Author breakfasts. Author stages. Autograph tables. Publisher pitches. There are a lot of vectors by which book information comes at you at Book Expo America (BEA), the three-day book industry droolfest that takes place at the Javits Center in NYC once a year. My little head is still spinning.
The beauty of BEA is that you are not only going to hear about the precious few books that each publisher has selected for Super Spangly Special Star Treatment, with giveaways and signings and strippers bearing cupcakes and a dedicated website and in-store displays... but you can also get your hands on the so-called "mid-list" titles, the books that are not expected to go best-seller but which will also find an audience. In the publishers' booths on the exhibition floor, they have copies of just about EVERYTHING they are putting out in the next season or even two.
So what did I see that I loved loved loved? A lot, if you go by what I came home with. I tried to be terribly disciplined and only take books that I wanted to review, or knew my boys wanted, or very much needed for our school library... and still I ended up with 57 books.
I have already read Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show, This Is Not My Hat, Good News, Bad News, Creepy Carrots!, and Oh No! Not Again!: (Or How I Built a Time Machine to save History) (Or at Least My History Grade) out loud to a small group of ten-and-unders, with great success. For storytimes, Kel Gilligan, Good News Bad News, and It's a Tiger!, by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard, will have great interactive potential - can't wait to cue a roomfull of littles to throw up their arms and crow, "TA-DAAAAH!" like Kel, and Tiger is a very welcome update to We're Going on a Bear Hunt.
At the School Library Journal Day of Dialog, Jon Klassen confessed that I Want My Hat Back was created "in the negative space around what I don't do well," which he said was, like, character development, dialog, plot... while all the librarians in that audience kind of smirked and shook their heads. Jon, hon, you do just fine.
The new book, he claims, was not necessarily intended to also be hat-oriented, but I am very glad it is. Much of the action takes place in the protagonist's blind spot - which actually makes for a better storytime, as kids will be hollering out, "He's behind you!" - but the ending contains the same kind of inferred confrontation as I Want My Hat Back... making the pair a fantastic one-two punch.
By the way, Jon and Mac Barnett won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book on Thursday - for their book Extra Yarn, which I loved so much it made me knit a damn scarf! Congratulations, guys!
Beginning Readers / First Chapter:
Somehow Curtis Scaletta sneaked out two volumes of his Topps League first chapter books without me even noticing! And they're vivaciously illustrated by the terrific Eric Wight! I was back at work yesterday and one of the first things I did was hunt down a copy of Jinxed! for a young customer. Thank you, gentlemen!
I am super intrigued to see the new series for young readers from Quirk, Strange Tales from Lovecraft Middle School. Quirk are the people who brought us Pride and Prejudice and Zombies AND Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, both of which are terrific books for teens who consider themselves slightly to excessively weird.
I stopped by the Quirk booth to get a look, but all they had were covers - covers with one of those freaky fresnel pictures:
The Maze Runner author James Dashner has written the first episode in a 39 Clues-type middle grade series called Infinity Ring. Other authors who have signed on include Lisa McMann (The Unwanteds), Matt de la Peña (Ball Don't Lie), Carrie Ryan (Forest of Hands and Teeth), and Matthew Kirby (Icefall). The Dashner title, called A Mutiny in Time, will drop in September, with succeeding books showing up every 2 months. Like 39 Clues, this will be a cross-platform series, with online games supplementing the books.
The first middle-grade book I cracked from this stash was The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by hometown boy and first-time children's book author Ellis Weiner. I was intrigued after he said, in a panel discussion, "It's always fun to write like an asshole," and sure enough, the narrator of his book is a Grade-A Squeaky B. Which is somehow - unexpectedly - very, very funny.
- The Drowned Vault, which is the second in Nate Wilson's Ashtown Burials series, was one of the few books I was commanded not to come home without. Milo was very excited to get it, too.
- As he was to receive Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, the final Artemis Fowl book. I myself am hoping to catch the performance-art interpretation. Author Eoin Colfer - who is just a hysterical speaker, so I really do expect this to be good - will perform "8 in 8," all eight Artemis Fowl books in eight minutes. He'll be at Politics and Prose bookstore in DC on July 19, and I will move heaven and earth to get us there to see it.
- Unfortunately, author Vordak the Incomprehensible was unable to attend BEA to sign his latest, titled Double Trouble (we have it on good authority that Vordak got a job with another publishing house, and neither of the current Egmont guys have the right size heads) (this picture might explain better).
- Horten's Incredible Illusions: Magic, Mystery & Another Very Strange Adventure, the sequel to Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery, & a Very Strange Adventure, has already (!) been read by both underage readers in this house, and they have proclaimed it "maybe better than the first one!"
- Plus, there's a third Mesoamerican time travel adventure mystery from J & P Voelkel. The series is called The Jaguar Stones, and I feel like it's rather flown under the radar. I blame the covers, because every kid I hand it to has to be talked into it, but once in, is in for the long run. Anyway, the new one is called The River of No Return.
