Neal Porter has been in children's book publishing for more than 35 years, holding marketing, editorial or executive positions at houses such as Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Atheneum, Orchard, Dorling Kindersley and Walker Books U.K. In 2000, he began to focus exclusively on editing and helped found Roaring Brook Press, now an imprint of the Macmillan Children's Book Group, where he is publisher of Neal Porter Books.
Authors and illustrators he has worked with include Laura Vaccaro Seeger, Philip C. and Erin E. Stead, Nick Bruel, Betsy and Ted Lewin, Antoinette Portis and Jason Chin. Books he has edited have won many awards, including the Caldecott Medal, three Caldecott Honors, three Geisel Honors, two Seibert Honors, the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration, two Pura Belpré awards, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and two Orbis Pictus Awards. In September 2015, he was awarded an Eric Carle Honor in the category of Mentor for his work with picture books.
On your nightstand now:
I'm cheating because I've just finished it, but it's still on my nightstand: The Patrick Melrose Novels by Edward St. Aubyn (astonishing--Evelyn Waugh meets William S. Burroughs).
City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg (because I came of age in New York in the '70s and survived the '77 blackout with an impacted wisdom tooth).
George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall (just because).
A taped-together plastic Braun alarm clock.
Favorite book when you were a child:
A tie, and not very original choices--Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. I was given each the year they came out--do the math.
Your top five authors:
E.B. White, Colm Tóibín, E.L. Konigsberg, James Marshall, Patrick Dennis.
Book you've faked reading:
Silas Marner by George Eliot (along with everyone else in eighth grade).
Book you're an evangelist for:
The book I'm holding in the photograph--When Green Becomes Tomatoes (March 2016), with sublime poems by Julie Fogliano and delicious paintings by Julie Morstad. Who could ask for anything more?
Book you've bought for the cover:
Fin-de-Siècle Vienna: Politics and Culture by Carl E. Schorske.
Book you hid from your parents:
Oh, so many, but the one that comes to mind is Fanny Hill by John Cleland. My grandmother took me to see the movie version, but that's another story.
Books that changed your life:
The Story of Harold by Terry Andrews.
Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom, collected and edited by Leonard S. Marcus.
Favorite line from a book:
"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." --from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov.
Five books you'll never part with:
My childhood copy of A Wrinkle in Time, signed by Madeleine L'Engle when we met at FSG in 1979.
The Arion Press edition of Moby-Dick, illustrated by Barry Moser.
My copy of Robert Sabuda's The Christmas Alphabet, signed by every woman who helped assemble it in a Colombian mountain village.
A first edition of The 21 Balloons by William Pène du Bois.
My first edition of A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson.