty was a magic number at the preview; Richard Scarry’s Busy Busy World will also celebrate 50 years with a new edition in July. Author Jonah Winter and illustrator Shane E. Evans commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 with the picture book Lillian’s Right to Vote (July).

unusualchickensBy far, the most memorable title of the preview was Kelly Jones’s Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (May). Jones, a children’s librarian, tells the story of Mexican American Sophie and her chickens with super powers.

Familiar names, including Ruth Chew, Anita Lobel, and Marc Brown, have works in the pipeline; Chew, who passed away in 2010, published 29 tales of magic and fantasy. A new generation of readers has the opportunity to discover her work, as Random House has, since last year, been republishing two of her titles in hardcover and paperback each season. The next two titles coming up will be The Wednesday Witch and Witch’s Broom this August. Lobel has a new title out, Playful Pigs from A to Z, and readers won’t want to miss Monkey: Not Ready for Kindergarten (both July) from “Arthur” creator Marc Brown.

Newbery medalists Rebecca Stead and Louis Sachar both have new books, which will be released on August 4. Stead’s Goodbye Stranger explores friendship among three seventh-grade girls and the people who touch their lives, while in Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud, bullying leads to an ecological disaster.

diaryofmadbrownieVeteran children’s author Bruce Coville launches his “The Enchanted Files” series with Diary of a Mad Brownie (June), which adds a new twist on the odd couple story. The book focuses on tidy Angus, a brownie, or helpful elf who performs good deeds by night, who inherits a new master: the slovenly Alex.

Speaking of odd couple stories, readers won’t want to miss Dan Yaccarino’s Billy and Goat at the State Fair (June) about best friends who have two very different approaches toward experiencing a state fair.

Random House marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with two titles coming out in July: Caroline Rose’s Over in the Wetlands: A Hurricane-on-the Bayou Story, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey, portrays how the animals of the bayou prepared for, weathered, and recovered from the storm. In Tamara Ellis Smith’s debut middle grade novel, Another Kind of Hurricane, two 10-year-old boys from different backgrounds come together to heal.

makeitmessyTeens will enjoy two books from authors who have crossed over from the adult world. World famous chef Marcus Samuelsson of New York City’s Red Rooster has collaborated with author Veronica Chambers to script a young adult version of his autobiography, Yes, Chef, called Make It Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life (June). Sophie Kinsella, author of the “Shopaholic” series, combines romance and comedy in her first novel for teens, Finding Audrey (June), the story of a girl coping with an anxiety disorder.

For many teens, the prom is a major high school experience often fraught with problems. Two new books take hilariously new spins on this milestone. What’s a boy to do when aliens abduct his prom date? Why, hitch a ride into outer space with a band of extraterrestrial musicians, of course. Check out Chris McCoy’s The Prom Goer’s Interstellar Excursion (2015). The protagonist of Lance Rubin’s Denton Little’s Deathdate (2015) is up against an even bigger disaster. Denton knows the day he is going to die: on the day of his senior prom. “Imminent death has never been so funny,” said editor Nancy Siscoe.

For those heading to San Francisco for the American Library Association Annual Meeting this summer be sure to pick up and Advanced Readers Copy of Newbery Honor author Gennifer Choldenko’s Chasing Secrets (August). The story is set in the gilded age of San Francisco during a plague outbreak.

Watch a video of comedian-turned-author Rubin speak about Denton Little’s Deathdate.


Rocco Staino About Rocco Staino

Rocco Staino @RoccoA is the retired director of the Keefe Library of the North Salem School District in New York. He is now a contributing editor for School Library Journal and also writes for the Huffington Post.