Monday, January 19, 2015

The We Need Diverse Books Fundraising Campaign and New Video

We Need Diverse Books is a grassroots organization created to address the lack of diverse, non-majority narratives in children’s literature. We Need Diverse Books is committed to the ideal that embracing diversity will lead to acceptance, empathy, and ultimately equality.
Their mission statement is:

We recognize all diverse experiences, including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities. Our mission is to promote or amplify diversification efforts and increase visibility for diverse books and authors, with a goal of empowering a wide range of readers in the process. 

The team have launched a crowdfunding venture on Indiegogo and hope to raise $100,000.00 that will be used towards several different projects. Future plans include bringing diverse books and authors into disadvantaged schools, initiating the Walter Dean Myers Award & Grant program, and launching the inaugural Kidlit Diversity Festival in Washington, D.C.
Have a look at a video about the campaign above; it features appearances from Matt de la PeñaJohn GreenMarie LuCindy PonGrace LinLamar GilesTim FederleJacqueline Woodson, and Arthur LevineFollow this link to read a transcript. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Five Charities That Promote Literacy

First Book1. First Book: “At First Book, our innovative approaches tackle the single biggest barrier to the development of literacy – access to books. To date, First Book has provided more than 120 million books to children in need, increasing access to needed materials for educators and administrators, and helping to elevate educational opportunities for our nation’s most disadvantaged youth.”

2. Donors “ is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America post classroom project requests on our site, and you can give any amount to the project that most inspires you.”

3. We Give Books: “We Give Books distributes books to children in need across 5 continents through our Charity Partners. Featured Charity Partners receive book donations from We Give Books on an ongoing basis.” 

4. Better World Books: “Better World Books uses the power of business to change the world. We collect and sell books online to donate books and fund literacy initiatives worldwide. With more than 8 million new and used titles in stock, we’re a self-sustaining, triple-bottom-line company that creates social, economic and environmental value for all our stakeholders.”

BetterWorldBooks.com5. Girls Write Now: “Founded in 1998, Girls Write Now is the first organization in the country with a writing and mentoring model exclusively for girls. Girls Write Now provides guidance, support, and opportunities for at-risk and underserved girls from New York City’s public high schools to develop their creative, independent voices, explore careers in professional writing, and learn how to make healthy school, career and life choices.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What Kids Want From Books!

scholasticA surprising 73 percent of kids report the they would read more if they could find more books that they liked, according to a new report by Scholastic.

The Kids & Family Reading Report: Fifth Edition, which comes out entirely in January, examines the reading habits of kids 6-17. The research reveals that  70 percent of kids want to read a book that will make them laugh when reading for fun and 54 percent like reading books that allow them to use their imagination.
Different age groups seek different types of stories. According to the report kids 6-8 like to read books with characters that look like them and kids 9-11 enjoy with a mystery or problem to solve, whereas 12-14 year olds look for books with smart, strong or brave characters and 15-17 year olds are looking for books that allow them to escape.

Here is what kids of different ages are seeking:
54% say:  Let me use my imagination.
48% say:  Tell me a made-up story.
43% have characters they want to be like because they are smart, strong, or brave.
43% teach me something new.
41% have a puzzle or mystery to solve.
*73% say:  I would read more if I could find books I like!

Kids 6 to 8
Are more likely than older kids to want:books with characters that look like them.
Kids 9 to 11
Are more likely than younger kids to want:books that have amystery or problem to solve.
Kids 12 to 14
Are more likely than older kids to want:books with smart, strong or brave characters.
Kids 15 to 17
Are more likely than younger kids to want:books that let them forget about real life for a while.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel by Jane Ellen Freeman

A lovely kids' chapter book titled Jeremiah Lucky and the Guardian Angel, has just been published (Guardian Angel Publishing) and is one I'd recommend for your independent readers.

Jane Ellen Freeman, an author of children's books, wrote the book and dedicated it to "all children being raised by a single parent."  The book takes the reader through several days of Jeremiah's life, both at school and at home.  There is much to be admired in the eight-year-old's home life.  His mom is a nurse who loves and supports her son, and in spite of his fireman father's death in the line of duty, Jeremiah is a lucky boy!  

The story is a sweet one that in some ways reminds me of Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.  And as with that classic film, a guardian angel named Angus McDermit, appears to Jeremiah just when he needs one most!

