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.

Add It to the List: LIFEBOAT 12 by Susan Hood

I had an amazing, inspiring time working with Susan Hood on Ada's Violin, a picture book that details the origins of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay and comes out this May. Susan poured all of her energy into the development of this picture book manuscript, working with representatives of the Recycled Orchestra, folks at the Landfill Harmonic Movie, and reporters who had covered the orchestra to get the details just right. 

As such, I was thrilled when I received a new submission from her agent, this one for a novel, Susan's first! Lifeboat 12  is based on true events and follows six young boys (ages 9 - 13) who survived a major naval disaster in September 1940. The story details the U-boat torpedo attack on a ship carrying British children to Canada and the subsequent eight days, during which one of the lifeboats, carrying our heroes, was adrift on the Atlantic Ocean.  While the people, dates and events are factual, Susan decided to fictionalize this account to tell it from the point of the view of thirteen-year-old Ken Sparks, the eldest boy on board and the boy who spotted the rescue plane.

True to form, Susan has dived into her research. She has spent some time in London with plans to go back, and she had tracked down some of the survivors of Lifeboat 12!

Lifeboat 12 is scheduled for Fall 2017. 

Add It to the List: Two Books by Ben Clanton

I'm a huge Ben Clanton fan. I inherited his fantastic Something Extraordinary shortly before it went on sale, and I had an enormously good time editing It Came in the Mail, which comes out this summer. Just last week, I got to share the announcement that brilliant Ben would be illustrating two books in the Laurie Berkner program I'm editing. And I have a piece of Clanton original art hanging just to my left as I type this entry. Ben has a great sense of what kids like, and he's a gentleman to boot. 

I was eager to develop a series with Ben, so I asked him if he had any characters he felt could support one. Enter Rot, a mutant potato with bad breath, scraggly hair, and a heart of gold. Admittedly, I never, ever, EVER would have guessed that Ben was going to pitch me a potato, but I'm oh-so-glad he did. Here's the piece that recently appeared in PW's Children's Bookshelf:

Christian Trimmer at Simon & Schuster has acquired two picture books by author-illustrator Ben Clanton: Rot, the Cutest in the World and an untitled Rot sequel. The books introduce Rot, a mutant potato, who enters a beauty pageant where he competes against adorable bunnies, playful kitties, and cute jellyfish. The Rot sequel will continue his adventures and introduce the reader to key family members. The first book is planned for spring 2018, and the sequel will follow in spring 2019; Marietta B. Zacker at Nancy Gallt Literary brokered the deal for world English rights.   

And here's the full Ben Clanton publication plan:

Something Extraordinary: available now!

It Came in the Mail: Summer 2016

We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner: Spring 2017

Rot, the Cutest in the World: Spring 2018

Monster Boogie by Laurie Berkner: Summer 2018

Untitled Rot Sequel: Spring 2019

#TeamBen

 

Add It to the List: Three Books by Laurie Berkner

A little while ago, my boss forwarded me a submission from Jill Grinberg of Jill Grinberg Literary. Laurie Berkner, a huge star in the world of children's music, was interested in turning some of her songs into picture books. To be perfectly honest, I did not know who Laurie was. But her bio was impressive, she was constantly touring, she had a background in education, and she had a massive social media following, so I thought, I really should give this proposal a look. 

I spent a number of days listening to Laurie’s music and watching her videos ahead of my meeting with her, and I was very excited by the possibility of making picture books out of some of her songs. But after meeting Laurie, I was desperate to work with her. Every trait she conveys in her videos—funny, playful, generous, talented—she possesses in person, and then some. And she’s deeply passionate about her art and audience. I find her incredibly inspiring and was thrilled when I was able to acquire these books in a competitive auction. Here's the press release that we sent out recently.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BESTSELLING CHILDREN’S RECORDING ARTIST LAURIE BERKNER TO PUBLISH THREE PICTURE BOOKS WITH SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS

New York, NY, October 13, 2015: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, announced today that it will publish three picture books with award-winning and bestselling children’s music star, Laurie Berkner.

