Monday, February 29, 2016

Bringing Child of Spring to Life

Tomorrow is a big day! Child of Spring by Farhana Zia is coming out!

Basanta longs for the beautiful ring worn by her young mistress, but when it is finally hers, she realizes that it's not the wonderful possession she expected. Increasingly aware of the struggles of her less privileged friends, Basanta finds a way to improve their lives and entertain their community - and the beautiful ring takes on a new meaning.

Set in a contemporary Indian village, Child of Spring introduces lots of unfamiliar terms. So, to help you explore Basanta's world, we've put together a new Pinterest Board.

Learn about Diwali, the Festival of Lights, and find a recipe to make tamarind candy! Let us know what you think! exp

Friday, February 26, 2016

15 Fun Fairy Tale Picture Books

Today is Tell a Fairy Tale Day!

Fairy tales have a long history and are important for early childhood learning; children get exposed to concepts of right and wrong, complex emotions, imagination, and critical thinking when they read fairy tales, both classic and fractured to include current trends or different points of view.

Celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day with us by enjoying these fractured fairy tales and unique fables!

The big bad wolf has a plan…but so does Little Red! On her way to Grandma’s house, Little Red meets a wolf. Which might scare some little girls. But not this little girl. She knows just what the wolf is up to, and she’s not going to let him get away with it. This updated fairy tale with a mischievous twist by talented author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin uses sly humor, striking visuals, and dark irreverence to turn a familiar tale on its head. Read an excerpt here, and check out the Teacher's Guide!

Rapunzel lives all alone in a tall, dark tower. Under the threat of a witch’s fearsome curse, the poor girl seems doomed to a life in captivity. But is Rapunzel frightened? Oh no, not she! With irreverent humor and bold illustrations, the creator of Little Red puts an empowering and delightfully dark twist on a classic story of a helpless damsel. Read an excerpt here, and check out the Teacher's Guide!

This fractured fairy tale from Bethan Woollvin flips the well-known "Hansel and Gretel" story completely on it's head. In this version, Willow, a good witch who happily lives alone in her gingerbread house in the woods, only uses good magic. That is, until she meets Hansel and Gretel, two very naughty and rude children who try Willow’s patience. This deliciously wicked twist on the classic redefines the meaning of a villain. Read more about this upcoming picture book here.

Fairy tales are just stories—or so Princess Martha believes. But when her sisters meet a talking frog, they’re convinced that giving him the royal treatment will turn him into Prince Charming. After all, that’s what happens in their story books. But the more Martha sees of Prince Ribbit, the more suspicious she becomes. Armed with the facts, she sets out to expose Prince Ribbit and prove to her sisters that “just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” But before “The End,” Princess Martha might just learn that lesson for herself! Jonathan Emmett’s clever twist on the “The Frog Prince” pits a spunky, bespectacled princess against a sly amphibian to teach a charming lesson on the pitfalls of trusting everything you read. Learn more about encouraging critical thinking with Prince Ribbit here. And continue the fun with these free activity sheets!

Sure a stampede’s a comin’, Mary McBlicken the prairie chicken hurries to the ranch, gathering up her friends—a prairie dog, a jack rabbit, and a meadowlark—along the way. Before the fine feathered and furry folks get to their destination, they encounter a coyote who says he knows a shortcut. Should they trust him? Will they find Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan in time? And where is that rumbling coming from anyway? This hilarious, prairie-style rendition of a well-loved tale will have readers laughing out loud. This fun fractured fairy tale is also available en español!

This modern remix of the beloved story "The Princess and the Pea" delivers a freshly humorous take on one prince's search for the just-right girl of his dreams. Prince Henrik wants to marry an outdoorsy kind of girl, and he knows just how to find her: instead of a single pea tucked into a pile of bedding, Henrik tests prospective brides with an entire packet of frozen peas shoved under a flimsy camping mattress. As princess after princess complains, he begins to believe he’ll never find the girl of his dreams. That is until one day she shows up unexpectedly in the form of his old friend, Pippa, who is all too happy to join Henrik in pitching a tent or playing a hard game of hockey, after which she finds the perfect use for that packet of frozen peas!

In this quirky twist on the fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf, a boy’s outrageous excuses turn out to have an unexpected element of truth. Tim witnesses some strange happenings around his house, but no one believes his explanations. In fact, no matter what Tim says, his parents just punish him with chores. To save himself, he hatches a clever plan to expose the truth. Will it work, or will Tim have to spend the rest of his life raking the yard? Bubbling with wit and humor from start to finish, this picture book is filled with wacky characters like ninjas, pirates, crocodiles, and time-traveling monkeys, and will have readers of all ages laughing out loud. Read an excerpt here.

