I attended the Tri-State Book Buzz this morning, where over 20 publishers invited librarians and educators for a morning of breakfast and kidlit, from board books to YA. There are some fantastic books to come! Let’s take a look at some of the big reveals first:
The big news here is that Random House is starting their own dedicated graphic novel imprint, Random House Graphic, headed up by Publishing Director Gina Gagliano, who is just a great person, who genuinely adores graphic novels, and wants kids to love them, too. RH Graphic is dedicated to putting a graphic novel on every readers’ shelf; meaning, they’re going to publish graphic novels for all ages and interests. The debut list looks good, with graphic novels for intermediate readers, middle graders, and teens all lined up and ready to go in the near year: Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger is about two bug friends, aimed at intermediate readers, and fans of Narwhal and Jelly; The Runaway Princess by Johan Troïanowski and Thom Pico and Karensac’s Aster and the Accidental Magic are geared for middle graders and star strong female characters, and Witchlight is a YA graphic novel by Jessi Zabarsky, about two women traveling and growing together. These are the first four books in 2020, with 8 more to come later in the year.
GRAPHIX WEEK! Scholastic has a week of graphic novels programming coming up in December (the 9th-13th) for their TeachGraphixWeek celebration. There’s going to be classroom activities, Twitter chats, and a live Facebook broadcast with Raina Telgemeier, Kazu Kibuishi, and more, which assures that my Corona Kids will be losing their minds. For now, there’s a link to sign up for more information; the sites from previous Graphix Week haven’t been updated for this year’s content just yet.
Speaking of Graphix, the big news is that Lauren Tarshis’ I Survived books are getting the Graphix treatment! The first two books release in February (I Survived the Titanic) and June (I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916), and this will surely send the kids into a frenzy. I found out from Ms. Tarshis herself a couple of weeks ago, when one of my Corona Kids and I were wondering why this series hadn’t gotten the graphic novel treatment yet; we Tweeted at the author, who responded, lightning-fast, with a copy of the Titanic cover, causing my Corona Kid and I to dance with joy. (Side note: Tweet your authors! They are amazing people and the kids love to be acknowledged!)
Graphix is also taking on the Geronimo Stilton graphic novels, with the first one, The Sewer Rat Stink, coming in May and written by Origami Yoda writer (and HUGE Stilton fan) Tom Angleberger! (The Stilton graphic novels have been, up until now, published by Papercutz).
For the Shannon Hale/Raina Telgemeier readers, Graphix has a realistic fiction story, Nat Enough, by Maria Scrivan, coming in April. Nat is a sixth grader who feels like she isn’t cool enough for her best friend, and tries to change, but will figure out, along the way, that she’s just fine as is.
Macmillan (shout-out to First Second!) has some good graphic novels, too. I’m interested in Go With the Flow, a middle grade novel about body positivity, resistance, and feminism when a group of girls push back when their school invests more money in their (male) athletes’ comfort than in restocking menstrual products in their school. Breaking the menstrual taboo for middle grade is so important, especially when so many middle and high school bathrooms are sorely lacking in feminine hygiene product availability (don’t get me started on this). I’m definitely looking forward to this one. Romper has a good article and sneak peek for you.
Also coming from Macmillan/First Second: John Patrick Green’s InvestiGators (my son has nicked my BookExpo copy; if I can get it back, you’ll get a review from both of us), the first in a new series, coming in February.
Finally, Amulet, the children’s publishing imprint for Abrams, has a new Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tale! Major Impossible is the ninth book in the series and tells the story of John Wesley Powell, a one-armed geologist who explored the grand canyon.
There are TOO many picture books to shout out individually, so I’ll put up a couple of highlights. Let’s just say that end of 2019/beginning of 2020 is going to be a very good year.
Vanessa Brantley-Newton, whose Youngest Marcher and Mary Had a Little Glam are some of my recent favorites, is coming out with Just Like Me, “an ode to the girl with scrapes on her knees and flowers in her hair, and every girl in between”. Sounds like storytime magic happening to me!
Picture Book Biographies
Aretha Franklin is getting a picture book biography treatment from Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrator Laura Freeman. Bloomsbury is publishing A Voice Named Aretha in January 2020. Mary Walker, who learned to read at the age of 116, is also getting a picture book biography; Random House Children’s Books is publishing The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read, by Lorrain Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora, in January; Disney/Hyperion has Ruth Objects: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Eric Velasquez, coming in February. Sourcebooks has a picture book biography of Jennifer Keelan, the young activist who participated in The Capitol Crawl in 1990 at the age of 8 to demand passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Jennifer, who has cerebral palsy, climbed out of her wheelchair and up the steps of the Capitol. Annette Bay Pimentel authors, Ali Haider illustrates, and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins writes the forward.
