Welcome to our Spring 2019 Children’s Announcements issue! Here, we speak with a number of diverse debut authors who landed agents through the Twitter pitch contest #DVPit. We profile author Anne Ursu, whose new novel for young readers, The Lost Girl, blends fantasy with themes of female empowerment. Finally, a children’s book collector rebels against the Marie Kondo decluttering movement. All this plus our comprehensive A–Z listings of titles being released by children’s and YA publishers between February 1 and July 31. Happy reading!
#DVPit Connects Agents and Diverse Authors
We speak with a number of diverse debut authors who landed agents through the Twitter pitch contest.
Anne Ursu: Finding Magic in Middle Grade
The author discusses her new novel for young readers, The Lost Girl, which blends fantasy with themes of female empowerment.
Confessions of a Children’s Book Hoarder
A children’s book collector rebels against the Marie Kondo movement of decluttering.
About Our Cover Artist
Though author-illustrator Jessie Sima was raised in New Jersey and now lives and works in Jersey City, her journey to creating picture books has brought her to some unexpected places. “It’s kind of a complicated road,” she says of her career path. “Then again, there’s never one straight-shot way of getting anywhere in the creative world.”
Sima’s love of drawing was kindled at a young age. “From the time I was really little, I’d sit in front of the TV drawing Disney characters, and ones from my imagination,” she says. In middle school, she began writing and illustrating poems, “but I never really thought about either one of those things as a career,” she adds.
While studying anthropology in college, Sima taught herself to draw digitally, and put her new skills to the test by entering T-shirt design contests. After college, she took on graphic design gigs and also worked at a daycare center. “It was there that I remembered that picture books existed and how much I loved them,” she says.
Over the next couple of years, Sima developed the concept for her own picture book, 2017’s Not Quite Narwhal (S&S), about a unicorn who grows up under the sea believing that he is a narwhal. During #PitchMad, a Twitter pitch party, images from her dummy caught the eye of agent Thao Le at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, who now represents Sima. Within a few months, the author’s debut book sold at auction to Christian Trimmer, former executive editor at S&S Books for Young Readers. “Our personalities work well together,” Sima says of the pairing. She later illustrated Trimmer’s 2018 fairy tale parody, Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies (S&S), after he joined Macmillan.
Sima is currently venturing outside her Jersey City loft/studio (“It feels like an indoor treehouse!”) on a national tour for her new picture book, Love, Z (S&S). Her next book, Spencer’s New Pet, is due out in August. “It’s very different from the other books I’ve done in terms of style and tone,” she says. “The book is inspired visually by silent film, and is almost wordless.”
Sima is also one of several artists illustrating bookmarks for the centennial celebration of Children’s Book Week this spring. “Everyone who’s involved is so amazing,” she says. “And the 100th anniversary is such a big deal. I feel so new to this world that it’s an honor to be chosen. I take it as a big responsibility to make it memorable.” —E.K.