As booksellers, librarians, and publishers descended on the Javits Center for BookExpo America, there was strong interest across all age ranges and genres, including adult books with YA crossover and vice versa.
"We're really excited about Ernest Cline's Armada (Crown, July)," said Becky Anderson, owner of Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill. "Ready Player One was such a great YA crossover, and it featured gaming and '80s culture. This is going to be another great crossover for teens." Amy Cherrix of Slush Pile Press was also looking forward to Armada, as well as Anita Silvey's Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall (National Geographic, June). "I'm glad we're getting more about her life."
Anderson also talked about the next Ruta Sepetys, Salt to the Sea, due out from Philomel in Feb. 2016. It's a YA novel "based on an actual obscure historical incident during World War II. It's a great YA crossover and I can't wait to sell this one. Sepetys writes the best historical fiction and we don't have enough good historical fiction."
At Penguin, which was sharing space with Random House for the first time at this year's show, Shanta Newlin described Marie Lu's The Rose Society, an October follow-up to 2014's The Young Elites, as their "biggest, most anticipated" YA title at the show. She also noted Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski's Nightfall (a BEA YA Buzz Book), Moïra Fowley-Doyle's The Accident Season, and Richelle Mead's standalone novel, Soundless. For picture books, Newlin said that Penguin's bigger titles include Eric Carle's The Nonsense Show and Happy! a photographic picture book based on Pharrell Williams's hit song.
Matt Norcross of McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., raved about The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown, Sept.). "It will tear your heart out," he said. "It could be the next Bridge to Terabithia." Other big titles for Little, Brown include Libba Bray's Lair of Dreams (Aug.), second in her Diviners series, and Eric Lindstrom's Not If I See You First (Poppy, Dec.), which stars a blind protagonist navigating high school.
Jamie Tan at Candlewick noted significant interest in Honor Girl (Sept.), a graphic novel memoir by first-time-author Maggie Thrash. "Its depiction of adolescence hurts, but it is so great," said Tan. Also popular was M.T. Anderson's Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad, the National Book Award winner's first nonfiction title and first book in seven years.
There weren't any galleys of Rainbow Rowell's Carry On at the show, but that didn't stop visitors from requesting them. Rowell opted out of ARCs, wanting readers to come to her Fangirl companion "fresh, with no spoilers," said Macmillan's Kristine Jaeger. Macmillan visitors were also eager for the latest Leigh Bardugo novel, Six of Crows (Holt, Sept.); Mike Curato's Little Elliot, Big Family (Holt, Oct,); and Lenny & Lucy (Roaring Brook/Porter, Oct.) from the husband-and-wife team of Philip and Erin Stead.
For Scholastic, Brian Selznick's The Marvels (Sept.), an adventure story that blends two narratives, one told through illustrations, and the other through prose, has been a show-stealer. According to Charisse Meloto, galleys were swiped up by fans, librarians, and booksellers in a matter of "seconds." With its themes of "family and the power of story," Meloto noted the book's strong crossover appeal. Other titles of note for Scholastic include Alex Gino's George (Aug.), a middle-grade novel about a transgender fourth-grader that Meloto calls "groundbreaking and important," and Edwidge Danticat's Untwine (Sept.), a YA novel about family bonds and tragedy.
At Random House, readers lined up for hefty hardcover galleys of Illuminae, first in a futuristic series by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Everything Everything by debut author Nicola Yoon has also seen growing enthusiasm at the show, while on the picture book side, I Will Chomp You! by Jory John, illustrated by Bob Shea, is seeing a lot of love.
Lizzy Mason at Bloomsbury was seeing strong interest in Aimée Carter's Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den, the author's first middle-grade novel, which she described as reminiscent of the Spirit Animals series, as well as another middle-grade debut, A Curious Tale of the In-Between from YA author Lauren DeStefano. The story is about an orphaned girl who can see ghosts, and who tries to help a boy who has lost his mother. Mason said the book has a "depth and sadness reminiscent of The Graveyard Book."
