We Are Family

What a pleasure—and a relief—to see so many picture books showing families that reflect reality! We’ve collected some of our favorite new—and not quite new—picture-driven stories that demonstrate how inclusivity can make strong storytelling ideas even better.

Christiane Engel - Illustration Portfolio / Children's Books ... Christiane Engel Baby's First Words. Barefoot Books 2017In the category of board books for the youngest family member, Barefoot Books’ Baby’s First Words, by Stella Blackstone and Sunny Scribens, and available in both English and Spanish, is a robust collection of activities and items encountered by a family of two dads and their toddler, with Christiane Engel’s colorful illustrating palette further complemented by her whimsical details, like the smiling wolf toes of Baby’s rain boots and the tooth brushing toy wooly mammoth. The dads here and There catalog pageinclude a bespectacled black man who appears to be the primary care giver and his partner, a white man who arrives home in time for the evening bath and bedtime rituals. In addition to nouns and active verbs, our family here encounters and names sounds, emotions, and prepositions, too.

New this spring from Barefoot Books is Here and There, a picture book for ages four to eight, by Tamara Ellis Smith, with acrylic and collage illustrations by Evelyn Daviddi.  In this realistic and emotionally supportive story, Ivan learns to handle visiting his father who now has a separate home from him and his mother.  That Ivan’s father is shown as white and his mother as brown offers kids from newly separated homes or not an opportunity to see diversity reflected in a loving family. Although Ivan’s parents live separately, they clearly support him.

Paula Know What to Do coverSometimes families are broken by parental death, of course. Just published by Pajama Press, the eponymous child at the center of Paula Knows What to Do, by Sanne Dufft, shows picture book readers as well as her sad dad how to cope with the moment by creating a fun-filled and distracting imaginative adventure. Here’s a story for three to seven-year-olds that both acknowledges grief and celebrates a child’s capacity to share her own resilience with a parent.

Confronting more directly how children from multiracial and real sisters Pretend cover
adoptive parented families are confronted by the casually cruel and ignorant assertions of some, Tilbury House’s Real Sisters Pretend, by Megan Dowd Lambert and with luminous illustrations by Nicole Tadgell, has already become a picture book classic. Instead of a parental voice explaining, lucky readers are provided a first hand experience with a helpful sister’s support when her younger sibling relays the objection an outsider has made about their family.hair, It's a Family Affair US cover

Coming soon to American readers from Cassava Republic, Mylo Freeman’s Hair, It’s a Family Affair offers a delightful way to talk about how family members both share traits and differ in them. Macy tells her class all about her family members’ diverse hair styles, from her grandmother’s once big and now more conservative Afro to her baby sister’s soft hair (which is shown to be red) to her father’s bald head. As ever, the author-illustrator’s paintings are filled with jolly expressions, multi-patterned clothing, and lots of energetic actions on every page.

Also coming soon to the US is Lantana Publishing’s picture book Maisie’s Scrapbook, written by maisie's Scrapbook coverSamuel Narh with illustrations by Jo Loring-Fisher. This celebration of family has both traditional and less traditional elements: composed of a mother, a father, and a small child, Maisie’s family is shown sharing music, food, and other cultural expressions. Her father’s traditions, like the author’s, come from Africa, while her mother’s European heritage appears in the details of her choices of recipes, musical instrument, and even clothing material. Maisie is a lucky child to be showered with much cultural bounty as well as parental love.










Green Earth Book Award 2019 Long List Announced

We’re delighted to hear that so many of our books have received attention from The Nature Generation’s national Green Earth Book Award long list selectors! Now celebrating its 15thyear, this award directs attention to books for children and young adults that provide environmental themes and excellent storytelling.

“This long list of environmental stewardship books brings educators and parents top quality, well-vetted choices to give our next generation the gift of the love of nature—and the gift of understanding facts and science about the environment. These gifts are the tools they’ll use to solve the critical environmental issues the world is facing.”                                                                                                                    – Amy Marasco, The Nature Generation Founder and President

There are 68 titles on the long list, including picture books, children’s fiction, children’s nonfiction, young adult fiction, and young adult nonfiction. Publishers include large trade houses, specialized presses, university publishers, and independents. A tenth of that list comes from our clients, who are represented in the categories for picture books, children’s fiction, and children’s nonfiction. Short lists will be revealed in March and final announcement of the awards takes place in April.

That gives you plenty of time to enjoy sharing these with the young environmentalists in your life:

Errol’s Gardenwritten and illustrated by Gillian Hibbs and published by Child’s Play Errol's Garden coverInternational, offers urban children a picture book model hero who finds ways to expand his food gardening in a densely built neighborhood.

