Monthly Archives: November 2010

NCTE/ALAN highlights: Part 1

Posted by | November 23, 2010 | No Comments

I’m still sitting here at the conference – this time, it’s ALAN and one of our rock star authors, David Macinnis Gill, is up on stage right now.  This is the part of the conference when I start reflecting about how it all went and mentally collecting my favorite moments.  Here are a few highlights:
  • Stacking up all the galleys – hundreds and hundreds of them – in the booth.  Love spreading the word!
  • Meeting new and old Twitter friends: @donalynbooks, @childofthe80s, @EvesFanGarden, @PaulWHankins, @waltergiant, @wsstephens, @ProfessorNana (and so many others!)
  • Our amazing authors!  Thanks for hanging out with us in the booth: Michael Cart, Henry Cole, JT Dutton, Alex Flinn, David Macinnis Gill, Gordon Korman, Carolyn Mackler, Sarah Mlynowski, Pat Mora, Lauren Oliver, LeUyen Pham, Adam Rex, Jon Scieszka, Neal Shusterman, Rosemary Wells, Megan Whalen Turner, and Rita Williams-Garcia.  You guys are the best!
  • Speaking of signings, we loved our impromptu signing with E. Lockhart – she stopped by to sign HOW TO BE BAD with Sarah Mlynowski.  We also had galleys of her upcoming middle-grade book, INVISIBLE INKLING (under the name Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Harry Bliss).  And I ceased to filter myself when I went geeky fangirl on her about how much I loved THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS.
  • More on signings: LeUyen Pham brought her 5-month-old son to her signing so, while she drew gorgeous artwork in everyone’s books, we got to play with a gorgeous, delicious baby.  A highlight, for certain.
  • Amazing optimism and positivity.  Most everyone is facing difficult times and, while we heard lots about budget cuts, the underlying attitude was excitement and passion for books and children.  Teachers and librarians are some of the most resilient and strong people I know.  In the words of Gary Paulsen, who spoke at the ALAN Breakfast on Saturday, “go back to your jobs and kick ass.”
  • “Thank you.”  I heard it over and over again at this conference and it’s been wonderful.  We love giving out free advanced reader copies and we love saying “You’re welcome” over and over again.
  • It’s not all work, work, work.  I had a blast riding Rock n Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith on Monday night with the awesome folks at Disney-Hyperion.
  • Our “Turning the Page with…HarperCollins Children’s Books” dinner.  We collected fantastic responses to our “Turning the Page” interview questions, which we’ll be posting soon.

It was a fantastic conference, and I hope everyone else enjoyed themselves as much as we did and arrived home safely.

Stay tuned for the second part of our coverage – which will include photos galore!

~ Laura

A Conspiracy of Kings

Posted by | November 17, 2010 | No Comments

Speaking of Jonathan Hunt, he has two recent posts over at Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog about Megan Whalen Turner’s A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS:

Conspiracy Revisited
Conspiracy Revisited Again

They’re amazing posts and, if you’re wondering what the big deal is about this book, this is the perfect place to start.  We talk a lot amongst ourselves about our books in the office, but it’s always refreshing, sometimes surprising, and so exciting when readers outside the office feel the same way we do about a particular book.

So get on over to Heavy Medal and take part in the discussion!

Want to discuss A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS with your kids?  Download the discussion guide.

Jonathan Hunt talks about Terry Pratchett

Posted by | November 16, 2010 | No Comments

We recently asked Jonathan Hunt to create a discussion guide for Terry Pratchett’s I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT, the fourth book in the Tiffany Aching Adventures series.  He did an exceptional job and you can see the discussion guide here; use it freely in the library and classroom.

We also asked Jonathan to say a few words about Terry Pratchett and the series; as ever, he is eloquent and articulate:

When HarperCollins asked me to write something about I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT for their blog several months ago I wholeheartedly agreed, but as the publication date approached and passed, I still hadn’t turned something in.  I found myself constantly putting it off, not just the actual writing, but even thinking about it.  But I’ve procrastinated now as long as I possibly can and I have to face the facts: This is our final rendezvous with Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men, but I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet.

There are very few writers who possess a keen understanding of their world, and very few of those who have the wit and the wisdom to reveal it in such a fashion that it will not only entertain the masses, but also engage their intellectual capacities.  Such writers come along rarely, perhaps once in a generation, but their talent is so prodigious and their output so prolific that they are unmistakable.  Terry Pratchett is clearly cut from this cloth, a storyteller of the highest rank who is always searching for what it means to be human.  So as I read the last page in I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT, feeling both slightly melancholy but yet wholly satisfied, I think I hear something . . . some sniffling, some snickering, some bickering . . . The Nac Mac Feegle!  Oh, Crivens!

