December 16, 2010
In This Issue
  • Don't Write the Obit For Picture Books Yet
  • A Forgotten Dahl Piece Resurfaces on eBay
  • Emerging Technologies Debated in France
  • Facing Challenges, First Book Keeps on Giving
  • This Week in Children's Apps
  • Scholastic Buys Selznick's 'Wonderstruck'
  • Sterling Authors Sing in the Holidays in Six States
  • A Tailor-Made Audience
  • Harper’s Holiday Spirit
  • Little, Brown and Meyer Support Red Cross
  • Preparing for ‘The Water Wars’
  • In the News

    Don't Write the Obit For Picture Books Yet
    Children's book publishers are still reeling from the New York Times front-page story back in October called "Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children." Was the venerable newspaper right? Or do publishers consider the article and its alarming title the kid-lit equivalent of "Dewey Defeats Truman"?

    The evidence: BookScan figures show that last year, picture books represented 10.8% of the overall children's market—-virtually the same as in 2005, when they represented 10.7%. "For us right now, picture books are still vibrant and thriving," said HarperCollins Children's Books president Susan Katz. Several publishers PW spoke with disagreed with the Times reporter who wrote about the declining importance and popularity of picture books. "I don't really see this phenomenon she's talking about," said Karen Lotz, publisher of Candlewick Press. "I definitely don't think it's so bleak," said Mary Ann Sabia, v-p and associate publisher of Charlesbridge Publishing. more...

    A Forgotten Dahl Piece Resurfaces on eBay
    The first two pages of The Eyes of Mr. Croaker, a children's story written by Roald Dahl in 1982 that he sold to two young American writers with the intention of publishing it in the proposed Do-It-Yourself Children's Storybook have resurfaced in Los Angeles after nearly three decades and are being auctioned on eBay.

    As young men, Jerry Biederman and Tom Silberkleit conceived the idea of a book containing the openings of short stories by famous writers that children could complete themselves. Besides Dahl, the two also received submissions from Richard Adams, P.L. Travers, Madeleine L'Engle, Joan Aiken and others. Each author agreed to be paid $200 upon publication of the book. more...

    Emerging Technologies Debated in France
    The Salon du livre et de la presse jeunesse is an annual children's book fair for both publishers and young readers held just outside of Paris in Montreuil, this year from December 1–6. It is, of course, a haven of book perusal, book buying, and author and illustrator signings. However, a conference that occurred on the last day of the fair delved into that precarious territory beyond the pages: new media. The topics at hand were ones that everyone connected to the industry has been fretting about: how to adapt for the iPad, getting original material for the iPhone, the marketing possibilities therein, and the focal point: how to merge the publishing world with the technological one without betraying the book? more...

    Facing Challenges, First Book Keeps on Giving
    It's a story of hundreds of books, thousands of books, millions and billions of books--or, at least, 80 million of them. This week literacy group First Book announced that it had delivered that many titles to underprivileged kids in its 18-year existence. In 2010 alone, First Book distributed 7.5 million books--4.8 million through its free National Book Bank, which is a clearinghouse for books donated by its publishing partners, and 2.7 million through its deeply discounted online bookstore, First Book Marketplace, which sells exclusively to Title I programs for disadvantaged children. Next year First Book hopes to double the number of books it distributes. more...

    This Week in Children's Apps
    The app field is heating up in children's books, with a critical mass of titles coming to the market. This week we spotlight three releases, from Random House, Ruckus Media, and HMH/Oceanhouse Media. more...

    Book News

    Scholastic Buys Selznick's 'Wonderstruck'
    Scholastic has acquired the new book by Brian Selznick, author of the bestselling The Invention of Hugo Cabret. His new novel, Wonderstruck, is scheduled for a simultaneous release on September 13, 2011, in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. According to the publisher, it will feature more than 460 pages of original drawings and will intertwine two stories set 50 years apart. more...

