Just two days after I blogged about Starcrossed, the high school Greek tragedy billed as “a Percy Jackson for teenage girls,” another huge YA deal goes through. Dutton Children’s Books (a Penguin imprint) has paid six figures to publish The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by debut novelist Jessica Rothenberg. Rothenberg is an editor at Razorbill, another Penguin imprint. Here’s more on the plot:
In the book, a 15-year-old girl who literally dies of a broken heart must pass through five stages of grief before she can move on to the afterlife...and restore her faith in love.
When I was a pre-teen, I had a fascination with tragic stories—for a while there, anything by Lurlene McDaniel was a must-buy from the book fair. Sounds like heartbreak and mortality still haven't gone out of style.
Will you (or your teen) pick up The Catastrophic History of You and Me (out fall 2011)?
Last night I saw the new Alice in Wonderland film by Tim Burton, in 3D.
Despite a weak ending, the film was incredibly entertaining. Burton's world was weird and wonderful, and seemed true to the spirit of Carroll's work. It helps that the story isn't a retelling, but a sequel of sorts that follows Alice's return to Wonderland 10 years later.
The effects were amazing, especially the Cheshire cat, and strong performances by Burton regulars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, as well as newcomer Mia Wasikowska as Alice (aside: I coveted every one of her costumes, including the spangly-skirted suit of armor), carry the day.
Have you seen Alice yet? What's your favorite literary adaptation?
Related in BookPage: Review of Melanie Benjamin's Alice I Have Been; review of Helen Oxenbury's illustrated Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
A month ago we reported on Libba Bray’s $2 million deal to write a jazz-age trilogy for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Now, it looks like the huge YA contract of the month is going to a newcomer: HarperTeen has paid seven figures to Josephine Angelini for a trilogy billed as "a Percy Jackson for teenage girls.”
From Publisher’s Weekly:
In Starcrossed, which brings Greek tragedy to high school, a shy Nantucket teenager named Helen Hamilton attempts to kill the most attractive boy on the island, Lucas Delos, in front of her entire class. The incident proves more than a bit inconvenient for Helen, who's already concerned that she's going insane—whenever she's sees Lucas (or any of his family members) the image of three crying women appear to her.
Still, it was nice to see the Los Angeles Times run an article this morning recognizing crossover hits like The Hunger Games trilogy or Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. And any readers who don’t buy the YA trend can’t argue with these numbers: In the first half of 2009, adult hardcover sales were down 17.8%; children's/young adult hardcovers were up 30.7%.
YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They're able to have a little more fun, and they're less confined by this idea of themselves as Very Important Artists. That paradoxically leads them to create far better work than people who are trying to win awards.
I’m a day late on this news item, but it still deserves a mention. Yesterday would have been Dr. Seuss’s 106th birthday—reason for celebration in itself. Since 1998, though, March 2 has also been designated by the National Education Association as Read Across America Day.
Michelle Obama helped kick off the festivities in an event at the Library of Congress, and all week there are events planned throughout the country to celebrate reading. It’s definitely worth checking out the Read Across America website; there are free digital copies of Dr. Seuss books, tips for encouraging your child to read and information about reading events.
If you’re looking for good books for kids, don’t miss the children’s page on BookPage.com, filled with recommendations for books appropriate for toddlers all the way up to teens.
What’s your favorite book to read aloud to a child? A Dr. Seuss book, perhaps? Tell us in the comments.
I’ve made my love for the late Madeleine L’Engle known around the office, so I wasn’t surprised when Lynn showed me a notice from the spring 2010 Farrar, Straus & Giroux catalog: On April 27, L’Engle’s 1949 novel And Both Were Young will be reissued in hardcover with a new jacket (see left). L’Engle’s graddaughter, Léna Roy, will write an introduction.
My battered copy of And Both Were Young features the jacket to the right. Which do you like better?
The novel tells the story of Flip, an American girl away at boarding school in Switzerland, and her unexpected love for Paul, a French boy. Whether you prefer the retro jacket or the new one, the novel’s themes of love, alienation and growing up will no doubt still resonate with contemporary readers.
After learning of the book reissue, I was curious about L'Engle's graddaughter. Turns out that on Dec. 7, 2010, FSG will publish Roy’s debut YA novel, Edges.
It is a story of love and grief, addiction and redemption, set in both NYC’s Upper West Side and in the red rock desert of Moab, Utah. Seventeen-year-old Luke lives and works at the Moonflower Motel in Moab, having fled New York City where his father Frank drowns his sorrows after the death of Luke’s mother. Back in New York, 18-year-old Ava meets Frank at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. When these lost souls converge in Moab, what happens transforms them all.
