A hefty handful of publishers large and small will introduce either this season or next imprints that span the rich spectrum of children's books from lavishly illustrated picture books to action-filled YA fiction. Here is a roundup of some of the new lines that will appear on booksellers' shelves in the forthcoming months.
A Debut at Houghton Mifflin
Due in June are the first six releases from Graphia, a new paperback imprint that, according to Andrea Davis Pinkney, v-p and publisher of Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, will build on the house's "longstanding tradition of literary excellence for young adults in an exciting way. We recognize that kids today want quality literature that is provocative and interesting, and paperbacks provide them with an accessible format that they can stick in a pocket or a knapsack—or read on the A train. We as a publishing community owe it to kids to give them books that reach them where they live, with real characters and situations and dilemmas that they face themselves."
Senior editor Eden Edwards said the new imprint fills a void, in that "publishers haven't been providing books that address older teenagers. Teens are inundated with movies, video games and the Internet, and we have to work to get them interested in books. The content and look of Graphia books lets teens know that these books are for them." Graphia will build its list of fiction, nonfiction and poetry by publishing paperback originals, by reprinting Houghton Mifflin, Walter Lorraine and Clarion hardcover titles and by selectively acquiring outside titles. The inaugural offerings include one original—48 Shades of Brown by Nick Earls, centering on an Australian teen who goes to live with his bass-playing aunt and her friend—and five reprints: Comfort by Carolee Dean, Owl in Love by Patrice Kindl, 3NBs of Julian Drew by James M. Deem, Zazoo by Richard Mosher and Dunk by David Lubar.
Pinkney commented that Graphia will be "a small list with a very boutiquey feel to it. Every book will be distinct." Future books may be released in varying formats, yet all those on the launch list feature a 5" x 7" trim size and a cover price of $6.99. Pinkney remarked that the imprint's name, derived from the Greek word "to write," is apropos, as it is "classic yet fast-forward."
Abrams Expands Its Offerings
Four and a half years after it issued its first list of 14 titles, Abrams Books for Young Readers this spring extends its publishing scope with Amulet Books, a line for middle-grade and young-adult readers that encompasses fiction and nonfiction by familiar and new authors.
Howard Reeves, v-p and publisher of Abrams Books for Young Readers, explained that when he launched the children's publishing program in 1999, "We followed the mold set by Abrams's adult list, mostly publishing illustrated books and focusing on the company's strength in the art area. When it came time to expand, we realized that the demographics had changed dramatically, and now the largest body of readers are older readers with cash of their own to spend, so it made sense to move into this area."
Among the first hardcover releases from Amulet are two works of middle-grade fiction: The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams, a time-travel tale; and Truck Dogs, Graeme Base's debut novel set in a desert world where evolution takes an unexpected turn. Also due this spring are a pair of young adult novels, ttyl by Lauren Myracle, relayed through the e-mails of three teenage girls; and William Sleator's The Boy Who Couldn't Die, a horror tale. Rounding out the list are four installments in the Sunscreen series of nonfiction paperbacks, offering advice to preteens and teens.
Reeves, who expects that Amulet Books will issue between eight and 12 books a year, noted that he and his colleagues came up with the name for the imprint after making lists of words that would offer an alliterative spin on Abrams's name. "We came across Amulet and immediately loved it. It is a word that seems to encompass everything we're doing in that it is as contemporary as buying a necklace at the mall, yet also has an ancient, mystical feel." And, if all goes well, a talisman that brings luck at the cash register.
Slicing into the Teen Market
The focus of Razorbill, Penguin's new imprint aimed at ages 12—up, will be "commercial, good quality fiction," said senior v-p and publisher Eloise Flood, who added that the line will also include "celebrity bios, media tie-ins and nonfiction." Noting that Penguin "has a very distinguished backlist of classics and award-winning fiction, but hasn't until now had a big presence in the commercial market for teens," Flood said, "Teenagers are now buying books in formats—including hardcover and trade paperback—that they hadn't bought before in big numbers. Kids obviously want entertainment but they have an impressive detector of what's not real. With our books, we are trying to speak to them authentically and respect their intelligence and level of sophistication."
