Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Young Author Cuts Six Figure Deal for YA Trilogy

Young Author Cuts Six Figure Deal for YA Trilogy

laurend23.jpg25-year-old debut novelist Lauren DeStefano just inked a six-figure deal forThe Last Chemical Garden--the first book in a dystopian trilogy about genetics and "a failed effort to create a perfect race." The book is scheduled for an April 2011 release.
Barbara Poelle from the Irene Goodman Literary Agency sold the book to Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers senior editor Alexandra Cooper.
DeStefano (pictured) has her own blog and bio here. The young author had this statement: "There's so much debate when it comes to genetics--what's natural, what's fair, and when science begins to cross the line ... I just took that idea and let myself get carried away."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Movie Inspiration

Can you add to this list of movie moments when characters receive their first published books?

Julie and Julia - Julia dances with her Mastering the Art of French Cooking in her kitchen with her husband looking on.

Anne of Avonlea - Anne shows a copy of her first book to Gilbert as he lay deathly ill.

Little Women - What is more exciting than watching Winnona Rider as Jo tear the brown paper wrapping from her manuscript?

Miss Potter - Don't you want to see your book displayed in the front window of a bookshop?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Books on Design by Ellen Lupton (and sometimes Julia Lupton, too.)

Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs)Ellen Lupton's book Thinking with Type (2004) is a basic guide to typography directed at everyone who works with words. Thinking with Type is a type book for everyone: designers, writers, editors, students, and anyone else who works with words. Presented through succinct, decisive language and carefully curated examples, the book explores the history, theory, and practice of typography. It serves as a handy reference, a classroom textbook, and a welcoming introduction. More info at www.ThinkingWithType.com.

She is a 2007 recipient of the AIGA Gold Medal, one of the highest honors given to a graphic designer or design educator in the U.S.

Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book (2008). 
Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book [INDIE PUB]

Design Your Life, by Ellen and Julia Lupton, is a series of irreverent snapshots about design and everyday life. Design Your Life casts a sharp eye on everything from roller bags, bras, porches, and stuffed animals to parenting, piles, and potted plants. The book is illustrated throughout with original paintings of objects both ordinary and odd.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Recommendations for 3rd & 4th Grade Boys

Emily, one of this blog's team members, and a grade school teacher, prompted this blog post. Actually, she asked me for this list over a year ago, and she knows how very, truly sorry I am that it's taken me this long to get it for her. Once I had done so, though, I thought I might share it with the world.

The following list is a brief overview of some books that are currently in-print that I think would suit the tastes of boys who are in 3rd or 4th grade,
or are reading at a 3rd or 4th grade level. Having never been a 3rd or 4th grade boy, my opinion comes from having a father, an older brother, and many boy customers, all of whom I observe and talk with about books. The general trend runs toward sports, "funny" books, and action/adventure. I'm also throwing some part-graphic novel titles on here, just for fun.

The original series I recommended at the teacher's request was the Dan Gutman series, Baseball Card Adventures (HarperCollins). These stories featured a boy who upon touching a baseball card, would be transported back in time to meet, say, Mickey Mantle or Shoeless Joe.

Continuing on the sports theme, I would also recommend a series by Loren Long and Phil Bildner, originally known as Barnstormers when it was a hardcover-only series, now known as Sluggers in hardcover/paperback (Simon & Schuster). This has a similar feel to the Dan Gutman series, in that it combines baseball and magic, but aren't high-fantasy (no goblins, trolls, etc.). There are six in the series so far. My favorite aspect of this series is that a lot of baseball terminology and slang are used right in the prose, and then defined in the margins of the page. You get to read a great baseball adventure story and learn baseball vocab - what could be better than that?

One last sports series, that's not baseball specific is the Comeback Kids series by Mike Lupica (Penguin). Each book features a boy playing a different sport; so, for instance, one plays basketball, one football, one baseball, etc.

On to non-sports recommendations:

Doctor Proctor's Fart Powder by Jo Nesbo, illustrated by Mike Lowery (9781416979722, $14.99, Simon & Schuster). The word "fart" is in the title. Need I say more?