The illustrations, which I love, were done by Eric Hammond and are reflective of the nurturing atmosphere of the story.  Ms. Freeman and Mr. Hammond, however, never fail to keep the book moving at an appropriate and interesting pace for young ones. 

The author is a former teacher who divides her time between her home in West Virginia and Florida. Now a full-time writer, Jane writes for children, teens, and adults and is a member of Florida Writers Association andthe Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Visit her at:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Christmas Greeting

Somehow it is the festive time of year once more, and I want to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.  I also want to thank you for all the support you have shown me and this blog.

In this season of love and good will, it is, I believe, important to pause a moment and reflect on our blessings and the important people in our lives.  I am so very grateful for my husband, and sons and their families, and faithful friends, and good health.  And the list could go on.

It is my hope that everyone who reads these words may do the same in his or her own way.  Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate the holiday.  The sentiment applies to those of you who do not.

I wish the very best wishes to you all during this time of renewal, rebirth, and rejoicing.  A Happy Holiday to you all!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cookie Monster in a New 'Night Before Christmas' Book

Twas the Night Before Christmas on Sesame Street!" By Lillian Jaine and illustrated by Joe Mathieu (Sourcebooks,$10.99) may be one of the cutest new books for Christmas around this year.

slmw1210art.jpgThe child who believes Santa is on the way and who adores Cookie Monster will love this offering.  As one would expect, it's Christmas Eve and Cookie Monster is getting ready for the big day. He's dreaming about cookies and awakes with a start:

" 'Santa!' he cried. Me thinks this is great! "But me wish me not eat what was on Santa's plate!"

Frantic, in that kooky Muppet way, Cookie bustles into the kitchen and decides to make a full batch of cookies from scratch. Luckily, the gang shows up to help.

"Elmo started to mix, then measure and splatter. (And though Bert was the baker, Ernie tasted some batter.) The clock ticked away, and when the bell sounded, They opened the oven, pleased and astounded!"

Since it's a Sesame Street book about Christmas, all is guaranteed to end well. The cookies should be terrific, Santa should have some and Elmo, Oscar, the Count and Abby should share every cookie down to the last crumb!

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Holiday Books for Kids

"Blizzard" byJohn Rocco Disney-Hyperion. Hardcover, picture book. $17.99.
“Blizzard” by John Rocco 
 Disney-Hyperion. Hardcover, picture book. 40 pages. $17.99.When a blizzard blankets his town and buries his home, a young boy experiences joy (no school! snow tunnels!) that slowly turns to alarm (no snowplows, no food). But having read his Arctic survival guide, he knows that he has what it takes to help the neighborhood survive the storm. Caldecott honoree John Rocco’s lovely illustrations contain nostalgia, whimsy, warmth and light, and the boy finds both fun and meaning in doing for others. “I couldn’t think about myself. I was on a mission."

“Merry Moosey Christmas” by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Russ Cox
Islandport Press. Hardcover, picture book. 32 pages. $17.95.
“Merry Moosey Christmas” by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Russ Cox 
 Islandport Press. Hardcover, picture book. 32 pages. $17.95.
Another Christmas Eve is coming, and Rudolph wants, just this once, to take the night off. He wants to know what it feels like to have that giddy sense of anticipation, to hear reindeer hooves on the roof, to wake up to presents under a tree. So he convinces Santa to accept a substitute, and off they go to find a worthy replacement. Their search leads them to a willing moose, and the training begins. This lighthearted tale, by Maine author Lynn Plourde with illustrations by Maine artist Russ Cox, shows that resourcefulness goes a long way. Moosey might not be able to make his nose glow, or fly, but he knows how to solve a problem.

“Winter Candle” by Jeron Ashford, illustrated by Stacey Schuett
“Winter Candle” by Jeron Ashford, illustrated by Stacey Schuett 
 Creston Books. Hardcover, picture book. 32 pages. $16.95.Creston Books. Hardcover, Picture Book. 32 pages. $16.95.
It’s Thanksgiving in an apartment building in the city, and Nana Clover has forgotten to get a candle for her traditional centerpiece. The only thing the building superintendent can come up with is an ugly lumpy stump of a thing, but it’ll do. And so the candle’s journey begins, from one apartment to the next, from one seasonal celebration to another. This could easily get bogged down in sentimentality, but Ashford gracefully describes the little candle’s power to shine through a Jewish family’s havdalah ceremony, to gleam on a Scandinavian Saint Lucia crown, to dance on a kinara holder during Kwanzaa, and to glitter enough to welcome and guide a new family to the building during a storm.
Schuett’s gorgeously rich and textured illustrations glow with shadows and stars.

