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: ADA'S VIOLIN

I'm very excited to report that I've acquired Ada's Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay by Susan Hood with art by Sally Wern Comport.

Photo courtesy of Susan Hood, though not taken by her.

Photo courtesy of Susan Hood, though not taken by her.

A while back, I watched a segment on 60 Minutes about the Recycled Orchestra, an orchestra made up of young people from Cateura, Paraguay, who play instruments built out of the trash on which the town is built. It was an unbelievably compelling piece, one that made me look at the garbage littering New York City and my own consumption very differently. Soon after, I called super agent Brenda Bowen to see if she had anyone who could do the story justice in the picture book format. Brenda recommended the great Susan Hood, and I'm so glad she did. Susan threw herself into the project, contacting the key players at the Recycled Orchestra and establishing a trusting relationship with them. She also reached out to the producers of the 60 Minutes piece and the folks behind the beautiful Landfill Harmonic, a documentary about the Recycled Orchestra currently doing the festival circuit. After all her careful research, she crafted a gorgeous manuscript that captures the spirit of the Orchestra's mission. 

Armed with the manuscript, I then emailed the astonishing Sally Wern Comport, with whom I'd worked on Love Will See You Through, in hopes that she'd connect with the material. Happily...she did! She just delivered sketches of the book, and they are beyond amazing. The way she depicts the kids in the group, the town, the heat, THE INSTRUMENTS--I can't wait to show you.

Ada's Violin comes out in Spring 2016.

Here's the official press release in case you feel like reading more:



New York, NY, March 18¾Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers announced today that it will publish Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, the official picture book detailing the true story of the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, Paraguay. The book will be published on March 15, 2016, and in honor of its publication, Simon & Schuster will make a donation to the Recycled Orchestra.

Profiled on 60 Minutes and in numerous national publications, the orchestra is also the subject of a documentary, The Landfill Harmonic, which will have its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 18, 2015, and its East Coast premiere on March 21, 2015, at the New York Children’s Film Festival. The story unfolds through the eyes of Ada Ríos, a member since the orchestra’s inception, who had long dreamed of playing an instrument. In her small, poor town built on a landfill, doing so was never an option, until a local engineer, Favio Chávez, had an ingenious idea: What if he turned some of the garbage—the town’s only resource—into instruments? Using scraps of dirty oilcans, jars, wood, forks, and other junk in the Cateura landfill, he and other locals built beautiful musical instruments—violins, flutes, cellos, drums . . . all made from trash.

From this ingenuity, the Recycled Orchestra was formed, with the local children as its members learning and performing Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven. As the children fine-tuned their skills, they started to garner attention. Ada and her fellow members have now played concerts to packed audiences throughout their home country, South America, and the world.

Author Susan Hood, who has written dozens of books for children, worked directly with the Recycled Orchestra to craft the manuscript, uncovering never-before-heard details. She plans to donate a portion of her earnings from sales of the book to the Orchestra. Sally Wern Comport, who most recently illustrated Love Will See You Through: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Six Guiding Beliefs, will provide the art.

“It seems to me that the publishing of the book is something very important, as it projects our story beyond a determined moment,” says Favio Chávez. “This book will be a testimony and a legacy of what we have done.” Ada Ríos, now sixteen and a first violinist, adds, “Music breaks social barriers. I hope this book will help more people understand that somewhere in the world exist children and young people of limited means who aspire to get ahead.”

“The Recycled Orchestra and its founders and members have so much to teach us,” says Christian Trimmer, Senior Editor, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. “Ada’s Violin is an inspiring story that will spread their message of innovation and community.”

 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers retains world rights, all languages, for the text and illustrations.