Founded in 1919, Albert Whitman publishes a range of children’s books, including board books, picture books, and middle-grade fiction, notably Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children Mysteries and The Boxcar Children Graphic Novels. With last month’s launch of Albert Whitman Teen, the Chicagoland publisher has expanded its offerings to include young-adult books. The inaugural releases are Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera, a novel set six months after 9/11 that centers on a teen who finds himself incarcerated as an “enemy combatant”; and Michael Ford’s The Poisoned House, a ghost story that takes place in Victorian London. Guantanamo Boy was selected for the ABA’s summer 2011 Kids’ Indie Next List.

“I have always wanted to publish books for teens at Albert Whitman,” says senior editor Wendy McClure of the genesis of the new imprint. “This seemed like a great opportunity to do what we already do well, which is publish books about issues that matter to kids. Albert Whitman Teen is a different take on our same mission. The difference is that with our books for younger readers, we try to provide them with answers, and we want our books for young adults to ask questions. We’re bringing out a select list of smart, fearless books that explore uncharted territory in the world around teens and in their inner lives as well.”

McClure anticipates that Albert Whitman Teen will publish four titles annually and may eventually include nonfiction as well as fiction. “We’re open to that possibility,” she says. “If there’s a great memoir that feels like a Whitman book, we’ll pursue that.” Both of the imprint’s debut titles are imports from England, as is a book due in spring 2012: Anna Perera’s second novel, The Glass Collector, which introduces a teen living in modern-day Cairo. The other spring 2012 title, Deborah Blumenthal’s The Lifeguard, about a teenage lifeguard with shamanic skills, will be the line’s first domestic release.

Commenting on the timing of the launch of the teen line, Josalyn Moran, v-p of publishing, explains that “the demographic trend made it a smart move for us. We look at that burgeoning group of kids and we’re delighted to be able to serve them. We want to follow our readers through their logical growth cycles. Two years ago we started publishing board books for the very young, and now we have the entire spectrum, as we begin to publish teen books that fit our brand and help readers to feel empowered. We feel that is what every Albert Whitman book should do.”

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera. Albert Whitman Teen, $17.99 July ISBN 978-0-8075-3077-1

The Poisoned House by Michael Ford. Albert Whitman Teen, $16.99 Sept. ISBN 978-0-8075-6589-6