Lucy and the Dragonfly cover

Lucy and the Dragonflywritten by Caroline Hamel, illustrated by Lucie Papineau and published by Auzou, shows and tells picture book readers the story of girl who identifies with the Earth’s environmental decay and is cheered by actions taken to restore nature.

Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Scientis Pu Zhelong’s Work for Sustainable Farmingwritten by Sigrid Schmalzer, illustrated by Melanie Moth and Wasp coverLinden Chan and published by Tilbury House Publishers appeals to picture book reading children as well as older readers through adult, as it shows and tells the story of Chinese Pu Zhelong from farmboy to researcher.

The King of Beeswritten by Lester L. Laminack, King of the Bees coverillustrated Jim LaMarche and published by Peachtree Publishers provides an inside look at the operations of a bee farmer and the social lives of honeybees.

The Flooded Earthwritten by Mardi McConnochie and published by Pajama Press gives middle grade readers an age-The Flooded Earthappropriate climate fiction dystopia filled with adventure and character development that will leave readers on the lookout for its sequel (publishing this year).

Bat Citizenswritten and illustrated by Rob Bat Citizens cover
Laidlaw and published by Pajama Press combines information about these “ninjas of the night” with activities kids have undertaken to assure bats safe environments in our changing world.

Raising a Forestwritten and illustrated by Thibaud Herem  and
published by Cicada Books shares the architectural artist’s passion for gardening and shows how people can support trees’ and forests’ health.interior from Raising a Forrest






Books for Your Young Valentine

International Book Giving Day 2019 posterWe’re delighted to help you celebrate International Book Giving Day this Valentine holiday! Better than flowers, more accessible than chocolate, and sure to warm the hearts of both giver and recipient, there are warm-hearted books for everyone in your life.

The Wolf Who Wanted to Fall in Love coverFrom Auzou Publishing our friend Wolf offers a perfect tie-in to the traditional February 14 celebration. The Wolf Who Wanted to Fall in Love offers bright images and a heartfelt story that features author Orianne Lallemand and illustrator Éléonore Thuillier series hero on a quest for that special relationship.

Another series offering just the right tale for Valentine’s Day is Manga Classics rendition of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The Romeo and Juliet Manga Classics coverwhole story is here, adapted by Crystal C. Chen and  lushly imagined with art by Julien Choy.

For a different approach to Shakespeare’s romantic tale, younger book Rubio and Julienne coverrecipients can delight in Tilbury House’s witty Rubio and Julienne: A Sweet and Cheesy Tale, by Dan Paley with illustrations by Lauren Gallegos. Be sure to stock up on cheese and some fruit to nibble when you share this one because the back matter will guide you into creating a treat to share all around.

How about some poetry to share with your little book lover? Barefoot Barefoot Book of Classic Poems coverBooks offers a volume of Classic Poems for language lovers of all ages. Verses from William Blake, Rachel Field, and Ogden Nash are featured, along with writers more frequently connected with children’s writing, such as A. A. Milne and  Robert Louis Stevenson.

Celebrate International Book Giving Book today. Your Valentine willBingo Love cover love you for it. And you might want to pick up Image Comics’ Bingo Love by Tee Franklin, Joy San and Jenn St-Onge for yourself and your older Valentine! Let’s make a habit of giving books beyond just today.




Cozy Picture Books for a Winter Day

Oh, my, the Northern Hemisphere is having wintry weather! On the Pacific Coast, that means lots of rain and even unusually generous snowstorms. In the Midwest and along the Northeast, it’s been wind as well as fast moving snowstorms and sub-zero temperatures. Our friends in the UK, meanwhile, also are having snowstorms. All in all, it’s a good time to pull up a pile of warming new picture books and settle indoors.

Hair It's a Family Affair coverFrom Cassava Republic, there’s plenty of warm feelings rising from the bouncy illustrations throughoutHair, It’s a Family Affair, with text and art by Mylo Freeman. The exuberance of one extendedHair interior illustration of 3 girlsfamily’s heads of hair—and how each person has styled or wilded it—gives kids everywhere an #OwnVoices take on hair on the heads of people of African descent. There’s humor, there’s pride, there’s a lot to read in the illustrations beyond hair alone as we notice family members’ postures as they interact with each other, too.

From Gecko Press (and where, since they are in New Zealand, we must Monkey on the Run coverpoint out that it’s now summertime!), Leo Timmers’s nearly wordless Monkey on the Run can keep kids and adults alike giggling and exploring again and again. Yes, there is a monkey; even more exciting, however, is that there are all manner of vehicles, a whole zoological garden of animals, and the combined possible interactions of these two sets of characters practically bound off the landscape-oriented page spreads. Settle in. This one could keep you flipping back and forth and around for hours.

