By all accounts this year's BEA was an upbeat show, and nowhere was that more evident than among children's publishers. Macmillan's Allison Verost said, "When the doors opened at 9 a.m., people were making a beeline to our booth for galleys. That's exactly the kind of buzz we're trying to create." Jennifer Corcoran at Disney noted, "People are definitely coming in with an agenda—they know what they're looking for. There's been a lot of blogger traffic, and they are enthusiastic for the ARCs."
YA fiction continues to be an extremely strong category, and there were plenty of high-profile projects. Little, Brown's big YA book is The Diviners by Libba Bray, set in the 1920s. A 150,000-copy first printing was planned for September 18, but was upped to 200,000 based on feedback at BEA. Macmillan's big YA for fall is Crewel by Gennifer Albin (FSG, Oct.). She's a debut author who was on food stamps, and wrote her book in 70-minute increments at the public library. Macmillan bought it in a major multibook deal, and, as Verost said, “And now her life is changed.” Another big YA title for the company is Eve & Adam (Feiwel and Friends, Oct.), a “genetic thriller” by the husband-and-wife team of Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate, their first collaboration since the Animorphs series.
In July, Disney will publish the eighth and final Artemis Fowl book by Eoin Colfer, The Last Guardian; Colfer is coming to the U.S. to tour for the book and will be performing a one-man “eight in eight” show, in which he recaps the eight books in the series in eight minutes. And in October Disney will release Rick Riordan's second Heroes of Olympus book, The Mark of Athena.
David Levithan's Every Day (Knopf, Aug.) represents a "new direction" for the author/editor, says Random House's Dominique Cimina; his main character wakes up in a different person's body each day. And James Dashner returns with The Kill Order (Delacorte, Aug.), a prequel to his Maze Runner books.
James Patterson (with Maxine Paetro) kicks off a new detective series with Confessions of a Murder Suspect, about a mysterious and wealthy family. The novel has a September 24 laydown and a 750,000-copy first printing.
Maggie Stiefvater starts a new four-book series for Scholastic this September, The Raven Boys, with a first printing of 150,000 copies. "There was a stack of several hundred galleys at the booth on Tuesday and they disappeared in nine minutes—we timed it," said Tracy van Straaten. Cynthia Compton, owner of Indianapolis’s 4 Kids Books & Toys. said she was so excited for the book that she stood in line to get it, and she “never stands in line.”
Penguin was highlighting a debut novel for Razorbill: Origin by 22-year-old Jessica Khoury, a standalone book about a girl raised in a secret research facility, who has been genetically engineered to be immortal, and what happens when she breaks free. "It's our big debut for fall and we have high hopes for it," said Penguin's Shanta Newlin.
Making his first foray into books for younger readers: British novelist Jasper Fforde, whose Chronicles of Kazam series kicks off in October with The Last Dragonslayer; HMH's Jenny Groves gave word that he'll also have a new installment in his Thursday Next comic fantasy series for adults, from Viking, and will embark on two separate tours in October.
YA author Melissa Marr will have Carnival of Souls, first in a new series: a world of demons and witches with Game of Thrones–style stakes. The author attracted more than 200 people to her Tuesday signing, Sandee Roston of HarperCollins said. The company has a 200,000-copy first printing planned for September. Roston also pointed out the continued enthusiasm for HarperTeen's Dark Days authors: by 10:30 on Wednesday, the line was already beginning for the 1 p.m. autograph signing with Veronica Roth, Bethany Griffin, Elizabeth Norris, and Aprilynne Pike.
Big fall books for Harlequin Teen include Katie McGarry’s debut novel Pushing the Limits, which has been getting “some great praise,” according to director of marketing Amy Jones, including inclusion on the ABA’s Indie Next List of summer children’s title. Also on deck is Speechless by Hannah Harrington (Aug.), which Jones calls “commercial literary fiction for teens,” and follows a girl who takes a vow of silence after her gossiping causes two major problems. Harlequin is partnering with the group Love Is Louder—which fights bullying, self-harm, and depression—to promote the book, and is developing an educator’s guide to accompany the book.
Amazon Children's Publishing had its first BEA under that new banner; the fall launch list consists of roughly 40 books, according to Deborah Bass, a mixture of Marshall Cavendish titles that had already been acquired, and new acquisitions by Amazon. Among the offerings: Angelfall by Susan Ee, a book about a dark angel set in the near future, which was self-published a year ago and picked up on the basis of "tremendous response" and five-star online reviews. Kiss and Make Up by Katie D. Anderson "stands out from all the fantasy and dystopia," Bass said; it's about a girl who discovers that when she kisses a boy, she can read his mind, and can bring up her test scores.