Hello, Neighbor! The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers, by Matthew Cordell, debuts in May from Holiday House, created by Caldecott Medalist Matthew Cordell. It’s the only authorized picture book biography on Fred Rogers, and I can’t wait to see it. If you haven’t read A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers, illustrated by Luke Flowers (from Quirk Books), please get a copy on your shelves. Introduce our kids to Mister Rogers; we need him back.
Little Bee’s Grandpa Grumps is an adorable multi-generational story about a little girl and her grumpy grandpa who comes to visit from China. The two bond over cooking, and there’s a recipe at the end. The art is Pixar-inspired, and absolutely adorable. Grandpa Grumps, by Katrina Moore, with art by Xindi Yang, pubs in April.
Disney Book Group has Love, Sophia on the Moon, a book I think I’ll have to buy my niece. Sophia writes a letter to her mother, telling her she’s run away to the moon., where there are no time-outs and early bedtimes. Mom responds with a sense of humor. Who hasn’t wanted to run away to the moon? Heck, I think about it even now.
Holiday House is also publishing In My Garden; originally written in 1962 by Charlotte Zolotow and reimagined by Philip Stead. It’s a lovely, intergenerational story about a child and older adult who spend time in a beautiful garden as the seasons pass.
The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh, by Supriya Kelkar and illustrated by Alea Marley, is already out, and is a beautifully illustrated book about an Indian American boy, a practicing Sikh, who matches his patka – his head covering – to his emotions and occasions. I haven’t seen this one yet, so I’ll be requesting it and reading it ASAP.
Rainbow Fish author Marcus Pfister has a new book out! Who Stole the Hazelnuts? starts off with a terrifying scream when Squirrel discovers that someone has stolen his hazelnuts! The art on this is hilarious, and Squirrel’s face is my entire mood on some days. I mean, honestly. Tell me you can’t relate:
We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade is the beautifully illustrated and narrated story of the Standing Rock Pipeline protest, from a Native American child’s perspective. Due out in March, this is a book I’m going to make sure we have on our shelves.
Look at this adorable book! Oliver the Curious Owl is a young owl who wants to know all the big questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? He decides to go on his own adventure to see if he can learn some answers to his questions. I’m already planning owl storytimes for this book by Chad Otis. The book won’t be out until August 2020. I can wait. I can wait. I won’t be patient about it, but I can wait.
Picture books, nonfiction books, there are all sorts of ways to work STEM/STEAM into kids books, and there are some really good ones coming.
Chris Ferrie, my favorite kidlit science guru, has My First 100 Science Words, introducing the littlest readers to awesome science words like food chain, fluorescence, and cell. Illustrated by Lindsay Dale Scott, it’s the cutest little science book I’ve ever seen. (Until, let’s be honest, his next book.)
Charlesbridge has a great Winter/Spring line, with loads of STEM/STEAM books in the works. Mario and the Hole in the Sky is about Mexican-American scientist and Nobel Laureate Mario Molina. Publishing simultaneously in English in Spanish, by Elizabeth Rusch and illustrated by Teresa Martinez, Mario publishes in less than a month: you can get it in November. Earth Hour, by Nanette Heffernan and illustrated by Bao Luu, invites kids to take part in Earth Hour, where communities all over the world are encouraged to turn off non-essential electricity for one hour. Earth Hour is publishing in January, with activities and ideas for kids all over the world; there’s more than enough time to prepare Earth Hour activities for March, when Earth Hour happens. You’re Invited to a Moth Ball is a collaboration with scientist Loree Griffin Burns and photographer Ellen Harasimowicz; it’s a “nighttime insect celebration” with advice on how kids can throw their own Moth Ball. Sterling is releasing The Boy Who Thought Outside the Box: The Story of Video Game Inventor Ralph Baer, by Marcie Wessels and illustrated by Beatriz Castro, in March.
Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann have Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera coming in April from Holiday House, and the artwork is just breathtaking. It’s the story of a honeybee’s journey through life, and the detail is just wonderful.
Sterling has three adorable STEM/STEAM stories coming soon: When Grandpa Gives You A Toolbox (March 2020), by Jamie L.B. Deenihan and illustrated by Lorraine Rocha; where a young boy wants storage for his dolls, receives a toolbox from his grandfather, and overcomes his disappointment when he discovers that he can use the toolbox to make a storage box by himself. Invent-a-Pet (May 2020), by Vicky Fang and illustrated Tidawan Thaipinnarong, a a STEM and coding story about a girl who decides that the best pet you can have is the one you make on your own.
There were SO MANY BOOKS. This is just a quick rundown of some of the picture books and graphic novels to come. Up next, middle grade and YA.