Monthly Archives: January 2012

LET’S DISCUSS INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN

Posted by | January 27, 2012 | 2 Comments

In addition to talking about how much we love Thanhha Lai’s INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN and how excited we are that it won a Newbery Honor, now we can discuss some salient themes and points from the book. Download the INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN discussion guide, and get talking!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR ALA AWARD WINNERS!

Posted by | January 26, 2012 | 1 Comment

Truly, our cup is overflowing. Everyone here is beyond excited and incredibly proud of our award winning books and authors, announced this Monday at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. An astounding amount of work, love, patience, devotion, and hope goes into each book that’s published, and we’re honored to be part of the process that helps carry an author’s dream from their heart out into the world. Let us share our sincerest congratulations to all of our recognized authors and illustrators.

Thank you, terrific Newbery committee– your hard work is appreciated by us all!

We have a ceremony of our own back in our booth after the awards announcements, wherein we do a little drumroll as we place the medal on each book. And behold, it is very good.

And for your browsing pleasure, a few links to past Page Turn posts on our winners:

Past love for INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN

Our beautiful HEART AND SOUL video trailer

PINK reviews

ALA MIDWINTER: WE LOVE DALLAS, Y’ALL.

Posted by | January 25, 2012 | 1 Comment

We had a wonderful time in Dallas at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association: not only was the weather GORGEOUS, but all of our favorite things were there: friends, books, and Tex-Mex!  Thanks to all who stopped by our booth, picked up a galley, or said hello– y’all are a lovely bunch, and we came home with big, big smiles on our faces.

Did you meet Moose in our booth?  He wants you to find his book, Z IS FOR MOOSE.  He’s a bit pushy, but we love him.

A few of us were big fans of the Pioneer Park Cemetery that abuts the Dallas Convention Center (some of us, not so much).  Very THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, no?

Our award-winning books: an embarrassment of riches!  So exciting that they deserve their own post, to come tomorrow.

MEET ME AT MIDWINTER

Posted by | January 17, 2012 | 4 Comments

Things might be a little quiet over here at the blog this week, because the team is packing up and heading to Dallas, Texas to attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. We love this conference– we catch up with old friends, make new ones, promote our terrific upcoming books, and scope the scene for what’s about to pop onto our radar.

If you’ll be at Midwinter too, please stop by our booth (#1528) and say hello! We have LOTS of galleys to give out, including UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, Sara Pennypacker’s middle grade SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS, Adam Rex’s first-in-a-trilogy COLD CEREAL, and PANDEMONIUM, Lauren Oliver’s follow up to DELIRIUM*.  Plus you absolutely must meet Penny, Kevin Henkes‘ newest mouse, whose sweet story is sure to win a place in your heart.

See you in Dallas, y’all!

*Limited quantities available.

NEW VOICES: OPENING THE BOOK WITH… VERONICA ROSSI

Posted by | January 11, 2012 | 2 Comments

Meet Veronica Rossi, debut author of UNDER THE NEVER SKY, We featured an excerpt (read it!) and words from Veronica’s editor in yesterday’s post, and today we’re excited to introduce you to the woman herself. You won’t be surprised to learn that Veronica is a fine artist after jumping into the world of this dystopian teen story; every scene, from electrical storms to virtual joyrides, is incredibly visual, vivid and alive with suspense and danger.  UNDER THE NEVER SKY just received a star from Kirkus (full text a bottom)– congrats!

Let’s Open the Book with Veronica and see how she holds up under the cold, hard scrutiny of our incredibly thorough and very intimidating interviewing skills…

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

Growing up, I loved anything by Judy Blume but I think Forever will always have a special place in my heart. Right now I’m just starting CATCHING JORDAN by Miranda Kenneally. It’s about a girl who plays football and I can already tell I’m going to love it.

What is your secret talent?

It’s not a huge secret, but I’m an oil painter. I worked as an artist before I began to write.

Fill in the blank: My husband/kids always make me laugh.

My current obsessions are…

German chocolate. My Mac Air (which I have named Romeo.) And lately I’ve been a little obsessed with re-watching and reading my old favorite movies and books. Right now, PERSUASION by Jane Austen is calling to me.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given is to read your work aloud. It really helps!

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

…Has a blast! I also hope that, for those readers who seek it, the story’s deeper themes resonate, and that they fall in love with the characters and the world.

Tell us more about how UNDER THE NEVER SKY was born.