Trying to snuggle with a rambunctious preschooler? Gently, Bentley!, written and illustrated by Gently Bentley cover
Caragh Buxton, and published by Child’s Play, makes good company. The eponymous Bentley is a young anthropomorphic rhino who just overflows with enthusiasm—to the point that anything in his way is likely to be turned over, scattered, or otherwise upended. Except…for his baby sister. Check out the endpapers, front and back, for ideas to engage your little co-reader in telling you other adventures in which Bentley might be featured.

Stay cozy! There’s plenty to share on a wintry day.

Big News for Floris Books’ Author Claire McFall

Claire McFall

Claire McFall, Shortlisted author for the Scottish ChildrenÕs Book Awards 2013 on the 18th June 2013, the day the list is announced at The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. Pupils across Scotland will read the three books in their age category and vote for their favourite, with the winners announced by Scottish Book Trust on 5 March 2014
picture by Alex Hewitt/Writer Pictures

This may be the first time ever we have occasion to announce that a book from one of the many wonderful authors working with the publishers we market has…a movie coming out!  However, that’s the case here: Claire McFall’s teen novel Ferryman is soon to be a motion picture!  The announcement has come that Kelly Marcel has taken on this delightful story of an afterlife of romance.  The story of Dylan, a girl who didn’t walk away from a train wreck, and Tristan, whose job in the afterlife was escorting the newly dead to the hereafter, is one of adventure, romance, and intriguing questions of what maybe could happen beyond death.

If you want to read the sequels in this trilogy before the movie appears, you can download them from our NetGalley page. In Ferryman’s sequel, Trespassers, Dylan and Tristan escape the afterlife—but to do so they are living in other souls’ bodies. Outcasts brings the saga to an astounding end, with bargains to be made that pit love against death.

Ferryman cover and Kelly Marcel

Welcoming the Year of the Pig

Dragon Dancer coverThe old lunar year is ending and a new year beginning this week. To celebrate, we’re sharing Lantana Publishing’s picture book, Dragon Dancer, by Joyce Chng with gorgeous art by Jérémy Pailler.

As Lantana’s editorial staff note:

There are many traditions, rituals, and festivities associated with Chinese New year, but among the most renowned are the lion and dragon dances. Dance troupes perform in shopping centers and around homes and restaurants to draw out the bad luck and replace it with good luck and prosperity for the coming year. The accompanying sounds of drums, cymbals, and firecrackers surrounding the dance troupes remind those gathered of the origin of the dances. It is said that long ago, a monstrous creature named Nian rampaged through a village in search of food, destroying everything in its path. It was only when the villagers began making loud noises with nearby items that Nian was finally frightened away and peace was brought back to the village.

Join the celebration!


It’s World Read Aloud Day! Join the Fun

What’s more fun than reading? Reading aloud, of course! make those characters shout and pout and giggle and show off their fancy moves!

In honor of the day, we (of course) have a few suggestions:

A Visit to Grandad An African ABC coverFrom Cassava Republic, there’s A Visit to Grandad: An African ABC, by Sade Fadipe and illustrated by Shedrach Ayalomeh. Visit Nigeria with a little girl who’s gone to see family, and get to know all the items that offer alphabet of views on her visit.

Tiger Tales Books is publishing One-stop Story Shop, by Tracey the One-stop Story Shop coverCorderoy and illustrated by Tony Neal. In this picture book, there’s a knight in shining armor, alright–but he has no dragon to engage in battle! Oh, no!

Mira’s Curly Hair, from Lantana Publishing and written by Maryam al Mira's Curly Hair coverSerkal with illustrations by Rebecca Luciani, offers up a different problem, and it’s one many will recognize: if only Mira had the same hair as her mother. Well, maybe she does!

So many great new books to choose to share on World Read Aloud Day! Have you caught that intrepid kindergarten teacher Ed Spicer reading aloud from Karadi Tales Farmer Falgu‘s latest adventure by Chitra Soundar with illustrations by Kanika Nair? Happily, you can catch him right here!


Meet Intern Molly Johnson

Molly Johnson portraitHere at Publisher Spotlight we are lucky to have an internship program that gives us the opportunity to meet and work with new and fresh talent coming into the publishing and marketing world. Our current intern is Molly Johnson, originally from Iowa by way of South Carolina, and a recent graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute.

In addition to her education and professional training in the world of books, Molly is a certified yoga instructor and a mean hand at ping pong as well as tennis. She’s interested in astrology and the great outdoors that beckons her on hikes through the hills as well as through the stars.

As our intern, Molly contributes her photographer’s eye and imagination to our Instagram account and assists with record keeping of our various reviewer lists and mailings. We’re glad she’s here and wish her a long and happy career in the world of stories.

