For booksellers who serve the youngest readers, the upcoming Winter Institute continues to be a place to discover new authors and rub elbows with their favorite storytellers. (Also see our previous WI Buzz Books articles: Fiction, Nonfiction, Indie Presses, YA)
Bad Kitty: Puppy's Big Day by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook/Macmillan, Jan., $16.99, 9781596439764)
It's been 10 years since Nick Bruel first introduced Bad Kitty--a cat that has since gone to school, appeared in a Christmas and a birthday book, and even ran for president--but the new book is the first in the series to focus on Kitty's nemesis, Puppy. "[Bruel's] such a creative genius," said Laura Donohoe, the children's buyer at Malaprop's in Asheville. "I can't wait to be in the same room with him and hear his stories."
Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman (Abrams Appleseed, Apr., $14.95, 9781419714641)
From the collaborator on the Barrel of Monkeys books and the author of Pirate, Viking & Scientist comes Vegetables in Underwear, with pictures that look good enough to eat and text that is perfect for a read-along. The story illustrates the silliness as well as the more serious side side of underwear; e.g., when the big kid veggies flaunt their drawers in front of the baby carrots. And, as Kate Schlademan from the Learned Owl in Ohio pointed out, what's not to like about "veggies with wedgies?"
Home by Carson Ellis (Candlewick, Feb. $16.99, 9780763665296)
This is the much-anticipated picture-book debut from Caron Ellis, the Wildwood illustrator who also illustrated Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead and other books. Home, Ellis shows readers, can look like many things (even an old shoe). "It looks gorgeous online," said Drew Sieplinga from Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis. Donohoe at Malaprop's described herself as an "evangelist" for Home.
Lola and Tattletale Zeke by Marcia Goldman (Creston, June, $16.95, 9781939547163)
Lola the therapy dog is back. Marcia Goldman applies her 25 years of using the real-life Lola in her work educating sick children, their families and their teachers about therapy animals to create a series of children's books that entertain as much as educate. Creston publisher Marissa Moss said Goldman was a big hit at Early Childhood Education Conferences and is excited to meet booksellers at WI. Some credit the success of Creston's growing publishing program with its founder: as the author of the Amelia's Notebook series and books for girls and boys of all ages, Moss is publishing from the point of view of someone who is actively creating books for children and making her own school visits.
Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope by Jack Wang and Holman Wang (Chronicle, Mar., $9.95, 9781452133935)
Although the twin Wang brothers co-write their books, only Holman Wang will be at WI. But as a former middle school teacher, he'll likely have some interesting things to say about how his experience informed his collaboration with brother Jack, who teaches at Ithaca College. They're launching their Star Wars Epic Yarns series, which, like their Cozy Classics, feature handcrafted felt creations, each of which accompanies a single word of text.
Galactic Hot Dogs #1: Cosmoe's Weiner Getaway by Max Brallier, illustrated by Rachel Maguire (Aladdin/S&S, May, $13.99, 9781481424943)
From the author of more than 20 books for children and adults comes a new series that introduces Cosmoe, the Earth-boy captain of the Neon Weiner, the finest flying food truck in the galaxy. Cosmoe and his best bud Big Humphree face mutant worms, zombie space pirates and grumpy robots--while cooking up Mega Dogs the size of jeeps--to keep the galaxy safe from the Ultimate Evil.
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart (Scholastic, Jan., $16.99, 9780545665735)
Dan Gemeinhart, a teacher/librarian and father of three girls, is being lauded as a great new voice in middle grade fiction for his debut novel, The Honest Truth. In it, Mark is like most all other kids--he has a dog, a best friend and some hobbies (which include mountain climbing)--but he also has cancer. Sick of being sick, one day Mark takes his camera, notebook and dog, and sets out to climb Mount Rainier on his own. Sieplinga from Wild Rumpus said this one was definitely on her list to grab at WI.
The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein (Random House, Mar., $16.99, 9780385388443)
Chris Grabenstein is the author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and coauthor, with James Patterson, of the I Funny series. When Billy spends the summer on the strange island of Dr. Libris, he notices some odd things, but the greatest discoveries come when Billy unlocks the library and the books come to life. "We really liked his first one," said Schlademan at Learned Owl. "Especially for kids who are readers, they love this stuff."
Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11 by N. Griffin, illustrated by Kate Hindley (Candlewick, Feb., $15.99, 9780763661458)
The author of the YA novel The Whole Stupid Way We Are aims her imagination at a slightly younger audience with her new book, Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11. The mystery in the book revolves around a stolen hamster, but will booksellers at WI discover the mystery of the author's first name?
The Tapper Twins Go to War (with Each Other) by Geoff Rodkey (Little, Brown, Apr., $13.99, 9780316297790)
Little, Brown created a lot of industry buzz when it preempted this new series (after The Chronicles of Egg) by Geoff Rodkey--the screenwriter behind Daddy Daycare--and the publisher is backing it with a 150,000 first printing. In the book, the 12-year-old Tapper twins--Claudia and Reese--are in the middle of a prank war with each other in and around their New York City private school. Told as an oral history by the twins and their friends--by way of texts, screenshots and gamer art--Rodkey's new series captures the essence and craziness of middle school life in the digital age. "It's a neat premise," said Schlademan, "and it's also funny."
The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders (HarperCollins, Mar., $16.99, 9780062275820)
This is the much-anticipated debut from Ted Sanders, the award-winning short story and essay writer, and it is also the first book in the Keepers series, about magical objects, secret sects and life as we know it on the line. "I just loved it," said Suzanna Hermans from Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, N.Y. "I think it will be the next Wildwood." 125,000 first printing.
Anywhere but Paradise by Anne Bustard (Egmont, Apr., $16.99, 9781606845851)
Anne Bustard was co-owner of Toad Hall Bookshop in Austin, Tex., and is the author of the picture book bio Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly; Anywhere but Paradise is her lyrical debut novel. Like her heroine Peggy Sue, Bustard knows what it is like to move from Texas to Hawaii--she's lived in both states. But Peggy Sue is in 1960s Hawaii, where, as a white minority, she's trying to learn as much as she can about her new surroundings and its people, but gets bullied at school. At the time, Hawaii was on the verge of statehood and weathered a massive tsunami--real events that Bustard mixes into her story. --Bridget Kinsella