While the biggest book at the Abrams booth was Old School, Jeff Kinney's 10th Wimpy Kid book, due in November, Jason Wells said that visitors were excited to see a book from The Band's Robbie Robertson, Hiawatha and the Peacemaker, illustrated by David Shannon. There were also rumors around the booth of a forthcoming middle-grade tour with Jon Scieszka, Jory John, and Mac Barnett.
Julie Murphy's Dumplin', the story of a plus-size girl whose mother runs a longstanding Texas beauty pageant, was sought after at HarperCollins, according to Nellie Kurtzman. "It's not an issues book. It's a be-your-own-damn-self book," she said. Also big for Harper is The Doldrums, an illustrated middle-grade debut from Nicholas Gannon; Patrick Ness's The Rest of Us Just Live Here; and Rae Carson's trilogy opener Walk on Earth a Stranger.
Leo, a picture book from Mac Barnett and Christian Robinson, sees the longtime friends and San Francisco neighbors collaborating for the first time. Chronicle's Lara Starr said that when a bookseller from local indie Diesel saw the book, she said, "Holy cash registers, Batman!" Even though author Hannah Moskowitz has a cult following of YA readers, Starr noted an increased interest in the History of Glitter and Blood after School Library Journal's Day of Dialog on Wednesday. Inspired by the French Resistance during WWII, it's a high fantasy in which fairies hold out against troll invaders.
Benjamin Schuster, manager of 2nd & Charles in Hagerstown, Md., stood in line to meet Brandon Mull, on hand to promote The Caretaker's Guide to Fablehaven (Shadow Mountain). He was also excited to hear about True Heroes, out from Shadow Mountain in September, a collection featuring 21 authors telling modern-day fairy tales about children with cancer.
Books garnering attention for Harlequin include Legacy of Kings (Aug.), a historical fantasy novel about Alexander the Great by Eleanor Herman; Adi Alsaid's Never Always Sometimes (Aug.), which Siena Koncsol called "fun and John Green-esque"; and Robin Talley's What We Left Behind (Oct.), about a long-distance relationship between Gretchen, a lesbian teenager, and Toni, who identifies as genderqueer.
"We've had tons of people coming to the booth asking about it," said HMH's Karen Walsh, of Erin Bowman's Vengeance Road, a Western due out in September. Walsh credits the author's strong online presence to helping drive interest in the title at the show. Booksellers were also asking about Newbery Honor–winner Gary D. Schmidt's forthcoming novel, Orbiting Jupiter; a contemporary realistic debut for Estelle Laure, This Raging Light; Joelle Charbonneau's Need, about "social media gone horribly awry"; and Audrey and Don Wood's The Full Moon at the Napping House, a companion to their bestselling 1984 picture book, The Napping House.
One of the biggest middle-grade titles for Simon & Schuster is Kevin Sands's The Blackthorn Key, a mystery involving alchemy. "If you're a 10-year-old, it's just this great world of wonder and magic," said Jennifer Romanello. Show visitors were also looking for galleys of Kenneth Oppel's The Nest, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen, about a boy who makes a deal with a wasp to help his ailing baby sibling. "I couldn't put it down," said Romanello. On the YA side, Erin Bow's The Scorpion Rules is being seen as a "breakout" book for the author, set in a dystopian future where the children of world leaders are held hostage to dissuade their parents from starting wars. S&S is also crashing a novel onto its fall list from Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Due in September from Atheneum, All-American Boys explores police brutality through two characters, one black, one white.
At Workman, Polar, a lenticular title from the team behind Safari and Ocean, is expected to be a major fall title; the first two in the series have sold more than 700,000 copies to date, according to Noreen Herits. Attendees were also interested in How to Tell a Story, written and devised by Workman director of children's publishing Daniel Nayeri, and illustrated by Brian Won. The book includes 20 durable blocks whose color-coded images correspond to story elements like people, emotions, and actions to create an interactive storytelling opportunities. "There are so many educators here, and it's such a great tool to use in the classroom or in homeschooling," said Herits.