Three fun-loving armadillo sisters are eager to cross a busy highway to get to the new dance hall on the other side, but inside the culvert lurks a spindly legged coyote with a big appetite for “armadilly chili.” The littlest sister, Lilly, manages to fast-talk her way past the coyote, as does her older sister, Jilly. When the coyote sees the size of the eldest, Dilly, she really starts licking her chops. But Dilly Armadilly Tuff is a stubborn gal with her own ideas about what a lonely coyote really needs! Jackie Mims Hopkins’ hilarious retelling of the classic children’s story “Three Billy Goats Gruff” features a southwestern twang and a delightful surprise ending.

In this hilarious spin on a classic fairy tale, a spunky cowgirl finds herself in a mess of trouble and is forced to strike a deal with a horned toad. Reba Jo tries her darnedest to weasel out of her part of the bargain, but the clever horned toad won’t let her off the hook. In the end, she learns that a promise is a promise and words once spoken are not easily taken back. This sizzling southwestern retelling of “The Frog Prince” is features vibrant, distinctive illustrations that transport young readers to the untamed, dusty prairie. For more on this title, visit The Horned Toad Prince website here.

Gracie Pearl lives with her pa deep in the heart of gold minin’ country. But the mine is empty and the two have fallen on hard times. Now the villainous banker Mr. Bigglebottom wants Gracie Pearl and her pa to pay back the money they owe him or he plans to take Gracie Pearl as his wife. As Gracie goes in search of gold, she encounters a series of characters young readers will find strangely familiar—from a blonde girl who ate Bigglebottom’s porridge and is now pursued by three bears to a very long-haired girl whom he has locked up in a tower. This hysterical collision of fairy tales, melodrama and the Gold Rush West cries out for audience participation. 

Ol' Bloo Donkey realizes it's time retire from the fields and hit the road to pursue his ambition of being a star in this hilarious backwoods retelling of "The Bremen Town Musicians." Brayin’ and hee-hawin’ his way toward the bright lights of New Orleans, Ol’ Bloo meets up with Gnarly Dog, One-Eyed Lemony Cat, and Rusty Red Rooster, all eager to join him for a lucrative second career. But when the ragtag quartet stumbles upon a tumbledown shack occupied by a band of thieves, their plans take a sudden and unexpected turn…

In this interactive read-aloud, familiar fairy tales ("Goldilocks and the Three Bears," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "The Three Billy Goats Gruff," and "Little Red Riding Hood") are presented in an exciting and fresh manner. Children’s excitement will mount as they recognize elements of well-known stories (Someone is eating Mr. Bear’s porridge. Someone is sitting in Mrs. Bear’s chair. Someone is sleeping in Baby Bear’s bed.). As readers are asked to answer the question "Who Is It?" youngsters will happily shout out who each character is and warn those characters about who is coming to get them!

When the little animals hear that a big, bad wolf lives in their forest, they decide to get a closer look. Squirrel, Crow, Badger, and the other animals sneak up on Grandma Wolf’s house, where they find her fast asleep. Brave Piglet shouts, "What’s the time, Grandma Wolf?" and the fun begins. All the animals take a turn asking the question, creeping closer and closer. As the excitement mounts, children will delight in discovering the surprise Grandma Wolf has in store for the curious animals. based on a popular classic game, this fun story also includes the game rules on the back flap for readers.

In a long ago world of vast kingdoms lives a king who happily reigns over all things small. He has all he needs and doesn’t want for more. Not so King Normous. He wants to be Ruler of All the World. He gathers his armies and soon he has erased every empire and raided every realm. Or has he? Enraged to learn that the King of Little Things still rules over his tiny kingdom. Normous sends his army to defeat this upstart, but he finds he cannot outfight or outwit a king who holds sway over the small things of the world. After all, it is the small things that keep the big things going.

Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn’t know coffee beans about love and marriage. That’s where her Cuban family comes in. While some of the Cucarachas offer her gifts to make her more attractive, only Abuela, her grandmother, gives her something really useful: un consejo increíble, some shocking advice. At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela’s unorthodox suggestion, but when suitor after suitor fails the Coffee Test, she wonders if a little green cockroach can ever find true love. Soon, only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him café cubano? Read an excerpt here, and read this cuban folktale en español!

Find  these titles and more at your local libraryindie bookstore, or Barnes & Noble.

Free Book Friday: A Friend for Mole

We're on a roll with the free books. In case you missed last week's giveaway of Little One, we have the perfect solution! Starting today we will be giving away TEN copies of A Friend for Mole by Nancy Armo. It's Free Book Friday, after all.

