Welcome to our fall 2016 children’s announcements issue! Along with our comprehensive listings of children’s and YA titles to be published between Aug. 1, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2017, we speak with Melissa Sweet about her forthcoming E.B. White biography; excerpt from an artistic homage to Beatrix Potter; and talk to a number of authors who are eagerly writing fiction inspired by licensed properties. We’ve also got a story on several brand-new independent children’s bookstores that are opening across the country. Happy reading!
About Our Cover Artist
This year’s Caldecott Medalist, Sophie Blackall, is having a pretty busy year. Aside from her big award, she’s working on plenty of new projects, and she also managed to create the cover for our fall issue. When asked about her inspiration for the illustration, Blackall says that when she thought of autumn, “I naturally went to back to school, then school of fish, and a teacher reading to a class.” She adds, “I wondered what she would be reading.” After considering many options, including something that “visually echoes a classroom on land,” she decided, “Nah, I think what a school of fish wants to see is a book about themselves.”
A school of fish was brought to Blackall’s mind by a real-life class the illustrator recently worked with, while researching a forthcoming book, If You Come to Earth(Chronicle, 2018). It’s written as a letter from a child to a visitor from another planet, and was inspired by Blackall’s work with UNICEF (she creates posters for the Measles and Rubella Initiative). For research, Blackall spent time in a second grade classroom in Brooklyn. “I hung out with the class every Monday morning. We drew together and chatted and I asked them questions like what do they think is unfair, what makes them happy. We talked about everything.”
Despite it being such a big year for the artist—she won the Caldecott for illustrating Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick—life hasn’t had a chance to feel too different. “As everyone who makes children’s books knows, it’s such a long process,” Blackall says. “You have books lined up sometimes for years in advance.” So she is working on the irons she already had in the fire, including continuing the Witches of Benevento series she collaborates on with her studio-mate John Bemelmans Marciano. She also has a book forthcoming this fall from FSG/Margaret Ferguson titled, A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785, written by Matthew Olshan, as well as three more picture books further out.
Undaunted by her workload, Blackall says she is still elated at the honor she received. As for her various projects on the horizon, she says, “I’m looking forward to it all.” —N.G.
The Return of the Children's Specialty Bookstore
After a huge decline in numbers, children's-only bookstores are beginning to reemerge, thanks to strong children's book sales and the current golden age of children's books.
Big Name Young Adult Authors Warm Up to Licensed Properties
More and more high-profile young adult and middle grade authors are writing original fiction with ties to existing pop culture properties, particularly comic books.
Children's Book Illustrators Pay Tribute to Beatrix Potter
For the 150th anniversary of Potter's birth, Penguin Random House is publishing a collection of tributes by children's book illustrators. Here is a sampling of some of their works.
Illuminating the Life of E.B. White: Melissa Sweet
Using watercolors, collages, letters, and photos, Sweet portrays a titan of children's literature in 'Some Writer!'.