Will you pick up Edges?
For those of us born in the '70s and '80s, all this news about beloved teen series might be too much to handle. (In case you missed the updates, The Baby-Sitters Club is coming back and Sweet Valley High might be turned into a movie.)
Today, Publishers Marketplace confirmed that Francine Pascal has signed a deal to publish Sweet Valley Confidential in early 2011. The book will follow Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield—and all their Sweet Valley friends—into their late twenties and early thirties. The novel will be published by St. Martin’s Press. No word yet if it will be a single book or the start to a series (here's hoping. . .), or if the target audience will be teens or adults.
Of the book, Pascal said, “I’ve had thousands of queries from fans over the years wondering what Jessica and Elizabeth would be like as adults... Well, Sweet Valley Confidential should give them all the answers. And I can guarantee they will be very surprised. Actually, more like shocked.”
Will Elizabeth get back with boring Todd Wilkins? Are Jessica and Lila Fowler still frenemies? Will the twins still be a "perfect size six"? We’ll have to wait until 2011 to find out.
SVH fans: What are your hopes for the book?
In December we posted the news that The Hunger Games #3 will arrive on August 24, 2010, and asked readers for title predictions. A couple of you suggested “The Victors” (which USA Today claims has been the most popular guess among book bloggers), but BookPage commenter Kali knew what she was talking about when she wrote:
This is my favorite book ever. The whole series is about her being the mockingjay, so I have a suggestion. Mockingjay. That should be the title. Plain and simple, Katniss IS the mockingjay. That says it all.
What do you think, Collins fans?
If you haven’t been sucked into the series yet, it’s not too late. To see if it's something you would like, read an interview with Suzanne Collins about Catching Fire or a review of The Hunger Games.
Last week I spoke to Newbery medalist Laura Amy Schlitz (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) about her new release The Night Fairy (Feb. 23 from Candlewick). The middle grade novel tells the story of Flory, a fairy who loses her wings in an accident and must fend for herself in a garden alongside bats, praying mantises and other potentially threatening creatures.
As she learns to appreciate life in the daytime—Flory was born a nocturnal fairy, although she attempts to change her sleep schedule—the little fairy also discovers emotions like empathy and hope.
I predict that this charming story will be a hit with kids who love the outdoors and playing make believe—not only because of the text, but because the accompanying illustrations are truly works of art. Illustrator Angela Barrett studied at the Royal College of Art in England with Quentin Blake (best known for immortalizing Roald Dahl’s characters in cartoons). She has illustrated more than 24 books, and her depictions of Flory’s miniature world will enchant young readers. (Visit this gallery on The Night Fairy’s website for examples.)
On Feb. 23, you can read about Schlitz’s intriguing new project and her interest in fairy stories on BookPage.com. In the meantime, listen to an audio clip from the author. In it, she discusses the joyful moment of winning the Newbery Medal in 2008:
We’re giving away a copy of The Night Fairy to a lucky reader. To enter, tell us in the comments: Who is your favorite fairy from literature? I’ll vote for Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Deadline: Feb. 17 at 10 a.m.
Her YA art caper novel, Heist Society, hits stores today, and you can read all about it in an interview on BookPage.com. I talked to Carter (also the author of the bestselling Gallagher Girls series) about the book in December and am excited that teens can finally read the book for themselves. (Imagine if Julia Roberts' and George Clooney's characters in Ocean's 11 had a daughter. Who staged a huge heist as a teenager. That would be Kat, the star of Heist Society.)
Carter was a lot of fun to talk to (In response to “How to you feel about Valentine’s Day?” she answered: “Valentine’s Day is the day before all the chocolates go on sale”), so yesterday I was happy to see that Publisher’s Lunch reported a major film rights deal concerning Heist Society. The film rights were optioned to Warner Brothers for seven figures. Denise Di Novi (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) is slated to produce.
On her blog, Carter wrote: “The whole time I was writing Heist I always thought of it as a movie. More than once I've said that it's far more cinematic than anything I've ever done. But what do I know, right? I also think cake is a well-balanced breakfast, so I'm wrong. A lot. . . At the end of the day we ended up signing with Warner Brothers and the talented Denise DiNovi as the producer. The screenplay will be written by the fabulous Shauna Cross (who wrote Whip It and the screenplay for If I Stay).” She also reminded readers that a film option is not a guarantee that a movie will get made—but it’s a step in the right direction.
So commenters: Who would you pick to play Kat, the daughter of notorious art thieves, or her love interest Hale? What’s your favorite heist book?