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.
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.
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.
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.
Picture it: Bologna. Dusk. A crowded plaza of happy tourists and locals in light coats and sweaters, enjoying the gorgeous spring weather. The pigeons stay close in hopes of enjoying some of the food the city is so famous for. An Aperol Spritz rests in front of me and across from it sits the legendary John Cusick. "I have something I'd like to pitch to you," he says. And so it begins...
Nearly four months later, I'm so HAPPY that I can finally talk about this deal. I'm also ecstatic that I have three more manuscripts to look forward to from the truly gifted Tommy Wallach. I was first introduced to Tommy's work in July 2013 (two years ago!) when John submitted the manuscript for We All Looked Up. I instantly fell in love with the writing and was overjoyed to add the novel, plus an untitled second novel, to my list. That second novel became Thanks for the Trouble, which is so different from We All Looked Up. For one thing, it's written in first person from a single point-of-view. Still, as my boss mentioned in his recent presentation of the novel at our Spring 2016 Sales Conference, the beauty of the writing is unmistakably Tommy Wallach. And so is the case with Tommy's next project, a plot-driven tale of two brothers who will play key--and opposing--roles in a growing conflict in their young civilization.
Book One in the Anchor & Sophia trilogy comes out in Spring 2017.
I made an offer on this book the day I received it. THE DAY I RECEIVED IT! I think that might be a first for me. But I immediately fell in love with Kelp, who is the unicorn at the heart of the story, the art, and the writing. The supremely gifted Jessie Sima knocked it out of the park.
Though Jessie is brand new to all of this, she speaks like a seasoned veteran, expertly discussing how she approaches her illustrations, the numerous revisions she made to each drawing to get the angle, emotion, and narrative quality just right, and her feelings about the industry. I know this because I had a chance to speak with her ahead of the auction that agent Thao Le organized (I wasn't the only one who saw the potential in Not Quite Narwhal). Jessie and I chatted for nearly an hour. (When was the last time you spoke on the phone for an hour?!) We had such a lovely conversation, and I hung up the phone wanting the book even more.
I was on vacation the day of the auction, so my fearless boss went into battle for me. As I came out of the New Amsterdam theater after seeing Aladdin with my partner's kids (and getting a backstage tour!)...
...I checked my email and discovered that I, Christian Trimmer, was going to be the editor of Not Quite Narhwal, along with a to-be-determined second picture book.
It was a great vacation.
Not Quite Narwhal is scheduled for Spring 2017.
Stacey Kade has been one of the few constants in my publishing life. When I was an eager and hungry assistant editor, I acquired her touching and hilarious Ghost and the Goth Trilogy: The Ghost and the Goth, Queen of the Dead, and Body & Soul. As an enthusiastic and hungry associate editor, I signed up her sexy, dark Project Paper Doll series: The Rules, The Hunt, and The Trials. I departed Disney Hyperion after editing the first draft of The Hunt, and I was sad to leave that amazing series behind. Still, I had faith that Stacey and I would work together again. And as a savvy and hungry senior editor at S & S BFYR, I acquired Stacey's first contemporary YA novel, Life, After. That novel, coming out in Fall 2016, follows a young man who has lost his faith, and because he's a pastor's son, he really has lost his whole sense of self.
And now, as a wise and hungry executive editor, I have bought Stacey's next YA novel, Finding Felicity. Shortly after Stacey finished the first draft of Life, After, we got on the phone to talk about what she wanted to do next. The conversation went a little something like this.
Stacey Kade: Okay, so this next idea is rough, I've only just started developing it. But it begins with a girl, Caroline, on the day of her high school graduation, and she's having a party. Her mom, who is this really busy doctor, has pulled out all the stops and is throwing this big event for Caroline. But here's the thing--no one is coming to the party. Because...Caroline has completely fabricated her entire social life!
Christian Trimmer: [gasp]
SK: Uh huh, she's made up friends, parties, extracurricular activities. And get this--they're all based on late nineties TV shows. So her friends are people like Joey and Willow and Felicity--
CT: Do that one.
CT: That's the one. Do that one.
SK: Really? Do you want to hear more?
CT: Don't need to hear more. Do that one.
I'll admit I'm a bit of a crazy Felicity fan. I present exhibit A:
Now, I'm not so crazy as to sign up a book just because the protagonist also enjoys Felicity. But I loved the premise--a slightly odd young woman is determined to set aside the fictional social life she created in high school and make some real, three-dimensional friends in college. And if she turns to her hero Felicity Porter for guidance, so be it. I've also been eager to work on a book set in college, and the hook is super timely--1990s nostalgia is back in full force.
(I'll admit that I begged Stacey to include a cameo of Keri Russell in the novel. My dream is to run into Keri on the street--we live in the same neighborhood--and pass her a copy of the book.)
I'll leave you with this.
This deal was announced a few months back on PW's Children's Bookshelf, but the young adult novel is very much on my mind. I'm in the middle of reviewing the excellent second draft. My assistant popped into my office this morning to file the fully executed contract. And we (the author, the agent, my publisher, me, people on the street) just settled on this killer title.
Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker follows high-school senior Miles Prower, who suffers from a severe case of arrested development. After his mom shipped him off to live with his dad five years ago, Miles detached from real life. All of his free time is spent playing video games. His only friends are the members of his guild, guys he has never met in person. On one fateful day, as he's out washing his stepmom's car, he meets a girl, a girl who actually seems interested in going on a date with him. Could this be the moment that things start to shift for Miles? Answer: no. Because when he gets home, two very large men are waiting there to take him to video game rehab.
Christian's novel examines themes that I've been interested in throughout my career. From my first acquisition (Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford) to the upcoming The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch, a lot of the books I've edited explore the growing pains boys experience as they figure out what kind of man they want to be. Miles's understanding of manhood comes from the games he plays--the characters in them are not great role models. So Miles has a lot of growing to do.
Christian's agent, the great John Cusick, expertly summarized in his pitch letter some of the other issues that the author tackles: Cure for the Common Universe "isn’t about video games, nor is it just a 'guy wants to get laid' story. Christian manages to bring real depth to Miles’s desire for connection, tapping into that universal need to be known, adored, and maybe become better *for* another person. Perhaps most compelling is the way [the novel] takes up gender issues. Miles must learn that the women in his life aren’t achievements or princesses to be rescued. In a culture that too often positions sex— and girls more precisely— as something to be won, [Cure for the Common Universe] offers important insights for young readers of any gender."
Hot, right? Cure for the Common Universe comes out in Summer 2016.
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:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SIMON & SCHUSTER BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS TO PUBLISH PICTURE BOOK BASED ON THE TRUE STORY BEHIND THE PARAGUAYAN RECYCLED ORCHESTRA
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.