Cover Reveal: BAD GUY

Hannah Barnaby crafted a hilarious story about a child's desire to be the villain (and to torture his sister). As a kid, I preferred to be the hero, Wonder Woman specifically, but I see the appeal. Mike Yamada has brought the story to life with his vibrant, brilliant art. Here's just a taste of what the book will be:

Bam!

Bam!

Special thanks to Carter Higgins for doing the cover reveal

 

Add It to the List: BENT HEAVENS by Daniel Kraus

Just a couple of months after I started at Simon & Schuster, I received a proposal and some sample chapters for The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch. I was beyond desperate to work on the two-book series and celebrated heartily after I won the auction. In a little more than two months, after three-plus years and almost 1500 pages, Zebulon's complete story will be out in the world. 

I thought Daniel might want to take a break after finishing his epic, but no. He's eager to write the next story, and when that one is done, he'll immediately move on to the next one. Daniel has so many stories in him that he's racing against the clock. 

That next story is Bent Heavens, a contemporary--!--story told from the point-of-view of a young woman--!!! It's so different from all of Daniel's previous books but promises to be, as always,  intelligent, terrifying, morally complex, and brilliant.

My Third Book Deal

When I was a little boy, my favorite toy in the whole world was the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman doll.

The resemblance is uncanny!

The resemblance is uncanny!

Oh, how I loved her. She was beautiful and powerful and such good company. I would tragically lose her (and no, I didn't misplace her--I lost her), and to this day, I feel her absence.

The memory of her was triggered by Target's decision last year to stop labeling toys for boys or girls. I have the sense that neither my mom nor dad liked that I spent so much time with a Barbie-like doll, which added a weight to playtime. It was a crappy feeling.

A more political Knuffle Bunny for a slightly older reader, Teddy's Favorite Toy is a love letter to moms. It's also the perfect book for parents who could give two shits about giving their child "gender appropriate" toys. Teddy's Favorite Toy is my most personal story to date, though I've rewritten history to give Teddy a happier ending.

I'm thrilled that Madeline Valentine is illustrating--her work is so cool, and she's here in New York! I might get to meet her! And I've already loved working with Emma. Her notes on the manuscript gave the story more heart and pep.

Add It to the List: The Worldquake Sequence by Scarlett Thomas

When I first started in children's publishing, I was surrounded by amazing middle-grade projects: Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, Bartimaeus. Over the years, I've had a hard time finding middle-grade novels that I wanted to edit. At Hyperion, I worked on books in the three series just mentioned, along with the first books in Robin Mellom's The Classroom series. In my three years at Simon & Schuster, I've edited just three middle-grade books: Red Butterfly and the two Miles Taylor books. Happily, I've just doubled that figure by acquiring the first three books in acclaimed novelist Scarlett Thomas's Worldquake Sequence. 

The first book, Dragon's Green, reminded me of all the things I loved about Percy, Artemis, and Bartimaeus: unforgettable characters, twisty plot, and brilliant world-building. Add to the mix Roald Dahl-esque adults and Harry Potter-like food descriptions and I was sold. Scarlett tackles big ideas in the way that Philip Pullman does with the writing elegance of Katherine Rundell.

Dragon's Green comes out in Summer 2017.

Add It it to the List: THE REMEMBER BALLOONS by Jessie Oliveros, art by Dana Wulfekotte

My taste in picture books was very much shaped by my work with the great Mo Willems. I was fortunate to edit a bunch of Elephant & Piggie books, a couple of Pigeon titles, a Knuffle Bunny project, even an adult coffee-table book. Mo's slightly subversive sense of humor, his expert use of spare text, and his respect for his young readers still influence my picture-book acquisitions--see Ben Clanton, Mike Boldt, Ashlyn Anstee, and Jessie Sima, for example, as well as my own picture books. 

But every now and then, I go for something very different. The Night Gardener was unlike any book I'd ever acquired and also one of the most rewarding experiences. Same goes for Ada's Violin, which is one of the best stories I've ever heard...and it's true!

Add to that short list The Remember Balloons, the debut picture book by Jessie Oliveros. It's easily one of the most powerful picture-book manuscripts I've ever read, taking on a subject matter--dementia--rarely seen in the market. I'm so happy that Dana Wulfekotte is doing the art. She conveys so much emotion with her illustrations, and there's a brightness to her palette that feels right for Jessie's story.

