In her latest professional venture, Anne Schwartz has cast her editorial net wide while crafting her eponymous imprint at Random House Children’s Books. The list will include books by established authors and illustrators she has published in the past, others with whom she has never worked, and first-time book creators.
Schwartz, who co-helmed Random House’s former Schwartz & Wade Books with Lee Wade from 2005 until last year, will continue to focus on picture books as v-p and publisher of Anne Schwartz Books, which will also release select middle-grade and YA fiction as well as nonfiction titles. (Wade is now spearheading Random House Studio, which is spotlighted here.)
“I don’t see this as a huge change in direction,” Schwartz said of her new imprint, “but rather as a fine tuning and a chance to give myself all the tools I need to help authors and illustrators do their best work.”
The publisher, who is supported by editorial assistant Anne-Marie Varga, expects her imprint to release between eight and 12 titles annually. “My goal is to keep the list small,” she explained. “I am really hands-on and pay a lot of attention to every step of the bookmaking process. I am excited to have the independence to publish what I love, and to have the time and space to work closely with authors and illustrators, rather than be overburdened with the paperwork and managerial responsibilities that go along with a larger imprint. Anne Schwartz Books gives me more opportunity than ever to do this.”
The imprint’s inaugural title is The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken, a picture book due in May by debut author Jennifer Frank. Illustrated by David Ezra Stein, who won a Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken, this story shows how a young worm comes to appreciate her very unusual family members for who they are.
Schwartz connected with Stein at BookExpo several years ago when, she recalled, “He and I had a great conversation. I had never worked with David before and I told him how much I admire his books. Since I’d never known him to illustrate a picture book that he hadn’t also written, I was very happy when he decided he wanted to illustrate The Worm Family Has Its Picture Taken—and he did a spectacular job.”
A second May release, Uma Wimple Charts Her House by Reif Larsen, illustrated by Ben Gibson, centers on a girl who loves making charts, but is stumped when a school assignment requires her to make a chart of her own house—until her brother helps her understand the true meaning of home. Although this marks the children’s book debut for both Larsen and Gibson, neither is a stranger to publishing. Larsen is the author of two novels for adults, I Am Radar and The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, a bestseller that was adapted in the 2013 film, The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet; and Gibson is a former art director at Riverhead Books.
In June, Schwartz adds nonfiction to her new list with a picture-book biography, Shirley Chisholm Dared: The Story of the First Black Woman in Congress. The book’s collaborators are author Alicia D. Williams, whose debut work, the middle-grade novel Genesis Begins Again, was a Newbery Honor book; and artist April Harrison, who won a Coretta Scott King-John Steptoe New Talent Award for her illustrations in Patricia C. McKissack’s final picture book, What Is Given from the Heart.
Two chapter books cap off the imprint’s summer offerings. A boy adjusts to first grade in Harry Versus the First 100 Days of School, penned by Emily Jenkins (Toys Go Out and its sequels) and illustrated by Pete Oswald (The Good Egg and The Bad Seed). This June title has received three starred reviews to date, including one from PW. And pubbing in July is The Kids of Cattywampus Street by Lisa Jahn-Clough, which follows the adventures of friends who live on the same street and features black-and-white illustrations by Natalie Andrewson.
On the Horizon
In the fall, Anne Schwartz Books will release Dream Street by Tricia Elam Walker and Caldecott Honor illustrator Ekua Holmes (for Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement), in which these cousin collaborators pay homage to the Boston street they grew up on; Hope at Sea: An Adventure Story by Daniel Miyares, about a girl who stows away on her father’s 19th-century merchant ship; and Tiny Cedric by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Rowboat Watkins, the tale of a diminutive king who learns an important lesson from babies—the only remaining palace residents after he banishes everyone who is bigger than he.
And the imprint will add its first YA title in spring 2022, when it issues Candace Fleming’s Murder Among Friends: How Leopold and Loeb Tried to Commit the Perfect Crime. This book relays the true story of how, in 1924, two teenagers planned and committed what became known as “the Crime of the Century,” and how renowned criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrow enabled them to avoid the death penalty.
It’s obvious that Schwartz has enjoyed the process of starting up her eponymous imprint. “These books were all a blast to work on, and it was a privilege to collaborate with such a phenomenal group of authors and illustrators, as well as with the talented designers in Random House’s art department,” she said. “I am madly in love with every one of these titles and am so glad they’re getting the bit of extra attention that comes with a launch list.”