I want to do all of the books with Jonathan Stutzman and Heather Fox. They’re exceptionally talented, brimming with sensational ideas, and deeply passionate about children’s literature. You’ll first get to see their work together in June 2019 with Llama Destroys the World, followed quickly by Don’t Feed the Coos! (Winter 2020), Fitz and Cleo Book One, Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse (both Spring 2020), Butts Are Everywhere (Putnam Fall 2020), and Fitz and Cleo Book Two. Get ready, world!
I haven’t done a lot of nonfiction in my career. I was so immensely proud to work on Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews and Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill. Ada’s Violin by Susan Hood with art by Sally Wern Comport was a joy to edit. Way back when, I edited Don’t Pigeonhole Me, an adult coffee table book by Mo Willems. And most recently, I partnered with Melissa de la Cruz on Because I Was a Girl: True Stories for Girls of All Ages.
I’m a big fan of books like Little Leaders and Women in Science, and it’s exciting to see the wealth of titles coming out in comparable formats. I was eager to see what I could bring to the table and came up with the idea for Firsts, a series that profiles people who were the first to accomplish something.
Lately, I’ve been hungry for true stories, often on topics—full disclosure—that I don’t really understand. That’s true of Whose Right Is It Anyway? The Second Amendment and the Fight Over Guns by Hana Bajramovic. I knew only the basics of the Second Amendment, which seemed wrong in an era where gun violence and conversations about gun rights were ubiquitous. After Whose Right Is It Anyway?, Hana will do a deep dive on the Fourteenth Amendment.
I’ve never in my life done an alphabet book, but Kate Farrell’s text for V Is for Voting was just too good and too timely (voting is always timely) to pass up.
Finally, I’ve long been a fan of Venus and Serena Williams. What these two women, these SISTERS, have accomplished is truly remarkable. What has always stood out to me about the Williams sisters is how close they are. The two of them have been through some things! Through it all, they’ve not only stood by one another, but they have celebrated each other’s accomplishments, while simultaneously making the world better for female professional athletes. Jamie and Ebony are a match made in heaven.
I love stars, be they in the sky or in the pages of Entertainment Weekly. I particularly adore starred reviews of books...and Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies just got one from School Library Journal!
*TRIMMER, Christian. Snow Pony and the Seven Miniature Ponies. illus. by Jessie Sima. 48p. S. & S. Aug. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481462686.
K-Gr 2–Children come from miles around to see the aptly named Snow Pony, whose coat is the color of snow and whose mane is as dark as ebony. Known for her hair-braiding and line-dancing skills, Snow Pony regularly puts on shows for an adoring public, along with her best friend, a little girl named Charmaine, and Hunter the dog. But a rival pony, the jealous Queenie, is determined to seize the spotlight and subject the crowds to scrapbooking lessons. This retelling softens the edges of “Snow White” and jettisons the romance in favor of a friendship-heavy plot. No poison here—Queenie merely distracts Snow Pony with a trail of apples that lead her into the woods, where she gets lost and meets seven miniature ponies. While Snow Pony immediately bonds with her new pals, she longs to see Charmaine and Hunter again (and her pals are just as worried about her). Bright illustrations depict winsome settings and characters. Accompanied by sparkling stars, Snow Pony cuts a graceful figure, while the endearingly eccentric, diminutive ponies are squat, with long manes covering their eyes. This version of the tale strikes a whimsical note, eschewing snark in favor of offbeat but kid-friendly humor, and though on the lengthy side, it’ll easily grab children’s attention. VERDICT Fairy-tale reimaginings are common, but this quirky one more than holds its own. A superb story for longer read-alouds and one-on-one sharing.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly also had nice things to say: "This book will top the pile of bedtime favorites in horse-loving households, with jokes thrown in for the grown-ups, to boot." And Booklist justly called me out for being ridiculous: "Trimmer's tongue-in-cheek story is full aware of its ridiculous premise--not to mention the irresistible adorableness of miniature horses--but readers lured by these won't be disappointed."
When you're editing a picture book, you have very regular contact with the project. You communicate with the author to get the manuscript just right. You review copy edits and consult with design. You pore over sketches and then tighter sketches and final art. Pass after pass routes until the book is perfect and ready to go to the printer. You talk about the book with sales and marketing and publicity and librarians, in meetings and at conferences. The time seems to fly, and then, suddenly, you find a finished book in your inbox.
Writing a picture book is a very different experience. You work with your editor to get the story just right--my editor (the brilliant Emma Ledbetter) and I did that back in December 2016. Occasionally, you'll get an email with an update or be asked to review sketches, but weeks, even months, can go by. And then, suddenly, there's a box of books with your name on the cover at your front door.