Struggling with his overwhelming fear of the unknown, Mole stumbles across a friendly Wolf who is trying to conquer fears of his own, and the two discover that friendship can be one of the strongest shields against fear. With simple but humorous text, and soft, bright illustrations to guide the way, this picture book is a gentle, fun journey through fear to friendship.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Friend for Mole by Nancy Armo

A Friend for Mole

by Nancy Armo

Giveaway ends March 04, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Thursday, February 25, 2016

A History of Little Red Riding Hood

1927 Story Anthology
Most everyone is familiar with the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood,” right?

It typically starts with a little girl in a bright red cloak, or “hood,” traveling through the woods alone to get to her grandmother’s house.  She encounters a wolf who learns where she is headed. The wolf inevitably beats her there, gets rid of Grandma (in one way or another), and waits for the girl while dressed in a matronly disguise. When Little Red Riding Hood arrives, she naively mistakes the disguised wolf for her grandmother, and gets herself into trouble with her hungry enemy. The story usually ends happily, though, with Little Red Riding Hood (and sometimes her grandmother, too) being rescued by a manly hunter.

Of course, there are many versions. Sometimes Grandma gets locked in the closet instead of eaten, or Grandma’s “ending” isn’t part of the happy ending at all. Perhaps your memories of the story have completely different details!

The variations on the classic tale are as different as the people who tell it. This season, we have a special interest in the little adventurer and her red cloak, so we decided to take a deeper look. We wanted to know how old Little Red Riding Hood’s origins really are, and how much the story has evolved through the years.

Durham University anthropologist Jamie Tehrani traced Red Riding Hood's roots to find the origins. He found that the story is not only a lot older than the Brothers Grimm (who are credited with creating the version most of us know today), but it can also be traced to multiple parts of the world. Every part of the world tells the story with its own small deviations (you can read more about the fascinating research here, and read the original study here).

National Geographic
Interestingly, the morals seem to speak to cultural values. Take the “classic” Grimm’s version—readers learn that children like Little Red Riding Hood shouldn't talk to strangers. The Grimm story also teaches children to always obey a parent’s instructions. Little Red Riding Hood only gets into a conversation with the wolf because she strays off the path to her grandmother’s house, something her mother had strictly warned against. Religiously and culturally, “don’t speak to strangers” and “stay on the straight and narrow” are both common expressions in the Western world.

Artsy Craftsy
Older versions like the 14th century stories from Italy and Austria don’t leave out any of the bloody details. In one, Little Red Riding Hood is tricked into eating her own grandmother, and there are certainly no happy endings in sight (perhaps inspired by the true story of PeterStumpp, the “Werewolf of Bedburg”). In Charles Perrault’s version from 1697, Little Red Riding Hood gets into bed with “Grandma” before getting eaten. Perrault’s story is more of a warning to young girls against being seduced by men’s trickery. 

If you can believe it, when the Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm got their hands on this story, they decided to make it a little more lighthearted! They at least allowed a happy ending, with the huntsman saving the day. As time goes by, we see more and more variations pop up. Each new take presents different perspectives, different protagonists, and different settings.

Which brings us to Bethan Woollvin’s Little Red. In this retelling, Little Red does meet a wolf in the woods on her way to her grandma’s house, but forget the naïve girl you thought you knew. Little Red is just as perceptive and cunning as her enemy.  She knows exactly what this wolf is up to, and she isn’t going to let him get away with it. When Little Red sees the giant furry creature dressed in her grandma's clothes, barely fitting in grandma’s bed, and very obviously NOT grandma, she knows exactly what to do.  The prospect of facing the wolf might have scared some little girls, but not this little girl!

Little Red relies on her own bravery and wit, and she does just fine by herself, thank you very much! We love that this subversive retelling gives little girls all the power.

With “Tell a Fairy Tale” day coming up tomorrow, we also looked into the difference between fairy tales and folk tales while we were learning so much about Little Red Riding Hood. Let us know what you think—is Little Red a folk tale or a fairy tale? 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Preview Party: Spring 2016

Each new season brings to life new books with fresh characters and exciting adventures. We love celebrating the arrival of those stories by getting together with some of our favorite Georgia-based children's literature advocates at our seasonal Preview Party! This weekend, we gathered on a rainy Sunday afternoon for some wine, cheese, cookies, and--of course--books.

As librarians, booksellers, educators, and journalists arrived, we chatted over a delightful spread of goodies. Introductions were made, acquaintances renewed, and friendships caught up.

Our host, President and Publisher Margaret Quinlin, welcomed the crowd to her home and kicked off the program. Everyone settled in to hear about some of our most vibrant titles from the Spring 2016 list.

Vicky, our Senior Editor, began with The Sound of All Things by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Ted Papoulas. She said afterward that The Sound of All Things is such a dynamic book that she could have taken the whole evening to delve into each of the aspects she highlighted to our listeners. The beautiful artwork and touching story held everyone in close attention, and there were many excited murmurs when Vicky revealed that the illustrator had hidden his daughter’s name, Sally, in each spread. We know what everyone will be doing when they get their own copy!

