After spending her entire career at Chronicle Books, children’s book editor Taylor Norman will depart the San Francisco-based publishing house and join Holiday House as executive editor of Neal Porter Books on July 18. The appointment marks the first editor other than Porter acquiring for the imprint, with Norman working remotely on the West Coast and Porter located in New York.
Having brought his imprint at Holiday House five years ago, Porter felt the time was right to expand his editorial team. “Neal Porter Books has been very successful and when something is successful, you want it to grow and develop over time,” he told PW. “With Taylor, I could ensure that the imprint would continue to flourish and evolve for years.”
Porter was confident that Norman would be the right person for the job after having frequent conversations with her over the last few months. “It’s an intuitive thing; you know when you click with someone,” he explained about their immediate connection. “As a picture book editor, I have always loved art and words. Taylor also gives equal emphasis to these things,” he said. Porter was also intrigued by the fact that Norman can offer a younger point of view, helping to establish a more balanced editorial perspective.
A Shared Vision
For Norman, the opportunity to join Neal Porter Books is the fulfillment of her career thus far. “I have been an admirer of Neal’s books for so long,” she said. “I have found myself wishing I could work on the books he has worked on. We share a lot of the same energy and taste in the types of books.”
The self-proclaimed lifelong reader prides herself on keeping the end reader in mind when choosing new titles. “The stories I select would have to be well-told and well-designed from a perspective we haven’t seen before,” Norman said. To better inform her acquisitions, she has spent the last five years volunteering as a tutor for 826 National, which provides writing services for under-resourced communities. Her greatest takeaway from that experience has been understanding that kids represent a unique and variable perspective, one that she strives to keep in mind when considering new books. “My goal is to publish stories that are welcoming and friendly to as many types of kids as possible, in hopes of making it easy for any child to consider herself a reader—no matter how often, when or why she chooses to pick up a book,” she said.
Norman’s work as both an editor and a tutor help to establish her as a viable partner for Neal Porter Books. “I bring to the table two versions of myself,” she explained. “The bookish girl who loved nature, rocks and trees—that is the one most aligned with the type of books Neal handles—and a little brother version of myself: a seven-year-old boy who loves clever word play and funny books.” As a child, she recalls Byrd Baylor’s Everybody Needs a Rock and A Tree Is Nice by Janice May Udry as two of her most favorite picture books. Norman relishes these titles for their ability to promote a sense of wonder and question why things happen the way they do—a quality she is hoping to impart in the new works she brings to the imprint.
As Norman gears up for her first day on the job, she is excited by the prospect of learning from a seasoned editorial veteran. “I look at Neal and see someone who needs no help,” she said with a laugh. “I plan to spend time together to figure out where he sees room for growth, where I can complement and where I can fill in.” While the two will mostly be working remotely, Norman believes the last two years of Zooming have prepared her well for operating in a largely virtual publishing community. “I can’t say enough about how honored I am to be joining Neal,” she said. “I’m ready for the challenge and feel really energized about what’s next. It’s just the beginning.”