May 28, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Tomie dePaola Title and Myriad Animals on Holiday House Fall List | Publishers Preview


Original art from Look and Be Grateful by Tomie dePaola on display at the Holiday House preview.

It is always a pleasure to visit the homey offices at Holiday House and learn about upcoming titles. This preview event had the feeling of a homecoming, with original art on view by featured artists and illustrator Tomie dePaola, whose new book with the publisher releases this fall. DePaola is returning to Holiday House after a 20-year hiatus. Over the years, he has published more than 30 books with the publisher, five of which are still in print, including his first, The Cloud Book (1972). Seeing the cover of his upcoming work, Look and Be Grateful (October), one cannot help but be mesmerized by the eyes of the children illustrated by this gifted artist. This story about gratitude may find a place in the hearts of both children and adults.

Every publishing house should have a dog or a cat book on the list, but this fall season Holiday House will have plenty of both. In the dog category is My Dog, Bob (September) by Richard Torrey. Bob is reminiscent of Mister Peabody, the erudite TV cartoon beagle from the 1950s with very human abilities, such as cooking and driving.


Holiday House publicist Aubrey Churchward with original art from Baa, Baa, Black Sheep by Jane Cabrera, publishing in July.

Driving a car is also a skill possessed by Pete the dog in Lost Dog (September) by Michael Garland. Pete is driving to grandma’s without a GPS and loses his way while en route to Mutt Street. Bob and Pete’s canine competition among the fall books is a persistent hound in need of a job who tries to pass as a cow in Job Wanted (October) by Teresa Bateman, a school librarian in Tacoma, Washington, and Chris Sheban.

The featured dogs are joined by two nameless cat protagonists, both on the prowl. Tim Hamilton’s feline in Is That a Cat (September) is in search of a friend, while Steve Henry’s creature in Cat Got a Lot (September) is on the lookout for a fish, but gets distracted buying gifts, including a book for a dog who likes to read. Cat Got a Lot and other titles are part of the Holiday House “I Like to Read” series, with more than 50 titles, all available in hard, soft, and ebook format.


One of Valeri Gorbachev’s illustrations for Doctor Nice.

Then there are the pigs—including the bookish one in Douglas Florian’s Pig Is Big on Books (September). When pig runs out of things to read, he decides to write his own book. “Adorable porker” is how Holiday House publicist Aubrey Churchward describes Emily Arnold McCully’s pig character in Pete Makes a Mistake (September). Cute though he may be, this pig causes hurt feelings—and must save the day. Another pig, with a frostbitten nose, appears as a patient in Doctor Nice (October) by Valeri Gorbachev. This is a tale about playing doctor to a group of animals with winter ailments.

Looking for a book to teach spelling rules? Then check out Ms. Spell (September) and you won’t misspell. Ethan Long’s magical, unorthodox teacher to provides excellent spelling advice.

Tedd Arnold has created an homage to the artist Vincent van Gogh in Vincent Paints His House (September). The book offers parents and teachers a way to introduce young children to the artist in a story that contains many influential insects.

Middle grade and YA titles by several debut novelists offer a variety of topics and locales. Sara K Joiner, a children’s coordinator at the Brazoria County (TX) Library System, debuts with After the Ashes (October). This YA novel set in 1883 Java has two teen girls surviving the Krakatau volcanic eruption. Meanwhile, debut middle grade novelist Susan Ross uses her home state of Maine as the setting for Kiki and Jacques (October), a story of tolerance. It is drawn from recent history in Lewiston, Maine, which experienced an influx of Somalia refugees in the early 2000s. Another debut middle grade novel, Clayton Stone, At Your Service (September), by Ena Jones, is set in Washington, DC. What’s a boy to do when he finds out his grandmother is head of the special service undercover work, and the family diner sits atop the Special Services office? What else, but join the family business!

It is worth noting that Holiday House has made a concerted effort to align its titles with the Common Core State Standards {CCSS). Each book includes four related discussion questions.

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.