Welcome to our fall 2019 Children’s Announcements issue! In our first feature, we ask a number of publishers and booksellers about the ways they are reaching young readers and their families through curated subscription boxes. We also take a look at how Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms can boost new children’s book projects. Finally, we profile author Nic Stone, whose forthcoming YA novel, Jackpot, offers a hope-filled adventure that confronts issues of privilege and class. All this, plus our comprehensive A-to-Z listings of titles being released by children’s and YA publishers between Aug. 1, 2019, and Jan. 31, 2020. Happy reading!
About Our Cover Artist
Much like the characters in her 1998 picture book debut, The Scrambled States of America (Holt), Laurie Keller settled in various parts of the country over the course of her career before returning to her home state of Michigan. After attending art school in Grand Rapids, Keller relocated to Kansas City, Mo., where she spent seven years working as a greeting card illustrator for Hallmark. She says that when she began at the company, “I had some humorous things in my portfolio, but I started taking them more seriously. That side of me came out a whole lot more.”
Designing cards for kids led Keller to rediscover her passion for children’s books. “For inspiration, I would go to a nearby children’s bookstore, the Reading Reptile,” she says. “I hadn’t looked at children’s books in many years, and I was blown away.” She was especially drawn to the “sweet and funny stories” of Petra Mathers, books by the comedic duo Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith, and the wordplay of William Steig. It occurred to her that she could create a picture book.
Keller says that one night, as she was falling asleep, the image of a bunch of anthropomorphic U.S. states popped into her head—and it stuck. The next day, she started writing The Scrambled States of America, about what happens when all 50 states decide to swap places. “It came together more quickly than anything I’d ever done,” she recalls.
Keller showed the book to several editors during a trip to Manhattan; though she didn’t receive any offers, she decided to keep at it. Six months later, she left her job at Hallmark and was New York–bound.
Right before the big move, Keller got a call from her future editor, Christy Ottaviano at Macmillan’s Henry Holt imprint. Ottaviano had seen a greeting card that Keller left at the office during her visit and fell in love with her accompanying manuscript. The two have since published numerous books together. After living and working in New York for a number of years, Keller moved back to Michigan to be closer to family.
On the horizon: Keller has a new picture book due out this fall with author Adam Rex, Pluto Gets the Call (S&S/Beach Lane, Nov.), which imagines Pluto’s reaction to having its status as a planet rescinded. Her next solo project will be another entry in her Arnie the Doughnut series.
“I love creating new worlds that didn’t exist before and imagining what inanimate objects would be like if they were walking and talking with each other—and with animals and people,” Keller says. “It’s a fun, wacky world, but everyone gets along.” —E.K.
Subscription book boxes for kids provide publishers and booksellers with a new revenue stream.
Bookish Crowdfunding Gains Momentum
Publishers and authors look to Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise funds and engage loyal customers.
Nic Stone: A Different Sort of Jackpot
The Atlanta novelist offers hope-filled stories for young readers.