Fuse #8

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Spring 2007 Round-Up

It's not too dissimilar from when you get back from Winter Vacation during college only to find that hardly any of your friends are around to talk to. Some bloggers are updating these days, but a lot of the regulars are off galavanting who-knows-where. So where does that leave my kiddie lit news items? In the lurch, that's where.

Fortunately I've a big stack of Spring 2007 publisher titles just ah-sitting on my desk waiting to be inspected. Here are some of the titles I've seen that sound tasty. I could be wrong, not having seen them or anything, but the books I'm listing here caught my eye one way or another. Also, because these publishers are either small, schedule previews on odd days, or do not invite librarians to poke about their wares early (as Little, Brown & Co., Random House, and Greenwillow mostly kindly do) I have not seen any of these books presented before.

Now, I'd link each and every one of these titles to Amazon, but that would take countless hours. Unless I've a note regarding their covers, you'll have to look these puppies up yourself.

North-South Books
We start with a small New York publisher, right off the bat. From them I've found the following of interest:

Duck's Tale by Harmen van Straaten
Dutch, it seems. North-South has smartly placed some striking disapproving-froggie art from this book on their Spring 2007 catalog cover and it suits them very well. This puppy looks enticing.

Rapunzel by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by Dorothee Duntze
I'm not a huge fan of the original story, but the art for this book is not usual. The "witch", for example, appears to be a heavyset 45-year-old woman of uncommonly good style and taste. We'll see how the actual book does.

Cleverly putting Hugo Cabret front and center on their catalog cover, I was disappointed to miss their Spring Preview this year. Here's what I think of what they've got lined up anyway:

Lily Brown's Paintings by Angela Johnson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
I'm a touch and go E.B. Lewis fan at best, but Angela Johnson has more than earned her stripes. I'm tentatively interested.

Pierre In Love by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Petra Mathers
The art isn't immediately interesting to me, but Sara Pennypacker's Clementine was one of the year's standouts. If she can write short as well as she writes long, we may have a hit on our hands.

The Flying Bed by Nancy Willard, illustrated by John Thompson
Great cover art on this one. I never fell for A Visit To William Blake's Inn like I should have, so maybe Willard can win me over with this puppy.

A Friendship for Today by Patricia McKissack
Uh-oh. We have a problem here. Now, the cover in the catalog is amazing. Even if it wasn't McKissack (talented out the wazoo, she be), it would still be something I'd want to read due to the cover alone. So I link to Amazon and I get this cover instead. Not half as striking and downright dull. I am, right now, on my knees praying that this was the old cover and that the catalog is the one who got it right. PLEASE, Scholastic, if you have any pity in your hearts then tell me that Amazon is wrong on this one.

Roanoke: The Mystery of the Lost Colony by Lee Miller
I like Roanoke, so I'll be checking this puppy out. Let's see if it reveals any new info.

Main Street - A Scholastic imprint
Main Street doesn't try to be the classy imprint. They know exactly what they want out of life.

The Midnight Library series all by Damien Graves (?)
Aw. They look cheesy but fun. I'll give 'em a go.

And there seem to be some new covers on the Bailey School Kids series. Moving on...

Good old Penguin. The sheer number of interesting titles suggests an interesting upcoming year.

Summer Ball by Mike Lupica

Lupica completely won me over when I read Heat. At this point in the proceedings, he can do no wrong.

The Day the Stones Walked by T.A. Barron
T.A. Barron for the young 'uns. It's a little odd that he's the first person in recent memory to figure out how freakin' cool Easter Island would be in the work of children's fiction, but I'm willing to go along with it.

First Daughter: Extreme America Makeover by Mitali Perkins
Partly because I just like Mitali. Partly because the girl on the cover really does look cool.

How Underwear Got Under There: A Brief History by Kathy Shaskan, illustrated by Regan Dunnick
Where would we be if there wasn't a great non-fiction title or two out there for the kiddies. National Geographic may have cornered the market on class, but books like this one might actually get picked up by their intended audience.

