Enslow Publishing is introducing a hi-lo fiction imprint for middle grade and young adult readers, West 44 Books, with its first four titles hitting shelves next month. The new line is aimed at readers from a variety of backgrounds and features what its editors are calling “authentic new and diverse voices” and “gripping narratives for struggling readers.”

According to Roger Rosen, president of Enslow’s parent company Rosen Publishing, the Enslow editorial team had received many requests over time from teachers and librarians seeking out hi-lo fiction that was more diverse and more representative of the experiences tweens and teens are having in today’s “fast-changing and often difficult world.” He added that this “great need, when combined with the Enslow team’s access—through writing workshops and different university programs and various connections with a network of young and talented YA writers—made moving forward a must.”

When asked about the significance of the imprint name, Rosen explained that it is inspired by two addresses that hold meaning for the company. “West 44 refers to the location of our satellite office near Buffalo, N.Y., which is the birthplace of the imprint,” he said. “It’s also a reference to the rich literary history of the Algonquin Hotel on W. 44th Street [in Manhattan, where Enslow also has offices]. Our two locations—Buffalo and New York City—are represented in this imprint name.”

The book series for middle graders span such subjects as typical middle school challenges, sports, and paranormal phenomena. Among the inaugural titles are When Zombies Invade, first in the Z Team series in which characters race to save their hometown from zombies; and Welcome to 4B, kicking off the Bad Kids in 4B, which explores the backstories of the kids who have acted out and earned a spot in the classroom considered the worst-behaved in the school.

The YA series consist of novels in verse and address such issues as gender identity, mental illness, or drug abuse. Initial offerings include The Same Blood by M. Azmitia, featuring two very different twin sisters, one who embraces their Puerto Rican culture and one who is embarrassed of it. When one sister takes her own life, the surviving sibling deals with guilt and emotional stresses of her own.

Plans are to publish 24 titles per year, beginning with four books each released in August, October, and December of this year.