Two children’s publishers have joined forces to create one comprehensive brand that encompasses fiction and nonfiction titles for readers. Algonquin Young Readers, along with the Workman Children’s Publishing Group, now produces titles across all genres, enabling their books to reach a larger, more well-rounded audience. “The partnership allows us to leverage each other’s strengths and also enables us to realize economies of scale,” said AYR publisher Stacy Lellos. “We’re excited to make it even easier for agents to publish with us across their portfolios, and for our talent to have even more opportunities to bring their voices to different ages and categories.”
Helping to mark the publishing partnership is Algonquin’s first-ever picture book, Beatrice Likes the Dark by April Genevieve Tucholke (Sept. 13), a celebration of two sisters and the differences that comprise their relationship. As the company revs up for the year ahead, Lellos discussed the imprint’s direction and what’s on tap for fall and winter rollouts.
Leading the Charge
At the helm of the AYR team are editorial director Cheryl Klein, who joined the company in June; senior editor Krestyna Lypen; editor Sarah Alpert; and art director Laura Williams. Lypen was instrumental in bringing Beatrice to light after Tucholke’s manuscript crossed her desk. “Krestyna loved April’s wonderful writing; Beatrice, who will appeal to the many aspiring witches and baby goths out there; and how the story’s celebration of two sisters’ contrasts and connections could be read both at Halloween and year-round,” Lellos said. This title will be promoted with a package of Beatrice’s Potions, complete with hot chocolate and iced tea mixes for concocting special brews, distributed to select booksellers.
In addition to Beatrice, AYR will build out its picture book and chapter book lists, while continuing to focus on contemporary realism, mystery/thriller, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ releases. “We’d love to find some great new authors to sweep us away in YA romance or fantasy,” Lellos added. “Altogether, our goal is to do books that are honest in their storytelling, beautiful in their execution, and fresh in their visions, from beginning to end.”
On the docket for fall are two YA horror titles—Our Shadows Have Claws, edited by Yamile Saied Méndez and Amparo Ortiz, a Latinx horror anthology, and Dead Flip by Sara Farizan, set in a haunted arcade during the 1980s, along with the fourth installment in Elizabeth Bunce’s Myrtle Hardcastle middle-grade mystery series and Gillian French’s teen thriller Sugaring Off. AYR will promote Shadows during the Latinx Kidlit Festival in October with a digital swag bag for librarians and booksellers. In addition, a curated list of 50 booksellers will receive a Sugaring Off galley and a maple sugar sample from promotional partner Mount Cabot Maple.
Meanwhile, Workman Kids is concentrating on nonfiction with its longstanding and successful Brain Quest, Big Fat Notebooks, Indestructibles, and Paint by Sticker lines. Eighteen new titles are slated for fall and winter launches, including six My First Brain Quest board books in January. Also of note are the more recent ABC’s of Black History by Rio Cortez, illustrated by Lauren Semmer, and the English and Spanish editions of My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border by Warren Binford. “An important part of our mission is to publish books to help children understand the world around them, and the Workman Kids’ list will continue to reflect that,” Lellos said.
Finally, AYR’s fall and winter entries will include 10 new titles—Sunny and Oswaldo by Nicole Melleby (in her picture book debut), illustrated by Alexandra Colombo, and Mermaid and Pirate by Tracey Baptiste, illustrated by Leisl Adams, round out the picture book offerings—along with two paperback releases of previously published hardcovers.
This expanded portfolio should help position the imprint for future growth, they hope, particularly when attracting new authors. “Both Workman Kids and AYR have always been devoted to the voices and visions of its amazing authors, and we plan to keep that a priority as we welcome more, and more diverse, voices,” Lellos said.