    Sterling Authors Sing in the Holidays in Six States
    This fall, Sterling added six volumes to its The Twelve Days of Christmas in… series, which presents facts about specific states to the tune of the well-known carol. Each book is written and illustrated by individuals living in the featured locale, and the creators of all the new additions to the series—celebrating Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, South Carolina and Washington, D.C.—recently visited stores across their home states to promote their books. more...

    In Brief

    A Tailor-Made Audience
    Anita Silvey and Wendell Minor recently collaborated on the picture book Henry Knox: Bookseller, Soldier, Patriot (Clarion, Nov.), about a little-known hero of the Revolutionary War. Knox, a 25-year-old bookseller, led an expedition to transport cannons from New York’s Fort Ticonderoga to Boston to combat the siege of that city. What better audience for the book than Knox “himself”? Seen here with the book is historical re-enactor Bob Heffner, who regularly portrays Knox at schools, libraries, museums, and historical sites. Silvey and Minor discovered Heffner via Facebook (which also might have come in handy during the siege of Boston); the actor plans to incorporate the book into his presentations. Photo: Heather Lewis. more...

    Harper’s Holiday Spirit
    The marketing department at HarperCollins Children’s Books celebrated the holiday season with its annual Yankee Swap. Staffers brought in anonymous gifts and selected a number. In order, each opened a gift, with the option of switching it for a gift that had already been opened. Here, the department shows off their treasures, including this year’s sought-after gifts: an elephant hat, a sock monkey wine holder, and the board game Apples to Apples. more...

    Little, Brown and Meyer Support Red Cross
    Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and author Stephenie Meyer donated $1.5 million to the American Red Cross International Response Fund from a portion of the sales of Meyer’s The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella, which Little, Brown published back in June. Pictured here, at the check presentation on Monday, are (l. to r.) LBYR publisher Megan Tingley, Hachette Book Group CEO David Young, and American Red Cross senior v-p of international services David Meltzer. more...

    Preparing for ‘The Water Wars’
    Sourcebooks got a jump on the new year last week, celebrating writer Cameron Stracher’s first YA novel, The Water Wars, which Sourcebooks Fire will publish in January. The book is set in a near future in which a lack of water has led to rationing, wars, and black markets. Stracher spoke about water scarcity and conservation at the event, which was held at 200 Orchard, a bar in New York City, and attended by media and publishing figures, librarians, and bloggers. Here, Stracher is flanked by his editor, Leah Hultenschmidt (l.), and his agent, Lisa Bankoff. more...

    Rights Report

    Justin Chanda at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Gretchen Hirsch at Margaret K. McElderry Books have bought rights to Blood Red Road, a teen dystopian novel by debut author Moira Young. The story follows a girl named Saba, who lives in the wastelands known as Silverlake; after her twin brother is abducted, Saba is forced to leave to rescue him, and discovers a lawless, ugly world beyond Silverlake. Blood Red Road is set for worldwide publication in June 2011, to be released by Marion Lloyd Books at Scholastic in the U.K., and Random House in Canada. Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free, has optioned the project. Gillie Russell from Aitken Alexander Associates negotiated the deal, which includes audio rights.

    Katherine Tegen of Katherine Tegen Books at HarperCollins has bought three books by author Kathryn Littlewood, in a six-figure deal for North American rights. Michael Stearns and Ted Malawer of literary development company Inkhouse pitched the series as "Chocolat meets Cheaper by the Dozen." Book one, Bliss, follows 11-year-old Rosemary Bliss, the daughter of the owners of Bliss Bakery, who, along with her three siblings, cause a stir when they get their hands on their family's secret cookbook, which has been used for centuries to keep their town healthy and happy. Bliss is scheduled for winter 2012, and Stearns is handling dramatic and foreign rights through his agency, Upstart Crow Literary.

    Nancy Mercado at Roaring Brook Press acquired North American rights to Piney Moon, a second middle-grade novel by Nancy Marino, author of Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me, In her new book, an 11-year-old musical prodigy freezes on stage on America's most popular televised talent contest and seeks refuge in the New Jersey Pinelands, where his friendship with a local girl and their search for a mythical song lead to a journey of hope and healing. Rosemary Stimola of Stimola Literary Studio brokered the deal for fall 2012 publication.