Author Photo_Low Res - Berkner.jpg

We Are the Dinosaurs, based on one of Berkner’s most popular songs, will release in Spring 2017 and will be illustrated by Ben Clanton. Pillowland, a gorgeous lullaby destined to become a beloved bedtime book, is due out in Fall 2017 and will be illustrated by Camille Garoche. Monster Boogie, a hit at Berkner’s live shows, is scheduled for Summer 2018, also to be illustrated by Ben Clanton.

 Ben Clanton will illustrate two of the picture books...

Ben Clanton will illustrate two of the picture books...

 ...and Camille Garoche will do the third.

...and Camille Garoche will do the third.

Berkner, whose latest album, Laurie Berkner’s Favorite Classic Kids’ Songs, hits stores this month, was a former preschool music teacher and indie rocker. She started marketing her music more than fifteen years ago from her living room on her own label, Two Tomatoes Records; today, she is widely recognized as a pioneer in the “kindie” music genre and was crowned “the undisputed queen of kindie rock” by USA TodayThe Wall Street Journal noted, “Her music is distinctive because it speaks to kids without talking down to them, charming youngsters without boring grown-ups.”

“It is no wonder that Laurie is beloved by children and adored by parents,” says Christian Trimmer, executive editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “Her songs, besides being incredibly catchy, are crafted with the utmost care and respect for her audience. She understands what kids, parents, and educators want and need. On top of that, she’s just really cool. I’m very excited to be making books with her.”

“I could not be more thrilled about my collaboration with Simon & Schuster,” says Laurie Berkner. “I’ve always imagined my songs being made into picture books. Now Ben’s and Camille’s stunning talents will bring them to life in ways I can only dream of! Their talent and Simon & Schuster’s expertise (with the gifted Christian Trimmer at the helm) is the perfect combination to help me create many wonderful books to share with my fans.”

Trimmer, who will edit all three books, acquired world rights to the three books from Jill Grinberg at Grinberg Literary. Marietta B. Zacker of Nancy Gallt Literary Agency represented Mr. Clanton. Kirsten Hall of Catbird Agency represented Ms. Garoche.

Add It to the List: Four Books by Quvenzhané Wallis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

QUVENZHANE WALLIS, 2013 ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE FOR BEST ACTRESS, TO PUBLISH FOUR BOOKS WITH SIMON & SCHUSTER CHILDREN’S PUBLISHING

NEW YORK, NY, Wednesday, October 7—Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, announced today that it will publish a three-book chapter book series and a picture book with Academy Award nominee Quvenzhané Wallis.

 Photo courtesy of the actress/writer

Photo courtesy of the actress/writer

World rights were jointly acquired by Christian Trimmer, Executive Editor of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, and Dawn Davis, Vice President and Publisher of 37 INK, a division of Atria, from Esther Newberg of ICM Partners. The yet-to-be-titled chapter book series launches in January 2017, followed by the second chapter book and the picture book in Fall 2017. The third chapter book is scheduled for Summer 2018. Illustrators for the series and the picture book are yet to be selected.

Quvenzhané Wallis, age twelve, is an actress known for her Academy Award–nominated role in the 2012 film Beasts of the Southern Wild, 12 Years a Slave (2013), and last year’s holiday blockbuster, Annie (2014), which garnered the actress a Golden Globe nomination.

“Reading is very important,” notes Quvenzhané Wallis. “It allows people to form a visual experience in their minds of what is going on in the story. I hope all readers enjoy using their imaginations along with me and take a journey into my books.”

Loosely based on the author’s own experiences, Miss Wallis’s yet-to-be-titled picture book follows a spunky young heroine who is very much looking forward to a night out with her mom at an awards show. The duo has a grand time getting dressed up, riding in a limo, and walking the red carpet.

