With schools, libraries, and bookstores closed indefinitely and public gatherings under severe restrictions, children’s authors have had to cancel their travel plans and appearances during the Covid-19 outbreak. Many publishers are finding creative new ways to get the word out about new releases and connect authors with their readers through digital platforms while maintaining social distancing measures. PW is continuing to track some of the new and forthcoming books that have taken a hit, and will be featuring these roundups regularly.
Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring
Matthew Burgess, illus. by Josh Cochran. Enchanted Lion, $18.95 May 19 ISBN 978-1-59270-267-1
The late artist and icon of the LBGTQ community Keith Haring once said, “I would love to be a teacher because I love children.” Author Burgess (Enormous Smallness: A Life of E.E. Cummings) and illustrator Cochran pay tribute to Haring’s life, work, and appreciation for children in this forthcoming picture book biography, which explores how his pop art transformed the New York City underground art scene in the 1980s. The book was slated to debut at the Tucson Festival of Books, and additional appearances in NYC were set for April and May, including LGBTQ events and a dance party launch. Burgess said, “We were all but packed and ready to head to Tucson for our book tour when it was canceled. It’s a shame to miss so many opportunities to share our book with kids, librarians, and the young people in detention centers we had planned to visit. But the life of a book can be long—as can its making, which was about eight years for me—and I remain hopeful that these gatherings will happen down the line. For me, the story of Keith Haring is even more resonant in this moment. He persisted in his creativity in the midst of the upheavals and tragedies of the AIDS crisis, and he faced his own life-threatening illness with extraordinary courage. Keith is a bright light in dark times.” Cochran added, “Because the journey of making Drawing on Walls was so personal and took four years to complete, I am more determined now to get the word out about our incredible book.”
The Three Little Yogis and the Wolf Who Lost His Breath
Susan Verde. Abrams, $16.99 May 5 ISBN 978-1-4197-4103-6
With schools closed nationwide, Susan Verde, author of the fractured fairy tale picture book The Three Little Yogis and the Wolf Who Lost His Breath, has had all of her upcoming school visits canceled or postponed. But that’s not stopping her from getting the word out. Verde, author of the I Am picture books illustrated by Peter Reynolds, has been reading from her books live on Instagram. She is also starting a channel for kid-friendly meditations and mantras every Tuesday and Thursday for all ages; her new book, according to her publisher, is a “calming spin on a classic fairy tale.” In the story, a wolf comes upon a peaceful little yogi doing sun salutations. The wolf wants to huff and puff and blooow her hut down, but the yogi suggests, “Let’s meditate on that!”
We Are Water Protectors
Carole Lindstrom, illus. by Michaela Goade. Roaring Brook, $17.99 ISBN 978-1-250-20355-7
Garnering a starred review from PW and inclusion in the magazine’s list of Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Spring, We Are Water Protectors is inspired by the many Indigenous-led efforts to safeguard the Earth’s resources. Against the backdrop of the encampment at Standing Rock in 2016, author Carole Lindstrom and illustrator Michaela Goade depict the story of a girl rallying her people to fight a pipeline project. Macmillan was forced to cancel a robust roster of events for the picture book, including a trip to the Standing Rock Reservation on April 1 that was planned in partnership with teachers and librarians on the reservation. The publisher is also adjusting promotions around the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, to make it possible for young readers, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and more to pledge to be a water protector from wherever they are. During a recent Q & A with PW, Lindstrom, who is of Anishinaabe/Métis descent and is tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, said, “The story is a call to do something, whatever it is. You can do something.” Goade, who is of Tlingit descent, tribally enrolled with the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, said, “To have [the book] be received well by different communities, Native and non-Native—that really means a lot. Standing Rock is not an isolated event. We’re fighting the money and power. I hope it makes people proud.”
Brown Girl Ghosted
Mintie Das. HMH/Versify, $17.99 Mar. 24 ISBN 978-0-358-12889-2
Finland resident Mintie Das had planned to relocate to the U.S. for two months, for the launch of her debut novel Brown Girl Ghosted. There was a launch event in Chicago with 57th Street Books and a celebratory party with local media and librarians, as well as school visits and in-store events across the Midwest (including her hometown of Macomb, Ill., which loosely inspired the book’s setting) and the West Coast. A trip to Vancouver was also planned, for a weekend filled with events. In addition, Das was scheduled to attend three YA festivals—NoVaTeen Book Festival, Houston TeenBookCon, and YALLWEST—and was eager to connect with readers and meet fellow YA authors. Unfortunately, as the new coronavirus caused more festivals and events to be canceled, she made the difficult decision to cut her time in the U.S. short and head home, less than two weeks after she arrived.
Eileen Moskowitz-Palma. Running Press, $16.99 Apr. 14 ISBN 978-0-7624-6745-7
Eileen Moskowitz-Palma’s debut middle grade novel Camp Clique kicks off a two-book series, The Popularity Pact. The story centers on two ex-best friends—the newly popular Mae and wallflower Bea—who find themselves at the same summer camp, and strike up a bargain to help each other fit in. In response to her events being canceled, Moskowitz-Palma, a former elementary school teacher and current writing instructor at Sarah Lawrence College, is offering virtual creative writing camps for kids. Each course features four sessions, with options available for students in grades three to five, six to eight, and nine to 12. The camp is so popular that she has had to extend it to include more days and times. For free registration, parents and guardians are invited to pre-order a copy of Camp Clique and email proof of purchase to Moskowitz-Palma.