Next up, our Associate Publicist, Niki spoke about the bright and mischievous Little Red by Bethan Woollvin. We got a brief history lesson on the origins and evolution of the Little Red Riding Hood story. Between grimaces and giggles at some of the older versions of the classic tale, everyone eagerly awaited to see what Little Red would be. Niki emphasized that, although the children’s tale has been historically used as a warning for children, Little Red repurposes the premise to teach children about facing their fears boldly.

Finally, Kathy, our Vice President and Associate Publisher, presented Child of Spring by Farhana Zia. Kathy spent some time talking about the beginning of her relationship with Farhana’s writing through her first book The Garden of my Imaan. She explained that what struck her about Farhana's first book was the way that it dealt with religion, not as a problem, but simply as another part of the life and identity of the young Muslim protagonist. Kathy also revealed that Child of Spring, which explores social class through the experience of a working child, expanded her understanding of diversity in literature, which piqued everyone’s interest in experiencing a similar revelation.

Our headliner, and the absolute highlight of the evening, was author-illustrator Henry Cole, who spoke about his personal story and some of what went into his latest book, The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine. Given the setting, it would have been easy for Henry to simply talk about his book as something he wished to promote and sell, so his presentation was both refreshing and entertaining.

Henry spent the majority of his presentation talking about relationships. His mother, his siblings, his teachers—all people who had helped shape him into the author and illustrator he is today. He had the room in stitches with his childhood stories of growing up on a dairy farm in Virginia. A moment later we were welling up as he gave tribute to so many of his teachers who truly understood and knew him. Speaking in particular about his 8th grade teacher, he said, “She changed me because she knew me.” Each relationship encouraged him in his drawing, in his creative sensibility, and in his character.

Ever the entertainer, Henry ended with a live illustration. A blank, white pad was set up on an easel beside him, he switched on “I Love Being Here With You” by Peggy Lee, and he drew. For two minutes and forty-five seconds, the music swelled in the room, and we all held our breath and watched. As the song ended and Henry signed his name with a flourish at the bottom of the sweet and simple sketch, the crowd couldn't help but burst into applause.

With his formal presentation finished, Henry spent the rest of the evening talking to our guests, signing the archival prints of his work that were won in the raffle, and personalizing copies of The Somewhat True Adventures of Sammy Shine.

Of course, after Henry's inspiring talk and hearing about all of the new titles, everyone had more to say and questions to ask, so we stuck around eating and talking, as ever, about books. As the evening came to a close, we sent everyone home with copies of our spring frontlist and promises of another party in the fall.

A huge thank-you to everyone who came! We hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Dig into Fun with Mole and Wolf

There are only a few things in the world that we love as much as books, but activities and puzzles are up there!

Just in time for spring and the release of A Friend for Mole by Nancy Armo, we've made you an Event Kit chock full of games and coloring sheets! The full Event Kit can be found here, and if you want more Mole and Wolf activities and recipes, be sure to check out our Pinterest Board as well!

Dig into fun and let us know what adventures you got up to!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Brunch with Myron Uhlberg and Ted Papoulas

Written by Myron Uhlberg and illustrated by Ted Papoulas, The Sound of All Things follows a family of two deaf parents and their hearing son as they experience a noisy summer day in 1930’s Brooklyn and Coney Island. Since this story documents the silent world of the deaf, we were eager to learn more about its inspiration and creation. Both author and illustrator shared some insight with us and explored the challenges and joys of creating The Sound of All Things.

Myron, can you give some background of this book’s connection to your own personal experience?

Myron Uhlberg
Myron: My mother and father were deaf.  Born hearing, I was their first child.  My first language was sign language, a language not of speech but of signs made with the hands, supplemented by the grammar of the face and body.  From the earliest age, I felt no space existed between me and my mother and father.  But at an early age my father asked me to be his ears and voice in the world of sound: my world, but a world as foreign to him as the moon was to me.  With this request I stopped being a child, and overnight was forced to confront my parents’ world—a world of absolute silence.  

This period of my life—being my father's ears and voice—opened the door to the world of the deaf, the world of eternal silence. That experience made me the young man I was to become, and the man I am today.  One day, long after they had died, I felt compelled to write about my parents’ world, a world unseen (deafness is not visible) where communication and understanding takes many different forms.

Ted, do you think it is possible to illustrate sounds?

Ted Papoulas
Ted: Since you can't literally illustrate sound, the artist has to figure out a way to spur the viewer into creating the desired sounds in his or her mind. If done correctly, sounds can be invoked just as emotions, and even tactile sensations, are passed to viewers solely through images.

How did you tackle showing sounds in your illustrations?