A precocious and talented third grader is the star of Miss Wallis’s chapter book series. The books follow Shai Williams, a star in the making, who has a flair for the dramatic . . . both onstage and off. Perfect for readers ages six and up, the series is sure to appeal to fans of Clementine and Judy Moody.

“I’m thrilled that Quvenzhané is turning her estimable abilities to books,” says Christian Trimmer. “Her dedication to great storytelling is readily apparent. Readers of all ages are in for a big treat.”

“The characters Quvenzhané has portrayed have an alluring mix of self-possession and vulnerability,” adds Dawn Davis. “We look forward to her bringing that same electric combination to the page. We also hope these books will help expand the diverse array of voices in the children’s book space.”


Quvenzhané Wallis is an Academy Award– and Golden Globe–nominated actress whose talents and command of the screen go beyond her young age. Originally from Louisiana, Quvenzhané got her big break at the age of five when she was cast in the lead role in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Quvenzhané’s work in Beasts was hailed by critics as a career-defining performance and one of the best by a young actor in history and led to an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, making Quvenzhané the youngest actress ever to receive that honor. In 2013, she worked alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, Lupita Nyong’o, and Michael Fassbender in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, winner of three Academy Awards. Quvenzhané further propelled her status as an acclaimed lead actress in her Golden Globe–nominated role as the titular character in the feature film Annie (2014), a modern retelling of the Broadway classic that has delighted audiences for generations, alongside Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz. Most recently, Quvenzhané starred in the animated movie adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s iconic worldwide bestselling book The Prophet, which was produced by and starred Salma Hayek, along with Liam Neeson, Jon Krasinski, and Alfred Molina. She is next set to star alongside Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried in the Gabriele Muccino–directed Fathers and Daughters. Recently announced, Quvenzhané also is attached to the film adaptation of the New York Times bestselling book, Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan. In that film, she will portray main character Willow Chance.  



SIMON'S NEW BED Instagram Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Simon's New Bed Twitter giveaway. Now let's do the same thing on Instagram! You--yes, YOU--could win one of three signed copies (by me and the artist, Melissa van der Paardt). Here's how to enter:

Between Monday, 10/5 and Monday, 10/12, post a photo on Instagram of your cat in your dog's bed, your small child in your cat's bed, your guinea pig in your bed, etc. Your post should include the following copy: Get your own bed! #SimonsNewBed http://bit.ly/1YEvxpo (plus any other clever copy you'd like to add).

Post up to three different pictures for three chances to win. Entrants' names will be put in a hat, and three lucky winners will be selected!

Good luck!

CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE (Actual) Cover Real and Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt Winners!

And now, some news from Christian McKay Heidicker:

Welcome back, scavengers! Glad you survived that crazy, pixelated city.

 It would be exhaustive to list everything discovered on the CURE cover, so I’ll just name the top ten things I didn’t even know were on there (and a few that made me chuckle):

1.         “Six barber-pole swords”

2.         “A man reading a love letter written with invisible ink”

3.         “A lucha libre parade float falling in the street” alternately “Just the sweetest, fattest, blue-haired little baby chubbo that better end up on a t-shirt or I'm going to scream and cry at the same time. Scry? Cream? Hmmmm.”

4.         “A camouflage helicopter blasting David Bowie music (obviously)” alternately “the Quad City DJs copter blasting tunes to the neighborhood”

5.         “1/10 of a robo-squid”

6.         “The bottom of someone's leg, wearing a purple-striped sock. This person must be a giant.”

7.         “Two happy green tripods talking about the upcoming presidential election (they're both rooting for Trump).” alternately “A couple of gleeps having a sweet convo”

8.         “A rather muscular wrestler standing under a purple umbrella with his favorite child (everyone has a favorite).”

9.         “A potted succulent on a balcony.”

