May 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A New Tullet, a “Lowriders” Sequel, and the Latest from Molly Idle Shine at Chronicle’s Spring 2016 Preview

bags with balloons

Bags of advanced reading copies and other goodies awaited attendees at the Chronicle Spring Preview held in San Francisco, CA.

Surrounded by original artwork from Chronicle’s Spring 2016 illustrators, Bay Area booksellers and librarians settled in for the semi-annual Chronicle Books Children’s Preview. Publishing director Ginee Seo and children’s associate marketing director Sally Kim began by sharing some good news: In 2015, Chronicle had several books on the New York Times bestseller list. They included I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, and the not-so-scary ghost story Leo by Mac Barnett, with illustrations by Christian Robinson. Below is a look ahead to some of the hotly anticipated titles coming in Spring 2016.

Picture Books

AAALet's PlayHervé Tullet’s latest, Let’s Play! (Apr. 2016) is an adventure story with emotions. A lonely yellow dot asks readers to play by tracing the line running throughout the book with a finger, following the dot through loop-de-loops, a colorful carousel, an abstract forest, and even a few scary scenes. Designer Amelia Mack developed more than 50 cover designs trying to find the perfect one. Ultimately, “It felt like the perfect progression from Press Here to Mix It Up! to Let’s Play!”, said Mack.

We’ve all been with kids in the car, their familiar refrain “Are we there yet?” irking us. In Nina Laden and Adam McCauley’s hilarious picture book Are We There Yet? (Mar. 2016), the kids are barely out of the driveway before they start asking. And what a trip it is—the family travels underwater, through the space-time continuum, and other fun spreads, all along asking the titular question.

Editor Melissa Manlove presents President Squid.

Editor Melissa Manlove presents President Squid.

Aaron Reynolds and Sara Varon explore the ideal qualities of leaders and diplomats in President Squid (Mar. 2016). Squid lays out the reasons why he would be the greatest leader of all time: he can rock a tie, he owns a Titanic-size house, and is great at ordering people around. According to editor Melissa Manlove, “this is the perfect moment in American politics for this book,” but it will surely be a perennial favorite. “So this election,” she continued, “don’t vote for the right candidate. Vote for President Squid.”

Other picture books featured: A Beetle is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long (Apr. 2016); Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site Glow-in-the-Dark Edition by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Mar. 2016); Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz, illustrated by Eda Kaban (Mar. 2016); Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (Apr. 2016); The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Frank Morrison (Feb. 2016); This Is Not a Picture Book by Sergio Ruzzier (May 2016).

Upper Elementary and Middle School

“True friendship is really hard to depict honestly,” said associate editor Taylor Norman as she presented the novel Once Was a Time by Leila Sales (Apr. 2016). Often, she continued, the focus is on conflicts within the friendship, on the changes and rifts that develop. But this book captures true, abiding friendship in a “warm, honest, and realistic way.” It’s also a time travel story: the main character Lottie travels from 1940s England to America in the 2010s. Lottie—thus, the reader—is able to see our society with fresh, curious eyes, as she attempts to fit in with new friends, all the while searching for the friend she left behind.

AAASandwichThiefThe Sandwich Thief (Mar. 2016) by André Marois and illustrated by Patrick Doyon is an early chapter book/graphic novel, perfect for kids emerging from very early readers who are looking for slightly more text and a great visual story. One Monday morning, someone dares to steal Marin’s favorite sandwich: ham-cheddar-kale. Furious, Marin begins a fevered and famished investigation to unmask the thief. The days go by, the suspects multiply, and Marin’s sandwiches continue to disappear. Will Marin ever eat lunch again?

Also worth a mention: Elirio Malaria, Lupe Impala, and El Chavo Flapjack Octopus are back in Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper and Raúl the Third (Jul. 2016).


Young Adult

AAAGenaFinnGena/Finn by Hannah Moskowitz & Kat Helgeson (Apr. 2016) is a book told entirely through text messages, emails, journal entries, and blog posts; the design even includes a scroll bar on the side, that moves as the pages turn. Gena’s romantic life is a series of reluctant one-night stands; Finn (short for Stephanie) is making a go of it with long-term boyfriend Charlie. The two girls share a passion for a buddy cop TV show with a cult fan following. The pair spark an unlikely online friendship that deepens quickly (so quickly it scares them both), and as their individual “real” lives begin to fall apart, they increasingly seek shelter online and with each other.

Other YA books featured: This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart (Apr. 2016) and The Vanishing Throne (Book 2 in “The Falconer Trilogy”) by Elizabeth May (Jun. 2016).


CupcakesChronicle previews always ends with a featured author or illustrator. At this Spring 2016 event, the talented Molly Idle gave attendees an inside peek at the fabulous Flora and the Peacocks (May 2016), and she went on to describe one of the big challenges with the book: moving from a duo to a trio, and featuring two BIG birds made the usual trim size difficult to figure out.

The event concluded as booksellers and librarians savored Flora and the Peacocks–themed cupcakes along with some of those sandwiches that Marin loves so much.

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.