Monday, August 3, 2015

Reading with Our Families

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Two of my Lerner Publishing Group colleagues--Alix Reid (editorial director, Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda LAB) and Ellie Byler (Marketing data coordinator)—and I (Domenica Di Piazza, editorial director, Twenty-First Century Books) are mentioned in a recent July article in Publishers Weekly about what publishing industry professionals read with their families. Take a look for some touching and funny stories, and let us know what you read with your families! Ideas for great summer reading?

(I shared in Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie with my nine-year-old great niece this summer. Funny store in the PW article about that experience.)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Free Book Friday: Graphic Novel Giveaway!

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Happy Friday, everyone! Congratulations to Rhonda Peña, who won copies of two Brian P. Cleary books. Rhonda, please email your address to so we can get your books in the mail!

This week, enter to win First Man: Reimagining Matthew Henson by Simon Schwartz.

In this graphic novel, Simon Schwartz weaves biography and fiction together to explore the life of Arctic adventurer Matthew Henson. Moving between different time periods and incorporating Inuit mythology, Schwartz offers a fresh perspective on the many challenges Henson confronted during his life.

As a member of early missions to reach the North Pole, Henson braved subzero temperatures and shifting sea ice. As an African American at the turn of the twentieth century, he also faced harassment and prejudice. Henson won a place on Arctic expeditions through skill and determination—though he didn't receive the same credit as his teammates. He also won the respect of the native peoples he met during his journeys—though he couldn't prevent the harm that the expeditions caused them. 

More than a biography, First Man: Reimagining Matthew Henson is an artistic homage to Henson's accomplishments and the complicated realities of being a trailblazer in a society that didn't recognize black men as equals.

If you'd like to win First Man, please leave a comment on this post (including your first and last name), or tweet this line: "Free Book Friday! Tweet to win FIRST MAN from 
@LernerBooks." Make sure to check the blog next week to see if you've won!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pet Lovers’ Perfect Pick

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9781467736329fc_Medium Calling all pet lovers! Have I got the perfect pick for you. It’s called How I Care for My Pet (cover pictured, left), and it’s just right for all those K–2 students who can’t get enough of animals.

This book follows a boy through a day of caring for his adorable, doe-eyed goldendoodle. We come along as the boy feeds the dog, takes him for a walk, cleans up after him, plays with him, and grooms him. All the while, readers pick up valuable reading skills, a lesson on responsibility, and a familiarity with sequencing words such as first, next, then, and finally.

My favorite thing about the book (besides the too-cute photos, that is) is a feature at the end that asks readers to pretend they are responsible for caring for a pet. It asks them to write a story about the steps they’d take to look after the animal, using a list of sequencing words that appears to the right of the story prompt. Other back-matter elements include Fun Facts, a glossary, and an index.

For more books that combine reading skills, sequencing words, and non-didactic info on how to be responsible, check out the companion tiles to How I Care for My Pet—all pictured below. Happy reading!

9781467736343fc_Medium   9781467736336fc_Medium   9781467736350fc_Medium
9781467736367fc_Medium   9781467736374fc_Medium

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Shout-Out to Orphaned Authors

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This blog is for all you authors out thereand there are far too many of youwho have lost your editors or who have had your books orphaned. I’ve been thinking a lot about you as I’ve settled into my new job as editorial director of Carolrhoda Books and Carolrhoda Lab, Lerner Publishing Group’s trade fiction imprints.

I was hired during a tumultuous time. Carolrhoda’s previous editorial director had left in January, leaving many Carolrhoda authors wondering what was going to happen with their manuscripts. At the same time, Lerner had just acquired Egmont’s backlist, leaving dozens of authors with half-signed contracts wondering how they would fit into the Lerner Publishing Group.

As I began letting my new authors know they once again had a champion in house and someone who would nurture both them and their books, I kept imagining how you were feelingnot just my authors but all of you whose books were or are still in limbo. You must have so many anxious questions swirling around. Who is your new editor going to be and what if you don’t “click” with him or her? Are you really still wanted or are you just a leftover? What will it feel like to get that first phone call or email from an editor who previously existed only on a publisher’s blog or a LinkedIn profile?

Publishing is a mercurial business, and imprints open and close and editors move to new houses all the time, leaving authors bereft in many different ways. And while you find yourselves in this situation through no fault on your own, you are powerless to do anything about it other than to wait and see what will happen.

So to all of you I just want to sayhang in there. Lean on your agent. Keep writing. Trust in your talent. YOU are what make OUR jobs worth doing. Your incredible abilities to write amazing books that challenge children and teens to think in new ways inspire editors like me on a daily basis. You will survive and you will thrive.
Elana K. Arnold at ALA with Infandous
(worked with previous Lab editor)

And for my own authors who’ve recently inherited me, know that I already consider you to be my authors. I empathize with the tumult you’ve gone through, and I also know you have many great books ahead of you. I’m excited about the new journey we’ll be going on together!

Sarah McGuire at ALA with Valiant
(previously with Egmont)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekend Recap

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Last weekend in the Twin Cities was seriously hot with off-the-hook humidity, but we Lerners still had plenty of fun!

On Sunday, July 26, St. Paul Saints pitcher Kramer Sneed read John Coy's Hoop Genius to a group of about 50 young fans. What a perfect book for ball game lovers! (Okay, baseball and basketball aren't the same thing, but we're guessing there's a fair amount of overlap in fan base.)

Who's holding the book? Author John Coy, of course!

For more information on the Saints' Reading Tree literacy program, check out this Publishers Weekly article.

The evening before, on July 26, three Lab rats (Carrie Mesrobian, E. K. Johnston, and Steve Brezenoff) joined former Carolrhoda Lab editor Andrew Karre and author Bryan Bliss (No Parking at the End Times, Greenwillow Books) for a panel on young adult books.

The discussion ranged from the statistical abundance of boarding schools and orphans in YA lit to why all of the panelists loved writing, editing, and reading YA. As Carrie Mesrobian, author of Lab novels Sex & Violence and Perfectly Good White Boy, said, "I just don't find the concerns of my [adult] life that interesting." 

Also discussed: the facility of taking potshots at YA (one example cited was this P. J. O'Rourke review in the New York Times).

Johnston signs while Brezenoff looks quizzical. Also pictured: some of Mesrobian's hair.
All in all, it was a great weekend! We hope yours was smashing as well.