Razorbill's launch list demonstrates the imprint's balance of hardcovers and paperbacks. Due out in the former format is Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday, a thriller; and The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson, a novel in which a girl's two best friends fall in love with each other. Also scheduled for fall release are the first installments of two paperback quartets, Watching Alice by Daniel Parker and Lee Miller, suspense tales written in diary format, and The Big Empty by J.B. Stephens, set in a post-apocalyptic world; as well as Anita Naik's Flirtology, a paperback guide to flirting.
The imprint's name (formerly the title of a Penguin marketing magazine) fits the bill, said Flood, in that "since a razorbill is also a seabird, the name has a connection to the parent brand—yet it is also distinct. And since it's Razorbill, it's obviously sharp."
Milk & Cookies on ibooks' Fall Menu
Ibooks will expand into the children's book market this fall when it serves up the first offerings from Milk & Cookies Press, a line of picture books to be distributed by Simon & Schuster. The imprint's inaugural list includes works by three two-time Caldecott winners. David Wiesner has created Gonna Roll the Bones, an adaptation of the Hugo Award—winning story by Fritz Leiber; and Leo and Diane Dillon have contributed the art for a new version of The Porcelain Cat by Michael Patrick Hearn. This second title is the imprint's first Golden Edition, a line that represents one aspect of Milk & Cookies' mission, in publisher Byron Preiss's words, "to revive superb picture book classics in visually exciting new editions."
Preiss, who has known the Dillons for years, explained, "I asked them if there were any books of theirs that they would like to see brought back to print, which led to this beautifully remastered and redesigned edition."
Another of Preiss's goals as he shapes the Milk & Cookies list is to bring celebrities from other fields, such as music and film, into the children's book arena. Due in fall is Chelsea Morning, which pairs the lyrics of this song by Grammy Award—winning musician Joni Mitchell with art by Brian Froud and includes an audio CD of Mitchell's recording. Also among the launch titles are two titles from Belgium: Sarah So Small by Tanguy Gréban, illustrated by Quentin Gréban; and Brigitte Minne's The Best Bottom, illustrated by Marjolein Pottie.
Preiss, who has been a book packager for 25 years, remarked, "We are drawing on friendships we have developed over the years to generate some of these wonderful books." Asked how he cooked up the imprint's name, he replied, "We wanted something that kids could embrace and adults would think fun, something evocative of childhood. And we definitely wanted something that was not low carb."
Paperback Line Blossoms at Bloomsbury
Spring brings the first crop of books issued under the Bloomsbury Paperbacks imprint, which debuts two years after the launch of Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Bloomsbury Paperbacks starts up at an auspicious time, said Victoria Wells Arms, editorial director of Bloomsbury Children's Books. "We wanted to give our hardcovers 18 months to two years to ripen, to give them the longest life we could in hardcover without losing momentum. And now the time is right to start our paperback line."
Anticipating the advent of the imprint, Bloomsbury had retained the paperback rights to the approximately 80 hardcovers it has published over two years; the majority of the releases on Bloomsbury Paperbacks' debut list are reprints of books that the company issued in hardcover in 2002.
Also appearing on the line's first list are two paperback original YA novels: The Insiders by J. Minter, introducing five guys living in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood; and Benjamin Zephaniah's Gangsta Rap, in which two boys expelled from school form a rap group and turn their lives around.
The seven reprints on the spring list include Billywise by Judith Nicholls, illustrated by Jason Cockcroft; Hunted and Warriors of Alavna by N.M. Browne; and My First Day at Nursery School by Becky Edwards, with art by Anthony Flintoft.
Arms is enthusiastic about the doors that the paperback line opens to Bloomsbury editors as they acquire books. As an example, she explained, "This will provide a way for us to publish some books from our London colleagues that we previously wouldn't have put directly into hardcover but which we could imagine publishing successfully in paperback. It gives us a bit more flexibility. We always knew this opportunity was coming, and we're pleased it is here."
Fiction from a Barn
Based in Weston, Conn., Brown Barn Books will roll out its inaugural list of original trade paperbacks this fall. A division of Pictures of Record, a publisher of archaeological visuals and teaching materials for universities, museums and schools, Brown Barn is named for the 1840 structure that is home to the company—as well as to its owner and editor-in-chief, Nancy Hammerslough.
