Independent publisher Levine Querido has entered the paperback arena with the introduction this summer of Lantern Paperbacks. The inaugural list features seven middle-grade and YA titles originally released in hardcover by LQ, founded in April 2019 by president and editor-in-chief Arthur A. Levine.

Headlining Lantern’s debut list is a reprint of Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera, who won the 2022 Newbery Medal and the Pura Belpré Award for The Last Cuentista. Released in paperback this past June, her latest middle-grade novel, which picked up a Pura Belpré Honor Award, centers on a half-Chinese, half-Mexican girl who is determined to be the first female pitcher in the MLB.

Discussing the genesis of the new line, Levine explained, “Two of the most influential forerunners of Lantern Paperbacks in my imagination are Salamander Books and Vintage paperbacks. Salamander was the instantly recognizable, beautifully produced paperback line launched by Emanuel Querido in 1934 in the Netherlands. Vintage, founded 20 years later, also used striking design elements to signal the originality and importance of the works. I hope Lantern Paperbacks will live up to those high ideals.”

Like LQ’s hardcover titles, Lantern Paperbacks are distributed by Chronicle Books. The new imprint will release 10 titles annually, initially focusing on middle grade and young adult, but, Levine said, “I’m not at all ruling out including picture books on future paperback lists.”

The publisher emphasized the high production values that Lantern Paperbacks exemplify, in keeping with LQ’s standards. “We have lavished the same kind of design and production attention on the Lanterns—French flaps, laser-cut logo, great paper—as we have on our hardcovers,” Levine said. “I’m glad that this paperback format and its lower price will welcome an expanded audience for our authors.”

In addition to Lupa Wong Won’t Dance, the launch list features two other middle-grade titles: The Boys in the Back Row by Mike Jung, in which two boys who are sharing one last adventure before one moves away celebrate their friendship; and The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas, a Batchelder Honor book by María García Esperón, illustrated by Amanda Mijangos, translated from the Spanish by David Bowles, a collection of stories from nations and cultures across two continents, from the Andes to Alaska.

And rounding out the debut list are four titles due September 6: Popcorn Bob and Popcorn Bob 2: The Popcorn Spy by Maranke Rinck, illustrated by Martijn van der Linden, and translated from the Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier, two chapter books in which a girl befriends a grumpy popcorn kernel that refuses to pop—and sprouts a face, arms, and legs; The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn Moriarty, a middle-grade fantasy adventure about a new student who investigates the escalating secrets and dangers at her new boarding school; and Apple (Skin to Core), winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award and a Printz Honor, in which Eric Gansworth relays the story of his family.

The imprint’s logo and cover design were created by Filip Peraić, a Paris-based illustrator and designer. “Lantern Paperbacks needed a visual identity that symbolizes their beautiful mission of ‘spreading light into the world,’ ” Peraić said. “This logo was brought to life through a colorful line look, led by our special ‘L’ mark, formed by nine rays of light.”

“That Craftsman-style lantern was my logo for 23 years,” Levine told PW of his previous imprint at Scholastic, “and I consider it an important part of LQ’s mission to spread light and to make visible cultures and identities too long kept from being seen.”