I came to UNDER THE NEVER SKY after spending six years on a writing project that never went anywhere. I was frustrated, and feeling like I had failed, but it was a good time to re-evaluate what type of story I really wanted to work on. I spent weeks journaling and reading non-fiction. I read survival guides and science journals, and slowly the characters and the world of UNDER THE NEVER SKY took shape. When I look back now, I see that time as a real turning point. This story means much more to me than anything I’ve ever worked on because I built it on themes that are very meaningful to me. I’m interested in exploring our dependence on technology, and I was able to do that in NEVER SKY. Aria’s journey is one of learning how to exist in the present, and appreciate life moment to moment, and that’s something I work at daily… or, rather… moment to moment! And, because the world in NEVER SKY is crumbling, every single character in the story wrestles with big, interesting questions. What matters most in their lives? Where do they fit, in a deteriorating world? How do they face adversity? These questions make for great writing material!

Thanks, Veronica! Be sure to READ THE EXCERPT and check out UNDER THE NEVER SKY on Facebook.

From Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2011)
Under the Never Sky
Debut author Rossi creates a dystopian world in which a teenage girl loses her home but finds truth, love and identity. Aria has grown up in a Pod, where life is highly regulated and technology has eliminated many of life’s pains and inconveniences. Dwellers lead sheltered, insulated lives in the Pod, enjoying protection from the often treacherous and always unpredictable Aether forces in the sky. They also revel in endless virtual joy rides accessible through devices all Dwellers have. Rossi seamlessly intertwines Aria’s journey with that of Peregrine, a teenage boy who has grown up outside of a Pod, an Outsider, in what the Dwellers consider perilous wastelands where humans live without the gadgets Dwellers depend upon. Ruling authorities banish Aria from the Pod, and Rossi nails the feat of offering dual perspectives from Aria and Perry as they help one another on separate quests that turn out to have unexpected connections. Though an Outsider and what Dwellers consider a savage, Peregrine, who possesses preternatural gifts and comes from a ruling family in his tribe, earns not only Aria’s respect and admiration, but also her heart. Rossi grounds her worldbuilding in language, creating idioms for the Dwellers and Outsiders that add texture to their respective myths; her characters are brave and complex and her prose smooth and evocative. Inspired, offbeat and mesmerizing.

NEW VOICES, A WORD FROM THE EDITOR: UNDER THE NEVER SKY

Posted by | January 10, 2012 | 1 Comment

The next book in our New Voices program is UNDER THE NEVER SKY, the first in a trilogy by debut YA author Veronica Rossi.  Foreign rights have already sold to 25 countries, and film rights were optioned by Warner Brother’s, so we’re by no means the only ones excited by this spectacular novel!

OUR SPECIAL TREAT FOR YOU: Click here to read an exclusive, free excerpt!

This novel is pure dystopian pleasure: Dwellers spend most of their time in virtual realms through a device implanted in their eye (ouch!), residing in enclosed cities for fear of the wild and dangerous outside world: The Death Shop, which is desolate, ravaged by horrifying electrical storms and peopled with cannibals.  When teen Aria is forced from her comfortable enclosed city, Reverie, and framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she must reluctantly depend on Perry, an Outsider and therefore a barbarian, to help her survive this wasteland and return to her home.  But she’s surprised to learn that Perry needs her help, too, and that maybe he isn’t a barbarian after all…

We asked Veronica’s wonderful editor, Barbara Lalicki, to tell us why she loves this book:

HER WORDS TRANSPORTED ME.

I began reading Veronica Rossi’s debut novel on a sunny afternoon. How quickly I was lost in the Aether light of the Never Sky! The world of Dwellers and Outsiders is so fully imagined, I could feel Aria and Perry walking around.   Sensory detail, as when Perry shows Aria how to know if a berry is poison, captivated me.  Not since Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet had I felt this fully immersed in a perfectly evoked landscape, and, like Hatchet, Under the Never Sky is an extraordinary survival adventure. That it’s set in a future with elements that are familiar combined with the strange, intrigued me.

For instance, Aria is “fractioning” when she uses the Smarteye, a device that allows her to access such Realms as the Beach, where she and her friends gather while also being in another place. In today’s fraught world, haven’t you found yourself working with split concentration? I could relate.

I don’t usually fall for romance, but the push-pull of the evolving relationship between Aria and Perry, who’ve been taught to hate each other, had me enthralled and nervous all at the same time. Would Aria and Perry part ways? It seemed terribly possible.

