A very sad day indeed: Walter Dean Myers died yesterday at the age of 76 following a brief illness, according to the Children's Book Council.
Myers was and will continue to be an icon in children's literature. He received two Newbery Honors, six Coretta Scott King Awards and Honors, the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award and the first Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2012 he was appointed the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and served for two years. Over the course of his 45-year career, he authored more than 100 books, both fiction and nonfiction, poetry and prose.
Richard Robinson, Chairman, President and CEO of Scholastic, shared some kind words:
“Walter Dean Myers changed the face of children’s literature by representing the diversity of the children of our nation in his award-winning books. He was a deeply authentic person and writer who urged other authors, editors and publishers not only to make sure every child could find him or herself in a book, but also to tell compelling and challenging stories that would inspire children to reach their full potential. My favorite quote from Walter is a clarion call to embrace the power of books to inform and transform our lives – he said, ‘Once I began to read, I began to exist.’ He will be missed by us all.”
Look back through our coverage of some of our favorites. Myers will certainly be missed.
Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, will publish a new young adult (YA) novel this September! Coming from Dutton Children's Books, Belzhar is inspired by The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.
It's the story of 16-year-old Jam Gallahue, who is coping with the death of her boyfriend. She is sent to a boarding school in rural Vermont for "emotionally fragile, highly intelligent" teens, and she is placed in a small, elite English class that is reading Sylvia Plath. During this semester, Jam and her classmates discover a fantastical and strange world called Belzhar.
Wolitzer spoke with NPR about the new book, what it's like to write a YA novel and how Plath inspired her. I found her explanation of the Belzhar world to be especially intriguing:
". . . I guess it can be described as a kind of alternate universe in which the person (or thing) they've lost is returned to them. The fantasy is fairly lightly handled (I hope), and to my thinking somewhat metaphorical. It's about having unmet needs met, about getting rid of the ache of loss. I also employed a very light drift of fantasy in my adult novel The Uncoupling, as well as in a book for middle-grade readers about kids who meet at a Scrabble tournament, called The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman. (I remember comparing the level of fantasy in Duncan Dorfman to the amount of fudge running through one of those ice cream sundae cups we ate as kids: a very light vein, a suggestive and necessary ripple.)"
I can see this one having major crossover appeal for Wolitzer fans of all ages. Who else is excited?
What's not to love? His books are hilarious. Even though I'm not a teacher, a librarian or a parent, I have been a camp counselor and a big sister to a tween (a long time ago)—and I've seen how readers giggle as they turn the pages, then demand the next book in the Series of Unfortunate Events. (How many arguments did my tween sister and I have over which was better: Harry Potter or Unfortunate Events?)
So I am very excited to share that Lemony Snicket's "authorized autobiographical account of his childhood" will come out on October 23, with a first printing of one million copies. This will be part one of four. The first book is called Who Could That Be at This Hour?.
In a funny press release from publisher Little, Brown, there's a quote from Snicket himself: "These books are questionable and contain questions. I, for one, question why anyone would be interested in reading them.”
Are you excited about reading Who Could That Be at This Hour? What's your favorite Snicket book?
Also in BookPage: Read an interview with Snicket's "representative," Daniel Handler, about his Printz Honor Book, Why We Broke Up. Read about one star-struck editor's experience of meeting Handler at ALA.
Big news for fans of Holly Black! The author of The Spiderwick Chronicles has signed a deal to write a new book called The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. This story is set in the "not-so-distant future" and is about a place "where the vampire population has surged, resulting in the establishment of Coldtowns, quarantined cities of vampires and humans where predator and prey coexist in a never-ending blood party of revelry, with vlogs, live feeds, and YouTube videos constantly streaming from the endless parties at vampire mansions" (via Publishers Marketplace).
If you're a big fan of Black and that title sounds familiar, it's probably because you've read her story collection The Poison Eaters, which includes a tale called “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown." BookPage reviewed this collection in February of this year, praising Black's range.
If you can't wait until Fall 2013 for the release of the new book, you ought to read (or revisit) The Poison Eaters. Here's a preview, from our review:
Black has a gift for creating the kind of edgy, original stories teens love. She describes this collection as “rather like a lunatic cocktail party: a poisonous girl, who spends most of her undeath arguing with her ghostly sisters, a costume designer still mourning a childhood lover stolen by faeries, a wolf who might also be a prince, and a teenager who needs to drink herself into oblivion to keep from craving human blood.”
I wonder if this is the sort of tale Maria Tatar, chair of Harvard’s folklore and mythology program, had in mind when she wrote Sunday's op-ed for the New York Times titled "No More Adventures in Wonderland"?
If you're wondering whether reader enthusiasm is still high for a series started nearly a decade ago, I think Random House would say that the answer is "yes." The publisher has announced a first printing of 2.5 million (!). Combined, the first three books in the series have sold more than 25 million copies around the world.
As the series nears its conclusion, it's fun to look back at some of BookPage's coverage. In 2003, when James Neal Webb reviewed Eragon, Paolini was only 20 years old, and Webb commented on the "exciting beginning" of the author's long writing career.
Two years later, Jay MacDonald interviewed Paolini about Eldest, and the author appeared on the cover of BookPage. It's amusing to read Paolini's reflections on massive success at such a young age, and his answer to a question regarding his own personal Arya (a.k.a. love interest) made me smile.
Finally, in 2008, Karen Holt interviewed the author about Brisingr. During this conversation, Paolini spoke at length on the weight of his fans' expectations—a pressure that has only been elevated for book #4.
What are your expectations for Inheritance? Will you be part of the large number of fans who buy the book immediately on publication date?
What do you think Paolini will work on next?
Kelly—I'll be sending an e-mail your way in the next few minutes.
And keep your eyes on The Book Case for more great contests! (Like the one going on right now.)
Best-selling teen author Alyson Noël posted today on her blog that she's got a new series in the works called The Soul Seekers. Noël is the author of the popular Immortals series, about a girl who can "see auras, hear people's thoughts, and know a person's entire life story by touch." She's also written books outside of the series, including the romantic Fly Me to the Moon, "a Grey's Anatomy of the skies."
The new series will take place in the Southwest and it's about a sixteen year old girl who is able to walk among the Underworld, the Upperworld, and the dead.I will begin research/writing the first book sometime this winter (must finish UNTITLED IMMORTALS #6 first!), and it will be in stores probably sometime around early 2012.
The series went to St. Martin's for a whopping 7 figures—further proof that supernatural teen fiction isn't going anywhere. In fact, we are addressing this topic in tomorrow's edition of BookPage Reading Corner, our twice-monthly children's/teen e-newsletter filled with author interviews, book reviews and giveaways. Click here to sign up!
Children's Book Week has been around since 1919, and this year the celebration runs from May 10-16. I love these posters for the week:
The Children's Book Week website is a great resource for parents and young readers themselves. You can. . .
If you've been looking for a fun and easy way to get comprehensive info about books for kids and teens, this is it. Our first issue will come out May 26, but you can sign up now.
As our launch date gets closer, I'll post more about the newsletter, including info on how to enter a stellar kids book giveaway.
What is your family, library, school or bookstore doing to celebrate Children's Book Week? Let us know in the comments section, and share some ideas for other readers. . .
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)?
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.