I'm proud to have my name on the cover of this particular book—Teddy's Favorite Toy is my most personal story to date and one that speaks to themes I wholeheartedly believe in. Booklist called it a "refreshingly bold story that makes its message clear without being pedantic" in its starred review. And Publishers Weekly wrote, "Trimmer's [that's me!] smart, closely observed portrait celebrates a boy and a mother whose relationship grows out of mutual respect," also in a starred review. I really love what Horn Book had to say: "The story’s implicit messages—that it should be unremarkable when boys play with dolls; that parents can become superheroic to do right by their children—ring loud, true, and...funny." The book is also a Junior Library Guild selection.
I hope you enjoy it!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Molly Ellis, Director of Publicity
Macmillan Publishing Group
GUILLERMO DEL TORO AND DANIEL KRAUS COLLABORATE ON NOVEL
New York, NY (XX XX, 2017) – Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group, will publishThe Shape of Water, an original adult novel that both mirrors and extends the story told by the feature film of the same name. Fox Searchlight Pictures will release the film, which has already won the coveted Golden Lion as Best Picture at the Venice International Film Festival, on December 1, 2017. Based on an original idea by del Toro and Kraus, The Shape of Water has been developed from the ground up as a bold two-tiered release—one story interpreted by two artists in the independent mediums of film and literature.
The Shape of Water is set in Cold War-era Baltimore at the Occam Aerospace Research Center, which has recently received its most sensitive asset ever: an amphibious man captured in the Amazon. What unfolds is a haunting love story between the asset and one of the female janitors on staff, a mute woman who uses sign language to communicate with the creature. The book features illustrations by visual artist James Jean, and weaves fantasy, fable, and romance to create a tale that is equally gripping on the page as it is on the big screen.
Kraus and Del Toro previously collaborated on the young adult novel Trollhunters, which was adapted into the most-watched family show in Netflix history. It was during a meeting about that project that the two began to develop the idea which became The Shape of Water.
“This is a story I've been thinking about since I was six years old and saw Julie Adams in Creature from the Black Lagoon,” said Guillermo del Toro. “I always hoped she and the creature would end up together, but they didn't. It was over a breakfast with my Trollhunters collaborator Daniel Kraus that he told me about his version of a similar idea and I knew immediately that we'd cracked the story, both for the movie and the book.”
“The Shape of Water is my oldest spark of an idea—I’ve been carrying it around inside me since I was fifteen,” said Daniel Kraus. “But it wasn’t a fully fleshed story until I met Guillermo. Within seconds of telling him the premise, he began filling in the narrative blanks. I love writing with Guillermo because he’s the the most earnest, emotionally open artist I know, and those sensibilities compliment my darker, grittier tendencies.”
“Guillermo and Daniel are two of my favorite storytellers,” said editorial director Christian Trimmer. “And what they have created with The Shape of Water is nothing short of brilliant.”
Trimmer negotiated the book deal with Richard Abate of 3 Arts Entertainment and Gary Ungar of Exile Entertainment for World Rights. Publication is planned for February 27, 2018. The film, directed by del Toro and starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, and Richard Jenkins, will be released by Fox Searchlight on December 1, 2017.
Teddy's Favorite Toy publishes in just over two months, and the reviews are starting to come in. I'm thrilled to include two STARRED reviews here and to announce that the book is a Junior Library Guild selection.
Booklist called the book "refreshingly bold," "dynamic," and "appealing." Read the whole review here.
Publishers Weekly noted illustrator Madeline Valentine's "extravagant fashion looks worthy of Project Runway or RuPaul's Drag Race" and called out Teddy's use of "YAS, QUEEN!" (I'm incredibly proud to have written the first picture book to use that magical phrase.) Check out the review here.
I've always loved fairy tales. As a child, I sought them out in whatever form they took--picture books, short story collections, Disney films.
I used to love horses (I still like them, but the passion doesn't run as deep). My friend Heather had one. I vividly remember a photo of her atop it in her chic riding gear. It blew my mind that a kid my age could OWN A HORSE.
As a children's book editor, I've enjoyed reading fairy tale reimaginings, though I've yet to work on any (hint, hint). So, I decided to write one of my own. Happily, the always brilliant Justin Chanda wanted to work on it, and he reached out to the magnificent Jessie Sima to see if she might illustrate it. (See? I told you--brilliant.) She said yes.
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:
Special thanks to Carter Higgins for doing the cover reveal!
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.
When I was a little boy, my favorite toy in the whole world was the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman doll.
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.
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.
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.
I sent Christian McKay Heidicker a present recently, and he opened it in a very creative, very scandalous manner. Enjoy. Work-unfriendly.*
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 Story, The 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 Trouble, Remix 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 Yorker, The New York Times, The 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!
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!
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:
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!
Wishing you prosperity, longevity, and happiness!
--Mimi and Shu
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!
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!