The Indian in the Cupboard (series) by Lynne Reid Banks (Random House). An oldie but a goodie, though being sensitive to the portrayal of Native Americans in literature, I have to say this series is typically lacking in its cultural sensitivity and accurate tribal-specific information. That said, I read this series as a kid and it's what, in part, influenced me in becoming a Native American studies major in college. So, you never know.

Never underestimate the power of the
Choose Your Own Adventure novel, mostly written by R.A. Montgomery, though other writers fill in the series (Chooseco). These don't need to be read in order. They have started publishing some CYOAs at the beginning chapter book level for 1st and 2nd graders, too.

The Jon Scieszka recommendation section of this post:

Knucklehead by Jon Scieszka (9780670011384, $12.99, Penguin). The subtitle is Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories of Growing Up Scieszka. These tales feature the outlandish (mostly true) events that occur when you grow up as one of six brothers. Pictures of Jon Scieszka and his family are sprinkled throughout the book. Some parents have been sensitive to the cover - it was designed specifically that way to reflect the covers of comic books that Scieszka read as a child that age, not as a political statement of today.

Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things...
(...that aren't as scary, maybe, depending on how you feel about lost lands, stray cellphones, creatures form the sky, parents who disappear in Peru, a man named Lars Farf, and one other story we couldn't quite finish, so maybe you could help us out)

by Nick Hornby, Neil Gaiman, Jon Scieszka, Jonathan Safran Foer, etc. (9780385737470, $12.99, Random House). Besides winning best title of the decade, this book is a great introduction to some fantastic authors. Basically these are all short stories, a few pages long, mostly sci-fi or fantasy-related. A good introduction to this genre and these writers for kids at the Middle Grade reading level.

A similar book for those reading at the higher end of Middle Grade, say 10-14 years old, try Guys Write for Guys Read , edited by Jon Scieszka (9780670011445, $11.99, Penguin). This is the same type of book where all the stories are a few pages long, only not only sci-fi/fantasy-based tales. In this compilation, all the contributing writers are guys, writing for a guy audience.

Part graphic novel, part regular novel recommendations:

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom & Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 (series starring Frankie Pickle) by Eric Wight (Simon & Schuster). This series is a little easier reading level for those reluctant readers, more of a 2nd to 3rd grade level. The "every day" scenes are in prose; it's when Frankie's imagination takes over that the graphic novel element comes to life.

Dragonbreath (series) by Ursula Vernon (Penguin). A relatively new series starring a little dragon as the main character, but in the role of a boy; also featuring a foreign exchange student (a salamander) and ninja frogs.

The Fog Mound (trilogy) by Susan Schade and Jon Buller (Simon & Schuster). Recommended by my Simon & Schuster book rep, this series is about a chipmunk named Thelonious who is given the chance to find out if the old stories are true - if people rather than animals once ruled the Earth, and if they did, what happened to the humans?

Now that you've heard my two cents, does the peanut gallery have any favorites they'd like to add?


Also posted on my personal blog here.

the future of publishing by DK

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Are Children’s Books Good For Designers?

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Children’s books are a great gift to the world, and are often credited with developing children’s minds and talents. Despite their moniker, however, simple stories can be inspirational for adults as well, and designers and illustrators in particular. The simplicity and fresh perspectives that quality children’s literature gives can seldom be found elsewhere.
Illustration by Ernest Shepard
I think we can all agree that, in the past few decades, the quality of children’s books has dropped significantly. Nearly all of the children’s books on the shelves are composed of garish colors, mediocre illustrations and impossibly painful rhyme. The immediate impression is of an adult trying desperately to make a book that will entertain a child for more than 10 minutes but doesn’t quite know how to do so. There seems to have been a disconnect between the adult and child minds. We need to reestablish that connection.
A good children’s book is invaluable to a designer’s day. A quality children’s book will both convey and communicate with the mind of a child. Although the mature mind is necessary to an adult (strangely enough), elements of the child-like mind are necessary to anyone working in or appreciative of creative fields. This is exactly the type of mind that designers need to cultivate in themselves.
Illustration by Arnold Lobel


Simplicity, because of its nature, can hardly be called a trend. In fact, it could almost be called the antithetical to trends. However, we’ve seen a wave of simplicity sweeping across web design and print design lately. Simplicity is incredibly important for designers because we need to communicate clearly and concisely or else the message will be lost. In a world swimming with complications and complexity, it becomes difficult to retain that simplicity. Sitting down for a few minutes to read a children’s book will help a designer to rethink basic.