- Gonna be a new Origami Star Wars book from Tom Angleberger - and since Darth Paper Strikes Back was (arguably) even better than The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, I will be lining up for The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee.
I ran into Betsy Bird (aka Fuse #8) in line to get Michael Buckley to sign our copies of Kel Gilligan, and while we were distractedly debating the merits of hardbound (durable) vs. paperback (affordable) when purchasing First Chapter Books - oh it's a glamorous profession, librarianship - Betsy spied what looked like a sequel to Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword sitting demurely on a low shelf.
"Is that...?" she murmured, looking past me suddenly, "... I need that!" Maybe most of us act that way when Timothy Olyphant walks by, or, at this event, Jo Nesbø, who despite having kind of a crooked face still looks like the hot Norwegian rockstar he used to be - yum - but I was totally on board Betsy's enthusiasm bus when I realized she was talking about Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite. The first Hereville book, an adventure set in a shtetl with an Orthodox Jewish girl hero, is not only gorgeously drawn, funny, and exciting, but also very popular with many kids. More kids than you might expect.
Sadly, we could only preview the cover. But the book is due out in the fall.
I also put on my to-read list Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson, due to what I heard at the Graphic Novels Author Stage. I am a sucker for New York City history, AND Mark Siegel grew up in France looking at the work of Moebius. Catnip!
And what the hell, I'll add Zack Giallongo's Broxo to that list. Although I have a feeling Broxo isn't going to need my endorsement: it's a full-color g/n about barbarians that looks like it'll appeal to Bone fans. Yeah that one's going to do fine.
But what I didn't see was a new g/n series for younger readers - I have kids who snap up every new volume of Lunch Lady and Squish and Amelia Rules and Big Nate... and they need more! Did I miss something?
Ah, here we finally come to the sexy! Everybody's all up in the young adult these days, looking for that next big series that will cross over to the adult market!
Well ha ha the joke's on you, everybody but Random House. Turns out, what multiple generations wanted to read after The Hunger Games was not more teenage gladiatorial combat, but... bush-league, Twilight-inspired BDSM. Go figure.
Which leaves us with teens reading teen books. What a relief!
I think the Ashes trilogy from Ilsa J. Bick is going to really take off with the publication of the second book, Shadows. But I said it about the first book, and I'm saying it again about the second: fix the cover, guys.
There will be a final Matched book, called Reached. My countywomen and I got our picture taken in the big egg that Penguin rolled out for this event.
Weirdly - but I don't think this guy does anything that isn't weird - Mark Frost is writing a YA series. Where do you know the name Mark Frost? Why, he and David Lynch were the creators of Twin Peaks. "She's dead! Wrapped in plastic!" The first book is called The Paladin Prophecy, which makes me want to run far away (paladins are always the prissy characters the rest of the party wanted to kill in D&D), but then again... "my log saw something that night." Ok, that guy gets a pass.
Speaking of zombies, Jonathan Maberry, author of the Rot & Ruin series, told me that his next series will be realistic secret agent teen boy fiction! I told him, "Put a boy on the cover and we're done," to which he replied, "That's the plan." Oh Jonathan Maberry, I love you, loud shirts and all.
Also speaking of zombies - yes it's a trend that hasn't finished chewing its way through the shelves yet - Sean Beaudoin, who wrote You Killed Wesley Payne, which I thought had a little more style than substance, will give us The Infects. I'm going to pay attention to that one, I think there's a lot of there there that we haven't yet seen from this author. I love his blog, for example.
And Robison Wells has written a sequel to Variant, which made my friend Rabbit, who is in 7th grade, extremely happy. Rabbit, you must share your copy of Feedback once you're done, ok? CONFIDENTIAL TO ILSA J. BICK: LOOK AT THIS COVER AND CALL YOUR EDITOR.
What else? A little nonfiction:
Really? I'm not done yet? Well no, just a few dribs and drabs here:
Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun an activity book by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larson. Unfortunate hipster-awkward drawings mar this very inventive, very cool book of fun. But don't let the drawings turn you away.
Marc Tyler Nobleman's Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman tells the true story of Batman's creation. My husband read it last night, and as he closed the book he said, "Well there you go. Bob Kane: what a dick."
Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies is the latest from NONFICTION SENSEI Marc Aronson. Big. Thick. Intense. Profusely illustrated with archival photos and documents. The book I mean - not Marc.
And listen for me and at least one of the teen bloggers from Ink Bitten on Maryland's Public Radio, WYPR, next Friday on Maryland Morning With Sheilah Kast. We'll be talking to host Tom Hall about what we were most excited to see at BEA, who had the best swag, what we were most surprised by... yammer yammer yammer! SO looking forward to it!