10.   “That yellow dog head is totally licking its own eyeball.” alternately “A dog-head sculpture. Maybe it's a vehicle... If people ride in these, do they stick their heads out the window?”

And, of course, they can all by seen now, by you, in full, on the cover of Cure for the Common Universe:

 Pretty nifty, eh?

Pretty nifty, eh?

This eye candy of a book was pitched by John Cusick, bought by Simon & Schuster BFYR, edited by Christian Trimmer [that's me!], and designed by Greg Stadnyk with art by eboy. I feel obscenely lucky to work with such talented people and to have such a jaw-dropping luscious cover. I only hope the words inside live up to it.

As my friend Korey Hunt, who actually came up with the idea for a story about a video game rehab in the first place . . . MISCHIEF SCAVENGED.

But that’s not why you’re here.

You’re here to see if you won one of our five elite prizes, which, to remind you, look like this:

Our five Manic Pixel Dream Reveal winners are . . .

1.         Krys McCintyre

2.         Yamille Mendez

3.         Annette Weed

4.         Alicia Van Noy Call

5.         Tim Campbell

The Cotton Floozy will get stitching and Simon & Schuster will get printing and we’ll hopefully have your stuff out to you by December.

Thank you for hunting. I hope you enjoy the inside of the book as much as I enjoy the outside. 

See you in June,

Christian McKay Heidicker

P.S. Thanks to all of the bloggers who participated: Christian Trimmer, John Cusick, Elana Johnson, Jennifer Bardsley, Valynne Maetani (friend and agent-getter), Brooke Lark (who designed my website and shot the prizes!), Carol Lynch Williams (who taught me a thing or eight about writing), and finally, Marie Davis Brian, The Cotton Floozy, who made the embroidery-posing-as-cross-stitch that elicited just as much drool as the cover.

[END CORRESPONDENCE]

How fun! Congratulations to the winners! Don't forget to add Cure for the Common Universe to your "Want to Read" shelf on Goodreads. The novel will be available for pre-order beginning this weekend--why not order it now so that you receive a surprise package early next summer?

 

CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE Cover Reveal and Scavenger Hunt, Part 2

And now, a message from the charming Christian McKay Heidicker. He likes to write in ALL CAPS, which is odd as his speaking voice is quite calm:

WELCOME TO THE MANIC PIXEL SCAVENGER HUNT!

LET’S GET SCAVENGING!

Cure 3.png

Ooh. Aah.

For a chance to win, just participate in the Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt. Here's one of the nine pixels now:

What do you see?

Write down your findings from this and the other pixels at any or all of the other blogs (listed below) and email them to me at cmheidicker@gmail.com or message them to C.M. Heidicker on Facebook.

For every three things you send, I’ll put your name in a hat (or my jeans pocket), and then I’ll draw five names out of the hat/pocket and send prize packages to those people.

Go! Get started! Win it! Win it all!

Here are the eight other participating blogs.

Valynne Maetani

Carol Lynch Williams

Elana Johnson

John Cusick

Brooke Lark

Jennifer Bardsley

The Cotton Floozy

Christian McKay Heidicker

#cureforthecommonuniverse #manicpixel

Tune in tomorrow to find out if you’ve won!

Prepare to be cured June 2016.

CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE Cover Reveal AND Scavenger Hunt

Over the last number of months, I've had the supreme joy of working with Christian McKay Heidicker on his debut novel, Cure for the Common Universe, and I'm now partnering with him to reveal its cover. I've talked quite a bit about Cure for the Common Universe on my site, here and also here. But now, I'd like to give the other Christian a chance to speak. Please listen closely.

[Begin correspondence from Author Christian.]

Hello, everyone. My name is Christian McKay Heidicker.

WELCOME TO THE CURE FOR THE COMMON UNIVERSE COVER REVEAL AND SCAVENGER HUNT!

Whew. That’s a mouthful. Let’s try . . .

