Welcome to our spring 2022 Children’s Announcements issue! In our first feature, we check in with a number of children’s publishers, from houses big and small, to see how they’re continuing to face pandemic hurdles, and to hear their outlook for the year ahead. Good news: it’s looking brighter. We also profile Newbery Honor author Christina Soontornvat about her capacious curiosity and her passion for exploring an array of fiction and nonfiction genres. All this, plus our comprehensive A–Z listings of children’s and YA titles being released between February 1 and July 31. Happy reading!
About Our Cover Artist
“One thing I always try to put in all my stories is hope,” says Caldecott Honoree LeUyen Pham. “I’m literally writing for the future: young readers.”
Though it deals with a difficult time, her recent pandemic picture book, Outside, Inside (Roaring Brook), is filled with optimism. “I hope we’re starting to come out of it,” Pham says of Covid. “I began thinking about the book right at the beginning of lockdown, as a way to cope. I needed to keep a record, especially for my kids.”
The book struck a chord. “I’m amazed by people’s response to it, particularly teachers and students,” Pham says. “I’ve never experienced something like that for one of my books.” During virtual school visits, she adds, “I saw that kids were using the book as an outlet to share what was happening. One boy told me, ‘Your book made me feel better, like I wasn’t alone.’ ”
Life in Los Angeles offers a bright outlook for Pham. “It’s all sunshiny here. I’m in a summer dress,” she says. She works from home in “this nice little room that faces the garden”—a space she shares with her husband, Alex Puvilland, also an author and illustrator. The two met at DreamWorks Animation, where Pham worked for three years as a layout artist.
The author and/or illustrator of more than 120 books for children—including Julianne Moore’s Freckleface Strawberry series, the Caldecott Honor–winning Bear Came Along by Richard Morris, and Shannon and Dean Hale’s Princess in Black books for middle graders—Pham is driven by her desire to tell diverse and inclusive stories. Born in Vietnam, she emigrated to the U.S. with her family at a young age. “It’s very important to me to show as many cultures as possible,” she says, “and not to assume that a story I get starts with a certain type of character. It could be anyone.” She also looks for variety in the types of projects she takes on, saying, “I never like to be pigeonholed or stereotyped.”
As for what’s next, she’s looking forward to a new installment of the Itty-Bitty Kitty Corn series with Shannon Hale. (“I share a brain with that lady!” Pham says of her friend and frequent
collaborator.) And the 10th Princess in Black book is due later this year or in early 2023. Pham is also working with Aisha Saeed on a picture book titled The Together Tree, and she just signed on to do a graphic novel with Gene Luen Yang, tentatively titled Lunar New Year Love Story.
“We’ve wanted to work together for a while,” she says. “I don’t officially start on it until I’m finished with my other projects, but I can’t wait.”—E.K.
Silver Linings: Children’s Publishing Outlook for 2022
Disruption lingers but publishers are optimistic, eyeing growth in the coming year.
Christina Soontornvat: Genre Master
Newbery honoree Christina Soontornvat writes across varied literary forms in four upcoming