Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy Holidays!

Posted by | December 30, 2010 | No Comments

From all of us to all of you,

Happy Holidays!

We’ll see you in the New Year with a lot more interviews, conference news, upcoming books, insider info, and giveaways!

Best of 2010 Lists

Posted by | December 20, 2010 | 1 Comment

I may work for a specific publisher but the truth is that I’m a fan of books in general.  As such, I get ecstatic over the ALA awards and so excited about the Best of… lists every year.  You can take the woman out of the library, but you can’t take the librarian…

The end-of-year lists are out in full force and I’ve been following them like my husband is following the NFL playoff chase.  If you’re looking for a complete list of all the Best of 2010 round-ups, check out Chicken Spaghetti’s ongoing blog post – she is the definitive source.

One of my personal favorite lists lately is Library Journal’s “Best YA for Adults 2010, Pt. 1“.  They’ve broken up their list into creative categories and I’m happy to say that Harper scored the top two (okay, the only two) titles in the “Best Fourth Books in a Series” category: I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT by Terry Pratchett and A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner.  But even more out there?  There is a “Best Cannibals” category, and our very own BLACK HOLE SUN by David Macinnis Gill is included there.  And who knew there was competition this year in the cannibal category?  THE MARBURY LENS by Andrew Smith (Feiwel & Friends) shares honors with our BLACK HOLE SUN.  Super fun, right?

We’re also thrilled that Chicago Public Library has their own 2010 end-of-the-year list: Best of the Best.  Many of our titles made the cut  this year:

This is one of my favorite times of year – enthusiasm for children’s and young adult books reaches a fever pitch!  Congratulations to all our authors and illustrators who made the Best of 2010 lists, and make sure you tune in to the ALA Youth Media Awards on January 10th!  (Watch it live online)

More info:

Turning the Page with…Rita Williams-Garcia

Posted by | December 15, 2010 | No Comments

I have a story to share about Rita Williams-Garcia.  We were recently at NCTE together and Rita was about to sign books in our booth.  She hopped up on the stool, uncapped a pen with gusto, and exclaimed, “This NEVER gets old for me!!!”  (I use multiple exclamation points because that is very much the amount of enthusiasm with which Rita spoke)  This is a woman who had just arrived in Orlando after a long bout of National Book Award events (she is a two-time finalist) and a long flight!  She made all of us in the booth smile, not to mention the lucky teachers and librarians who met her during the course of the conference!

It is this sort of verve and joy that comes through in her latest novel for middle-grade readers, ONE CRAZY SUMMER.  If you haven’t read this coming-of-age story set in 1960s Oakland, California, I urge you to.  If for no other reason than to take part in the multiple Mock Newbery discussions going on (here, here, and here, among many, many others).

We recently had the chance to put Rita under the microscope with our staggering array of insightful and deep questions.  Let’s “Turn the Page” with her, shall we?

What time is your alarm clock set for?

Favorite book from childhood?

If you weren’t an author/illustrator, what job would you like to have?
NFL running back*

How many stamps are in your passport?

Favorite word?

What are you reading right now?
DARK WATER by Laura McNeal

Finish this sentence: “I always smile when…”
I see babies’ feet

Funniest (or most interesting) question from a fan?
“Why do you always wear the same dress at your talks?”

Thanks so much, Rita!  It’s always a pleasure chatting with you!

Readers, there is all kinds of wonderful info out there about ONE CRAZY SUMMER.  Check out this blog post at Jacket Knack about the cover art, Horn Book’s Five Questions with Rita, and Stacy Dillon’s lovely review.

* This answer actually sparked a lively debate at NCTE between Rita and myself about whether we would rather play at running back or wide receiver in the NFL…Which you you rather play???

Freight Train app and transliteracy

Posted by | December 13, 2010 | No Comments

We recently asked librarian Karyn Silverman if she’d give us her thoughts on ebooks, apps, and the technology of reading and literacy (no small feat!).  She gave us all kinds of fantastic information – check it out:

I feel like we’ve been hearing “It’s year of the ebook!” for at least the past two years. I’m still not sure that year is here, but there is no question that this has been the season of librarians talking about ebooks. And no one has had any answers.

Okay, fine, ebooks are a confusing business. Not even the definition is a sure thing: are we talking books in digital format, otherwise pretty much just like a paper book? Are we talking enhanced books, with embedded content? Does the access device enter the definition? And hey, wait, what about apps? Apps are neither fish nor fowl: an app can be a book, more than a book, or a different kind of “text” entirely.

Now that I’ve raised lots of questions, I’m going to proceed to ignore most of them—much, indeed, as I have been doing in real life. Because I support the concept of e-books, and am about to start experimenting with a Kindle in my library, but for my own purposes at this moment, a paper book is still the right tool most of the time.

But here’s the thing: I have a toddler. He’s wonderful, funny, delightful, loves books. And he’s kind of terrible at going out for meals. We’ve got the restaurant pack—some trains, a coloring book, a few books—and it doesn’t really last for the whole meal. One of the biggest issues has been that he can’t read (Mommy! I don’t know this word! he will say, rather imperiously, and wait for his adoring subjects to tell respond.) The car ride experience is the same but worse. So the idea of a picture book app was revelatory. Wait, the book will read to you? Or play like a movie? We started with Miss Spider’s Tea Party, and it’s been fantastic. The Freight Train app (which I was lucky enough to see a sneak peek of) might just be the best thing since disposable diapers, in parenting speak, and since the printing press in library terms. A digital tool that takes a text and then adds interactivity? This is sheer genius.

As a parent, I love the concept and execution of a well-designed picture book app. As a librarian, I worry. I worry that screen time impedes literacy, that when we watch books rather than reading them we lose something crucial. Then again, I also spend a lot of time talking about transliteracy—and I’ve realized that the picture book app is in some ways the perfect place to start educating today’s children to be transliterate.

Transliteracy is defined as “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks.” ( Interaction as an element of literacy means that the well-designed picture book app doesn’t detract from formative literacy, it expands it. It means that the freight train going fast or going slow is evoked in art and in motion; that the concept of something inside the freight train becomes interactive in a way that a small child can control.

I’m not about to trade my books in for apps. But I will definitely continue to load my iPad and phone with the apps that expand the books on our shelf, and to delight in the idea that the occasional dinner out can be enabled by a device that is offering something that is the opposite of mindless entertainment. We live in an ever-changing world, and I’m raising a child who can read across platforms; now the trick is figuring out how to make my HS students and myself equally ready for the future.

(PS: Looking for a few good apps to support transliteracy? Start with Curious Puppy, and also check out my current fave for writing, iWriteWords)

Thanks so much, Karyn, for sharing your knowledge of transliteracy and what that means for kids growing up in the ebook era!

Curious about how the Freight Train app was created?  Head over to Under the Green Willow for a fantastic behind-the-scenes look at creating the app with Donald Crews!

* Karyn Silverman is the high school librarian and Educational Technology Department Chair at Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City.  She has also served on the Printz Award committee, as well as chairing the Best Books for Young Adults committee.  Follow her on Twitter (@InfoWitch).

Winter/Summer 2011 Title Presentation

Posted by | December 9, 2010 | 4 Comments

You are cordially invited to our Winter/Summer 2011 Title Presentation at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Diego:

Date:    Saturday, January 8, 2011
Time:    11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Place:   Convention Center, Room 7A

Come hear about our upcoming titles and get FREE galleys, posters, and other fun promotional materials!

Light refreshments will be served.

And don’t forget to visit us at Booth #2017!

Audrey Hepburn and 2010 Trends

Posted by | December 8, 2010 | 1 Comment

Clicking through my blogroll today, I found two posts, in particular, that caught my attention:

1. Julia Denos, illustrator of the GORGEOUS upcoming picture book bio  JUST BEING AUDREY (Balzer+Bray, Jan 2011) received an advanced copy of her book in the mail!  The post is really lovely and I was particularly struck by Julia’s quote, “Giving is what makes the work worth it.”  Isn’t that the truth?  I find that it’s true in my job here at Harper, and I most certainly felt it while working as a librarian.  Isn’t Audrey Hepburn the ideal role model for all of us who work, or have worked, in public service?  (Note: I also learned that JUST BEING AUDREY is now a Facebook fan page!)

2. Our fellow publishing bloggers, On Our Minds @ Scholastic, shared their 10 Trends in Children’s Publishing for 2010.  What do you think?  Some of the trends they identified I certainly wasn’t surprised by (i.e. the expanding YA market) and some I was (i.e. multimedia series. Maybe in the retail market but what are all of you seeing in classrooms and libraries?  I’m curious about how these books and reading experiences translate into the school and library market…).  And of course they brought up picture books and the hullabaloo surrounding that earlier this fall.  What I’ve heard on the school and library side of things is that picture books are more popular than ever and, in many cases, teachers and librarians are upping their orders.  True?  What other trends have you seen this year in your schools and libraries?

Chris Lynch talks about HOTHOUSE

Posted by | December 7, 2010 | 1 Comment

We were honored recently when Chris Lynch, award-winning author and National Book Award finalist, shared with us the inspiration for his most recent book, HOTHOUSE, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee.  It’s the story of two firefighters who die in the line of duty and the fallout their sons face when it’s discovered these heroic fathers were less than perfect.

Chris told us how the story began and how his editor, Elise Howard, helped shape the story.  Without further ado, here is what Chris shared with us:

The idea for HOTHOUSE came from a real tragedy in Boston a few years ago. Two firefighters died fighting a fire at a Chinese restaurant. It was, and is, a very complicated and charged story, but I saw it the way I see most things in my work–through the eyes of surviviors. And again, as usual, adolescent male survivors. All I could really see was the anguish of living through not only the death of a beloved parent, but the multifaceted emotional torture of the aftermath. It is very similar in that way to my first book, SHADOW BOXER.

I was already well aware of the story when Elise Howard suggested I should address it. But I went and got all clever with it, didn’t I? I had the kids younger, and DJ was originally a girl, and all manner of beside-the-pointiness appeared. It was fortunate that Elise was around to give me the crisp head-slap I deserved. This is probably the book of mine that changed the most between the first draft and the result, and the great irony of that is it all actually came back to what the story really was in the first place. It is a vital lesson all writers and aspiring writers need to heed: when you have a great story in front of you, get out of the way, author fool.

Well, when we heard about the “crisp head-slap” his editor gave him, we knew we needed the story fleshed out!  Elise Howard, editor extraordinaire, comments:

When I heard the story of the two Boston firefighters Chris mentions, I thought of him immediately. Well, first I heard the story of their heroism, and then the story of their disgrace, and I thought about how awful it must be for everyone affected by these events, including the families who had the rug pulled out from under them once when their husbands and fathers died, and then again as they watched these guys’ reputations and life stories be demolished. And then I thought: Chris Lynch must write this novel. So I talked to him about it, and it turned out the story had gotten under his skin, too. Not as surprising as you might think; this is what happens when editors and writers have worked together for more than a decade.

As for the head-slap, well, I knew the greatness of this novel was somewhere in what I was reading, but Chris hadn’t yet landed his most powerful punch, and my job was to get him to deliver it. A lot of good stuff remains from that first draft – like my favorite detail, the firefighters’ mustaches, which are a kind of fetish in the story – but it’s now part of one of the most powerful, direct, emotionally-charged novels that Chris Lynch has written, with no distractions from its message of pain and love that come with the hard  truths about family and friendship and growing up.

Thanks, Chris and Elise!  It’s an extraordinary novel!

Chris Lynch
ISBN 9780061673795
Available now


Posted by | December 6, 2010 | 2 Comments

Some may argue with me when I say that conferences aren’t all about the books: conferences are about the people you meet.  In addition to the super cool librarians and teachers we meet, we also meet amazing authors and illustrators whose work we love to support.  Here are a few of the folks that we spent time with at NCTE and ALAN this year:

Lauren Oliver (spectacularly backed by editor Rosemary Brosnan) signs books for a young fan (who, incidentally, attended nearly every signing we had during the course of the conference)

Patty Rosati, our school & library marketing director, reads to LeUyen Pham‘s gorgeous son!

Megan Whalen Turner speaks at ALAN

And lest you think it’s all work and no play with us (but you probably don’t think that, right?), here are a couple of fun mugging shots:

Patty and Robin pose for the camera before the exhibit hall opens (note the open loading door in the background)

Patty and Dina Sherman (Disney-Hyperion school & library marketing director) give Mickey a kiss

And, with that, I think we can officially call NCTE and ALAN a smashing success!  See you at ALA Midwinter in San Diego!

P.S. Haven’t had enough of conference photos?  Check out the following blogs for more: Under the Greenwillow (and this one, especially!), A Year of Reading (and their ALAN coverage), Kate Messner (and here), YA Love, and Cindy Pon has GREAT coverage (ALAN Day 1 – including yummy food, ALAN Day 2)

NCTE 2010 HarperCollins Booth: A Photo Montage

Posted by | December 2, 2010 | 2 Comments

Never been to a conference?  Wonder what all the fuss is about?  Do we really stack up galleys for the taking?  See for yourself:

Stacking up the galleys!  CLOAKED by Alex Flinn (2/11)

Stacking up galleys for our new middle-grade series: THE TROUBLE WITH CHICKENS by Doreen Cronin, THE INCORRIGIBLE CHILDREN OF ASHTON PLACE: BOOK II by Maryrose Wood, and THE GENIUS FILES by Dan Gutman

Buttons to promote the series: “I’m Trouble”, “I’m Incorrigible”, and “I’m a Genius.”  Which one are you?

The latest picture books

The latest middle-grade and teen books

Coming Soon!

We gave away THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman, which just came out in paperback.  Have you ordered your copies yet?

More galleys stacked up for the taking: UNEARTHLY by Cynthia Hand (1/11)

And these are just the photos of the booth!  Stay tuned for pictures from our signings and from ALAN!

Planning an Author Visit

Posted by | December 1, 2010 | 1 Comment

Hi, Pageturners!  Tony here, your friendly neighborhood author visit coordinator.  This is the first in a series of posts about the joy of author visits.  And they are indeed a joy.  They are also require a lot of planning.  I’m here to make that planning as painless as possible.

If you’ve never experienced an author visit before, let me fill you in on a little secret: kids LOVE meeting authors.  Your eager readers will leap at the chance to talk to their favorite authors, and meeting an author can turn a reluctant reader into an enthusiastic one.  No one knows that better than Bryan Chick, author of THE SECRET ZOO series.  Bryan actually started by self-publishing THE SECRET ZOO.  He went out and visited 70 schools and connected with over 20,000 students.  Those visits were partially responsible for Bryan getting noticed by Greenwillow Books.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Bryan has inspired a legion of devoted readers who are eagerly awaiting the next book in the series, SECRETS AND SHADOWS:

Here are a few tips as you begin to plan for your author visit.

1.)  Always allow for enough time.  As the Romans said, tempus fugit.  Boy does it ever fugit.  A good rule of thumb is to start preparing six months to a year in advance of your visit.  If you give yourself enough time, you won’t find yourself scrambling at the last minute for a guest author for your annual literacy festival.

2.)  Build support for an author visit.  Check with your colleagues and administration.  You’re going to need them on your side when you get to #3.

3.)  Think about your budget.  See?   I told you you’d need your administration on board.  Travel costs and honoraria are just a couple of the expenses that you’ll need to consider.

4.)  Think you can’t afford an author visit?  Think again.  Maybe your school or library doesn’t have money in the budget for a visit, but there may be other sources.  Consider writing a grant.  Reach out to your Parent-Teacher Organization or Friends of the Library group.  An author visit can be a great fundraising goal.

5.)  Check out our list of visiting authors as well as author websites.  This is the best way to determine if your favorite author is currently doing visits.  Most authors love to visit schools and libraries, but some are unable due to busy writing schedules.

6.)  Now that you’ve selected a possible author, email me at for more information.  Be sure to include information about your school, such as the location and grade level.

7.)  If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask.  Whether it’s your first author visit or your 100th, communication is key.

8.)  Always allow for enough time.  Did I mention that already?  It really can’t be overstated.  The success of a visit is directly proportional to the amount of planning done, and that takes time.

So, happy planning!  I hope to hear from you soon.


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