Rethinking Basic

Often, in design, the terms “simple” and “clean” are confused with “minimalist.” Minimalism, although a powerful design aesthetic, is seldom or never used in children’s books. Minimalism is simplicity taken to the point of asceticism, and that is not the way a child thinks.
A child thinks chiefly about comfort. Thus, while the writing and illustration styles of a children’s book will not be complex, they will not be minimalist either. A good children’s book contains elements of luxury, such as nature, emotions, and simple pleasures such as a balloon or a birthday cake.
Even if you are not going for a minimalist aesthetic on your next web design, there is always room to simplify. There are plenty of excellent quotes on this subject, but since you have probably heard them ad nauseam, I will spare you the repetition! However, the principle holds true. Children’s books can help designers to trim away “extras” and leave what will communicate most clearly.

Simple Humor

Children’s books show that elementary humor can be quite effective. The mere simplicity of some stories, the way a sentence is written or the obvious nature of what is said, can make an adult smile. Other children’s books may contain intelligent wordplay, brilliant rhymes and deliberate confusion of long words. In rhyme especially, the words used can evoke laughter. As a part of simplifying the way our minds work, we can learn to appreciate simple humor on a child’s level.

Fresh Perspectives

Do you remember how, as a child, you could make up and act out the most absurd stories and enjoy them thoroughly? The child’s mind sees problems from a completely different angle than that of an adult, and is undoubtably more fertile. Reading a good children’s book can essentially channel creative power back to the mind because it introduces concepts in the way a child thinks.


The fresh perspective is the most important thing a designer needs when beginning work on a new project. Original concepts are at a premium because there have been so many effective designs, and only so much inspiration can come from other designers’ work. The idea is everything, and children’s books can help with opening the designer’s imagination.


It has long been a difficult thing to get a designer away from his computer. This is because not only his work but his entertainment and inspiration are usually found online. Something completely different must spark creativity and help open the designer’s mind to new concepts. Good humor, intelligent wordplay and entertaining illustrations all put together into a quality children’s book present a solution to this problem.

Disguised Brilliance

Because it is somehow simple and child-like, much of quality children’s literature isn’t recognized as being intelligent. However, many classic children’s books offer very bright entertainment for both adults and children. For one thing, the difficulty of truly speaking to a child’s intellect makes stories that do so rare and much skill is required to write effectively for children.
Illustration by Arnold Lobel
Some of the jokes and concepts in A. A. Milne’s original “Winnie-the-Pooh” stories or Dr. Seuss’s works evoke thought. Lewis Carroll uses quite sophisticated language and manages to stuff five- and six-syllable words into his humorous epic poem, “The Hunting of the Snark,” while retaining the rhyme scheme and meter impeccably.
Illustrations also provide inspiration and imagination for designers. They are often complex in a simple way, such as Dr. Seuss’s two-page spreads with myriads of tiny details and characters all drawn in his characteristic, simple style. They can even be vice versa, simple in a complex way, such as Maurice Sendak’s small but careful illustrations for Else Holmelund Minarik’s “Little Bear” stories.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Meet the ARTIST, Camille Rose Garcia

Design Choices....Camille Rose Garcia's new "Alice"

Since we are all looking at book design this week, I'm hoping everyone will post the book they are going to argue for. I am still waffling (of course...) I had chosen Alice Through the Looking Glass newly illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia, but turns out it is being marketed as an 18+ gift book by Collins Design, so it is not really in the category we are considering.  I chose it because I was interested in how someone takes an iconic book...like Alice or The Grimm's Fairytales and updates them for a 21st c. audience. The production quality of this book is over the top....

With watercolor and acrylic, Camille Rose Garcia creates a new illustrative interpretation of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The newly packaged unabridged classic has a distinct personality setting it apart from the numerous other illustration styles associated with the book throughout history. It is filled with imagination and a vibrant color palette and has a slight Goth aesthetic. The gift book is published by the Collins Design division of HarperCollins.

