Scholastic has announced the fall launch of Scholastic Focus, an imprint dedicated to middle grade and young adult narrative nonfiction that is both timely and timeless, and encourages readers to draw connections between historical events and contemporary issues. The imprint’s publishing philosophy underscores the relevance of values that have long guided humanity; the profound effects of invention, inspiration, and revolution; and the importance of introducing a diversity of perspectives and identities.
The line will encompass new hardcover titles by established and debut authors, as well as paperback editions of Scholastic backlist titles. “We plan to publish stories, set in various eras, that will resonate with today’s young readers,” said Lisa Sandell, Scholastic Press’s editorial director, who will head up the new imprint editorially. Three bestselling and critically acclaimed authors will headline Scholastic Focus’s inaugural list.
Due in September is Deborah Hopkinson’s D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History, a middle-grade book that weaves together official documents, personal accounts, and archival photos to chronicle this pivotal invasion of Allied troops into German-occupied Europe.
That same month, Scholastic Focus will release Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice by Lawrence Goldstone, recounting the events of Easter Sunday 1873, when white supremacists set fire to a Louisiana courthouse and massacred more than 100 African-Americans. In this YA title, the author traces the history of the ensuing court case, culminating in a Supreme Court decision in which not a single person was convicted.
Sandell cited Unpunished Murder as a title whose story syncs well with the imprint’s stated mission, noting, “This is about a Supreme Court case that happened during Reconstruction, but the decision basically overturned two Constitutional amendments and caused ongoing racial injustice. So though the events happened in the past, this is very much a story of the present—one that is still impacting our nation.”
Neal Bascomb’s The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century is an October YA title spotlighting a band of WWI Allied pilots who pulled off an ingenious escape from a German POW camp and made their way out of enemy territory, inspiring their countrymen in the war’s darkest hours. The book will be co-published by Arthur A. Levine Books. And rounding out the fall list are two reprints: The Greatest: Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers and Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin.
Scholastic Focus’s spring 2019 list features four hardcovers: Dark Sky Rising: Reconstruction and the Dawn of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates Jr. with Tonya Bolden; The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History: The Story of the Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel; Captured: American Prisoners of War in North Vietnam by Alvin Townley; and The Lady Is a Spy: Virginia Hall, World War II Hero of the French Resistance by Don Mitchell. Due the same season are reprints of Susan Bartoletti’s Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow and Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary by Walter Dean Myers.
Sandell, who anticipates that the imprint will release between six and nine new hardcovers annually, plus paperback reissues, observed that the timing of Scholastic Focus’s debut is propitious, given today’s rapidly and dramatically changing world. “I think there is a great deal of conversation about our world happening today in classrooms and living rooms, and that more and more teachers and parents are looking for books to spark and facilitate dialogue,” she said.
That need, Sandell added, is neatly aligned with the imprint’s mission “to provide middle grade and young adult readers with thoroughly researched, beautifully written, and thoughtfully designed narrative nonfiction that will help them make sense of the world, its history, and their place within it.”