Ted: Many of the illustrations for The Sound of All Things depict busy street or amusement park scenes. By paying attention to the details and choosing poses, actions and elements that combine to create a full, authentic and active environment, the artist can create a vibrant image which prompts the user to add the missing sounds. A lifetime of experience forms sensory expectations that can be tapped into.

Myron, what are some of the hardest sounds to describe in words?

Myron: Any sound that is not readily analogous to a visible or tactile object presents great difficulty in transliterating into Signs.  Also, consider that not every English word has a comparable Sign.  Even though there is a deaf alphabet—and therefore every English word can be spelled out—little meaning may attach if there is no reference point.  Thus how to describe the sound of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which my deaf father could feel in his fingertips, but not hear with his ears?

How did you choose which sounds the son in the book had to describe to his father?

Myron: The art of a picture book text is compression.  Therefore, every scene and every word of The Sound Of All Things hopefully is used to convey the three elements of the story: the love of a child for his parents as well as their love for him, the unique world of both sound and silence and the language that binds them together, truly a language of love.

Ted, what was the easiest or most difficult scene to illustrate in The Sound of All Things? Do you have a favorite?

Ted: That's a hard question...each illustration presents its own challenges and absorbs my full attention while I'm working. Once it's completed, the next one assumes that attention, so each exists in its own bubble. But, some do naturally present more challenges and I can become more attached to one piece over another based on the subject matter and composition or perhaps some area of the painting that surprised me or was executed especially successfully.

Being a big fan of Brooklyn, where I lived for most of my life, the opening two pieces—the scene overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge in the morning and the painting of the family catching the trolley with Ebbets Field in the background—were enjoyable to create. They were also the first two images completed, which brought the project from a purely conceptual state into tangible reality and that's always an exciting moment. I also really enjoyed painting the crowded Boardwalk scene. Who cannot be happy while thinking about Coney Island?

I was a little concerned with the Chinese restaurant interior before tackling that piece but it turned out to be a nice change of pace from the exteriors and one of my favorite paintings. My hope is that readers of the book will have their own preferences and each painting will be somebody's favorite image.

In a conversation about the need for diversity in children’s books, The Sound of All Things presents a form of diversity often overlooked because of the invisibility of sound.  Myron, what do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?

Myron: I wrote The Sound of All Things to bring to the attention of hearing children (and their parents and educators) the world of the Deaf—a world of silence, in plain sight, but invisible, among the larger world of ceaseless sound. 

In doing so, I hoped to generate both thought and discussion about the means of communication used in both worlds—aural speech for the hearing, Sign Language for the Deaf—and the power that one’s language has in the development of one’s perception and accommodation to the world one lives in.  
The Sound Of All Things, as well as some of my previous books, attempts to shine a light on the Deaf world—from the fact of its very existence, to the challenges it presents to its inhabitants, and on to its common language. Communication for the Deaf is a most human language of the hands, the face and the body—a language of signs, gestures, and expressions as visually beautiful and expressive as a spoken Shakespearean play.  

Ultimately, my story is a celebration of the beautiful ways in which all of humanity coexists in this shared beautiful world we all live in, bound by the cords of familial love and the common language used to express that love.

Look for The Sound of All Things coming out March 1st!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Free Book Friday: Little One

It's high time someone got a free book from us. With spring right around the corner (fingers crossed with this weather!), we want to share with y'all the beautiful work of Jo Weaver. Big Bear and Little One are coming out of hibernation to enjoy the spring-time air and discover a world coming to life. 

With gentle text and stunning black and white illustrations, Little One brings readers into the wonder of nature, the first steps of independence, and the strength of parental love. Starting today, we are so excited to offer ten free copies of this touching story.

Enter for a chance to get a copy just in time for spring by entering our Goodreads giveaway, starting today and through next week. Don't miss this Free Book Friday!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Little One by Jo Weaver

Little One

by Jo Weaver

Giveaway ends February 26, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"What Else Do I Need to Know?" An Inside Look at the Author-Editor Relationship

Years of hard work go into creating and selling a children’s book, and every step requires strong, collaborative relationships between departments, among staff, with reviewers, and with our friends in the bookselling, library, and education worlds. In that process of turning a story into a book, the relationship between an author and editor is a very special and important one. This week we sat down with our Vice President and Associate Publisher, Kathy Landwehr, and asked her—as head of Peachtree’s editorial team—to share her personal insight on the subject.

Kathy has been at Peachtree Publishers for 26 years, and she’s been working in the publishing industry for 28 (if you count newspapers, she added). She started her career here in publicity and marketing before switching to managing the editorial and production departments. Having learned the ropes from her co-workers, Kathy began acquiring. She’s been at it ever since, working with award-winning authors such as Cynthia Levinson, Don Tate, J. J. Johnson, Susan Stockdale, and Kashmira Sheth.

