A couple of months ago I posted about the Baby-sitters Club prequel, and it was so much fun to read the comments. (“Oh my gosh, YES, I am excited,” wrote one reader. Another confessed to owning 100+ BSC books.)
Well, now I am happy to say (brag) that I spoke with Ann M. Martin herself on Tuesday. The BSC prequel, The Summer Before, will be available in stores two weeks from today, and on that date my interview will also be posted on BookPage.com.
Until then, I’ll tease you with a few tidbits:
The Baby-sitters Club. I’m proud to say it was totally my idea, even though the four of us worked it out together. “Us” is Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, Stacey McGill, and me—Kristy Thomas. But that was at the beginning of seventh grade, after the summer in which my friendship with Claudia nearly fell apart, Mary Anne began to find out who she was, Claudia experienced her first love, and an unhappy girl left New York City and moved to our town. It was quite a summer.
Dav Pilkey has agreed to write four new installments in the Captain Underpants series—the first new books since 2006. The first one’s called The Adventures of Ook and Gluk, Kung-Fu Cavemen from the Future and will be published on August 10.
Although parents sometimes complain about the potty humor in the books—in 2002, Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants was removed from an elementary school in North Dakota—I personally know several little boys who will be thrilled with this news. (The entire series has 45 million copies in print, and The Adventures of Ook and Gluk will have a print run of 1 million.)
Here’s what Pilkey has to say on his return:
“I think fans of Captain Underpants will be very happy with this new book. It has all of the action, laffs and ridiculousness that kids love, plus all the unapologetic irreverence and questionable potty humor that grumpy curmudgeons love to complain about. It’s got something for everybody!”
Related in BookPage: Read a review of Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space.
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.