“My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories,” edited by Stephanie Perkins
St. Martin’s Griffin. Hardcover, YA Fiction. 321 pages. $18.99.
“My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories,” edited by Stephanie Perkins 
 St. Martin’s Griffin. Hardcover, young adult fiction. 321 pages. $18.99.These 12 holiday tales charm and delight. Some of the best and bestselling young adult writers of the day, including Rainbow Rowell (“Eleanor and Park”), Laini Taylor (“Daughter of Smoke and Bone” series), Gayle Forman (“If I Stay” series), and Holly Black (“Doll Bones”), spin yarns of winter romance from the contemporary to the magical to the all-out fantastical.
Love and hope cross all borders here: rich-poor, black-white, city-country, human-mythological, even human-elf. Standouts include Kiersten White’s “Welcome to Christmas, CA,” where a young chef divines the foods and tastes that connect people to happier times, and Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown.” It’s about a girl who ends up kissing the boy selling Christmas trees in the parking lot, but it’s really a story about the gifts – the kind you can’t buy – that matter most.

Melissa Kim is senior editor for children’s books at Islandport Press.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Children's Classic UK Ladybird Publishing Drops Gender Branding

Children's publisher Ladybird BG will be dropping gender branding from its books after almost 100 years and will not publish anymore books labelled for girls or boys.  It does not want to be seen "limiting children" in any way.
Ladybird Books will now make gender-neutral children booksIts current gendered titles include Favourite Fairy Tales for Girls, which has the tales of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, and Favourite Stories for Boys, which has the stories of Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Pigs.
It is the seventh publisher to commit to the Let Books Be Books campaign which is urging 'boys' and 'girls' labels to be removed to enable youngsters to choose freely what kinds of stories and activity books interest them.
Ladybird, which is part of the Penguin Random House Children’s division, said it had been in discussions with campaigners as part of its decision.
The campaign group, which believes gender titling is "limiting and restrictive", has gathered thousands of signatures on a petition to challenge publishers to remove their labelling.
It says that titles like "The Beautiful Girls' Book of Colouring" or "Illustrated Classics for Boys" sends the message that certain books are off-limits for girls or for boys, and promote limiting gender stereotypes.
Children’s publishing should always aim to open up new worlds for children. But telling children which stories and activities are 'for them' based on their gender closes down whole worlds of interest.
In March publisher Parragon confirmed it would support the campaign.
In response to the petition, it posted on Twitter: "Feedback on gender-specific titles is important to us. We have no plans to create new titles referring to boy/girl in the UK."
It has received support from publishers Miles Kelly, Chad Valley, Usborne, Waterstones and Dorling Kindersley.
The former UK children's laureate Anne Fine has described gender labelling as "exasperating."

Friday, November 28, 2014

Red Cross Launches Emergency App for Children

 Emergency preparedness is no laughing matter and not to be taken lightly.  But kids will get a kick out of a new American Red Cross emergency preparedness app that combines important information and fun.

monster-guard-flood-screenshot-1.PNGThe free "Monster Guard" app, geared toward children ages 7 to 11, is a game that teaches how to prevent emergencies, such as home fires, and what do if severe or natural disasters occur. 

Set in the "Monster Guard Academy," the young app user is a recruit who trains to prepare for disasters and practices what to do if one happens.

Users can role-play as various monster characters, go through the initiation and engage in interactive training for hazards such as tornados, floods and hurricanes. A player who completes all of the episodes graduates to become a member of the "Monster Guard."

According to the Red Cross, the game is best played on a tablet, but it also works well on other mobile devices. The app can be downloaded through the user's mobile app store. Go to or text 'MONSTER' to 90999 for a direct link to download the app.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Red Berries, Blue Sky, White Clouds: Kids' Book on the Wartime Internment of Japanese Americans

A move from California to Colorado takes place in the new book “Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky” by Sandra Dallas — but it is certainly nothing to look forward to, especially if you're a kid.