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer
Another case of competing covers. In this particular case, I like the one on the author's website far more than the one that was in the catalog. The website cover has a very dark and funny sense of humor that will appeal to a wide swath of kidlets. The one in the catalog (which I can't find online and take to be a good sign) is, to put it mildly, oddly androgynous. From a careful scanning of the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Chat Board, however, I think I've determined that the one on Brewer's website is not only the better of the two but the one Penguin is going with. Whew!

The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer
Significant if only because I've just discovered that Mercer Mayer is a guy. I cannot believe this. My entire world has just shifted slightly to the left.

Badger's Fancy Meal by Keiko Kasza
With every Kasza book I yearn for another good readaloud. Nothing will ever reach the heights of My Lucky Day, but you never know. I keep on hoping.

Camp Creepy Time by Gina Gershon and Dann Gershon
Not content with a single kid-vampire cover/title, Penguin found it necessary to indulge in a little celebrity drivel. Then again, it's a fun cover. And who says the world isn't big enough for more than one vamp book?

Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig
I wouldn't have suggested that they slap that particular title on it, but the cover art (which, sadly, I cannot find online) more than makes up for the pseudo-Harry Potteresque name.

The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora
A) Because I like Rachel Isadora
B) Because it's nice to see at least one princess story come along that features someone who isn't whitey white white.

Yellowbelly and Plum Go To School by Nathan Hale
This fellow is the artist who is currently working on Shannon Hale's upcoming graphic novel. Let's see how he fares in the picture book realm first and foremost.

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Great cover. Lucky lucky first novelist.

Stuck In the Middle: 17 Comics From an Unpleasant Age, edited by Ariel Schrag
A little Daniel Clowes action is going on here alongside other GN luminaries. Sounds superb.

The Last Girls of Pompeii by Kathryn Lasky
Love the difficult-to-find-online cover (you're getting a hint here of how shallow I really am). Love the premise. Love Pompeii. I'm sold. Bring it on, Lasky!

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, illustrated by Charles Vess
I've no particular reason for including this one, except perhaps that I'm hoping for some really good trickster collections here.

Mystery Isle by Judith St. George
Oh, thank God. A mystery. Considering how popular mysteries are, surprisingly few authors have the wherewithal to attempt them.

From Charlie's Point of View: A Mystery by Richard Scrimger

Three Cave Mountain by Per Olov Enquist, illustrated by Stina Wirsen
And for the Swedish fans amongst us, a little outdoorsy adventure-stuff. Looks like its making a break for that elusive "classic" feel.

I always love Kane/Miller's attempts to winnow out great picture books from around the globe.

Who's Hiding? by Satoru Onishi
It has a smooth simple feel that may be very charming if the text matching the images properly.

Strong picture book selection this season is coming out of these three Random House imprints. I haven't seen these yet.

Ginger Bear by Mini Grey
Okay, truth? Mini Grey could write a picture book about an inanimate carbon rod and I'd be the first one in line to buy that puppy for all my friends and relatives.

The Wicked Big Toddlah by Kevin Hawkes
GREAT title. 200 points go to Kevin Hawkes for that one.

Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas by Meghan McCarthy
Well, of course. How could I not include this? And how come Atlas hasn't appeared in more non-fiction books for kids? Eh?

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford, illustrated by Valorie Fisher
I was a little disappointed to read the description and find that Moxy Maxwell learns to love Stuart Little by the end. I was hoping she'd stick to her guns on that one.

Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner
So much buzz surrounds this one that I don't know how I couldn't read it. It sounds superb.

Take-Off!: American All-Girl Bands During World War II by Tonya Bolden
Dunno if any kid would ever pick this up, but I (for one) think it sounds delish.

A Field Guide To High School by Marissa Walsh
I don't read YA, but this one is hard to avoid. Suh-weet. I mean, talk about great cover art.

The Confessional by J.L. Powers

There also seem to be a couple new covers for Blood and Chocolate out there. I wonder if the upcoming film was an impetus at work.

Farrar Straus and Giroux
Look at these cool books. Like it would kill them to invite librarians over for tea. Sheesh.

The Escape of Oney Judge by Emily Arnold McCully
An evil Martha Washington? I can totally get behind that. I am exaggerating, of course, but not by too much. This appears to be a McCully title with guts.

