Hobnob of the Week
Smell that? That's the smell of Fall, my friends. The smell of Fall and the smell of publishers getting all hepped up about their new Spring selection. The Fall 2006 books? Old news, darling. In the high tech world of go go go publishing you're only as good as your next upcoming season. As such, the average NYC librarian (that would be me) has a chance to do the hobnobbing thing. Now a week or so ago I got an invite to a Trucktown gig at Simon & Schuster. Having never been to that particular publisher (and fully aware that they would be serving cheese) I arrived on Wednesday night to check it all out.
In any case, I had no idea what this whole "Trucktown" business was. Apparently it's Simon & Schuster's newest baby and it is big. Big big. 54 books or so in the making big. First off, I'd never been to a Simon & Schuster publishing party before. They're just around the corner, but it's not like I have to fend off invitations or anything. So I walk in, all by my lonesome, into a crazy kooky conglomeration of pipes, truck parts, shoes, sketches, etc. They've taken one of their board rooms and converted it into this massive car repair joint or something. There's disaster tape and (most impressive to me) they've even gone so far as to remove the ceiling tiles so as to expose the wires n' insulation n' such. Wacky. They must have rented half the equipment in the place, and the effect was instant and insane. It was like I'd walked into a really well maintained children's museum in their "vehicle" department or something. The level of detail taken? The wine served was a California brand known simply as Red Truck and White Truck. Ye gods.
I met Jon Scieszka not long after. He was there with his son and daughter. Since then I've been fighting with myself. Would it be too creepy to have a Hot Men of Children's Literature & Sons posting? Cause I gotta say, l'il Scieszka (who looked like he was in his mid-20s) could easily be the first. Or is that just too gross for everyone?
Oh, and can I tell you about David Shannon? Like, I dunno, that he's AWESOME. Not that Mr. Scieszka wasn't, of course. But David Shannon brought me a glass of wine and he's funny and told a great story about being on a plane next to a girl who liked his books and I begged him begged him to stop by the Donnell Library and see our David homage along the wall. Consider me, if I wasn't already, a huge David Shannon fan.
Okay, so what's with the whole "Trucktown" thing anyway? Well, it's a bunch of books for kids with different personalitied trucks and their small adventures. The odd part? The drawing styles of David Shannon, Loren Long (remember the "Homefront" cover?), and David Gordon (animator fella) are merged into a single style and THAT is how the series is gonna play. With words by Scieszka, of course. Oddly enough there wasn't a single ARC at hand, though there were some rough draft sheets with possible phrases. Plus it goes across the Simon & Schuster imprints so that should be fun.
Moving on, yesterday (Thursday) Random House pulled out all the stops for their well-Power Pointed "Librarian and Reviewer Presentation - Spring 2007". Random House is a class act all the way. In spite of the fact that they always schedule these things at ungodly hours (I believe their New Orleans presentation felt like it was at 3:00 a.m.) they feed you, orange juice you, and give you gi-normous goodie bags. Here are some of their upcoming titles that might strike you as amusing:
The Secret Life of Walter Kitty by Barbara Jean Hicks - Actually I read this one all the way through already. They had galleys on hand and it looks superb. Let us not assume that this was the first book to come out under that name, however. Remember this?
Am I Right Or Am I Right by Barry Jonsberg - I don't read YA lit but if I did this pup would be on the top of my list. Plus I'm a sucker for the cover.
The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats by Philip Nel - How do you make a small picture book into a 100+ page affair? Hire Philip Nel, the very first honorary Hot Man of Children's Literature, to do the work.
Never Tease a Weasel by Jean Conder Soule, now illustrated by George Booth - Some of you may recall the original edition of this, illustrated by Denman Hampson circa 1964. Well, credit editor Heidi Kilgras for bringing it back in print AND giving it a marvelous illustrator. I got to flip through this one as well and it won me over.
I'd Really Like To Eat a Child by Sylviane Donnio, illustrated by Dorothee de Monfreid - French (could you tell?) and again a Heidi Kilgras acquisition. At this rate I may just limit everything I review to what she puts out. A story of a little crocodile who won't eat the bananas his mother feeds him because he really wants to eat a child. Unfortunately, he's too small. In the end he has to realize that eating the bananas will allow him to grow big and strong and someday he'll be large enough to fufill his dream. I'm in love.
Tomorrow's Magic by Pamela F. Service - The theme of this Random House presentation? Bringing back the out-of-print. Tammy Pierce (hi, Tammy!) asked the company to bring back this beloved book. The one sentence blurb is, "A futuristic Arthurian fantasy." If she likes it, that's good enough for me.
How To Get Suspended and Influence People by Adam Selzer - Kudos to both title and cover (which Amazon sadly doesn't have up yet). Again, YA so I'll never actually read it. But it sounded fun.
Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky - They're calling this one the new "Forever" sex-wise. Uh-huh. Still, it sounded good, the cover's primo, and I kind of felt like reading it when they were done.
So what have I learned? I've learned that 90% of the editors attending these events tend to be young women in their mid to late 20s with straight hair that falls to their waists. I didn't know there even were that many young attractive women in NYC, let alone the publishing world. Between the Simon & Schuster and Random House events there seemed to be 60 of them, all poised and dressed to the nines. Where do they all come from, I wonder?
That's all for now. I was a complete spaz and missed a lunch with the author of "the Mysterious Benedict Society", so you'll have to look elsewhere for that news. Fortunately next week is building up to be a particularly exciting one. I'll keep you posted.