Twelve-year-old Tomi Itano hoped that her little brother Hiro wouldn’t notice the hurtful word on the 
door of the grocery store. It made her cringe that he was 7 years old and could read the word “Japs.”
It was 1942, and the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor. America entered World War II soon after, which caused much discrimination for Japanese-Americans like the Itanos. Tomi, Hiro and their older brother Roy had been born in America, but that didn’t seem to matter to their friends and neighbors.
Mom said “Shikata ga nai” (“It cannot be helped.”). Pop kept working on the strawberry farm where they all lived — until the day the FBI showed up, arrested him and took him away to prison camp. Shortly afterward, the rest of the Itanos packed a single suitcase and were forced to move to a relocation camp.
Ellis, Colo., was nothing at all like California, and Tallgrass Camp was nothing like the strawberry farm. Tomi’s family lived in a barracks surrounded by barbed wire in an area that didn’t seem like it would grow anything. There was a school and a community hall where Mom taught other Japanese-American women to sew, but the Itanos didn’t enjoy living there — especially without Pop. Still, they made friends and started new projects, and things settled into a pattern of normalcy.
Then the one thing Tomi wanted more than anything finally happened — but it made her mad and bitter. The Itanos were as American as anybody, so why were they treated as if they weren’t? She couldn’t stop being angry, until her brother asked her to do something very important. 

Japanese Intermnent Camp in US
Dallas says:
I really traveled alongside these characters, rooting for them and feeling for their struggles. I know that all readers, young or more advanced, will experience something similar.
In addition to explaining the historical facts, Dallas says in her afterword that years ago she met a couple of Japanese-American journalists who’d spent the war years in relocation camps, and their stories were the basis for part of this book. It will be interesting for readers to root for and identify with Tomi, a regular American girl. 
Red Berries White Clouds Blue Sky" by Sandra Dallas
c.2014, Sleeping Bear Press $15.95 / $16.95 Canada:  216 pages

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

To Kill a Mockingbird Now Offered in an Enhanced eBook Edition

HarperCollins has published an enhanced eBook edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

To Kill a MockingbirdThe company released the normal eBook To Kill a Mockingbird eBook in July, 2014. The enhancement features on this digital book include a radio interview with Lee, footage from the 1962 film adaptation, audiobook clips performed by Sissy Spacek.

 There will be snippets from the Hey Boo documentary with appearances from Oprah WinfreyTom Brokaw, and Anna Quindlen.

According to The Associated Press, “HarperCollins spokeswoman Tina Andreadis says the new Mockingbird edition had received 6,500 pre-orders, far more than for the usual ‘enhanced’ book. She says the publisher has sold 80,000 copies of the regular eBook, a figure comparable to print sales.

Total worldwide sales exceed 30 million copies since the book’s 1960 release. Both eBook editions are priced at $8.99.

To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American Literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hunger Games is Going to the (Near) London Stage

The blockbuster post-apocalyptic action franchise “The Hunger Games” is hitting the stage and will open London in the summer of 2016 in a new purpose-built theater next to Wembley Stadium, said Lionsgate . 

The studio behind “The Hunger Games” said it was teaming with Dutch media company Imagine Nation and US based Triangular Entertainment on the show, which will be produced by Tony Award winner Robin de Levita and others.

 Lionsgate Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen said in a statement:

Their creative genius, combined with world-class production values and state-of-the-art technology, will provide a uniquely immersive experience for fans around the world.

The latest installment in the series, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” stars Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson.

It will be released worldwide on Nov 21.

The previous two “Hunger Games” films grossed more than US$1.5 billion (RM 5.019 billion) in worldwide box office receipts. 

The books by Suzanne Collins, on which the films are based, have sold more than 80 million copies around the world.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Interview With Ella Kennen: Junior Agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency

Today it is my distinct pleasure to welcome literary agent and friend Ella Kennen to the blog! Ella is a junior agent at New York based Corvisiero Literary Agency.  Congratulations!