NCTE/ALAN 2010 Conference

Posted by | November 15, 2010 | 4 Comments

Starting this Wednesday, November 17th, we’ll be blogging live from the NCTE/ALAN conference in Orlando, Florida.  We have an absolutely stellar line-up of authors and illustrators  in HarperCollins Children’s booth #821 – here’ s the signing schedule:


12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.     Gordon Korman
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.       Neal Shusterman
3:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.       Pat Mora
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.       Jack Gantos


9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.     Alex Flinn
10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.     Henry Cole
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.   David Macinnis Gill
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.   Megan Whalen Turner
12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.     LeUyen Pham
1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.       Adam Rex
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.       Rosemary Wells
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.       Lauren Oliver
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.       Rita Williams-Garcia
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.       Jon Scieszka*


9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.       Sarah Mlynowski
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.     Carolyn Mackler
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.   Michael Cart
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.    J.T. Dutton

We’ll be in booth #821 with galleys, posters, and other goodies – stop by and say hi!  We’ll also be tweeting (@thepageturn) with the hashtag #ncte10.

* In the NCTE program ad, Jon Scieszka is shown as signing in our booth on Friday from 2:30-3:00.  We’ve had to change the time to Saturday at 4:30 p.m.  If you’re unable to make the new scheduled signing and want him to sign a copy of GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS, he will be signing at Simon and Schuster (Booth #426) on Saturday from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  Simon and Schuster has graciously allowed us to include copies of GUYS READ in their signing – so you can get a signed copy there as well.

Fuse #8 Interviews Russell Hoban

Posted by | November 11, 2010 | 3 Comments

A librarian that lives in New York City will sometimes have the opportunity to rub shoulders with legends. You might pass Paul Zelinsky on the street or hear a tale from the lips of Ashley Bryan. After all, most publishers are located in Manhattan, and most authors and illustrators of works for children tend to pass through this town once in a while.

There are, however, a fair amount of legends that do not live within travelling distance to NYC, nor would they wish to. So when the pageturn asked if I would be interested in interviewing that most impressive of children’s book expatriates, Russell Hoban, you can believe that I leaped at the chance. Mr. Hoban is one of those living legends that you don’t hear from every day. Best known to American audiences for his Frances books (Bread and Jam with Frances, Bedtime for Frances, etc.), he also went on to write the classic 1967 title The Mouse and His Child and the 1974 holiday title Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, along with a slew of picture book titles for British children.

I interviewed Mr. Hoban on a depressingly wet and dreary day. Fortunately for him, he was far across the ocean in England (a land rather well known for its own wet and dreary days, now that I think about it). At the start he spoke with a faint British accent, though this dissipated over the course of the interview (possibly because it had to contend with my own Midwestern twang).

To begin, I wanted to get a sense of how publishing in America differs from that in England. Certainly here in America, Mr. Hoban’s name is synonymous with classics like the Frances books or Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. Yet many of his children’s books were published after he moved to the United Kingdom. So I wondered if he’d experienced any significant differences in tastes and styles when he started publishing in a different country.

His response surprised me. “Well what happened was that my writing changed, and no difference in tastes or styles was imposed on me.” That said, “I started writing differently. My wife [Gundula Ahl] is German, and one Christmas we were at her house in Germany and her mother gave me a marzipan pig.” Published here in America in 1987, The Marzipan Pig is indeed one of the stranger picture books for children out there. Now long out of print, it follows the story of a pig made of marzipan that is summarily eaten by a mouse, whereupon a whole host of creatures is affected. Mr. Hoban explained, “It begins, ‘There was nothing to be done for the Marzipan pig. No one had seen him fall and no one knew where he was. He shouted help but no one heard him. Night came and morning and there he still was.’” He continued, “Also, [in England] I found myself writing . . . what can I say . . . crazier things, like Ace Dragon LTD. This was illustrated by Quentin Blake. We were just made for each other.”

I confessed that I had not heard of Ace Dragon LTD, and little wonder. Published entirely in England, the book was never brought to the States. Quentin Blake, on the other hand, I was well and truly familiar with, as are most American schoolchildren (whether they know it or not). A brilliant illustrator in his own right, Blake is most commonly known for illustrating the works of Roald Dahl. I was unaware that he had worked on Mr. Hoban’s books as well.

Of course, Mr. Hoban hasn’t restricted himself to the world of children’s literature. Over the years he has written numerous novels for adults. His last picture book came out in 1997. I asked if he had ever been tempted at any point to return to the world of writing for younger children once again.

“I’m working on a couple things with Quentin right now after all these years,” he responded. “One is called Rosie and Her Magic Horse, and the other How Tom and Daisy Did It.” Also, “I’ve written what’s categorized as a young adult book called Soon Child, which will be published in 2012 by Walker Books. It’s classified as a young adult book but it’s really for all ages.” The same could probably be said of books like Hoban’s The Mouse and His Child.

Of course, eventually all thoughts turn back to Frances, that irrepressible little badger with her distinct likes and dislikes. The original books have been reprinted many times in the intervening years since their first publication, and they continue to be revisited today. According to Mr. Hoban, “Right now I’m engaged in adapting the original Frances books to the I Can Read format for young readers. Four of them are done with two to go. Of course, Bargain for Frances was an I Can Read to begin with.”

There have also been multiple efforts made over the past few years to republish or reillustrate some of Mr. Hoban’s books. I know that The New York Review of Books published a new edition of A Sorely Trying Day last year, while a couple of years ago Scholastic published The Mouse and His Child with illustrations by David Small (and I, for one, am waiting eagerly for a reissue of the aforementioned The Marzipan Pig). Did he have an opinion on the republication or the reillustration of his titles? Not particularly, though he admitted he did prefer cases where the books retained the original illustrations. “For me, they seem to go better with the text. Or maybe I’m just attached to the combination as it was originally.”

I was aware of the Frances books a child. They were, in a way, everywhere. However, my heart really belonged to Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, in large part because of the Jim Henson adaptation (which, if you haven’t seen it, should be put on your Netflix Watch Instantly list right this very minute). Generally speaking, was Mr. Hoban pleased with the cinematic adaptations of his work? Surprisingly, yes. The Emmet Otter adaptation was particularly well done. “I liked Emmet Otter and I didn’t like The Mouse and His Child.” (Here Mr. Hoban was referring to 1977’s unfortunate animated film of the same name.) “And they had good voices too. Peter Ustinov. Cloris Leachman.”

That made me realize that, for all of her popularity, Frances has remained relatively commercial-free. You will find no Frances television show. No big-screen movies or Frances the Badger music videos. But Mr. Hoban mentioned that there has been an attempt at animating Frances. “I just don’t know at what point that is.” So be aware, kids. Frances’s time may be nigh.

With a career spanning fifty-plus years, I had to wonder if Mr. Hoban felt that things are different for today’s new children’s book authors than they were when he started out. It certainly felt that way to him. “It’s more difficult today. Partly with the passage of time and partly because of the recession. So someone starting out today would not get into book publishing as easily as I did way back then.” He started to reminisce about his first works. “The first book I ever did for Harper was What Does it Do and How Does It Work?” How was it? “Variable.” Because of this title, Mr. Hoban had the chance to work with the great children’s book editor Ursula Nordstrom. According to her collected letters in Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstom, Hoban was a successful commercial artist before he came to Harper. Nordstrom saw the work he did on drawings of machinery and the result was his first book in 1959.

“Oddly enough, she wasn’t with me all the way on The Mouse and His Child.” That didn’t keep her from writing her opinion in the margins, though. “She’d write NGEFY.” Translation? “Not Good Enough For You. My editor was Ferdinand Monjo. Ferd was an excellent guide for me on that book.” Indeed, the book is considered in some circles a bit of a classic. Later, Nordstrom would write to Mr. Hoban, “Well, you and we disagreed about much that you wanted to keep in that book, Russ, but we lost out in some of our requests. And maybe you were right and we were wrong. After all it is YOUR book; and I’ve always been interested in seeing you explore and experiment . . .”

Speaking of experiments, anything else new coming up? There is one more thing: “I have a communication from a little family from Massachusetts. And they are doing a musical stage version of The Twenty-Elephant Restaurant. That’s one of my favorites. Some of my best writing is in that book.” Not that it’s easy to get a copy these days. “I had to get my own copy from Abe Books.”

Special thanks to Mr. Hoban for agreeing to speak with me and to the pageturn for the opportunity to speak firsthand with history.

