PW Children's Bookshelf: Breaking children's and YA publishing news, author interviews, bestsellers lists and reviews.
Yoga Baby
Politics for Kids
2020 Political Books
For Children

In the run-up to November’s presidential election, publishers are courting readers who won’t be eligible to cast ballots this year or, in some cases, for many years to come. more
Children’s Books for an Election Year
We spoke with editors about the wave of political titles for kids and teens that are hitting shelves this season. more
In the Spotlight
While the book publishing industry is responding daily to the coronavirus outbreak, we will provide continuing coverage on efforts by publishers, authors, booksellers, and more.
Debut Children's Books and Authors Affected by the Coronavirus
With schools, libraries, and bookstores closed, children’s authors have had to suspend their travel plans and appearances during the Covid-19 outbreak. Still, publishers are finding innovative ways to spread the word about new releases and connect authors with their readers through digital platforms. We’ve been highlighting some of the books this season that may not have gotten the attention they were due. Click through to see our latest roundup, showcasing five more spring debuts. more
In Support of Indie Bookstores,
Dozens of Illustrators Send Art

More than 50 of the nation’s leading children's book illustrators have joined together, sending packages of art for free to independent bookstores, which the stores are then giving away to customers who place online orders. more
Candlewick Launches
Online Summer 'Camp'

School closures and remote learning may extend well into the next school year for many students. In the interim, Candlewick Press has launched a program for children and teens wondering what to do with their long summer days amid the pandemic. more
'Covid-19 Helpers' E-Book
Wins Global Health Award

Children's author Beth Bacon sprang to action when she learned of the Emory Global Health Institute’s Covid-19 Children’s E-book Competition. Bacon enlisted her friend, illustrator Kary Lee, and together they won the contest for their e-book Covid-19 Helpers, which praises young readers for their role in fighting the coronavirus by staying home. more
China Shanghai International Children's Book Fair 2020
In the News
Restructuring at S&S Children’s
Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing will be reorganizing under two publishing entities: a trade publishing group focusing on picture books, middle grade, and YA; and a new branded publishing team to concentrate on the expansion of preschool titles, beginning readers, chapter books, graphic novels, licensing and middle-grade brands, and IP. more
ABA Children's Institute Goes Virtual
The American Booksellers Association has scheduled a virtual edition of its annual Children's Institute for July 15–16. The programming will feature a day of education, with three education sessions, an Indies Introduce presentation, a keynote speech, and a virtual gathering. more
Obituary
Karen Blumenthal
Children's book author and journalist Karen Blumenthal, widely recognized for her works of narrative nonfiction addressing complicated subject matters, died on May 19, following a heart attack. She was 61. more
Q & A
Zoraida Córdova
Zoraida Córdova's debut novel, Vicious Deep, launched her into the world of young adult fiction in 2012. Her latest novel, The Way to Rio Luna, marks her entrée into writing middle grade fiction and weaves themes of isolation and hope through a story rooted in family. Córdova spoke with PW about what it’s like to write for a new age group, and how her work has led to collaborations and friendships.

Q: What inspired you to step into middle grade?

A: The thing that made me want to start writing middle grade was I’ve always read it, even though I aged out of it. I had this idea about a boy looking for family. I wanted to stick to a more classic feel of a kid in search for something wondrous. I know that when I was younger I was always in search of magical doors or gateways that would take me into a cool place like Narnia or through the looking glass. more
Out Next Week
Hot Off the Presses:
Week of May 25, 2020

Among the books hitting shelves next week are a picture book about a light bulb who gets a chance at a great adventure, a middle grade novel set under the big top, and the launch of a YA series infused with West African mythology. more
In Brief