Needless to say, Kathy knows her stuff.

Getting Started

When we asked Kathy about the first conversation with a new author, she said there’s one question she always asks: “Where did this come from?”

With this question, she’s asking to hear the story behind the story, the inspiration, the journey from thought-seed to manuscript, and to hear about it from the one person who can describe it the most authoritatively. She explained that in the acquisitions process, an editor acts as the spokesperson for the author and the story. Responses to her question can give her enough material to present and properly position both writer and writing to the rest of the publishing staff.

Kathy stressed that the relationship between an author and editor is built on trust. So in that initial conversation, she said, it’s hugely important that the author recognizes the editor as someone they can rely on. After all, authors often feel vulnerable handing over their “baby” for someone else’s critique. The author must trust the editor to do what is best for the story, and the author and editor must both share a common goal for what the story will become. According to Kathy, one of the biggest editorial pitfalls is trying to make a book into something it is not, rather than making it the best thing it is and can be.

Although the purpose of the initial conversation is to give the editor a foundational understanding of the author and their story for acquisition purposes, Kathy believes that editors should also be listening carefully—right from the start—to discover what kind of communicator the author is. That way, as the story moves forward through the editing process, an editor will know how to effectively communicate, critique, and praise an author’s work.

Kathy closes every first conversation with questions too. Asking “What else do I need to know?” and “What questions do you have for me?” leaves the door open for communication through the work ahead.

Getting Through          

As the editing process progresses, the collaboration between author and editor grows in importance. We asked Kathy which part of the process requires the most communication. Her answer? “All of them.” She explained that different kinds of books require different approaches to communication. With longer works, the developmental and structural editing is very time consuming. The manuscript cannot move forward until its big-picture bones are in place. On the other hand, something short can be just as challenging; if a book only has 50 words, it’s that much more important that every word is exactly right.

That trust-based relationship came up again when we asked Kathy what an editor can bring to a book that an author alone simply cannot. There was a very easy answer: “another set of eyes.” She went on to say, “No one can develop a strong piece of work in a vacuum.” An editor strives to see what the author no longer can, whether it’s a plot hole, an overused word, or an opportunity to make the story stronger.

The Payoff

During our conversation, Kathy mentioned that although the trust can be all-important (especially for the author), there is one other thing the editor needs to be sure about before acquiring. She described it as “visualization.”

When she receives a new manuscript, she needs to be able to visualize the beautiful thing it will become. There have been many manuscripts that Kathy couldn’t personally visualize and therefore didn’t take on. It is very possible that a great editor won’t acquire a great book, simply because that editor just isn’t the right fit.

In the end, the editor is the author’s advocate, their sounding board, their rock in the publishing world. To be those things, the editor has to believe in the author and their work enough to champion their story—from manuscript to book and into the hands of readers.

There you have it! Share your author-editor relationship advice with us, and let us know what questions you’d like to ask of your editor!

Friday, February 12, 2016

EBMA Annual Conference Highlights

The EBMA 41st Annual Meeting dawned bright this past week in the lovely Tucson, Arizona. We are always excited to attend this annual gathering, and this year was no different. Diversity was the theme that guided all the panels and presentations that we were privileged to attend, and they were each challenging and in their own way. We want to share some of our highlights from the week and give a few shout outs to the great people we saw along the way.

There were two breakfast educational sessions, the first of which was Wednesday morning’s session entitled “Six Ways to Know If You Are Culturally Responsive.” Dr. Sharroky Hollie presented, and proved to be a provocative speaker, challenging our thoughts on what diversity, culture, ethnicity really are.  Dr. Hollie is the co-founder of Culture and Language Academy of Success and the executive director of the Center for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning.  His mission is to provide professional development for educators who want to become culturally responsive.  By the end of his presentation, the outstanding point was that everyone must understand themselves (and their preconceived notions of terms like culture and ethnicity) before incorporating them into teaching, publishing programs, or classroom collections. Throughout the presentation, it was obvious that Dr. Hollie is all about validating and affirming others. Really that was just the tip of the iceberg, so if you are interested to see and hear more, check out this video

Thursday morning’s session was called “Diversity in Action.”  It was a panel of three experts and a moderator.  The three panelists were Judy Chiasson, an administrator in the LA Unified School District, Andrew Medlar, the Chicago Public Library’s Assistant Chief for Technology, Content, and Innovation, and Troy Fresch, who is an Assistant Principal at Pioneer Middle School in Tustin CA.  Their discussion was about the ways diversity comes into play in their various fields – from district-wide programs to reduce bullying and homophobia (Chiasson), to collection development (Medlar), and working with a very diverse group of middle school students (Fresch).  It was an interesting program, and it proved encouraging to hear about the practical ways that everyone in our field is pursuing diversity.