I knew I wanted to publish Under the Never Sky even before I turned the last page!  Throughout, the novel is suspenseful. It’s mind-stretching, ultimately hopeful–and I loved it.

The agent told me that Veronica Rossi had trained as a painter, and it still intrigues me to think about how that helped her to shape this marvelous novel. I hope you will find many enjoyable hours with Aria and Perry in their harsh, yet often beautiful world.

Visit UNDER THE NEVER SKY on Facebook , and STAY TUNED for our next post, when we Open the Book with Veronica Rossi!

NEW VOICES, OPENING THE BOOK WITH… BRIAN F. WALKER

Posted by | January 6, 2012 | 2 Comments

We’re thrilled to introduce you to debut author Brian F. Walker, whose book BLACK BOY, WHITE SCHOOL is part of our Winter 2012 New Voices campaign: our promotion of a group of truly spectacular brand-new authors.  This young adult story is painfully honest and pitch-perfect.  We’ve heard comparisons to Walter Dean Myers, and to Rita Williams-Garcia’s JUMPED, and we don’t disagree.  A starred review in January’s Booklist magazine (see full text at bottom) brings up Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, so Brian’s already in some pretty distinguished company.  Did you read our first post about Brian and THE EXCERPT yet?

So Brian can write.  But can he make it through our incredibly intense, pulse-pounding Opening the Book interview? Let’s find out…

Which was your favorite book from childhood, and what are you reading right now?

As a kid, my favorite book, hands down, was “J.T.” by Jane Wagner. It dealt with a tough, inner city kid who rescues and befriends a half-blind and neglected alley cat. Right now, I’m reading “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison. It is simply one of the best books ever written. Period.

What is your secret talent?

A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m pretty good at ceramic wheelworking. My dream is to one day have a small studio in my house – wheel, kiln and all. That way, I’ll never have buy another gift.

Fill in the blank: The Daily Show always makes me laugh.

My current obsessions are

…My daughter, Olivia; my wife, Ava; the television series Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, and The Walking Dead; any and all Cleveland professional Sports teams (and yes, I use the term “professional” very loosely); writing, writing writing.

Any gem of advice for aspiring writers?

Write something every day, embrace/learn from negative feedback and criticism (it will make you stronger), and, last but not least: Never. Give. Up. If you stop believing in yourself, no one else will believe in you, either.

Finish this sentence: I hope a person who reads my book…

…finds a connection to the characters, learns something new, thoroughly enjoys the experience, and wants to read my next book.

Tell us how BLACK BOY, WHITE SCHOOL, was born.

I went to boarding school as a 9th grader – just like Ant, from East Cleveland to Maine. Although I graduated from the academy and then went on to college, I noticed that many of my African American classmates (especially the boys) didn’t follow the same path. Some went to college for a year or two before dropping out, a few never enrolled in college at all, and a couple even wound up in prison. After some investigation into other private boarding schools (and a couple of decades working at one) I found that my classmates’ situations were not unique. A pretty significant number of Black boys who enroll in these college prep programs grace their school catalogues with happy faces and are expected to help their teams excel in the athletic arena, but they are often made bitter by the experience. I wanted to write a book for them, to give form and face to that important but marginalized voice. My hope is that in looking at the fictional Ant Jones and what happened to him, private schools in the real world might learn to recognize their mistakes and help ensure that their students of color excel in every sense of the word.

Thanks, Brian!  And don’t miss our special treat for you: a free, exclusive excerpt of BLACK BOY, WHITE SCHOOL.

From Booklist Magazine, January 1, 2012:
Black Boy White School.

Walker, Brian F. (Author) Jan 2012. 256 p. HarperTeen, hardcover, $17.99. (9780061914836). Like the protagonist of his hard-hitting debut novel, Walker grew up on the streets of East Cleveland until he was sent to a boarding school in the Northeast. Anthony “Ant” Jones, an “inky black knot of a fourteen­year-old,” has no interest in leaving East Cleveland (where drugs and violence reign) to attend predominantly white Belton Academy in Maine. Then Ant witnesses the drive-by shooting death of a friend, and suddenly Maine seems like the safer option. But life is far from perfect in the Belton bubble: the white students expect him to play basketball (he doesn’t) and assume he’s from Brooklyn (he’s not). Over the course of his year at the academy, Ant’s intense exploration of his own identity leads to more questions than answers—for example, is he Ant, as he’s called in Cleveland, or Tony, a nickname given by white students? How can he live in two worlds and yet feel like he belongs in neither? Walker grapples with these questions of belonging and examines the subject of race relations with unflinching honesty. Both the Cleveland and Maine characters are authentically drawn, and, like Sherman Alexie’sThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (2007), this powerful novel is certain to spark thoughtful discussion.— Ann Kelley