MANIC PIXEL SCAVENGER HUNT!

There. Better.

You may be asking yourself, Where’s the cover? I came here to see a cover.

Okay, first, have I told you how nice your hair looks today?

And second, the cover isn’t here.

Cure’s cover art is a little intense to take in all at once, so for everyone’s safety, I’ve divided it into nine pieces (er, pixels) and spread them across the internet.

WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO US? you're asking.

To make a scavenger hunt, of course. What’s the use of a book about a kid going to video game rehab if there isn’t some gaming first?! The art is reminiscent of books like I Spy or Where’s Waldo?, so this scavenger hunt will work just like that...except instead of finding a cat's eye marble or some seemingly friendless chump in a red and white striped sweater, you’ll receive ACTUAL PRIZES.

Five lucky winners will receive a signed ARC (advanced reading copy) of Cure for the Common Universe AND an embroidery of one of the phrases from the book, hand stitched by the extremely talented Cotton Floozy.

GAH! I WANT THAT. HOW DO I WIN? you're scream shouting.

Every one of the nine pixels is packed with cool objects. Make a list of all of the fun things you discover and send said list in an email to cmheidicker@gmail.com or message to C.M. Heidicker on Facebook. For every three items on your list, I’ll enter your name in the drawing.

EXAMPLE:

Subject: Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt

Dearest Christian,

I found:

1.         A puppy made of garlic cloves

2.         A bottomless bowl of undercooked breadsticks

3.         A Christmas tree wearing lipstick

4.         Amelia Earheart’s monocle

5.         A bottomless bowl of overcooked breadsticks

6.         A Who*

(*Objects not actually on cover. This imaginary person would receive two entries in the Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt.)

THAT’S IT!

Tomorrow, I’ll post the whereabouts of the nine pixels, on this blog and at www.cmheidicker.com. (You can also follow them with #cureforthecommonuniverse and #manicpixel.)

The Manic Pixel Scavenger Hunt begins!

[End correspondence from Author Christian.]

Hey readers, it's Editor Christian. You're going to love this cover and book. Make sure to add the novel to your "Want to Read" shelf on Goodreads.

For now, I'll leave you with this image and the question, What do Christian McKay Heidicker and Miley Cyrus have in common?

Prepare to be cured, June 2016.

SIMON'S NEW BED Twitter Giveaway!

Simon's New Bed has been out for a whole month, which means it's time to give some copies away! You--yes, YOU--could win one of three signed copies (by moi and the artist, Melissa van der Paardt). Here's how to enter:

Between Friday, 9/25 and Friday, 10/2, post a photo on Twitter of your cat in your dog's bed, your kid in your cat's bed, your anaconda in your bed, etc. You know, a photo like this:

 Photo (c) the brilliant  Julian Hector

Photo (c) the brilliant Julian Hector

Your post should include the following copy:Get your own bed! #SimonsNewBed http://bit.ly/1YEvxpo (plus any other clever copy you'd like to add).

Post up to three different pictures for three chances to win. (Retweet my tweet announcing the giveaway for one additional chance.) Entrants' names will be put in a hat, and three lucky winners will be selected!

Good luck!

 

Making the Book: The Editor

When I was young, growing up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, I had no idea that there were buildings (mostly in New York) filled with people committed to the creation of books. My hope is that today's youth not grow up with such ignorance, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that kids realize that they can grow up to work in the magical world of publishing. (Kids, I'll tell you now that the money is in writing, illustrating, agenting, and upper management.) 

I'm ten years in to my career in publishing, and I continue to love it. I love it so much that I've created a column on my blog--Making the Book--dedicated to the bookmaking process. So far, I've interviewed a writer, where the process begins, and an agent, who takes it to the next step. In last month's post, I erroneously ended the entry stating that the next person I was going to interview was the designer. What the? How long have I been doing this? (Answer: ten years--see above.) Apologies, dear reader, I got way ahead of myself. There are a lot of people who come before the designer in the bookmaking process, such as the editor. 