Thursday’s lunch speakers were Doreen Rappaport (author) and Kadir Nelson (illustrator), discussing the working relationship between authors and illustrators, and Thursday’s dinner speaker was Kwame Alexander, the 2015 Newbery medal winner.  He was a fantastic speaker, and we enjoyed hearing the stories he had tell about how he got involved (reluctantly) in the publishing world. 

Even with all of the compelling speakers we were able to hear from, as usual EBMA was also a wonderful opportunity to meet with our wholesale partners. Our meetings at EBMA are always intense and productive, and we love this time to forge relationships with these partners who do so much to provide our books to school systems and everyone in the education world.

We were also so excited to preview some of our new titles that are coming out Fall of 2016! It was great to see how well received these new stories were, and everyone was especially excited for Janet Nolan’s Seven and a Half Tons of Steel.

Another great year for the books, and we’ll be seeing everyone next year!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Some Beary Fun Facts: Little One

Jo Weaver's beautiful story of a mother bear and her cub explores the life of these very special bears through all four seasons of the year. As her story shows, bears are amazing creatures with fascinating habits and routines. Inspired by Big Bear and Little One, we decided to learn a little bit more about the bears in our part of the world. Here’s what we found out (and bear with me if the puns are a little heavy handed): 

"This is where our journey begins," She said. 

Big Bear and her cub start their journey in the forest in springtime. Spring is the beginning of a long forage for food for most bears. As very few plants have flowered or put out leaves right at the beginning of spring, many bears begin traveling to find warmer areas where berries or fruits have survived the winter or spring has come a little early. 

"Little One watched Big Bear and learned how to fish..."

As bears wait for spring to take hold in their habitats, they often look for sources of protein and fat in other animals and in fish. However, bear in mind that these magnificent mammals are omnivorous, and their diets are almost entirely made up of plants and fruits. Areas of vegetation and water often attract bears because of the food sources both on the shores and in the water. Rivers and lakes are also needed for drinking and cooling in the warm summer months.

“Together they explored far and wide...”

Bears travel throughout the year, and do not necessarily establish a specific territory or home. They like to go wherever there are good sources of food. A mother bear like Big Bear will still travel around as many as 100 square miles with her cub, but other bears that do not have cubs will forage for food in areas as large as 200 square miles. 

“…and filled their hungry tummies with ripe autumn berries.”

Black bears love the forest because they are natural climbers, and they can climb trees for fruits, nuts, and bearries. They also love wooded areas because they provide a large variety of vegetation for exploring and eating. Bears have even been known to hibernate in tree holes far above the ground.

“In the warm darkness, Big Bear and Little One curled up together and waited for spring.”

Just like Big Bear and Little One, most bears spend the spring, summer, and autumn filling up and gaining weight so that their bodies can survive without food during the winter. Bears can make their dens in high tree holes, burrows, or a cave. All they need is a sheltered spot to stay safe and sleep through the cold winter. 

To learn more about all sorts of bears, visit National Geographic, Kid Zone, or Live Science. Tell us what your favorite bear facts are, and be sure to look for Little One coming March 1st. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Super Bowl 50 Picks

Super Bowl Sunday tends to be a bit of a divider for most groups, with some die-hard fans for either team, some indifferent watchers (who drive the die-hard fans crazy), and some who just prefer the snacks and the Puppy Bowl. Now, in order to get an idea of where the Peachtree team stood on the upcoming game, we took a poll around the office. As some of us might prefer a book about football rather than actually watching a football game, it might not be surprising that we frequently had to remind each other of who was actually participating in the 50th Super Bowl.

It was quite a turn of events that in our Southern publishing house, we had the following votes:

Denver Broncos                                    Carolina Panthers                                     Puppy Bowl
         55%                                                       36%                                                          9%

As stated, most of us would probably rather be reading than watching football, so maybe book-related entertainment would get us all more invested in the game. Half-time read-aloud, anyone? In fact, we are all better prepared to watch and understand the game thanks to Fred Bowen’s football titles that we all know and love.

No matter if you are a football lover or need to brush up on your football knowledge, these stories are sure to keep your attention and hopefully get you excited for Super Bowl 50. 

                       Quarterback Season
Double Reverse
Touchdown Trouble

Let us know who you will be rooting for this weekend or what your favorite football titles are! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thank a Mailman Day!

If you’ve ever received a package in the mail or sent a letter to a loved one, today is an important day to recognize! Every year on February 4th, we celebrate Thank a Mailman Day: a day to recognize and thank the workers who deliver important mail and packages day after day, through rain or shine, for six days a week. Here at Peachtree we love sending and receiving mail--especially if there are books involved--and we appreciate the wonderful people who deliver all our mail every day!