TJ Klune. Tor Teen, $178.99 July 14 ISBN 978-1-250-20365-6
Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades was the elevator pitch for TJ Klune’s The Extraordinaries (Tor Teen), originally slated to pub on May 5 but now pushed back to July 14. Klune is the Lambda Literary Award-winning author of several other books for adults, and this is his YA debut. It’s a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves: Nick is the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom, and after a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, his best friend (and maybe the love of his life). The book was one of the imprint’s lead summer titles; Tor is revising its marketing and publicity plans, which included a pre-order campaign and national tour. Klune’s tour for his adult novel, The House in the Cerulean Sea, which pubbed on March 17, was also canceled, though some bookstores opted for virtual events.
Len Vlahos. Bloomsbury, $17.99 July 7 ISBN 978-1-68119-037-2
Vlahos’s first new book in three years is a science fiction YA adventure featuring an A.I. who initially believes he’s a teenage boy. As the truth unravels, he questions what it means to truly live. Along with his wife and partner Kristen Gilligan, Vlahos is the co-owner of Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver, which has currently closed its operations. He is down to his skeleton staff and working 16-hour days, while also launching a pre-order campaign for Hard Wired. The book was originally scheduled for April 28 but has been pushed back to July 7 amid concerns about the virus. For readers who order the book through a participating indie bookstore between now and July 7, $1 will be donated on their behalf to ACLU Colorado. Vlahos states on his website, “The ACLU plays a big role in the book, and I’m a big believer in civil liberties—especially freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”
Kate the Chemist: Dragons vs. Unicorns
Kate Biberdorf. Philomel, $12.99 Mar. 31 ISBN 978-1-68119-037-2
Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments
Kate Biberdorf. Philomel, $17.99 Mar. 31 ISBN 978-0-593-11655-5
Dr. Kate Biberdorf, a science professor at University of Texas at Austin, is also known as Kate the Chemist by her many fans. Her Kate the Chemist middle grade series, starring 10-year-old Kate, the neighborhood science problem solver who uses critical thinking skills to find solutions to predicaments, was launched this week with two books: Kate the Chemist: Dragons vs. Unicorns and Kate the Chemist: The Big Book of Experiments. But an extensive tour that had her criss-crossing the country doing experiments with students in schools and guests at public events had to be canceled. The tour included visits to New York City; Princeton, N.J.; Houston; Seattle; Irvine, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Nashville; and her hometown of Austin. Instead, she’ll be recording a science video series twice a week with experiments kids can do at home; the videos will include information about how the experiments work and what chemical reactions are taking place.
The Light in Hidden Places
Sharon Cameron. Scholastic Press, $18.99 Mar. 3 ISBN 978-1-338-35593-2
Cameron’s historical YA novel, which PW called a “story of extraordinary survival,” is based on the childhood experiences of Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska, who, along with her younger sister Helena, was, in 1979, honored by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center for their heroism in saving Polish Jews during World War II. Author Sharon Cameron was able to complete the first leg of her tour for The Light in Hidden Places, but a number of festivals and conferences she was supposed to attend have been canceled, including the SE-YA Book Festival in Nashville, Tucson Festival of Books, SOKY Book Festival in Kentucky, TLA in Houston, and MPIBA’s spring regional trade show. Cameron was also scheduled to appear in conversation with author Monica Hesse at Parnassus Books in Nashville and to appear on a second leg of touring with fellow author and friend Ruta Sepetys. The author has been keeping an active presence online and on social media with blog posts, interviews and podcasts, and more.
Birdie and Me
J.M.M. Nuanez. Penguin/Dawson, $16.99 Feb. 18 ISBN 978-0-399-18677-6
The Blackbird Girls
Anne Blankman. Viking, $17.99 Mar. 10 ISBN 978-1-9848-3735-6
Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
Jessica Kim. Kokila, $16.99 Mar. 17 ISBN 978-0-525-55497-4
Bookseller dinners can be one of the most fun ways for authors to spread word about their new books. Good food, good conversation, lots of laughter: it’s a time-tested way for key bookstores to build long-lasting relationships with authors and artists. Earlier this month, three debut middle grade authors—Anne Blankman (The Blackbird Girls, Viking), Jessica Kim (Stand Up, Yumi Chung!, Kokila), and J.M.M. Nuanez (Birdie and Me, Penguin/Dawson)—were scheduled for a bookseller dinner tour the week of March 16, traveling to five cities (Boston, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, Chicago, and Seattle) to introduce themselves and their novels to attendees. Additionally, each author was scheduled for three to four school visits throughout the week. Unfortunately, the entire plan had to be scrapped.
For last week’s list of children’s books affected by the coronavirus, click here. And stay tuned for our next roundup.