BookExpo America is where Marissa Moss, author of the bestselling Amelia's Notebook series, will launch Creston Books, to be distributed by Publishers Group West. She aims to publish debut works, as well as work by established authors that might be a little different than what they are known for. Her first list includes the nonfiction How to Be Human: the Diary of an Autistic Girl, written by Florida Frenz, an autistic 15-year-old; Lola Goes to Work by Marcia Goldman, about a dog that wants to be a therapy animal; the picture book Cozy Light, Cozy Night, which showcases Elisa Kleven's storytelling and artistic abilities; and Rotten Pumpkin by David M. Schwartz, with photographs by Dwight Kuhn, illustrating just what happens when a pumpkin decays.
"She's got great taste," said Becky Quiroga Curtis from Books and Books in Coral Gables, Fla., of Moss's foray into publishing. Curtis served as chair of the children's and young adult part of the ABA's Celebrate Debut Authors panel of booksellers, which has spent the past few months reading new work to be selected for the fall program. [Details about the program are available in the ABA booth.]
Not surprisingly, If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan, about a girl's forbidden love in Iran, from Algonquin's new Young Readers imprint, made that list. Other notable titles from Algonquin Young Readers include The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick and Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon. Curtis said she is impressed by Algonquin's new line and was especially moved by Somebody Up There Hates You, which is about a boy in hospice care and his relationship with a girl across the hall. "Algonquin is very thoughtful and a very special publisher," she said.
Ellen Scott from the Bookworm in Omaha, Neb., also served on the ABA Celebrate Debut Authors committee, and she named Jumped In by Patrick Flores-Scott (Holt, Aug.) as a top YA pick. A former English teacher, Scott liked that an English teacher in the book gets one slacker kid to interact with another, she said. Rainbow Rowell might live in Omaha, but booksellers across the country are waiting to get their handselling hands on Fangirl (St. Martin's, September), her follow-up to Eleanor & Park.
With the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination in November, there will be plenty of tie-in books, but bestselling presidential historian James Swanson presents the story as it has never been told before, to a YA audience, in The President Has Been Shot! (Scholastic, Sept.)
Robert McDonald at the Book Stall at Chestnut Court in Winnetka, Ill., read and loved The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell and Ian Schoenherr (Dial, Oct.), about a girl who stumbles upon a secret world where beloved pets and other tamed animals go after they die. The book, translated from Norwegian, has been compared to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass.
McDonald also looks forward to the new book from by Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn trilogy. In Steelheart, the first in a new series, a burst in the sky gives ordinary men and women extraordinary powers--but also makes them evil. For middle graders, McDonald said the new book by Matthew Cody, Will in Scarlet (Knopf, Sept.), with its Robin Hood theme, is a bit of a departure for the author of Super and Powerless, but is equally solid. And Cristin Stickles at McNally Jackson in New York City said Ann Ursu's followup to Breadcrumbs, titled The Real Boy (Walden Pond, Sept.), is "incredible."
Susan Cooper's new book, Ghost Hawk (Margaret K. McElderry, Aug.), is one Cathy Berner at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston is eager to sell. "It's a way for us to introduce her Dark Is Rising series to a new generation of readers," she said. Set in colonial times, Ghost Hawk tells the story of a boy caught between the kindness of the Wampanoag community who have shown his settler family how to sustain themselves, and the rising tensions with the new arrivals who covet Wampanoag land. That captured the interest of Andrea Vuleta, now the executive director of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association, formerly of Mrs. Nelson's Toy & Book Shop, La Verne. Also on Vuleta's list is Counting by 7's by screenwriter-turned-author Holly Goldberg Sloan (Dial, Aug.). "The character is shockingly bright and possibly autistic," said Vuleta. "She has to really gauge her responses to people." Stickles called the author's voice "new and honest."
Rooftoppers, a debut by Katherine Rundell (S&S, Sept.), which is about a group of kids who go roof-hopping in Paris at night, is also getting a lot of good buzz for middle-grade readers.
For younger children, several booksellers named The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel, June), as their top pick. "It's exactly what you think it is: the crayons go on strike," said Stickles. Curtis at Books and Books called it "genius." Two books by old favorites on Vuleta's list are Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Little, Brown, Sept.) and Locomotive by Brian Floca (Richard Jackson/Atheneum, Sept.).
And of course, everyone will be clamoring for the new Lemony Snicket, When Did You See Her Last? (Little, Brown, Oct.), and for two by Neil Gaiman: Fortunately, the Milk (Harper, Sept.) for children and Ocean at the End of the Lane (Morrow, June) for adults.
Tomorrow tune in for indie presses, nonfiction and sleepers. --Bridget Kinsella
[See BEA Buzz Books Part 1 here.]