Rachel Hochberg of Children's Book World in Haverford, Pa., was eager to get her hands on a copy of Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (Random/Lamb, Aug.), and Samurai Rising (Charlesbridge, Feb. 2016) an illustrated biography of Japanese general Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner, illustrated by Gareth Hinds. Clarissa Murphy, children's bookseller at Brookline Booksmith, was looking forward to getting Newt's Emerald by Garth Nix (HarperCollins/Tegen, Oct.) and Hunter by Mercedes Lackey (Disney-Hyperion, Sept.). Murphy added that it was her first BEA, and while "it's insane, it's not as overwhelming as I thought."
Elsewhere Around the Show
Joining the many longtime publishers represented at BEA were some who were making their first appearances at the show. New exhibitor Little Bee, Bonnier’s new children’s book imprint in the U.S., had Robie Harris signing copies of her picture book, Turtle and Me (Apr.). “We were out of books in 10 minutes,” said Little Bee’s Sarah Rucker. As a publisher whose name may still be new to many attendees, Rucker said the show helped “cement buyers’ perceptions of us,” allowing them to see the imprint’s books in person.
“It’s been a little nerve-wracking, but definitely good,” said Sherry D. Ficklin, who both writes and works for Clean Teen Publishing, another first-time exhibitor. The publisher – which offers content disclosures for readers regarding the language, sexual content, drug use, and violence in its books – is now publishing 10–12 titles per year, Ficklin said, focusing largely on YA fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction.
For Sterling, the biggest hit was a coloring book for adults, Animal Kingdom, which was by far the most requested (and discussed) book for the publisher. Phaidon was promoting new additions to its lines of Hervé Tullet board books (three new books are due in the fall) and Tomi Ungerer reprints, while NYRB was gearing up for the September launch of a new trade paperback imprint, NYRB Kids, which gets underway with The Thirteen Clocks and The Pushcart War. NYRB plans to add a few titles each season. Forthcoming for NYRB’s hardcover line are reissues of Otfried Preussler’s The Little Witch and The Little Water Sprite.
“We’re really starting to find our niche,” said Sourcebooks’s Heather Moore, with regards to the publisher’s YA publishing program, citing thrillers and contemporary fiction as particular strong points for the Sourcebooks Fire imprint. Partnerships – particularly with Wattpad and Put Me in the Story – have also paid off, said Moore. In August, Sourcebooks Fire will release Awake, its second novel with Wattpad author Natasha Preston. Preston’s first book, The Cellar, has sold 100,000 copies since its publication last year. “It sells more week in week out now than it did a year ago,” said Moore. On the younger end, other key titles include Ed Vere’s picture book Max the Brave (Sept.), which will launch a series, and You! (Apr.) by Sandra Magsamen, an author who came to Sourcebooks through her involvement in the Put Me in the Story book personalization program.
“I’ve seen a lot more librarians this year,” noted PGW’s Susan McConnell, a sentiment echoed by several publishers. Among the bigger titles from the publishers that PGW distributes is Kathryn Otoshi’s Beautiful Hands (Blue Dot Press, Sept.), done in collaboration with Bret Baumgartner. The book’s artwork was created using handprints and fingerprints, and a portion of proceeds from the book’s sales will benefit the family of Baumgartner, who died in 2014. Noting that Thursday felt “more like the first day” of the show, Kane Miller’s Kira Linn said she had seen “a lot of library sales,” From librarians placing orders at the show. Titles garnering attention for Kane Miller included Atinuke’s Double Trouble for Anna Hibiscus; Peter Carnavas’s Jessica’s Box (Sept.), a picture book in which the main character’s use of a wheelchair is not mentioned; and Bernadette Russell’s Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy: Acts of Kindness for Kids (Sept.).
Librarians and teachers visiting Orca were interested in books for struggling readers, as well as the Secrets series (Sept.), a collection of seven linked YA novels from authors who include Kelley Armstrong, Norah McClintock, and Marthe Jocelyn. Set in 1964, the seven books will publish simultaneously. National Geographic saw teacher and librarian interest in Anita Silvey’s Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall (June), with a strong turnout for Silvey’s signing.