Not to be overlooked is the lovely interior design of the actual book by Agnieszka Stachowicz (who is also credited for the design of the dust jacket). 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

She said, He said: Novels with multiple narrators

A sales rep friend posed this question online today:

I have a writer friend who is looking for YA (or adult) novels that are told in alternating voices. She wants examples where each character has a chapter and they go back and fo
rth between points of view. It’s a bonus if the characters live in different time periods.

The varied responses from the people who answered her, and the fact that I'm working on a YA novel told from various view points, made me reflect on that topic.

A co-worker once lamented about dual-narrator novels, saying something to the e
ffect of, "Unless it's written really really well, it's a cop-out" (I'm paraphrasing greatly here). After I heard her reasoning, I admit I judged dual-narrator novels more harshly, despite writing one of my own.

The way I defend my own writing is that I didn't want to tell the entire novel from a third-person omniscient narrator POV, and both main characters are, ya know,
main characters with two distinct voices, so...mine works (I hope).

But what really makes a novel work with multiple voices and in which cases is it unnecessary to the plot? A lot of novels have more than one main character, or really important secondary characters; why should they not all have their own voice? Often scenes are told from the POV of a character other than the main character, but almost never in first person. It is the omniscient narrator that allows the reader to gaze through the eyes of a secondary character, and it abundantly clear that the POV of the primary protagonist is the central focus.

Of course, I'm also confusing this subject by talking about POV (point-of-view), voices, and narrators, and all that doesn't include various storytelling formats such as diary entries, letters, phone conversation transcripts, and the recently more common emails and text messages. Where do all of these fit into the subject of multiple narrators?

While I don't have concrete answers to the questions I've posed, here are some books to hold up as examples for things I think they do particularly well.

My Most Excellent Year
by Steve Kluger (9780142413432, $8.99, Penguin) is my go-to favorite for multiple narrator/multiple format storytelling. This is a YA novel about three contemporary teenagers. The novel exhibits three different main character points-of-view, with plenty of secondary characters, texts, emails, IMs, diary entries, and expository scenes.

Another favorite contemporary YA novel that switches not only narrators, but also time periods, is Printz Award-winning Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (9780061431852, $8.99, Harper). Warning: It makes me sob (good tears) every time I read it; it's that good.

A new, not-yet-released YA novel told by dual narrators is Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (9780525421580, $17.99, Penguin, Pub. Date: April 2010). Interestingly, the two different view points are written by two different authors.

My favorite adult novel, though sadly out-of-print, is Letters from an Age of Reason by Nora Hague (9780060959852, Harper). Told in alternating sections, letters and journal entries chronicle the relationship between a white American living in England during the Civil War years, and the high-yellow former slave from New Orleans she falls in love with.

Also told in letters, is a non-fiction book, 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (9780140143508, $13, Penguin), which covers the decades of correspondence between Helene, the American author, and the people from the bookstore at 84 Charing Cross Road. Also adult.

Similar to
84... is the best-seller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (9780385341004, $14, Random House). Also about an American author corresponding with British people, this takes place right after WWII, and delicately showcases the friendships and budding romance. Also adult.

Nora Roberts
, also writing as J.D. Robb, often writes scenes from a secondary character's point of view, though it is always clear who the main character is. Her more romantic novels are almost always told primarily through the woman's point of view, but a great strength of her novels are the scenes that are seen through the man's eyes. In her J.D. Robb ...In Death mysteries, not only does the reader see Eve Dallas's and her husband Roarke's POV, but scenes from various victims' POV are often presented as well.

For another great mystery, read
Darling Jim by Christian Moerk (9780805092080, $15, Henry Hold (MPS)), told from the POVs of a postman, a dead woman and her diary, and a live woman and her diary, among others.

I've noticed YA fantasy novels have a propensity for being told with dual narrators. Here is a quick list of books I've read that showcase dual or multiple narrators that are currently on the store's shelves:

Hearts at Stake (9780802720740, $9.99, Walker & Company (Bloomsbury, MPS)) and Blood Feud (9780802720962, $9.99, Walker & Company (Bloomsbury, MPS)) by Alyxandra Harvey

(9780803733961, $17.99, Penguin) by Catherine Fisher

(9781416971733, $19.99, Simon) by Scott Westerfeld

Sorcery & Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot
(9780152053000, $6.95, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Patricia C. Wrede & Caroline Stevermer

Witch & Wizard
(9780316036245, $17.99, Little, Brown & Co.) by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet

Do you have any examples of novels of this ilk you'd like to share?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Must Reading for Children's Lit Folks

Have you read Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children's Literature by Leonard Marcus?