In Brief: May 21, 2020
This week, Mark Oshiro, TJ Klune, and Lauren Shippen discuss mental health representation; Mari Mancusi and Henry Clark have a fiery launch; Andrea Beaty and David Roberts honor Iggy Day; and Barbara McClintock gives a fur-miliar nursery rhyme a facelift. more
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Rights Report
Allison Moore at Bloomsbury has acquired author, playwright, and "Modern Love" contributor David Valdes's Spin Me Right Round. Pitched as an #OwnVoices twist on Back to the Future, the YA novel follows an out-and-proud Latinx teen who accidentally time-travels to his parents' era and makes it his mission to save a closeted classmate from a tragic end. Publication is slated for fall 2021; Annie Bomke at Annie Bomke Literary Agency handled the two-book deal for world rights.
Katherine Harrison at Knopf has bought Elizabeth Lim's YA fantasy duology Six Crimson Cranes, a reimagining of the Wild Swans fairytale, and a third untitled work. Set in the same world as Spin the Dawn, Six Crimson Cranes centers an exiled princess who must unweave the curse that turned her brothers into cranes, assisted by her spurned betrothed, a mercurial dragon, and a paper bird brought to life by her own magic. Publication of the first book is scheduled for summer 2021; Gina Maccoby at Gina Maccoby Literary Agency negotiated the deal for world rights.
Tiffany Liao at Holt has acquired, in an exclusive submission, Lesley Livingston's Queen Among the Dead, a YA fantasy inspired by the legend of the first true queen of ancient Eire and the mysterious sacred sites of Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. Favored by the Wolf Goddess, Neve is a renegade Celtic princess who defies destiny to seize the throne of kings with the aid of shapeshifting druid-turned-thief Ronan and a band of berserker women warriors. Publication is planned for spring 2022; Jess Regel at Foundry Literary + Media brokered the deal for North American rights.
Liza Kaplan at Philomel has bought The Wolves Are Watching, a YA novel by Natalie Lund (We Speak in Storms and The Sky Above Us). Luce sees golden eyes in the woods on the night a toddler goes missing. With her small town quick to apportion blame, Luce follows a wolf into the forest and discovers the mysterious history of the town, the magical animal-women who were forced into hiding many years before, and the unsettling truth that this has happened before. Publication is set for spring 2022; Sarah Davies at Greenhouse Literary did the deal for North American rights.
Patty Rice at Andrews McMeel has signed poet Colby Cedar Smith's debut novel Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit, a YA historical novel-in-verse about a tight-knit Greek family in Michigan in the 1930s and the struggles faced by one strong-willed young woman, whose ambitions and dreams were ahead of her time. Publication is slated for spring 2021; Allison Hellegers at Stimola Literary Studio negotiated the deal for world English rights.
Kristen Pettit at HarperCollins has acquired My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen (Dangerous Alliance). A gender-flipped Pygmalion, the YA historical novel is set in an alternate London in the 1800s where two young female Culinarians recruit a street vendor to teach him to become a gastronomic star for the upper crust. Publication is scheduled for January 2022; Jennifer Unter at the Unter Agency brokered the deal for world English rights.
Maggie Lehrman at Abrams has bought, in an exclusive submission, world English rights to Lia and Beckett's Abracadabra by Amy Noelle Parks (The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss). This YA romantic comedy, set in a magic-themed resort town, is a Romeo and Juliet love story, with illusions instead of duels and a happy ending instead of death. Publication is planned for fall 2021; Elizabeth Bennett at Transatlantic Agency handled the deal.
Julie Rosenberg at Razorbill has acquired North American rights to The Coldest Touch by Isabel Sterling (These Witches Don't Burn). The contemporary fantasy follows Elise, a mortal girl who feels the death of anyone she touches, and Claire, the vampire assigned to recruit her for the Order, as they team up to stop a paranormal killer and realize they might be falling in love. Publication is set for fall 2021; Kathleen Rushall at Andrea Brown Literary Agency negotiated the deal.
Antonia Markiet and Megan Ilnitzki at HarperCollins have preempted Jacquetta Nammar Feldman's debut middle grade novel, Wishing Upon the Same Stars. The novel follows a seventh-grade Arab-American girl whose notions of home and heritage are redefined after moving to Texas and becoming best friends with the Jewish Israeli girl next door. Publication is slated for winter 2022; Peter Knapp at Park & Fine Literary and Media did the two-book deal for world English rights.
Mabel Hsu at HarperCollins/Tegen has bought, in an exclusive submission, Katrina Moore (l.) and Zoe Si's Teeny Houdini series, pitched as Junie B. Jones meets Dory Fantasmagory. The chapter books follow Bessie Lee, the teeniest girl in her first-grade class, and the disaster that follows when her magic tricks go awry. The first two books are scheduled for winter 2022; Andrea Morrison at Writers House represented the author and the illustrator represented herself in the three-book deal for world rights.
Neal Porter at Holiday House/Neal Porter Books has acquired world rights to A Seed, a nonfiction picture book by Sibert Honor author-illustrator Antoinette Portis, marking their eighth collaboration together. The book follows the life cycle of a sunflower plant. Publication is planned for spring 2022; Deborah Warren at East West Literary brokered the deal for world rights.
Stephanie Pitts at Putnam has bought Andrew Prahin's picture book Ship in a Bottle, in which a mouse, who lives in constant fear of the cat, sets off in a ship in a bottle to search for a new home and a better life. Publication is set for summer 2021; Paul Rodeen at Rodeen Literary Management negotiated the deal for world rights.
Courtney Code at Abrams has acquired world English rights to Jennifer Thermes's Horse Power: How Horses Changed the World, a picture book that explores the ways in which the everyday horse inspired invention and innovation around the world for thousands of years, and changed the course of human history. Publication is slated for spring 2021; Marietta B. Zacker at Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency brokered the deal.
Ann Kelley at Random House Studio has bought, at auction, world rights to The Notebook Keeper by Stephen Briseño, illustrated by Magdalena Mora. Inspired by true events, the picture book follows Noemi and her Mamá who, denied entry at the U.S. border, must wait and find the refugee in charge of "the notebook," an unofficial ledger of those waiting to cross into the U.S. As time goes on and hope dwindles, Noemi discovers the power of spreading kindness in such a dark place. Publication is planned for summer 2022; Natalie Lakosil at the Bradford Literary Agency represented the author, and Steven Malk at Writers House represented the illustrator.
Nancy Paulsen at Penguin/Paulsen has acquired world rights to The Storyteller by Lindsay Bonilla, illustrated by Noar Lee Hagan, featuring a boy whose grandmother showers him with love, encouragement, and a world of stories, all of which stand him in good stead when it's time for her to depart and he is left to tell his own stories—and hers. Publication is set for fall 2022; Christa Heschke at McIntosh & Otis represented the author, and Rena Rossner at the Deborah Harris Agency represented the illustrator.
Chris Krones at HMH has bought world rights to Let's All Be Kind, written by Karen Beaumont and illustrated by David Catrow (creators of I Like Myself and I Ain't Gonna Paint No More). The rhyming picture book serves as a call for kindness. Publication is scheduled for spring 2022; the author represented herself, and Wendi Gu at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates represented the illustrator.
Peggy Schaefer at WorthyKids has acquired world rights to A Flood of Kindness by Ellen Leventhal (l.), illustrated by Blythe Russo. The picture book features a girl who struggles with feelings of anger and sadness when her home is destroyed in a flood, until she finds hope in the healing power of kindness. Publication is slated for spring 2021; Mary Cummings at Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises represented the author, and Molly O'Neill at Root Literary represented the illustrator.
To see all of this week's deals, click here.