Over at the Lerner booth, a signing for The Anatomy of Curiosity (Oct.) featuring Brenna Yovanoff, Tessa Gratton, and Maggie Stiefvater drew eager fans to the booth, while at Soho Teen attendees were buzzing about Adam Silvera’s YA novel More Happy Than Not (out this week), in which a teen confronts sexuality and loss in a world where people can relieve themselves of unwanted memories, and Micol Ostow’s The Devil and Winnie Flynn (Oct.), which is illustrated by the author’s brother, David. In the book, a girl moves to her aunt’s house after her mother’s death and helps work on a TV show where things get increasingly weird on-set.
Cory Silverberg’s signing for Sex Is a Funny Word (Seven Stories/Triangle Square) drew a big crowd, and at Quirk Books, a signing for Kid Athletes (Nov.), a follow-up to 2014’s Kid Presidents from David Stabler and Doogie Horner, saw a big turnout, as well. Also popular for Quirk was Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye (Nov.) by Tania Del Rio and illustrated by Will Staehle, a design-driven middle-grade title with Victorian influences in the vein of Edward Gorey, was also popular.
Several publishers were touting big picture books for fall, including Tomie dePaola’s Look and Be Grateful (Oct.), his first title with Holiday House in more than 20 years. Liz Van Doren of Highlights for Children/Boyds Mills Press was looking forward to Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Fred Koehler’s One Day, The End.: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Stories (Oct.), which she referred to as “a meta-picture book about stories,” one that “every single language arts teacher should have.”
Charlesbridge’s forthcoming picture books include The Inventor’s Secret: What Thomas Edison Told Henry Ford (Sept.) by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt, about the relationship between the two famed inventors, and Poppy’s Best Paper (July) by Susan Eaddy, illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet, about a girl bunny who wants to write a winning paper but doesn’t necessarily want to put the work into it. At Creative Editions, Anna Erickson was talking up Where Do I End and You Begin? (Sept.) by Shulamith Oppenheim, illustrated by Monique Felix, which Erickson described as “a cozy bedtime book about infinity.”
At Sleeping Bear Press, Audrey Mitnick was excited about titles with ties to important social issues—namely children with parents who are in the military or incarcerated. For the former, Sleeping Bear was showing advance copies of a July picture book, Papa’s Backpack (July) by James Christopher Carroll; for the latter, it has Promise (Aug.), the first middle-grade novel from picture book author Judy Young. Key fall titles for Albert Whitman included Ronald Kidd’s Night on Fire (Sept.), about a 13-year-old girl living in a small Alabama town during the civil rights era; and Día De Los Muertos (Sept.), a bilingual picture book by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by Carles Ballesteros.
For Peachtree, big forthcoming titles include Lilliput by Sam Gayton, illustrated by Alice Ratterree, inspired by Gulliver’s Travels; Cynthia Levinson’s Watch Out for Flying Kids (Aug.), about how two circuses – one in St. Louis and the other in Israel – united their participants across ethnic and cultural divides; and Poet: the Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Sept.) by Don Tate, a biographical tribute to the first African-American writer to be published in the South.
“I’ve been surprised how in-demand our books have been,” said Sandra Katsuri, co-publisher of ChiZine Publiciations. “People have been coming back to get two or three more, and bringing their friends.” Katsuri added she was looking forward to getting home after the show to see just-arrived finished copies of the graphic novel Infinitum by G.M.B. Chomichuk, ChiZine’s 100th book. Among the books Katsuri was promoting were The Good Brother (June), a first novel from author E.L. Chen. “It’s great to see behind the scenes of the publishing industry,” said Chen, who was attending the show for the first time as an author. “I’ve been gawking at all of the authors who are more famous than I am.”
This is an expanded version of an article that ran in PW Show Daily, May 29, 2015.