The editor, who founded Pictures of Record 25 years ago, explained that the Brown Barn list will focus on fiction for young adults, the plots of which, she said, "take readers outside of their own lives. I believe that kids' lives are bounded by the people they know and the lives they see. Perhaps because of my work in anthropology and archeology, I would love to widen kids' lives through books."
A common thread running through the list's offerings will be the novels' crossover potential. "Most of our books are aimed at readers 14 and up who are just as comfortable with adult books as young adult books," Hammerslough noted. "And although they feature protagonists who are older teens, most of our books will be happily read by adults, since the novels have good stories and characters."
Brown Barn Books will be sold through Baker and Taylor, and Hammerslough hopes that B&T will cross-market the books, so that the books will be shelved in both young-adult and adult sections of stores.
The line, which Hammerslough anticipates will publish approximately 10 titles annually, launches with five novels, among them Running Horsemen by Dolph LeMoult, in which a boy from Texas goes to New York City in 1952 in search of his father; and Colin Neenan's Idiot!, centering on a boy who inadvertently becomes a nationally known hero after he falls in love with his high school's would-be gossip columnist.
Red Pebble Takes Flight
New York City—based Red Rock Press has announced the August release of the first book to be published under its Red Pebble children's imprint: Where Do the Balloons Go? by Elena Davis August, illustrated by Anna Jurinich. The picture book is set in a land where fairies patch balloons and slide down the necks of their pet balloon giraffes.
Creative director Ilene Barth explained she has received numerous proposals for children's books during Red Rock Press's four-year existence, but always responded that the company only published adult books. "Then we saw this book, by an author who has published successfully in her native Australia, and we really loved it," she said. "It is a wonderful old-fashioned story and our decision to publish it was clinched when we found the perfect illustrator for the book, who is a prize-winning Yugoslav-American artist."
Barth anticipates that Red Pebble's annual output will grow to at least six books within three years. In addition to searching for what she terms "picture books that are truly magical rather than pedagogical," she will be looking to acquire books of fiction for older children.
To promote its debut title, the publisher has created an event kit for booksellers that contains 100 balloons, directions for making balloon creatures and what Barth describes as "a professional-quality balloon pump." In keeping with the marketing thrust of Red Rock Press's adult titles, approximately half of which are aimed at the gift market, Red Pebble will eventually reissue Where Do the Balloons Go? packaged with the kit for the gift market.
History Imprint for Boyds Mills
Calkins Creek is the stream that runs under the bridge pictured in Boyds Mills Press's logo. The bridge is actually located near the former Pennsylvania home of Carolyn Clark Myers and Garry Cleveland Myers, who founded Highlights for Children magazine in 1946. Fittingly, Calkins Creek Books is the name of the new line of books from Boyds Mills that will primarily focus on key events, people and places in U.S. history.
Scheduled to debut in 2005, the imprint will be geared toward readers ages eight to 14 and will include nonfiction, historical fiction and picture books. At the editorial helm of the line is Carolyn Yoder, who has been a senior editor of history at Highlightsfor Children since 1997 and has in recent years edited history titles for Boyds Mills. Of the genesis of Calkins Creek Books, Yoder remarked, "Boyds Mills had built up a solid list of books in this genre, and a history imprint was a natural offshoot."
Yoder predicts that the new imprint will publish eight titles annually, saying that her goal is to acquire "solid, comprehensively researched historical books that also feature exciting writing. Over the years, I have found that books often offer one or the other but rarely a combination of the two."
Among the first releases from Calkins Creek Books are American Slave, American Hero: York of the Lewis and Clark Expedition by Laurence Pringle, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu; Lincoln's Boys: Robert, Edward, Willie and Tad Lincoln and William H. Seward by Harold Holzer; and John Adams: The Writer: A Treasury of Letters, Diaries, and Public Documents, compiled and edited by Yoder.
The editor believes that the imprint's name is an ideal fit since, in her words, "we obviously wanted to establish the connection to Boyds Mills, and Calkins Creek calls to mind flowing water, which suggests the imprint will be ever-changing."