SHELFTALKER

Kenny Brechner
‘Our Friend Hedgehog’

Lauren Castillo’s Hedgehog is a friend indeed.

more »

Elizabeth Bluemle
The Flying Pig Games

Promoting the fourth book in the Hunger Games series during COVID-19 invited a little video intervention.

more »

Elizabeth Bluemle
When the Mail Makes You Cry Happy

The best batch of mail we’ve ever had.

more »

Kenny Brechner
Two Twos

Two things I’m pretty sure are true and two things we’re doing at DDG to work around the closure of our selling floor.

more »
FEATURED REVIEWS

Dozens of Doughnuts
Carrie Finison, illus. by Brianne Farley. Putnam, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-525-51835-8

LouAnn, a stout black bear, is frying doughnuts for one last pre-hibernation meal, and she’s looking forward to eating them all by herself. But it’s not to be. Sturdy, thumping verse by Finison, making her picture book debut, chronicles the constant interruptions of a stream of hungry callers. The combination of delicious treats and tantalizing delay keeps the tension high. more

Condor Comeback
Sy Montgomery, photos by Tianne Strombeck. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-544-81653-4

The California Condor’s stunning and fragile existence swoops into focus in the latest Scientists in the Field title. In 1982, fewer than two dozen California Condors were left in the wild, their numbers decimated by hunting, habitat loss, and poisoning from lead shot in the animal carcasses they eat. A collective effort led by conservationists and zoos is slowly rebuilding the population, but they remain critically endangered. Though the condor’s future remains tenuous, Montgomery’s compelling page-turner inspires optimism. more

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island #1)
Alex Aster. Sourcebooks, $16.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4926-9720-6

Debut author Aster takes inspiration from Colombian folklore to craft a rousing series opener. Tor Luna, 12, was born with a leadership emblem; the “two purple rings around his left wrist” signify that he will someday lead, just like his chieftess mother. Hoping to become a water-breather, instead—swimming is his great joy and source of calm—he wishes on the New Year’s Eve bonfire; during the yearly celebration, anything can happen. more

Jo & Laurie
Margaret Stohl and Melissa de la Cruz. Putnam, $18.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-9848-1201-8

De la Cruz and Stohl’s affectionate tribute to Louisa May Alcott’s work takes place in the year between the 1868 release of Little Women and the 1869 publication of Good Wives, two volumes that are today published as one. At 18, Jo March struggles to produce a sequel after the success of her domestic novel loosely inspired by her family. The authors carefully mimic the setting and dialogue style of Alcott’s works, making their care for the characters apparent. more

The Falling in Love Montage
Ciara Smyth. HarperTeen, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-295711-5

When 17-year-old Saoirse is dumped by her girlfriend and former best friend, she decides that dating isn’t worth the heartache, especially since she’s already dealing with her mother’s moving into a home due to dementia, and the revelation of her father’s affair. She doesn’t expect her electric attraction to Ruby. An emotionally stirring queer romance with witty, playful dialogue. more

May 27, 2020
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The Story of Country
The Chicken Who Couldn't
To Our Readers

Next week, because of the Memorial Day holiday, we'll have one issue of Bookshelf, on Wednesday, May 27. And next Thursday, look for our newsletter highlighting the speakers at Book Expo's online Children's Book and Author Dinner. We'll see you then!
ICYMI
Summer Reads 2020
more
Bologna's Virtual Fair Draws 60,000 Online Visitors
more
Adaptation, the Amazon Problem, and Future Trends: A Bologna 2020 Panel
more
Cover Reveal: 'Before the Ever After' by Jacqueline Woodson
more
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