Running Press has two big YA titles for fall: Tap Out by Eric Devine (Sept.), a gritty story of drug and physical abuse, starring a teenage boy who turns to martial arts to survive; and Fangirl by Ken Baker (Oct.) about a talented young songwriter and a Justin Bieber-like teen singing sensation. “We’re looking for more commercial titles, but not too mainstream,” said Frances Soo Ping Chow, creative director of Running Press Kids. “We want something with a hook” and potential for adult crossover.
Orca had news of an intriguing project: The Seven series: seven linked novels by well-known Canadian writers, about an adventurer grandfather who dies and leaves a will outlining seven tasks to be undertaken by his seven grandsons. It was conceived of by writer Eric Walters, who wanted to appeal to boy readers. All seven books will come out this October.
There was lots of sequel news. Bloomsbury had Princess Academy: Palace of Stone, Shannon Hale's follow-up to her 2006 Princess Academy. Another sequel, the end of Becca Fitzpatrick's Hush, Hush trilogy, comes out in October, fittingly called Finale. A sequel at Putnam, Prodigy by Marie Lu (Jan.), was one of the most "hotly anticipated" galleys at the booth, according to Newlin. Another was Reached by Ally Condie (Dutton, Nov. 13), though galleys weren't available because the book is embargoed. Shadows, the sequel to Ilsa J. Bick’s Ashes, is out from Egmont USA in September. Julie Kagawa is building on her bestselling Iron Fey series with The Lost Prince (Harlequin Teen, Oct.), which focuses on the younger brother of protagonist Meghan Chase. And a big title for Houghton Mifflin is Lois Lowry's Son, fourth of her Giver novels, which comes out in October.
Looking at Middle Grade
There were some big numbers for middle-grade novels as well. The biggest, by far: Wimpy Kid #7: The Third Wheel (Abrams/Amulet, Nov. 13 laydown), with a six-and-a-half-million–copy first printing. The ninth Captain Underpants, Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers, has an August 28 laydown date, with a first printing of one million. “Tons of people stopped by the booth Tuesday to get their picture taken with an inflatable Captain Underpants,” said van Straaten. There's also a million-copy first printing for Lemony Snicket's All the Wrong Questions: Who Could That Be at This Hour? with an October 23 laydown.
Infinity Ring: A Mutiny in Time by James Dashner (Scholastic) has a 500,000 first printing and an August 28 laydown. It's first in a seven-book, multiauthor, multiplatform series in the vein of The 39 Clues. Random House’s biggest titles for middle-graders are Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy, her first book since her Newbery-winning When I Reach You (Wendy Lamb Books), and John Stephens’s The Fire Chronicle (Knopf), second in his Books of Beginning series.
The Peculiar (Greenwillow, Sept.), a middle-grade debut from Stefan Bachmann, lands with a 100,000-copy first printing; Bachmann wrote it when he was 16. He’s from Colorado but is studying at a conservatory in Switzerland now, and writing a symphony to accompany the book. Another debut, by Glee star Chris Colfer, The Land of Stories (Little, Brown, July), arrives with a 250,000-copy first printing.
Erin Hunter, best known for her feline-centric Warriors books, has a new middle grade series for HarperCollins, Survivors, with dogs as the main characters. Roston said that fans voted on the cover for the first book, The Empty City, which comes out in September with a 150,000 first printing.
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky has signed Marissa Moss, author of the bestselling Amelia series, for a diary-style time-travel adventure, Mira’s Diary: Lost in Paris, about a girl whose mother has gone missing. They are also bringing back Christina Björk’s Linnea in Monet’s Garden, in time for the book’s 25th anniversary. The book, which has been out of print, was acquired by Steve Geck, who became editorial director for Sourcebooks Jabberwocky last year; he remembers handselling it back in the day as a bookseller. Sourcebooks publicity manager Heather Moore noted that the company’s middle-grade and YA imprints, Jabberwocky and Fire, are among the top three fasted-growing imprints at Sourcebooks.
“The show represents the launch of our trade initiative,” said Capstone trade sales manager Paul Von Drasek. The publisher is in the process of increasing its presence in trade channels. To that end, Capstone has launched a new consumer Web site, capstoneyoungreaders.com, and was showing off two new middle-grade properties at the show: Hocus Pocus Hotel and Troll Hunters, both by Michael Dahl; new Katie Woo books from Fran Manushkin; and a pair of middle-grade graphic novels, The Incredible Rockhead: Rock, Paper, Scissorlegz by Scott Nickel and Zinc Alloy: The Invincible Boy-bot by Donald Lemke.
Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan has written a prequel to the Boxcar Children series for Albert Whitman, The Boxcar Children Beginning, which pubs on September 1, and tells the story of when the four siblings lived with their parents on Fair Meadow Farm, before the series began. Gary D. Schmidt, whose Okay for Now made a splash last year, makes his first foray into the SF genre with What Came from the Stars (Clarion, Sept.). And the big news for American Girl is the introduction of a new character in September: all they are saying for now is that her name is Caroline Abbott.
On the Picture Book Front
A larger-than-life Olivia was walking the floor, heralding the return of Ian Falconer's Olivia: Olivia and the Fairy Princesses pubs in August for Atheneum. "Everyone has been clamoring for it," said S&S's Nicole Russo; the first printing is 500,000, and the on-sale date is August 28. Another picture book of note on the stand: Mousetronaut by astronaut Mark Kelly, illustrated by C.F. Payne (S&S/Wiseman, Oct.).
Roaring Brook was showing Bear Has a Story to Tell by Erin and Philip Stead, their first collaboration since the Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, as well as Lane Smith's new book, Abe Lincoln's Dream, about a haunted room in the White House.
Random House's major picture books include Kadir Nelson's I Have a Dream (Schwartz & Wade), which he previewed at the BEA breakfast; it'll be released in October ahead of the 50th anniversary of the speech. Sarah Bagby, owner of the Watermark in Wichita, Kans., called the book "amazing," and added, "It's going to be one we can sell to every age, every season."
Sourcebooks was looking ahead to a September bedtime story, How Does Sleep Come by Jeanne Blackmore, illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles. "B&N is getting behind it in a big way," said Heather Moore.
The 10th picture-book collaboration between Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Connell, My Brave Year of Firsts, arrives from HarperCollins in September with a 400,000 first printing. Booksellers were pleased to see a new Skippyjon Jones adventure (Cirque de Olé; Dial, Oct.) and a new Llama Llama picture book (Llama Llama, Time to Share; Viking, Sept.) Mo Willems has an interactive activity book, Don't Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book (Hyperion), which introduces a new character—Mad Cow. For Candlewick, the most buzzed-about book is Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat (Oct.), the follow-up to I Want My Hat Back.
Kane/Miller, which was purchased by EDC in 2008, is shifting toward more commercial offerings, balancing out (and subsidizing) the picture books they are known for bringing over from other countries with activity books and other unusual formats. “The mix has changed,” said EDC v-p Jeanie Crone. The new Peek Inside series, launching in June with Coral Reef and Knight’s Castle, open into three-dimensional, carousel-style scenes for kids to explore. Another title, Build Your Own Whale, comes with pieces to a whale skeleton children can assemble.
At Chronicle, Lara Starr cited two picture books as candidates for "the read-aloud of the season": Good News Bad News (July) by Jeff Mack, featuring a rabbit and a mouse with very different dispositions; and It's a Tiger! (Aug.) by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Jeremy Tankard. She also has high hopes for Ganesha's Sweet Tooth (Sept.) by Sanjay Patel and Emily Haynes. This is the first children's book by Patel, whose brightly colored illustrations of Hindu gods have an enthusiastic adult following; Starr said that when he had an exhibition in San Francisco, seemingly every bus shelter was plastered with his art.
Trinity University Press, distributed by PGW, has seen success out of the gate with 1, 2, 3 Sí!, the first in a series of bilingual board books; they've shipped 70,000 copies since May. Two more follow this fall, in the new Arte Kids line; the books feature art from the San Antonio Museum of Art.
"It's an energizing time for everyone here, to see all the books we've all worked on get into the hands of readers, booksellers, and librarians," said Dominique Cimina, director of publicity at Random House. “I’ve had visits from a French publisher, a Vietnamese wholesaler, the Miami Book Fair, Costco—it seems like a more diverse group of people attending,” said Rob Schaeffer, director of sales and marketing at Blue Apple Books. Megan Goel, children's book buyer at BookPeople in Austin, Tex., also enjoyed the widening diversity of attendees at the show: booksellers, librarians, agents, bloggers. "And they all love talking about books."
With reporting by John A. Sellers, Carolyn Juris, Matia Burnett, and Joy Bean.