BEA’s perennially popular Middle-Grade Editors’ Buzz Panel, this year moderated by Sara Hines, co-owner of Eight Cousins Bookstore, in Falmouth, Mass., takes place today, in Room 1E12/1E13, 11–11:50 a.m. Here’s a preview of what attendees can expect to hear about panelists’ high expectations for the novels they’re spotlighting, as well as their observations on the value of this forum.
David Levithan, Scholastic v-p, publisher, and editorial director, on Alex Gino’s George: “When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl. When her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web, George really wants to play Charlotte, but she’s not even allowed to try out for the part—because she’s a boy. With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan—not just so she can be Charlotte, but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all. This is an amazing book. And it’s also an important book. Alex brilliantly breaks new ground, and does it with a sweet touch that’s unafraid to show its happiness.
“When editors have a book they love, the natural inclination is to shout about it from every rooftop imaginable. And BEA is a damn effective rooftop.”
Martha Mihalick, senior editor, Greenwillow, on The Doldrums, by Nicholas Gannon: “Archer B. Helmsley yearns for an adventure, so together with his two best friends, he schemes to rescue his grandparents, famous explorers who went missing on an iceberg. Gannon has a limitless imagination and a sly sense of humor, and the immense talent necessary to bring them onto the page both in art and writing. The artwork is at once precise in detail and wide in scope, showing the reader not just individual moments but the whole world his characters inhabit.
“Introducing a distinctive new talent and a special book to a room full of passionate readers—what could be better? To give booksellers insights behind a story and an author that they can share with their customers is such a meaningful opportunity.”
Nancy Paulsen, president and publisher, Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Books, on Lisa Lewis Tyre’s Last in a Long Line of Rebels: “When Lou uncovers the Civil War–era diary of her great-great-great-grandmother, she learns some mind-boggling things about her family’s past. This debut novel explores, in an accessible way, how where we come from can affect where we are going. Lisa introduces some of the most memorable, self-possessed characters I’ve met. Her voice jumps off the page, bringing delicious, laugh-out-loud life to a small Tennessee town. Her book is full of the wonder of growing up and realizing the world and your family might be crazy and full of contradictions, but if you listen and try to communicate, you just might be able to hear each other and understand.
“I believe that the value of this buzz panel is the chance to highlight a fresh and funny middle-grade voice, and to bring attention to some of the fine literary writing in this genre.”
Elise Howard, publisher and editor, Algonquin Young Readers, on The Entirely True Story of the Unbelievable FIB, by Adam Shaughnessy: “This launches a new series in which Prudence Potts and her new friend ABE receive an invitation to join the Fantasy Investigation Bureau and soon discover there’s a whole world beneath the surface of their town—a world where Viking gods are on the brink of a war that they must somehow stop. This novel from a debut author is remarkable in numerous ways: it combines engaging protagonists, a great but not obvious villain, an intriguing mystery adventure, wordplay and puzzles, a sure command of Norse mythology, and terrific writing.
“Having a buzz panel title selected sparks buyer interest, industry word of mouth, and foreign and subsidiary rights inquiries. I even see in-house interest spike.”
Andrea Spooner, v-p, editorial director, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, on Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish: “In this profoundly moving debut novel, a girl becomes obsessed with the notion that her friend’s tragic drowning was caused by a rare, fatal jellyfish sting—and she decides she’ll do anything, including travel across the globe, to prove it. Readers have been likening the experience of reading this book to their own childhood Bridge to Terabithia moment— when you really learn that not all stories in your life will have happy endings. And yet, it’s an inspiring read that reminds us about how grief can sometimes also open up the world in magical ways.
“When you have a book that already has everyone in-house talking, you know it’s something that people out-of-house will feel is worth talking about, too. And having an industry forum like this panel at which we can jump-start that conversation is invaluable.”