This is my first deal with both Mike at Dystel & Goodrich and Sean at Sean McCarthy Literary. I've known Sean since his days at Sheldon Fogelman Agency...when I was working on Mo Willems's books.

 

 

It's My Summer 2016 Novels!

Recently, I shared some background on the creation of the covers for my Summer 2016 picture books. Now, let's get to the novels!

From time to time, it makes sense to try a different approach for the paperback edition of a book, and that's what we did with Attack of the Alien Horde. I sat down with designer Greg Stadnyk and looked at a bunch of superhero comics, movie posters, concept art, and fan art. We drew a lot of inspiration from these graphic images.

Dusty Higgins brought his own interpretation to the idea and delivered this awesome piece of art...

You'll notice that we decided to play up the book title versus the series name, a reversal from our position on the original edition. Greg came up with a TON of options for the title treatment, and I'm super in love with our selection--it's high impact and dramatic. Everything yellow is going to be printed over foil. It's ridiculously cool.

Now that we had a new direction for the series, we needed to come up with a cover for Book Two: Rise of the Robot Army (6/14/16). We knew that we had to feature the robots, and along with Miles, we wanted to incorporate Miles's best friend Henry, as well as new character Lenore (aka Skip). Having this many characters on the cover made our simple graphic approach much more challenging, but Dusty WORKED IT OUT. 

That lead robot and Miles's cape will print over foil for an eye-catching, shimmery effect.

I have two YA offerings for Summer 2016. Cure for the Common Universe (6/14/16) by the wonderful Christian McKay Heidicker follows 16-year-old Jaxon, who may or may not be addicted to video games. If you ask me, he is. His father and stepmother agree with me, and on the very day that Jaxon secures his first real date with a human living young woman, his parents send him off to video game rehabilitation. Now, Jaxon has less than a week to "beat" rehab if he's to make it to his date. Fun, right?

Cure has the big-cast appeal of It's Kind of a Funny StoryThe Breakfast Club, and/or Girl, Interrupted. In rehab, Jaxon will meet like-minded individuals, though he will go out of his way to prove that he's nothing like Soup, Aurora, Meeki, or the other members of his guild. And he will have to confront his shitty worldview, much of it shaped by the games he spends hours playing every day.

Christian did a really fun scavenger-hunt cover reveal a few months back, and he gave props to eBoy, who created the shockingly cool cover art. But let's back up a couple of months. Greg Stadnyk, the designer for the novel, was really excited about the prospect of working with eBoy on this cover, and I was immediately sold on the idea. eBoy's artwork perfectly captures the hyperrealistic worlds Christian's characters spend the bulk of their time in. Initially, we wanted eBoy to create a new piece for us, showcasing the cool setting (the Utah desert), the rehab facility (Video Horizons), and our big cast of characters. But our budget allowed for one character and one simple building--those pixelated worlds don't come cheap!

Still, we asked eBoy to give it a try. The early drafts were pretty bleak. The art was cool, but the whole point in commissioning eBoy was to get an over-the-top, jam-packed video game extravaganza. What we got reminded me of the smallest Lego sets you can buy, the ones with one figure and his hard hat and maybe a cactus. We were still eager to work with eBoy, so Greg and I pored over their archives and licensed a piece of art that fit our vision. That's how we ended up with this masterpiece:

The title and byline will be printed in a fifth color and will have spot gloss on them.

Finally, we have Remix (7/5/16) from the uber-gifted Non Pratt, with whom I worked on Trouble, a novel I was very happy to inherit when I started at S & S. Like TroubleRemix is about friendship. While Trouble explored the early days of a friendship destined to become of the best quality, Remix looks at the struggles two best friends must overcome to keep their friendship intact. 

The story is told from two points of view: Kaz, the more responsible one, who has recently had her heart broken by the boy she thought she'd be with forever; and Ruby, the spontaneous one, who has never been much for romance but who refuses to acknowledge how much she cares about a boy she was, until recently, snogging. (The novel is set in England.) The lives of our two protagonists are about to change dramatically. For one, for their final year of high school, they will not be attending the same school. And two, Ruby's big brother, whom she adores, is moving to California. The girls, mourning their soon-to-be losses, decide to go to a weekend music festival to bond and forget about their worries. 

As is de rigueur in today's industry, we wanted to do something illustrated, so designer Lizzy Bromley combed through her tumblr favorites to see who could capture the right spirit. We settled on the brilliant Istvan Banyai, whose work has graced The New YorkerThe New York TimesThe Washington Post, and many other fancy publications. After we told Istvan the basic premise of the story, he got to work and delivered many options, like these two:

We loved the energy of the first option and the portrayal of friendship in the second, and we asked Istvan to combine the two while also providing more detail on our protagonists.

