May 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Macmillan Spring 2016 Preview Goes Green

Educators and librarians gathered at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in New York City’s iconic Flatiron Building to hear about upcoming spring offerings. It was difficult not to notice that despite the winter chill in the air, green was definitely the theme for the spring list.

The farm to table movement is celebrated in two upcoming picture books. G. Brian Karas’s On the Farm, At the Market (Holt, Apr.) is a celebration of community that shows young readers how foods such as eggs and produce go from the farm to a local café. Meanwhile, the truck that brings produce to the market in Roni Schotter and Julia Kuo’s Go, Little Green Truck! (Farrar, Feb.) worries that he may be replaced. The non-fiction picture book Green City: How One Community Survived a Tornado and Rebuilt for a Sustainable Future (Farrar, Mar.) by Allan Drummond, is the true story of what happened in Greensburg, KS in 2007—and it has already received an SLJ starred review. Drummond offers scientific information as well as the inspiring true tale of how a community transformed tragedy into innovation. Though spring might be forefront in our minds, Julie Fogliano gives us poems to share the whole year round in When Green Becomes Tomatoes (Roaring Brook, Mar.), with lovely illustrations by Julie Morstad.

Original art

Original art from Chicken Lily by Nina Victor Crittenden on display at the Macmillan preview.

Several titles beg the age-old question, which came first—the chicken or the egg? In the case of the spring list, Laura Gehl and Joyce Wan’s Peep and Egg: I’m Not Hatching (Farrar, Feb.), about a reluctant chick who doesn’t want to come out of her shell, will appear before Lori Mortensen and Nina Victor Crittenden’s Chicken Lily (Holt, Mar.), the tale of a shy chicken working up the courage to participate in a poetry slam. For those who can’t get enough fowl play, Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick-or-Treating hatches in August. 

Lane Smith

Editor Simon Boughton shows a spread from Lane Smith’s There is a Tribe of Kids.


Babies and children also took center stage at the preview. The husband and wife team Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr’s Babies Ruin Everything (Imprint, Jul.) is the inaugural title for Macmillan’s new imprint called…wait for it…Imprint! The story, original published as an adult title for family and friends, shows the resentment of an older sibling about a new addition to the family.  Lane Smith celebrates childhood and collective nouns in There Is a Tribe of Kids (Roaring Brook, May). Childhood is again celebrated by Naoko Stoop in Sing With Me! Action Songs Every Child Should Know (Holt, Jul.), which includes instructions for accompanying hand-motions—a great storytime resource. Newbery medalist Karen Hesse uses verse to tackle the trauma of thumb sucking in My Thumb (Feiwel, Jul.).

Teen traumas and melodramas abound on the spring list, from wanting to be Gifted (Feiwel, Jun.) to pinning for the Girl I Used to Be (Holt, May) to feeling Flawed (Feiwel, Apr.) and finally learning the girl I used to meelusive Art of Being Normal (FSG, May). Gifted by H.A. Swain is a dystopian thriller/love story that incorporates a social experiment. Best-selling adult novelist Cecelia Ahern makes her YA debut with Flawed, a two-book story about the perfect Celestine who makes an irreversible decision. The book has been optioned by Warner Brothers. The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry incorporates CSI details as Olivia tries to find her parents’s murderer. And The Art of Being Normal,  an English import, is Lisa Williamson’s debut story featuring two transgender protagonists.

Middle grade readers can solve a murder mystery at a tennis club in The Underdogs (Farrar, May) by former tennis pro Sara Hammel. This debut book should not be confused with Mike Lupica’s 2012 book by the same name. Artistically-inclined middle graders and those who enjoy the Blue Balliett mysteries may want to pick up Alexander Vance’s Behind the Canvas (Feiwel, Feb.), in which Claudia literally steps into a painting and into the world of art and witches.

In June, a new graphic novel, Compass South (Farrar) by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock, is set in 1860 New York City . The First Second imprint will introduce Faith Erin Hicks’s new series with The Nameless City (Apr.). It will be a three-volume series, one released each year, telling the story of aCompassSouth1 city that is constantly invaded and the people who live there. The new national ambassador of young people’s literature and self-proclaimed computer geek, Gene Luen Yang, is bringing coding to every household this August with Secret Coders: Paths & Portals, illustrated by Mike Homes, the follow-up to 2015’s Secret Coders.

Buzz surrounded Philip C. Stead’s Ideas Are All Around (Roaring Brook, Mar.), which takes readers into the mind of a picture book artist and storyteller. The book has already receivedseveral starred reviews, including one from School Library Journal. The book was edited by Neal Porter, who also brings us Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West (Roaring Brook, Jun.) by Candace Fleming, a title which reminds readers that global superstars are not just an invention of the Internet age.

Ever wonder how a building feels about the folks that are inside it? Adam Rex and Christian Robinson use that concept to tell the story of School’s First Day of School (Roaring Brook, Jun.).

Lastly, in anticipation of the upcoming presidential election, Karen Blumenthal adds to the list of Hilary biographies for young people with Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History (Feiwel, Jan.).

Looking for more great Spring 2016 titles? Be sure to download SLJ‘s free Sneak Peek guide.



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.