    Jennifer Hunt at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has acquired world rights to debut author Lauren Roedy Vaughn’s The Dude and Me, about a teen dealing with the awkwardness of high school compounded by the challenges of OCD and ADD. Publication is set for spring 2012. Amy Burkhardt of Kimberley Cameron & Associates was the agent.

    Kate Sullivan at Little, Brown Books for Young Reader has bought 19-year-old author Kody Keplinger’s (The DUFF) second YA novel, Luststruck, a contemporary reimagining of the Greek play Lysistrata as high school senior Lissa decides to end her school’s sports rivalry with a hook-up strike. The Poppy imprint will publish it in fall 2011. Joanna Volpe at Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation did the deal for world rights.

    In the Media

    From the New York Times:
    E-readers with color open the door for pictures, as more than 100 titles are added to the iBookstore, many of them picture books. Click here.

    From the Christian Science Monitor:
    Are color e-readers a boon for or bane of children's books? Click here.

    From NPR:
    A look at multi-platform books, which allow kids to move seamlessly from the printed page to the digital page, with a focus on Fourth Story Media and The 39 Clues. Click here.

    From ReadWriteWeb:
    A 16-year-old reports on why teenagers don't and won't tweet. Click here.

    From the Huffington Post:
    Get your Scrooge on: the five worst books to give kids for Christmas. Click here.

    And from
    Five geeky picture books that don't exist, but should. Click here.

    From Film News:
    Which classic children’s book does actress Selma Blair credit with changing her life? Click here.

    From KillerFilm:
    Our favorite headline of the week: "Taylor Lautner Incarcerated" – reporting on the Twilight star signing on to star in the movie version of Catherine Fisher’s dystopian YA novel Incarceron. Click here.

    From School Library Journal:
    Children's authors and illustrators share some favorite childhood holiday memories. Click here.


    Josie Leavitt
    A Holiday Elf
    We’ve all heard of elves. Some of us believe in them, and others choose not to. I am a believer. While I’ve never actually seen an elf, I know they [...] more...

    Josie Leavitt
    It’s Co-op Time
    As if the end of the year weren’t hectic enough, most publishers have December 31st deadlines for claiming co-op monies. The amount of co-op earned is a percent of the [...] more...

    Josie Leavitt
    End of Year Advice
    As a counter point to a post from last week, Holiday Wish List, I’m adding my two cents for ways to make the end of the year go smoothly for [...] more...

    Featured Reviews

    Little White Rabbit
    Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-200642-4

    Dipping into the grassy, blossoming palette of his My Garden, Henkes depicts a bunny's spring day. His sequence salutes Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd's classic The Runaway Bunny, for this little white rabbit also has a good imagination. "When he hopped through the high grass, he wondered what it would be like to be green," and "When he hopped by the fir trees, he wondered what it would be like to be tall." Each time the rabbit ponders another way of life, a wordless spread follows, picturing him camouflaged, tree-height, or transformed into a stone bunny for an entire day. more...

    Close to Famous
    Joan Bauer. Viking, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-01282-4

    Bauer (Peeled) tweaks a familiar recipe in this heartwarming novel about a determined girl who faces adversity with humor, heart--and cupcakes. A recent sixth-grade graduate (by the skin of her teeth), Foster McFee lands in tiny Culpepper, W.Va., with her mother after the two of them hightail it away from Mom's abusive, Elvis-impersonator boyfriend in Memphis. Foster has already known her share of tough times: her soldier father was killed in Iraq, and she's been struggling through school, unable to read. But Foster's dream of having her own show on the Food Network is a powerful force... more...

    See all of this week's reviews.



    Pete Bohan has left his job as children's marketing manager at Chronicle Books and is relocating to New York City for personal reasons. Previously he was marketing and promotions manager at Workman. He can be reached here.

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