This year on Thank a Mailman Day, we have a very special mailman to recognize. Stanley is back and delivering mail to all of his friends in Stanley the Mailman!

Stanley gets up early to sort through the mail in his post office. Then he sets off through to town to deliver it all. Myrtle, Little Woo, and Charlie all receive exciting gifts and letters. But will everyone be happy with what’s in Stanley’s mailbag?

Author-illustrator William Bee brings us another wonderful little story with our favorite hamster Stanley. Stanley the Mailman is coming March 1st, and we can’t wait for everyone to share another day of fun and discovery with Stanley!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Celebrate Children's Authors and Illustrators: Peachtree Favorites

This week is a very special celebration for all of us here at Peachtree—it’s Children’s Authors and Illustrators week! We are very grateful for all of the authors and illustrators we've worked with over the years, but today, we wanted to focus on a different set of authors and illustrators (we think our talented colleagues will understand).

We took some time this week to talk about the books, series, authors, and illustrators that influenced our own childhoods. As a group that now works to bring quality children’s books to a new generation of tiny readers, it was our childhood favorites that initially sparked our love for books and eventually inspired careers in children’s book publishing. With lots of funny stories and reminiscing, we collected the following list to share with you.

Viking Press

Katie, our Marketing and Advertising Manager, did not hesitate a second when she chose Blueberries for Sal by author-illustrator Robert McCloskey as her favorite, adding that “every time I went to the library, I pulled that one out.” 

Melanie, our Production manager, said that she has always loved “all the old-fashioned mysteries.” Her favorite girl detectives were Nancy Drew, originally published by Grosset & Dunlap and primarily written by Mildred Wirt Benson, and Trixie Belden, published by Western Publishing and written originally by Julie Tatham.

Viking Press

Melissa, our Conference Coordinator and Publishing Assistant, didn’t have any trouble choosing. She named Corduroy by Don Freeman, saying, “Dad used to read it to me as a kid, and it was hands down my favorite.” The stories of Corduroy are continued by other authors and illustrators today.

Farah, our Subsidiary Rights Director and Trade and International Sales Manager, could not decide right away. We left her alone for a little to dig up her old favorites, and finally the winner emerged—the Grimm Brothers’ original tale of Sleeping Beauty. However, Farah used to listen to an audio version, and she listened in French. La Belle au bois dormant is the French title, and Farah recalled, “I could listen to that recording all day long!”

World Publishing Company
Elyse, our Publicity and Marketing Assistant, remembered countless readings of The Very Hungry Caterpillar—written and illustrated by Eric Carle —and staring at the bright colors in the illustrations. She had even made her own hungry caterpillar out of a stuffed stocking to follow along with the story when she read it.

Vicky, our Senior Editor, responded almost before I’d finished the question. She chose Alice in Wonderland written by Lewis Carroll and published by Macmillan Publishers “hands down.”  She also explained that she had had a copy with the original illustrations by John Tenniel, and she “liked the pictures almost as much as the story.”

Methuen Publishing

Nicki, our Creative Director, had a little trouble choosing a favorite. I’m sure many of you can relate to this problem of having so many favorites, but Nicki’s dilemma was a little different. She told us that she had rarely read books for fun because there were so many mandatory books for school! However, after a little more thought and some aggressive Googling, she re-discovered some old series that she had really loved: the Malory Towers series and Claudine at St. Clare’s, both written by Enid Blyton.

Niki, our Associate Publicist, chose the author-illustrator Jan Brett . She particularly remembered how in all of Jan Brett’s books, there were these wonderfully illustrated borders around every spread. Niki explained that she always liked following the other characters as she read through each story.

Random House

Kathy, our Vice President and Associate Publisher, reeled off two titles immediately. Her favorites were Harriet the Spy written by Louise Fitzhugh and originally published by Harper and Row, and The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer.

When we asked Courtney, our Sales and Marketing Customer Support, she said that she had been “obsessed” with the Babysitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin and published by Scholastic. However, she gave two other titles as her “all-time favorites”—The Westing Game written by Ellen Raskin and published by Dutton, and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Random House

Finally, when we spoke to Emily, our Sales Marketing Assistant, she chose the Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Emily explained that she had just recently re-read the series, and she was so refreshed by how Cooper did not “dumb down” her books. She even confessed that she was “looking up words in a book meant for 12-year-olds.” She loved that these books were still a great experience for her after so many years.

It was a fun little trip down memory lane for all of us. Again, we are so grateful for all the authors and illustrators who made such an impact on us when we were kids. And we strive each day to publish books that will bring the same amount of joy to young readers today.

Let us know what your childhood favorites were and celebrate all children’s book authors and illustrators with us!