Dawn and Dusk by Alice Mead
Iran fic. Name any. Any at all for kids. None come to mind? Then this book deserves a gander.

Animal Poems by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins.
Steve Jenkins. Nuff said.

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Shelley Jackson.
Hard to resist a title like that. Pretty fancy-schmancy art to boot. Few books have the ability to look like something you could grow to love from just a first glance. This is one of the few.

How To Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
GREAT cover. Great title. Great premise. I am hooked hooked hooked. Give me this book!

Way Down Deep by Ruth White
Not a good cover. But Belle Prater's Boy was so good that we'll see if Ruth White's got the old magic back again.

Ben and the Sudden Too-Big Family by Colby Rodowsky
With a title that is guaranteed to make English majors everywhere shudder, this is one of those rare early chapter books. Too few exist to ignore this one.

Daffodil Crocodile by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Tomek Bogacki
I saw Ms. Jenkins talk this one up some months ago. She convinced me of Mr. Bogacki's brilliance. We'll see if this one is as good as its predecessor Daffodil.

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat
Like Iranian middle grade fiction, Palestinian works are few and far between. This looks more than interesting.

Hear Us Out! Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress, and Hope, 1950 to the Present by Nancy Garden
Cause you just can't have enough of these on the shelves anyway.

The Invisible by Mats Wahl
I remember reading a story with a very very similar premise to this one. Boy starts to become invisible. Can't figure out why. 20 points to anyone who can name the book. It came out in the late 80s/early 90s and was YA, I think.

A Hippo's Tale by Lena Landstrom
If only because The New Hippos was so doggone cute.

Oh, Harcourt. Why don't you court the librarian vote?

Pirates Don't Change Diapers by Melinda Long, illustrated by David Shannon
The sequel to How I Became a Pirate. Long overdue.

My Life As a Chicken by Ellen A. Kelley, illustrated by Michael Slack
Cause it's got a freakin' cool title. Dunno how the plot is, or if the author and illustrator are any good. But one cannot underestimate the power of the first impression.

The Tale of Pale Male by Jeanette Winter
The first of 2 Pale Male picture books ah-brewing. Meghan McCarthy's should be along any day now as well.

Alligator Boy by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Diane Goode
Not all that dissimilar from Daffodil Crocodile, now that I think of it. Hmmm. A new trend?

Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Not as cool a title as Evil Baby Genius would be, but cool enough. A bit of the old Artemis Fowl, eh?

Dragon's Keep by Janet Lee Carey
Perhaps not the strongest premise in the world, but check out that cover. And Lloyd Alexander liked it enough to blurb it. Cool.

So that's all I had on my desk. Should be enough for now...

Oh. And what is UP with all the fairies?
I thought that Scholastic was just being silly when I saw their Winx Club. Here's the byline for the series: "We are the Winx - six teenage fairies with a passion for fashion and a flair for magic." Shopping AND magic! You should see their platform shoes. Whoo-boy. Main Street (also Scholastic) got in the swing of things with The Jewel Fairies. Less sophisticated and definitely less appalling. And then, of course, Random House Golden Books has their own Disney Fairies line (oh Gail Carson Levine, what hath thou wrought?). Fairies are big at the moment. FYI.


At 9:15 AM , Anonymous Franki said...

Thanks for sharing! I am planning on lots of reading time in January and February and look forward to finding some of these!

At 9:34 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was Things Left Unseen by Andrew Clements the book that reminds you of The Invisible?

At 11:11 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Nope. This was much darker and came out about 10 years before Clements'. Very YA, as I recall.

At 11:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Will you be in Seattle for the midwinter meeting?

Do you have a short list for the Caldecott? Newbery? Did I miss them?

At 12:06 PM , Anonymous Genevieve said...

Great round-up of coming books! I put a bunch of them on our to-read list.

A question for you: do you know a good place on-line to find recommendations for kids' books by subject? I'm checking out books for my son's first grade classroom each month, to go with the topic they're studying (last month, maps; this month, continents -- I got books like How To Make An Apple Pie And See the World; next month, American biographies). I read your reviews all the time, and love them, but is there somewhere where there are compilations of terrific recommendations like yours, organized by subject?

