Children's booksellers traveling to BEA should bring along an extra bag or three, as publishers will be giving away a wide assortment of advance copies of their lead fall titles. Here is a preview of some of the galleys that will be available at the children's booths, as well as comments from retailers who shared their reactions to—and expectations for—these releases.
Jennifer Anglin, owner of Enchanted Forest in Dallas, will use the galleys she picks up from publishers to shape her summer reading list. "Since summer is not as frantic as the rest of the year, I get a jump on my reading so I know what I will be handselling during the busy back-to-school and holiday seasons," she explained. She will make a point of carrying home advance copies of several titles due from HarperCollins (1505/ 1605), among them Patricia MacLachlan's Caleb's Story, the third in the saga that began with Sarah, Plain and Tall. "I am really looking forward to this book, since I love the way the author uses short, spare sentences to connote so much," said Anglin. "I always recommend her books to those who are teaching writing."
HarperCollins will also offer copies of Sharon Creech's Love That Dog, a middle-grade novel about a boy who learns, much to his surprise, that he can write—and does like—poetry. Sidney Jackson, children's buyer at Tattered Cover in Denver, calls this "a very interesting book that I will certainly want to make teachers aware of." Other HC reading copies include the newest Francesca Lia Block, called Echo; Emily Rodda's Rowan and the Travelers, a sequel to Rowan of Rin; and Angel on the Square by National Book Award winner Gloria Whelan.
At booth 1537, Little, Brown staffers will make many booksellers happy with copies of Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas, the latest caper featuring those beloved piglets. "I will want to read this right away," asserted Lorna Ruby, children's buyer at Tatnuck Bookseller in Worcester, Mass., a self-described "big, big fan of Toot & Puddle." She anticipates this will be a big seller, and feels the same about Maria Shriver's picture book What's Wrong with Timmy?, introducing a boy who looks and behaves differently than most children. "A celebrity author means a lot in terms of sales," Ruby noted, "but I always like to read books by celebrities early on so that I can give customers my honest opinion." Also available from Little, Brown are galleys of The Vampire's Assistant, Darren Shan's sequel to Cirque Du Freak; and copies of You Read to Me, I'll Read to You by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Michael Emberley.
Visitors to the Scholasticbooth (304/404) will find advance copies of Karen Hesse's Witness, the story of the infiltration of the Ku Klux Klan into a small Vermont town in 1924. "Her books always make an impact," commented Ruby. Jackson remarked, "Every one of us at the store will want to read this one right away. You can always count on this author to do a great job."
Booksellers also spoke optimistically about Ann M. Martin's latest work of fiction, Belle Teal, about a girl who grapples with poverty, prejudice and illness in her family, also being given out by Scholastic. "I believe this has strong potential," said Ruby, who acknowledges that Martin has written enough successful books since the years when her name was synonymous with the Babysitters Club that "today's young readers definitely know her name."
In other Scholastic giveaways, retailers sing the praises of David Small, who has provided the art for a new edition of the long out-of-print The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban. They'll be able to pick up advance copies of this title, as well as of The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland, about a boy whose life is mysteriously linked to King Arthur.
At the Harcourtbooth (2104/2204), booksellers will find copies of Han Nolan's Born Blue, a novel centering on a homeless teen who is the daughter of a heroin addict. "I really look forward to this, since Dancing on the Edge was such a good book," said Jackson, referring to the author's National Book Award winner. Also available are copies of Avi's The Secret School, the tale of a Colorado girl in 1925.
Random House (2233) will be giving out The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, the story of four teenage friends who take turns wearing a pair of pants one summer. Jennifer Anglin predicted this will be a novel she'll handsell: "I can see young adults identifying with this. It sounds pretty cool." Lorna Ruby agreed: "I'll certainly give this a try. It sounds kind of funny and funky."
At booth 427, Candlewick staffers will be talking up—and handing out galleys of—a British import they are very keen on. Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Celia Rees's tells of a 17th-century girl with special powers. At the Holtbooth (11Witch Child14/ 1214), retailers can pick up Daniel's Walk by Michael Spooner, introducing a boy who leaves his Missouri home to search for his father along the Oregon Trail. Farrar, Straus & Giroux (2114/2214) will offer blads of We Were There, Too! Young People in U.S. History by Phillip Hoose, a chronicle of influential youngsters over the centuries. On hand at the Hyperionbooth (1641) are galleys of William Nicholson's Slaves of the Mastery, the second book in the Wind on Fire trilogy; and The Scream Museum, which launches the PC Hawke Mysteries by Paul Zindel. Simon & Schuster (2324/ 2424) is passing out copies of Avi's The Good Dog, a novel starring a Colorado malamute; Shayla's Double Brown Baby Blues, Lori Aurelia Williams's sequel to When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune; and Just Ask Iris by Lucy Frank, the tale of a resourceful city girl who launches a summer business. And at the North-South Books booth (1739), fans of Robin Jarvis's The Dark Portal can pick up copies of The Crystal Prison, the second book in the Deptford Mice trilogy.
All of which reinforces Sidney Jackson's reflection that this crop of giveaways "seems to be especially varied. There is something for everyone." Don't forget that extra tote.