In my unbiased opinion, the editor is THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON in the process, possibly the world. Every editor has his or her own list, and s/he must fill that list with books s/he is passionate about. So, if we're keeping track of the steps...

1. A writer crafts a manuscript, submits it for representation, and secures an agent. (I know, much easier said than done.)

2. The agent submits the manuscript to editors s/he thinks will like it.

3. If the editor falls for the manuscript, s/he will take steps to acquire it.

There's a lot of talk about "voice" in our business. "I signed up the writer because I loved the voice of his manuscript." "I absolutely adored the protagonist's voice, so I made an offer the same day I received the submission!" But if you're an aspiring writer looking to get an agent or sell your manuscript, being told by numerous agents and editors that they're on the hunt for something "voice-y" probably isn't super helpful. A strong voice is likely to get you in the door, but editors consider a lot of other things before they decide to move forward on a project. If you take a look at the "Add It to the List" entries on my site, you'll pick up on some of the reasons I acquire a book: voice, relationship with talent, talent's track record, strong hook for the education market, familiar concept with original spin. And it is true that editors review an author/illustrator's social media stats, though I'm less concerned about numbers and more interested in how the person represents him/herself. 

For this edition, I decided to mix things up a bit and instead of interviewing one editor, I reached out to multiple editors with the following: Name a project you recently acquired, and explain why you wanted it on your list. (The bolding is mine.)

"I recently acquired a picture book by Kirsten Hall called The Honeybee, which will be illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. Kirsten’s verse is stunning—buzzy and humming and vibrant—but I was equally drawn to her timely subject. Honeybees have been all over the news recently: things like pesticides, stress, and a lack of biodiversity have contributed to their disappearance over the last decade. It’s hugely important that we protect our honeybees and show kids how crucial they are to our environment; this lovely book will be the perfect tool to do that. Plus, it’s a GREAT read aloud!" - Emma Ledbetter, associate editor

"A recent project I acquired is Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray. It is a middle grade novel that has been published in Australia and will come out here in Spring 2017. I was won over by Molly and her desire to be normal while having a mother whom she fiercely loves, but is unchangeably odd. That duality felt perfect for middle grade readers struggling with finding their place in the world, but the magical realism element offered a fresh approach on how to tackle those transitions. What do you do when your mother accidentally turns herself into a tree? What does it reveal about your complicated relationship with her? What does it reveal about who she is and about the person you'd ultimately like to be? Add to that Martine's lovely writing and it simply felt like a book that needed to be shared, so I bought it." - Julia Maguire, editor

"I most recently acquired books two and three in the Serafina series by Robert Beatty. I fell madly in love with Robert's debut novel, the spooky middle grade mystery Serafina and the Black Cloak [already a New York Times best seller], and was desperate for more books about Serafina. She is both strange and familiar: a wild girl who is perplexed by the "civilized" world, but also a lonely girl who aches for friendship and human connection just like we all do. I was also eager to edit more Serafina books because of the series' rich historical setting at Biltmore Estate. I'm a history geek and the mansion is described so vividly that I felt like I had been dropped into late 19th century North Carolina! I was blown away by how quickly Serafina became a hit and by the passion of the book's fans. It was clear that the author's work on the ground, spreading awareness among local families who deeply love the magical history of the Biltmore Estate, meant that there would be a big, built-in readership for more books in the Serafina series and that, based on the book's national success, this was a story and heroine that resonated with both adults and kids across the country." - Laura Schreiber, editor 