NEW VOICES, A WORD FROM THE EDITOR: BLACK BOY, WHITE SCHOOL

Posted by | January 4, 2012 | 1 Comment

Next in our New Voices series, we’re so pleased to share BLACK BOY, WHITE SCHOOL, by debut novelist Brian F. Walker.

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt!

Fans of Walter Dean Myers and Rita Williams-Garcia will be swept up in debut author Brian F. Walker’s fast-paced, hard-hitting novel about staying true to yourself. Can Anthony Jones, a ghetto kid from East Cleveland, find a way to survive at elite Maine prep school Belton Academy?

You might see echoes of Anthony’s story in the author’s own: Brian F. Walker grew up in East Cleveland, where he ran with gangsters, drug dealers and thugs until age fourteen, when he was sent to an elite boarding school and a world he had no way of understanding.  Learn even more about Brian tomorrow, when we put him through our hard-hitting, sweat-inducing interview.

Today Brian’s editor, the inimitable Phoebe Yeh, gives us a peek inside of what drew her in to Brian’s story:

Even though I’ve been in the children’s publishing business for twenty years plus now, there’s NOTHING like the vicarious thrill of discovering new talent.  When I read BLACK BOY WHITE SCHOOL for the first time, it was perhaps twice the length it is now.  But I could still see the potential, just from reading the first few paragraphs.  The rest of the story held up as novelist Brian Walker took me on a roller coaster ride with Anthony “Ant” Jones and his journey out of East Cleveland and back.  I knew the writing would connect with teens.  And it was also the kind of writing I’m particularly drawn to as an editor: hard-hitting, sarcastic at times, true and honest.   It was definitely my kind of book.

Brian is not the first novelist to tackle themes about teen alienation/coming-of-age/race.  But his unflinching, pitch-perfect voice makes Ant real.  You are in East Cleveland with him as his best friend gets shot; disoriented in Maine; awkward and fearful back home, defiant and unafraid to take a stand.  It’s a compelling read that gives you a jolt, just the way good books do.  And this is why Brian received his first book contract.

STAY TUNED for our next post, when we’ll Open the Book with debut author Brian F. Walker!

WALTER DEAN MYERS, NATIONAL AMBASSADOR FOR YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE

Posted by | January 3, 2012 | 2 Comments

Succeeding Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka, Walter Dean Myers is the third National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, a post first created in 2008 by the Library of Congress, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader.  During Walter’s two-year term, his platform is “Reading is Not Optional,” chosen as a result of Walter’s lifelong advocacy for reading among young people.

From this New York Times article announcing Walter’s post:

“On Tuesday Mr. Myers, 74, will be named the national ambassador for young people’s literature, a sort of poet laureate of the children’s book world who tours the country for two years, speaking at schools and libraries about reading and literacy.

As an African-American man who dropped out of high school but built a successful writing career — largely because of his lifelong devotion to books — Mr. Myers said his message would be etched by his own experiences.

“I think that what we need to do is say reading is going to really affect your life,” he said in an interview at his book-cluttered house here in Jersey City, adding that he hoped to speak directly to low-income minority parents. “You take a black man who doesn’t have a job, but you say to him, ‘Look, you can make a difference in your child’s life, just by reading to him for 30 minutes a day.’ That’s what I would like to do.””

Walter’s life and work is beyond summarization, but here are just a few of his accomplishments: Two Newbery Honors, Five Coretta Scott King Awards and Five Coretta Scott King Honors, a Michael L. Printz Award for “Monster,” the 1994 Margaret Edwards Award, and three-time National Book Award Finalist. Wow!

Check out the wonderful WE ARE AMERICA, written by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by his son, Christopher Myers.  And be on the lookout for Walter’s next novel, ALL THE RIGHT STUFF, which revolves around the social contract, due out in the spring of this year.

Learn more about Walter’s Ambassadorship in , this Publisher’s Weekly article, on the Children’s Book Council website, and the Library of Congress site.  Our sincerest congratulations, Walter!

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