After a bit of back and forth, we had an image that we loved, and Lizzy dropped this bomb color and type treatment on it:

That vibrant pinkish red is a fifth color. The full wrap is magnificent--you'll see when you buy the book.

Check out the "Coming Soon" tab to learn more about these books!

It's My Three-Year Anniversary!

Every Tax Day, I'm reminded that, once again, I've forgotten to pay my taxes AND that I'm celebrating the start of another year at Simon & Schuster.

In the three years I've been a member of the BFYR team, fourteen books I've acquired (along with ten that I inherited) have found their way into bookstores, libraries, schools, and homes, with many more to come. I'm very proud of the list I've put together in my time at Simon & Schuster. As a thank-you to you, dear readers, I'm giving away some books. Yes, I know, I should be the one receiving gifts, but please, let me do this.

There are three prize packs.

One lucky winner will receive all of the picture books I've worked on.

One fortunate recipient will get all of the young adult books.  

And one charmed being will win my whole list.

To enter, between 4/14 and 4/21, tag me in a tweet (@MisterTrimmer). Include the link to this post. As an example:

Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons never expire, @MisterTrimmer [link to this blog post]

For a second chance to win, retweet my original tweet announcing the giveaway:

 

Thanks to all the amazing people I work with for three glorious years!

 

It's My Summer 2016 Picture Books!

Summer is nearly upon us--HUZZAH!--which means the books of summer will be hitting bookshelves very soon--DOUBLE HUZZAH! As I've done the last two seasons, for Spring 2016
and Fall 2015, I wanted to give you, dear reader, a glimpse into the cover-designing process. A LOT of thought, time, and energy goes into the creation of these beautiful images. My Summer 2016 is pretty big, so I'm going to break it up into two blog posts: picture books and novels.

Let's start with Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay (5/3/16) by Susan Hood with art by Sally Wern Comport. I don't think we considered any concepts other than the below for this amazing true story of an orchestra made up of children playing instruments built from trash. Sally so expertly combines the major elements of the story--Ada, her violin, the trash, and the orchestra members--in this inspiring, stunning piece of art. Early versions of the cover were in warmer tones, but we decided to go with shades of blue to capture the spirit and joy of the orchestra. 

I'm very happy to be simultaneously publishing a Spanish-language edition.

We printed the jacket of the F & G's for Ada's Violin on a gritty matte paper in an effort to capture the grittiness of the setting. Though the finished product looked cool, the paper was almost too gritty--it didn't feel great in your hands. The actual book jacket is now on a regular stock with matte lamination and a beautiful spot gloss on the title.

Next up we have It Came in the Mail (6/21/16) by Ben Clanton. The story follows young Liam who loves getting mail...except he never gets any. He comes up with the brilliant idea to send his mailbox a piece of mail, asking for some mail in return, and the mailbox delivers. The first item the mailbox sends Liam is a delightful dragon; the interior image looks like this:

When I presented It Came in the Mail in our Summer 2016 Launch meeting (where we present all of the summer titles to the sales and marketing team), this moment got a big, "Awwww!" Lucy, that genius designer, suggested we make a version of the art our cover. We thought a less crispy version of Liam better suited the front cover, and Ben obliged. 

The book has a trim size of 8.5 x 11 inches. The jacket has a matte lamination.

Finally, we have A Tiger Tail (Or What Happened to Anya on Her First Day of School), a fantastic new offering from author-illustrator Mike Boldt. Mike's a pretty big deal in his homeland of Canada, and he's garnering attention in the United States for his work on Dev Petty's I Don't Want to Be a Frog. I scooped up A Tiger Tail and a second picture book in a hotly contested auction. 

Almost always, the cover is the last piece of art to be completed on a picture book. The book's designer (in this case, Krista Vossen) wants to see how the interiors come together before thinking about the cover. Sometimes, there's a piece of interior art that will double as the front cover; other times, a new piece of art is created. For this book, the latter was the case. We reached out to Mike to see if he had any ideas, and he delivered the following sketch:

Cover Concept - A Tiger Tail.png

It's not at ALL what I had in my head--it's SO MUCH BETTER. The image so elegantly captures the spirit of the book--just look at Anya's anxious little feet!