NS  Please tell us a bit about your literary journey to your recent appointment of agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

EK  I edited my first piece – one of my mom’s speeches – when I was about twelve, and I delighted in the turn-around: the chance to take a red pen to paper. But, editing was never my goal: I wanted to be a writer. I did all the typical things literary-minded kids do: I worked on the school lit mag, I entered (and sometimes won) contests, I inhaled books. In college, I added Writing Center tutor to my repertoire. But I heard it was too hard to break into fiction, so when I graduated I started focusing on nonfiction – small articles, for magazines, newspapers, and the web, and bigger pieces for trade magazines. And I made pretty decent money off of it… until I burned out. I didn’t write professionally for years. Then I had a daughter… and I started reading to her, and reading, and reading, until story ideas were oozing out of me. So I learned about kid lit, took a class, had some early successes – Appleseeds, Highlights, MeeGenius, etc. And then I joined a couple of critique groups.  And that was pivotal. I was one of those people who had always enjoyed the idea of writing more than writing itself, but I LOVED critiquing. I didn’t have to wrangle a muse, or wait until I was in the mood.  I just did it. The more I critiqued, the more I learned, and it made me want to become even better.  So I read more, and critiqued more, and got some freelance gigs, and used that experience and skills to land an editorial position at an ebook publisher. But I didn’t have a say in what projects I worked with, so I started to look around to see what other options I might have.  I landed an internship at the Corvisiero Agency in January of this year, then became an agent apprentice, and was recently promoted  to Junior Agent.

NS  As many of my readers are writers themselves, is there any advice you’d give them on the route to being published?

EK  Write the type of projects you want to write. If you want to be a novelist, don’t start with short stories because you’ve heard you need credentials (you don’t!). If you want to write middle grade, don’t start with picture books because you’ve heard it’s easier (it’s not!). If you want to write picture books, don’t start with magazine articles – the word count is similar, but the pacing, the cadence, and the use of imagery are all very distinct. If you want to try your hand at an assortment of things, then by all means, do it, but otherwise it’s like taking up the violin because you want to be a tuba player.
-- You don’t have to write what you know, but you should write what you care about. Your passion will come through.
-- Writing is part rocket science and part alchemy. So many variables – a standout premise, distinct character development, realistic dialog, fast pacing, seamless worldbuilding, believable yet unexpected plot arcs, satisfying character arcs, fascinating subplots – have to come together just right for magic on the page to occur. It’s HARD. All those things don’t happen overnight, and you shouldn’t expect them to. Debut novelists aren’t novice writers – they are people who are now breaking through, and you can, too.
 -- Read about your craft. Read, read, read. Publishing is a business, and there are good practices and bad practices. Most of the people we pass on get passed because of avoidable issues. Don’t be those people.
-- Join a critique group or two. It can be very hard to be objective about your own work, but it is so much easier to see a technique that’s been well or poorly carried out in someone else’s work.  Seeing something done badly (and what is that something? It could be a host of things… which is why you read craft books to become aware of the issues) can bring about that “aha!” moment where you see why a rule exists and what happens when it’s poorly executed. And once you gain that awareness, it is easier to see how it applies to your own work.
-- Develop a thick skin. Yes, on the one hand, this is your baby that you’ve poured heart and soul and countless hours into, but it is not you. It is one attempt; you will have others. 
-- Keep writing. Nothing distracts from the agony of waiting and the anguish of rejection than being excited about another project. And the only way to really get better at writing is to write.

 NS  What are you looking for in the slush pile at this particular time?  Any happy surprises?

 EK  Surprises are exactly what I’m looking for. I get giddy whenever I see a project from a perspective I’ve never come across before. I love realistic novels that open the curtains to a world previously unknown to me – what it’s like to have cerebral palsy or to be a fire-eater. I love page-turning plots – I pick projects on their ability to make me lose sleep because I’m too busy reading. But it’s the characters that make me care about going on the journey or not.
I’m always on the lookout for great graphic novels (any age group, any genre) and page-turning nonfiction (any age group). I am also open to any genre of middle grade, young adult, new adult, and will consider picture books by invitation only.
NS   You and I serve as judges of the marvelous Rate Your Story Organization.  Are there any other groups to which you give your (limited) time?

EK  Just to be clear, I am not an active judge at Rate Your Story anymore, though I do manage the blog there – and I often wish submissions I see in the slushpile had gone through RYS first! In the writing world: I’ve had the opportunity to work with the Children’s Book Academy, present at a regional SCBWI conference, and help with a Writer’s Digest workshop. I hope and plan to have more opportunities like that – I love interacting with authors and helping provide them with opportunities for professional growth.
In the nonwriting world (which I sometimes have to remind myself exists), I am on the board of my local homeschooling group and teach homeschool drama, and am special activities coordinator for my base’s spouses’ club, which sounds much more stuffy than it is – we’re talking craft club, movie outings, improv, triathlon training, etc. I don’t lead all those groups up – I just cajoled people into taking the reins!