Fuse #8 is the School Library Journal blogger otherwise known as Betsy Bird, librarian extraordinaire at New York Public Library.  Thanks so much, Betsy, for contributing to our blog!

Winter/Summer 2011 Title Preview

Posted by | November 10, 2010 | 3 Comments

Last week was our Winter/Summer 2011 Preview for librarians and educators and, as usual, we had lots of laughs and memorable moments.  Our editors sat at five separate tables and presented their upcoming lists, while our guests took notes and tweeted on their iPads.  Without further ado, here are some highlights:

COOLEST TECH: The Freight Train app.  To quote one librarian: “Do you know what this means?  I can actually eat at a restaurant with my whole family now!”

FAVORITE AUTHOR PHOTO: Al Yankovic (on the back cover of his upcoming picture book, WHEN I GROW UP, illustrated by Wes Hargis)

NEW VOCAB WORD: “Mansioner” = Actress (courtesy of Gail Carson Levine‘s A TALE OF TWO CASTLES)

BEST BLANK-MEETS-BLANK: Tie between Sopranos-meets-Diary of a Wimpy Kid (THE FOURTH STALL by Chris Rylander) and Corduroy-meets-Wall-e (CLINK by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Matthew Myers)

NEW GENRE: “Bright Side Paranormal” (FINS ARE FOREVER by Tera Lynn Childs)

CLASSIC COMPARISONS: JUNIPER BERRY by M.P. Kozlowsky is for fans of Neil Gaiman and Roald Dahl


Want to know more about the preview?  Here’s a slideshow of the books that were presented there (and click the link at the bottom of the slideshow to read more about the preview):

But wait, there’s MORE!


Posted by | November 8, 2010 | No Comments

We are thrilled to announce that two of our picture books have been announced as 2010 New York Times Best Illustrated Books! We want to extend our congratulations to SUBWAY by Christoph Niemann (check out Greenwillow’s blog for great information):

And warmest congrats to HENRY IN LOVE by Peter McCarty:

And congratulations to all the winners!  See the New York Times for the slideshow.

Fab Fancy Nancy Contest!

Posted by | November 4, 2010 | No Comments

Calling all fancy kids! Do you have a patron, student, child, niece or nephew who loves to dress up and be fancy? If so, tell them about our Fancy Nancy Fantastic Fan Photo contest for the chance to make an appearance in a future Fancy Nancy book.

Click here for more information and to enter!


Posted by | November 1, 2010 | 2 Comments

A term coined by Melissa Wiley, I’ve been thinking about the “kidlitosphere” lately, thanks to my stint at KidLitCon 2010.  The idea of community and connectedness struck me and so…I have to admit…I’ve been reading my blogroll with slightly more attention recently.  With that in mind, I want to highlight the blogs and bloggers I’ve been loving lately:

  • Read Roger.  Who doesn’t, right?  But in big news, Horn Book has started another blog: Out of the Box.  I’m looking forward to reading the fresh perspective from Katie Bircher!  And welcome to the kidlitosphere!
  • Fuse #8. Of course.  She mentions B&N’s color NOOK here – tomorrow, we have an in-house meeting about the device and I can’t wait to hear about the possibilities.  Will this sort of device/technology change how storytimes are done in the future?
  • I really enjoyed this latest post at MyLiblog by Jamie LaRue about being a “traveling librarian”.  There’s common ground among libraries countrywide, urban and rural.
  • I adore Melissa at Librarian by Day.  Thanks to her, I discovered that November is Historical Fiction Month!
  • The Brown Bookshelf.  They’re highlighting those blogs/library systems who are holding Mock Coretta Scott King Awards, such as the Allen County Public Library in Indiana.  Do you have a favorite CSK book this year?
  • Green Bean Teen Queen.  I particularly liked her post about reading slumps – we’ve all been there.  (And LET IT SNOW is also one of my go-to winter books to break the slump!  The Georgia Nicholson series by Louise Rennison is also one of my fallbacks when I need something light and fun to break through the rut.)
  • Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan over at Bookends, naturally.  I loved their recent review of our title WICKED GIRLS by Stephanie Hemphill and I always know it’ll be fascinating when they start throwing around terms like “Best Books of 2010“.
  • Heavy Medal is posting their “shortlist” tomorrow for this year’s Newbery!

This list isn’t inclusive of all my favorite and regularly read blogs.  But these posts have struck me lately.  What have you been reading and loving?

~ Laura

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