Books for All of Us from All Around Our World

Una Huna What Is This coverWe expect North American readers are familiar with several of the publishers we bring to conferences. From Canada, there’s Pajama Press, for example, a publisher who has Small Things coverreceived acclaim from many associations and for a variety of areas of endeavor. Also from Canada, we bring Inhabit Media, the only wholly Inuit-owned publisher currently on the planet.

You know TOON Books, right? The New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly founded this German Calendar No December coverpublishing company to give AmericanTOON Books kids the head start reading good comics that her native French experiences gave her. Did you know kids’ graphic novels come from Cassava Republic, too? They’re based in Abuja, Nigeria, with an office in London, too.

Manga Classics, at home in Hong Kong as well as Canada, offers older kids another level of visual book experience, with sensitive and artistic redo’s of Western classics in Asian comics-style storytelling.

Other Asian-rooted publishers in our circle include the London-based Lantana Publishing folks Cat's Egg coverYou're Safe with Me coverwith a rich catalog of Asian and Middle Eastern #OwnVoices books to share, and Karadi Tales, well known in its native India as an award-winning children’s book publisher. Tiny Owl, also housed in the United Kingdom, beings contemporary readers a rich and imagistic tradition of Asian and African picture books.

Cinderella of the Nile coverElmer's Walk coverYou’re sure to know Elmer the Elephant and thus Andersen Press. Other Britain-based books we’re Let's Explore Dinosaurs cover
happy to share with American kids come from the Scottish publisher Floris Books, with its Discover Kelpies and Little Kelpies imprints; Child’s Play with their award-winning multiracial, gender-neutral board books; and Cicada Books with their beautiful picture books  Rosa Loves Cars coverNight Windows cover
and high concept, readily accessible activity books. What On Earth Books is also British, giving kids around the world the delight of unfolding and exploring enormous timelines. Maverick Books may be new to you: get ready to smile and laugh as you discover all they offer!Bears Don't Eat Egg Sandwiches cover

Gilda the Giant Sheep coverOn the European Continent, a pair of excellent publishing resources we’re delighted to bring American kids come from France’s Auzou and Spain’s NubeOcho.

Shh! I'm Reading coverCloser to home, we have Tiger Tales, including their 360 Degree imprint of picture books for older readers, and Tilbury House, offering award winning books for a variety of ages, from Maine. Flowerpot Press has a wide variety of picture books we see, and Barefoot Books publishes books, audiobooks, and story-based games and activities, too.

Speaking of audiobooks, we’re delighted to work with Live Oak Media,Before She was harriet audiobook cover a frequent winner in children’s book recording. And another specialized area of publishing among our publishers is graphic novels and comics, including Diamond Bookshelf clients Lion Forge, Image Comics, and more.

Rivers coverBut wait! Let’s go further from home yet! Gecko Press, at home in New Zealand, is a frequent winner in many readers’ eyes. And we’ve just started working with the travelingest of How Cities Work coverthem all: Lonely Planet Kids. Drop by and see us all, wherever we travel, or on our website and social media channels.





Looking Ahead to ALA Midwinter 2019

In less than a week we’ll be joining thousands of our friends and colleagues in Seattle for the 2019 Liz and Lucy Lareau author signing poster
Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association. We’re bringing along 22 publishers to Booth 2211, where visitors can browse books for kids, audiobook information, our graphic novel gallery, and more. We’ll also host cartoonist Elizabeth Lareau for a pair of signings, one for Marvel on Saturday (2 PM) and then for Papercutz on Sunday (9:30 AM).

We’ll be bringing heaps of children’s books that have earned starred reviews, including Barefoot Books’ La Frontera and Lantana Publishing’s You’re Snug with Me.  Lonely Planet Kids will be The Visitor internal page spreadjoining us for the first time; check out their newest titles! From Gecko Press, you’ll find The 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Book The Visitor.

Our titles come from all over the world so come by to visit India, Scotland, England, Spain, Canada—including the Inuit publisher Inhabit Media—and Nigeria. Come talk to us about #OwnVoices, reading aloud, International Best Books for Youth, and why we love working with librarians!

Here’s the full list of publishers you’ll find at Booth 2211:

  • Andersen Press
  • Barefoot Books
  • Cassava Republic Press
  • Cicada Books
  • Floris Books
  • Gecko Press
  • Inhabit Media
  • Karadi Tales
  • Lantana Publishing
  • Lonely Planet Kids
  • Manga Classics
  • Marvel
  • Maverick Books
  • Mayo Clinic
  • NubeOcho
  • Pajama Press
  • Papercutz
  • Tiger Tales
  • Tiny Owl Publishing
  • What On Earth
  • Zuiker