NS  How may people reach you to submit?

EK  Writers can submit their query letter, 1-2 page synopsis, and first five pages of their completed manuscript to me at Be sure to include my name on the subject line.  Please note that we respond to EVERY submission, but do only submit one project to one agent at our agency at a time.

NS  Ella, it has been such a pleasure having you visit the blog today.  I know how very busy you are with homeschooling, agenting, and the myriad other responsibilities you assume.  I want to wish you every success in your career at Corvisiero Literary Agency as junior agent! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

New Oxford Companion to Children's Literature Out in the New Year

Oxford University Press (OUP) will next year publish a new edition of the Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, more than 30 years after the book first appeared in print according to Charlotte Eyre.

Oxford Companion to Children's LiteratureThe new edition, scheduled for release as a £30 ($45.00) hardback in March 2015, was edited by author and journalist Daniel Hahn and covers all the major developments in children’s publishing since 1983.

Hahn said he approached OUP about updating the old companion because “after three decades it was clearly missing a lot of what was exciting in children’s literature nowadays”.

He added 900 new entries, bringing the total to 3,640, and shortened older content to make way for the new. He cut about 70 complete entries that were mostly about the literary output of different countries, such as Brazil, Czechoslovakia (which is now the Czech Republic) and Holland (the Netherlands), and added authors such as Philip Pullman, David Almond, Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, Dick King Smith and Neil Gaiman. One of the longest entries is about J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, running to 1,600 words.

“The new material is incredibly varied, mostly it’s covering things over the last 30 years but also filling in a few gaps from the first edition,” he said. “The English-speaking world beyond the UK is better represented as a whole, as are foreign-language writers.”

YA fiction is much more prominent than in the first edition. “There were no more than a handful of YA writers in the old edition, for instance, and there are dozens and dozens now. The crossover book is discussed as a phenomenon in itself, and lots of books that typically carry that label are included in their own right.

There are also sections on manga, fan fiction and non-print publishing.

When considering what should go into the book, Hahn considered both quality and significance, saying: “Some books I may not think are especially good but are clearly important if only because they sold a zillion copies and made everyone else suddenly want to write about vampires.”

He added: “It’s also about balance – trying to represent work in a range of countries and for a range of ages, by a variety of writers and illustrators in a range of genres and styles. Ultimately it’s only a snapshot but it’s important that it represents a recognisable picture.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shel Silverstein's Five Book Celebration

HarperCollins is marking several of the late author-illustrator Shel Silverstein (1930–1999) milestones this year.The Giving Tree (which has sold more than 10 million copies), Don’t Bump the Glump!Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? and A Giraffe and a Half all celebrate 50 years in print, and poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends(which also has sales of 10 million copies) turns 40.

In February, the publisher kicked off a six-figure, year-long marketing campaign to observe these significant book birthdays. Commemorative editions of each of the five titles were released on February 18, as was the first-ever digital version of The Giving Tree, marking the only time a Silverstein book has appeared in a format other than hardcover.

The challenge of any Silverstein book anniversary is “what do you do to the books that is in line with what Shel had done or might have liked? Sometimes all you can do is add a sticker.” As examples of more significant tweaks, she cites the 50th-anniversary edition of The Giving Tree, which features a green foil jacket, and the 30th-anniversary edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends, which included 12 additional pages of previously unpublished poems.But any planning for new projects begins by speaking with Silverstein’s family members, who maintain an archive of his original art and papers in Chicago. “We talk to the family and see what they might consider,” editor Antonia Markiet says. “And it’s great that they do consider what we suggest. For the recent editions of A Giraffe and a Half and Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back (which turned 50 last year), Markiet says she went back to the vintage jackets using the type and color from 50 years ago. 

“We looked at our archives and the family archives to see if the paper was a different color and it was cream more than blue-white,” she said. The vintage jackets will be available for a limited time, in tandem with the more familiar, long-running, black-and-white versions. “It’s nice to offer both and let people decide; they can buy a copy for nostalgia,” Markiet notes.

Shouldering the responsibility for Silverstein’s backlist is “humbling and terrifying,” Markiet says. “There is certainly gratification, and being able to bring 50-year-old classics to new generations of kids spoils you a bit,” she adds. “Shel was one of the best that ever was. Kids still love his work and scream with laughter – and so do people my age!”