"My most recent acquisition was Fakespeare in the Park by Gabe Soria from Charlie Olsen at Inkwell. Gabe is a big fan of Regular Show, one of the Cartoon Network shows in our publishing program. He had seen several of our titles for Cartoon Network Books and was impressed by the quality of the writing, and he created the concept and an outline to solicit to us through his agent. I was impressed with the story, but even more so with Gabe’s nonchalance in approaching us about pitching a licensed project. We rarely get the opportunity to “acquire” licensed titles as the P&Ls for licensed publishing programs usually only support a writer-for-hire fee. The majority of the book concepts are developed in house and approved by the licensor and then we find the perfect writer to do the work of completing the manuscript. While licensed book publishing has long been treated like merch (a dirty word in the vocabulary of my publisher), I’m delighted to see that our Cartoon Network Books program is inspiring creativity in authors invested in a world where quality is available in a variety of media platforms, presenting cool new opportunities for great storytelling." - Karl Jones, associate editor

"The first book I acquired [Lisa's most recent acquisitions have yet to be announced] after starting at Little, Brown was Girl in the Blue Coat by the incredibly talented Monica Hesse. I was drawn in right from her agent's pitch as it was clear that this book was an original piece of WWII fiction from an exciting author. And I was blown away by the novel itself, which is intricately plotted and beautifully told, and that rare kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page. But what really sold me was how immersive the reading experience was—how much I cared for the characters, how real they all felt, and how deeply drawn into the world and story I was (it punched me in the gut again and again). I read the entire manuscript in one sitting, and after pausing to process a bit, I immediately went back to read it again from the beginning. And that’s really what I look for in a new acquisition: a book that makes me feel deeply and won’t get out of my head, and the kind that I’m eager to spend years with, through the editorial and book making processes first and then being its fan and advocate years to come." - Lisa Yoskowitz, executive editor

"My most recent acquisition is 4 Wizards, a graphic novel collaboration between Nimona creator Noelle Stevenson and TV writer Todd Casey. I originally signed up Nimona based on sample chapters and a synopsis. But I’d already seen and loved Noelle’s art online, from her Broship of the Rings series and Hawkeye Initiative to her autobiographical mini-comics. In her work, she showed an astonishing talent for mixing subversive humor with emotional arrows to the heart, and the fact that Nimona provided a vehicle for that talent was all the convincing I needed. The mix of humor and heart is again on display in 4 Wizards, as are nuanced mentor-mentee relationships, and Noelle’s art style has developed a lot since the early pages of Nimona. It’s always a joy when I get to sign up the next project from a creator with whom I already work—totally unlike discovering a debut, but equally rewarding." - Andrew Harwell, editor

"Love, Triangle by Marcie Colleen, to be illustrated by Bob Shea is a story about a triangle and square who are best friends…until a dashing triangle comes between them. The concept for this picture book grabbed me from the moment I saw the title. It makes you laugh without reading a thing (though happily the text is also clever and funny). I love it when an author has an original idea for a play on words—that can still be appropriate for a younger age group, of course…" - Alessandra Balzer, publisher

"I recently acquired a picture book called I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, to be illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley. I acquired it because the Notorious R.B.G. is the bomb and because there is no major biographical picture book about her, which seems crazy to me! This needed to be remedied. Also, the book tells the story of Ruth’s life through the lens of her many disagreements, or dissents, which is such a smart angle—and I love the idea that it might encourage young girls and boys to speak up, too." - Kristin Ostby, senior editor

You get the sense in all of these answers that the editor fell in love with the writing first and foremost. But isn't it interesting to learn the other factors that influenced the decision to acquire? 

 

Add It to the List: OCEAN MEETS SKY

Working on The Night Gardener with Terry Fan, Eric Fan, and Lizzy Bromley has been one of the most rewarding, educational, and inspiring experiences of my career. The Fan Brothers are supremely gifted and amazing collaborators. Plus, they're gentlemen. And I'm so thrilled that my company has really gotten behind The Night Gardener, which goes on sale in February. So, there wasn't much to think about when the guys submitted an idea for their next author-illustrator picture book. Idea submitted, offer extended, deal made!

Ocean Meets Sky is scheduled for Summer 2017.