Like It Came in the Mail, the book is 8.5 x 11, printed with a matte lamination with a spot gloss on the title treatment.

Check out the "Coming Soon" tab to learn more about these books!

JLG Love

I am feeling the love from the wonderful Junior Library Guild! So far, four books on my 2016 list have been picked for this honor: Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach, Ada's Violin by Susan Hood and Sally Wern Comport, El Violin de Ada, and Rise of the Robot Army by Robert Venditti. Thank you, JLG! 

Add It to the List: BAD GUY by Hannah Barnaby, art by Mike Yamada

Most of the picture books I acquire are the package deal--the author and the illustrator are the same person (see Ashyln Anstee, the Fan Brothers, Ben Clanton, Mike Boldt, and Jessie Sima's books, as examples.) When I do buy a manuscript, there's usually a very clear reason, such as the writer is a celebrity (Laurie Berkner, Quvenzhané Wallis, Ylvis) or there's some obvious promotional opportunity (for example, Ada's Violin, which, beyond being an awesome book, has Earth Day, publicity, and education market potential).

Hannah Barnaby's Bad Guy is simply a well-written and funny story with awesome opportunities for illustrations--all the things you want from a picture book. For sure, the picture book will appeal to families with more than one kid--the story offers an original sibling rivalry narrative--and I've learned that many children relish the opportunity of playing the villain, which our hero excels at. But I really wanted this book on my list because it's GOOD. Mike Yamada's artwork has the right balance of sweetness, humor, and detail--I can't wait to see what he delivers for Bad Guy. It's always a joy to work with his agent, Kirsten Hall at Catbird, and I'd been very eager to do a deal with the glorious Linda Pratt of the Wernick Pratt Agency. Mission: accomplished!

It's "Meet Mimi and Shu" Monday: Look!!!

Remember that kid from elementary school who took her (let's be real--it was usually a girl) time eating whatever birthday treat was brought in? She'd delicately nibble at it or politely lick the frosting while the rest of us shoved the whole thing into our mouths. Then, we'd gather around her desk, begging for a bite of her brownie/cupcake/cookie. That girl had so much power and self-control. I thought of that girl when I was developing Shu. 

A little over two weeks until (Mimi and Shu in) I'll Race You! hits bookshelves!


Add It to the list: THE SHAW CONFESSIONS by Michelle Hodkin

The online edition of my favorite magazine, Entertainment Weekly, just announced that S & S will be publishing three new books with the wonderful and savvy Michelle Hodkin. I was very fortunate, indeed, to inherit editing duties on The Retribution of Mara Dyer, the third book in the Mara Dyer Trilogy. Now, I get to do three more books in that world, all told from the point-of-view of the hot, brilliant Noah Shaw.

You can read EW's article here. They cut my quotation, so here's that portion of the press release:

BESTSELLING YA AUTHOR MICHELLE HODKIN TO PUBLISH A NEW TRILOGY WITH SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

New York, NY, November 3, 2015

What happens after happily ever after? By the end of the Mara Dyer Trilogy, Noah Shaw and Mara Dyer discovered their world-changing abilities along with their love for each other. In the first book of The Shaw Confessions, Noah’s father is murdered, and Noah inherits unimaginable riches, terrible knowledge, and the chance to find other people like himself. But as Noah and Mara begin their global search, they’ll discover that they have very different goals: Noah wants peace. Mara wants power. When the girl of your dreams turns the world into a nightmare, what do you choose? The girl or the world? 

“Like many fans of the Mara Dyer Trilogy, I fell in love with Noah Shaw the moment he was introduced in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer,” says Christian Trimmer, executive editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “Michelle tantalized readers with a few chapters in his voice in The Retribution of Mara Dyer, and I couldn’t be more excited that she is now giving him his own series.” The first book in The Shaw Confessions is scheduled to release in Summer 2017.

“When I wrote the first words of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, I knew that I was writing an antiheroine’s origin story,” says Michelle Hodkin. “What I didn’t know was how many readers would ask for the adventures of that antiheroine and her hero: both powerful, both in love, and almost certain to destroy each other. I always wanted to tell the story of the choices the characters would make and the risks they would take after they discovered who and what they really were, and I’m thrilled to finally have that chance. Readers may think they know Noah Shaw, but there’s so much more to tell.”

Christian Trimmer, who will edit all three books, acquired world rights to the three books from Barry Goldblatt at Barry Goldblatt Literary.