I can ask the children's librarian, and I probably will for a few titles (for example, I'm not having much luck finding good biographies of American women such as Sojourner Truth, Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, etc. at a 1st-grade level, though I found some excellent ones at a 3rd-grade level). But I usually get about 15 books for the class for the month, and I don't think the librarian has time to go over so many - usually at our library, they like to give a few recommendations, but I'd be happiest if I can come up with a bunch myself.

Thanks! Your blog is a fabulous resource (as well as fun to read) and I recommend it all the time.

At 12:15 PM , Anonymous Mindy said...

Great list! I'm looking forward to some of these myself. I actually just reviewed Who's Hiding? on my blog today.

At 12:16 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Fear not. You've missed nothing. I will indeed be in Seattle, if by "be in" you mean "ensconced in a small room with 13 other people as we debate the relative merits of such-n-so a book". The announcement of the Newbery, Caldecott, etc. will occur on Monday, January 22nd. Until then it's anybody's race.

As for Genevieve's query, the place I like to go when it comes to great reviews by subject and grade level is the School Library Journal website/database. Mind you, you have to have a subscription to SLJ to be able to access it, but it's more than worth it in the end. It's fast, easy to navigate, and filled with great reviews from a variety of librarians countrywide. Of course "Booklist" is also wonderful, but I don't know if you can search their site as easily. Those are my go-to sources, anyway. Other suggestions are more than welcome.

At 12:23 PM , Blogger Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I too wish that Maxy Maxwell stuck to her guns on Stuart Little, but maybe she discovered something we haven't found yet. Now, if it's MM learns to love Giving Tree, I'm staging a riot.

At 2:12 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuse#8, was FADE by Robert Cormier the book you thought of when looking at THE INVISIBLE?

At 3:09 PM , Blogger KathryneBAlfred said...

Fade was my first thought,too.

At 3:34 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

That must must must be it. Wow. The awesome power of the collective memory. Many thanks to the two of you. God, that was a depressing book. I should go seek it out.

At 3:35 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I reviewed From Charlie's Point of View last year for my Bookslut column when it was released by Tundra in Canada. It's a great mystery and an even better buddy book - three very cool, quirky kids who team up together. There's also a bit of magic in there - very very subtle so don't think it's a fantasy or Harry Potteresque or anything like that, but just enough to make you wonder.

I really enjoyed it and I'm so glad to see it showing up in the US.


At 11:07 AM , Anonymous elizabeth fama said...

There's a sample page of "Stuck in the Middle" on Ariel Schrag's web site, and the conversation seems a little graphic for middle grade.
http://www.arielschrag.com/pages/books.html (click "sample" below the cover art)

At 10:08 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

That was my suspicion. Clowes, after all, hasn't (to the best of my knowledge) ever done anything for the younger set. Still, I think it'd still be worth checking out, if only due to the sheer number of talented artists.

At 11:56 AM , Blogger Mitali Perkins said...

Aw, shucks, fuse, the feeling's absolutely mutual. Thanks for the shout out about the book. Off-topic: I'm hoping you'll be posting diligently about ALA midwinter for those of us not in attendance.

At 1:09 PM , Blogger Heather Brewer said...

Thanks for the mention! And yep, as luck would have it, Penguin's going with the second cover--the one on my website. A good change, I think. :)

So many great books coming out this year--I need to find time to read them all!

At 1:14 PM , Blogger Heather Brewer said...

Oh, just to clarify...EIGHTH GRADE BITES will be released this Summer (August), not this Spring.

At 10:25 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Ah. Well, they messed up then and put it in the Spring catalog. That explains the cover mix-up.

At 12:55 PM , Blogger Heather Brewer said...

Thanks for the heads-up!

At 3:39 PM , Anonymous michael Slack said...

Hey there. Michael Slack here. I'm the illustrator of MY Life as a Chicken. Thanks for the mention. I've recieved my advance copies and they look fantastic. You can check out a few illustrations from the book on my web site www.slackart.com. It's in the childrens section on my portfolio page.


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