Friday, August 11, 2017

Searching for the next book to hand-sell from Candlewick

You may have just heard the news is that Candlewick Press is starting a Walker imprint in the United States. It turns out that Walker is a major player in children’s books around the world, but when they opened a United States division to sell their books instead of licensing them off, the Walker name as already taken, so they called their American publisher Candlewick.

Bloomsbury, who owned the rights to the Walker name, decided to consolidate their children’s division under the Bloomsbury brand, so when Walker made an inquiry to get the United States rights to the name, they were able to make a deal. Right now the idea is for Walker to focus on middle grade and YA fiction, which to me seems like a pretty crowded field, but if they can bring over their great UK authors, they’ll find a place. Here’s the Publishers Weekly article

To me, this is similar to what Holtzbrinck did when they got the American rights to the Macmillan name, which they already owned in the UK. Finally the answer of whether they were Holtzbrinck or von Holtzbrinck was either settled or swept under the rug.

I mention this for two reasons. Firstly, it’s interesting, and secondly, I was just in Somerville having lunch Boswell's good friend Elise, who oversees independent retail sales at Candlewick. For several years we have met up at Book Expo, where she’s shown me some of the titles on the list. In 2014, her recommendation of Before After, from Matthias Aregui and Anne-Margot Ramstein made my holiday recommendation list, and last year, I fell for Under Water Under Earth, the collaboration from Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski.

One book that might be a pick for this fall is Botanicum, their newest entry in the Welcome to the Museum series, from Kathy Willis and Katie Scott. You probably know Animalium, but I think that there are less plant books than animal books, so I am intrigued. The publisher calls “Botanicum is a wonderful feast of botanical knowledge complete with superb cross sections of how plants work.” This book is already available at Boswell but I’m to take a closer look.

I was intrigued by Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki from Kevin Crossley-Holland (poet and author of The Seeing Stone, which won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize), and designer Jeffery Alan Love. It caught my eyes for several reasons, not the least of which is that our event with Rick Riordan (on October 8, tickets go on sale August 16) for The Ship of the Dead also incorporates Viking mythology, being the third volume in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. Here’s a link to tickets.

Of course I had to take a peek at The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, the new collaboration from Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. I have a very important place in my heart for the team, being that they launched Sam and Dave Dig a Hole at Boswell (and by launch, I mean their first-day-of-sale event was at Boswell). But after reading this book, perhaps I should say that they have an important place in my stomach!

We talked about a lot of books, but I’ll just mention Red and Lulu, the new picture book from Matt Tavares. It’s about two cardinals who are separated when their favorite tree is cut down. Spoiler alert! The birds are reunited at the tree’s resting place in Rockefeller Center, where everyone can sing "O Christmas Tree" together. I noted to Elise that when I was the gift buyer, cardinals were the most popular icons on things we sold for the holidays, outpacing Santas, reindeer, penguins, doves, holly, and even Christmas trees. That bodes well for the book.

OK, just one more title. I would be remiss if I didn’t say a word or two about La La La, the new picture book from Kate DiCamillo and Jaime Kim. It’s a little girl on a journey, about which Publishers Weekly observed: “Everyone wants to be seen, and everyone wants someone to sing back to them.” Booklist writes: “DiCamillo and Kim combine their considerable talents in this almost wordless picture book that speaks to a universal longing: the hope that we are not alone. Adults could almost use this as a flip-book with children, so full of movement are the pictures. But the best use will be as a springboard for discussion about loneliness, life, and love.”

It’s a beautiful book and a powerful statement, but you’d expect nothing less from Kate DiCamillo. We’re so excited about our joint event with Books & Company at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts on Sunday, October 29, 2 pm. Tickets are available here.

One last book. For some reason this one’s hard to find. Elise was trying to find it in the Candlewick stockroom of upcoming releases (which is as magical as it sounds) and then I had trouble finding it in our wholesaler’s database. It’s called A World of Information and it comes from Richard Platt, whose Pirate Diary won a Kate Greenaway Medal, as well as designer James Brown. It’s positioned as a Schott’s Miscellany for Kids. I’m sure there are a lot of books of this sort. The text will have to be top notch, and if it is, the package will take it to the next level. I can’t wait to see it when it comes in on October 3.

Oh, and congrats to Hallie, who just started at Candlewick after bookselling stints at Andersons and Brookline Booksmith! I really, really really am going to read Shadow of the Wind in 2017.

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