If you are interested in the past and present of children's literature, and curious about the intersection of librarianship and the U.S. publishing industry, this volume is a must for your personal library.

Minders of Make-Believe is lyrical, engaging, accessible, and a straight-out good read.

As one editor put it "Good children's books are never juvenile." (p. 223) and good books about the history of writing and publishing for children are well researched, copiously footnoted, yet and engrossing. Minders of Make-Believe fits the bill on all counts.

Plus, all the cool Guinea Pigs have read it. - aae

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Candlewick Launches Marketing Program for Indies

"I was so excited to get the box. It feels so good to know Candlewick respects what we do for them," says Rebecca Fabian, children's department manager at the Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, Mass., who had already read and "loved" two CHIRP selections: The Agency and Finnikin of the Rock. 
Candlewick Launches Marketing Program for Indies: "Candlewick Press in Somerville, Mass.,affirmed its commitment to independ..."

Nate Salciccioli’s Inspiration

Creative Dialoguehttp://www.designrelated.com/

Classic Children's Book Covers
February 18, 2008 These book covers are from before the 1970s 
(some from much earlier), and were all designed for a children's 
audience. What's interesting to me about these covers is that 
they don't look "dumbed down", just because their target audience 
may not be able to tell the difference. All are examples of interesting 
design married with beautiful illustration.

These covers were all pulled from
 Children's Book Covers
by Alan Powers.
Tags:  book coversbook designprintpublishing
Topic: Graphic Design

 2 Comments |[ Add Comment ]

Eric Pitsenbarger
on October 24, 2008These very books are partially 
responsible for elevating a child's mind (mine),
 to that of a passionate artist.

Nate Salciccioli
on October 25, 2008I think they do the same thing
 for me. It also reminds me of what I loved 
about book design, before actually DOING it 
(or knowing anything formal pertaining to design). 
Those were the days! :)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

snip, snap & crackle

going west? I am having trouble embedding this video....so just follow the link. S

Books and Tattoos

On a note related to the previous post concerning judging a book by its cover, Penguin Publishers is recreating some new eye-catching covers that are sure to guarantee at least my purchase.

Penguin has created a new line of books known as Penguin Ink. Already published adult novels are getting a face lift with new cover designs created by tattoo artists. Paul Buckley is the design director for this new line.

The first six novels are being re-released at the end of June. They are:

Bridget Jones's Diary
by Helen Fielding, cover design by Tara McPherson
Paperback: 9780143117131, $15, Penguin, Pub. Date: June 2010

Money: A Suicide Note
by Marin Amis, cover design by Bert Krak
Paperback: 9780143116950, $15, Penguin, Pub. Date: June 2010

From Russia With Love
by Ian Fleming, cover design by Chris Garver
Paperback: 9780143116943, $15, Penguin, Pub. Date: June 2010

The Broom of the System
by David Foster Wallace, cover design by Duke Riley
Paperback: 9780143116936, $15, Penguin, Pub. Date: June 2010

Waiting for the Barbarians
by J.M. Coetzee, cover design by Chris Conn
Paperback: 9780143116929, $15, Penguin, Pub. Date: June 2010

The Bone People
by Keri Hulme, cover design by Pepa Heller
Paperback: 9780143116455, $15, Penguin, Pub. Date: June 2010

Read more about this here.

And in case you missed it in an earlier post, some adult Penguin Classics have been redone to have intricate typography covers in shades of black, white, and red - the red is to spark AIDS awareness, the cause behind the repackaging. Read more about the Penguin Classics here.

This blog post was originally posted here. - Rebecca Fabian

Who Says? Design matters!

Who says we shouldn't choose a book by its cover? I know I do...all the time. What prompts you to pick up a book and spend $$ on it. THE COVER! right? I have even bought books I have never read, but I keep them BECAUSE I like the cover. Weird....yep. But I also won't read a book that if I don't like the design or the font. so....go figure. But that said, there are TONS of beautiful, interesting, funky, strange, and fruity covers. AND there are BORING ones too.
What are some of your favorites? S