February 2012

The Wicked and the Just
J. Anderson Coats

A star from Kirkus for J. Anderson Coats's THE WICKED AND THE JUST, due out April 17, 2012 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!

Two girls of very different degree are brought together unwillingly by the English conquest of Wales.

Cecily is in a pet at having to leave the home of her youth—where her mother is buried—and relocate to the Welsh frontier, but her father is a younger son. He will take a burgage in Caernarvon, recently conquered by Edward I. In exchange for a home, he will help to keep the King's peace. Cecily hates Caernarvon. She hates its weather, its primitive appointments and its natives, especially Gwinny, the servant girl who doesn't obey, and the young man who stares at her. It would be easy to dismiss this book as a Karen Cushman knockoff; Cecily's voice certainly has a pertness that recalls Catherine, Called Birdy. But there's more of an edge, conveyed both in the appalling ease with which Cecily dismisses the Welsh as subhuman and in Gwinny's fierce parallel narrative. "I could kill the brat a hundred different ways." Never opting for the easy characterization, debut author Coats compellingly re-creates this occupation from both sides. It all leads to an ending so brutal and unexpected it will take readers' breath away even as it makes them think hard about the title.

Brilliant: a vision of history before the victors wrote it.


Congratulations, Jillian!

—Joan

Anyone who knows Luke Reynolds will not be at all surprised to hear that his first EMLA book deal is a collaborative project designed to inspire and challenge teens, and that all of the royalties—both from contributors and for himself as editor—are being donated to the Children’s Defense Fund. I first heard about this project in its very early stages: as a long-time middle school teacher, Luke constantly found himself struggling with teens’ perceptions of what society tells them they “must do” in order to have a successful, happy, and productive life. But are those “rules” always the best way to run your life?
 
With the goal of providing answers for his students (and others like them) in an appealing way, BREAK THESE RULES was born. Luke began corresponding with various YA and MG authors with the idea of putting together a series of first-person essays on this subject. The anthology will features contributions from authors such as Sara Zarr, Gary Schmidt, Kathryn Erskine, and EMLA’s own Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovitch, among many others.
 
This week, I am thrilled to announce that BREAK THESE RULES will be published in fall 2013 by Lisa Reardon at Chicago Review Press. I am so honored to be involved with this deal and can’t wait to see the finished result!
 
Congratulations, Luke!
 

—Joan

Grave Mercy
Robin (R. L.) LaFevers

And three stars for Robin LaFevers' GRAVE MERCY!

Middle-grade author LaFevers (the Theodosia books) makes an outstanding foray into historical romance with an enthralling recreation of 15th-century Brittany. At its center is 17-year-old Ismae, a badly scarred peasant girl who, fleeing her thuggish husband, is taken in by the convent of St. Mortain, whose patron saint is the ancient, pre-Christian god of death. Believed to be Death’s literal daughter, blessed (or cursed) with powerful gifts, Ismae is trained as an assassin, highly competent with all weapons and poisons. After two successful missions, she is dispatched to the court of Anne of Brittany to keep track of Duval, the duchess’s handsome and tempestuous illegitimate older brother. Reluctantly, she falls in love with him, knowing full well that she may someday be called upon to end his life. Rich in historical detail, well-realized characters, political machinations, and enticingly prickly scenes between Ismae and Duval, LaFevers’s complex tale incorporates magic both sparingly and subtly. This powerful first volume of the His Fair Assassin series should attract many readers. Ages 14–up. 

Congratulations, Robin!

—Erin

The False Prince
Jennifer A. Nielsen

Publishers Weekly bestows a star on Jennifer Nielsen's THE FALSE PRINCE:

This highly enjoyable medieval fantasy from Nielsen (the Underworld Chronicles), set in the medieval kingdom of Carthya, centers on 15-year-old Sage, an angry and pugnacious orphan, who is unexpectedly purchased by Conner, one of the king’s regents. The entire royal family—king, queen, and heir—has recently died under mysterious circumstances, and to prevent civil war, Conner is collecting orphans who might believably be substituted for the dead king’s younger son, who was reported lost at sea years earlier. Sage is soon engaged in a deadly, winner-take-all contest with two other boys to earn the right to impersonate Prince Jaron. Sage is deftly characterized through humorous first-person narration, quickly establishing himself as a beguiling antihero: “I’d never attempted roast thievery before, and I was already regretting it,” he says when readers first meet him. “It happens to be very difficult to hold a chunk of raw meat while running.” Secondary characters are equally fleshed-out. First in the Ascendancy Trilogy, this is an impressive, promising story with some expertly executed twists. Ages 8–14. 

Congratulations, Jennifer!

—Joan

It doesn’t seem like long ago at all that I was standing in this very spot, announcing that Anna Staniszewski’s delightful middle-grade novel MY VERY UN-FAIRY TALE LIFE was going to be a three-book series. And now? It gets even better!
 
This week I was delighted to close a deal for Anna’s debut picture book, the hilarious and quirky DOGOSAURUS REX. The story begins when our young hero comes home from the pound with Sadie, who is warm and wonderful and perfect in every way a dog should be. Yet something about Sadie remains decidedly un-doglike. Will Sadie ever find a way to belong?
 
I loved this manuscript from the first read, and I could not be happier to announce that Anna has accepted a publication offer from Sally Doherty at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. They are looking at a tentative publication date of Spring 2014, and I have no idea how we are all going to wait until then.
 
Congratulations, Anna!

—Joan

The good news keeps rolling in! If you heard the sound of happy whooping from New York, New Jersey, and Arizona this morning, that was the editor, author, and agent for BROTHERS AT BAT: THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMAZING ALL-BROTHER BASEBALL TEAM getting the news that Audrey Vernick's April release had gotten a starred review from PW:

“It sounds like a fairy tale: twelve baseball-playing brothers,” but it’s true. The 12 Acerra brothers from New Jersey played together on a semipro team formed in 1938, each brother with his own talents and style: “Charlie.... was a good player, but a terrible runner.” Vernick, who interviewed two of the brothers as part of her research, describes how one brother lost an eye when he was struck by a baseball and how six of the brothers served in WWII. Painted in a bright palette of greens, yellows, and blues, Salerno’s mixed-media illustrations, traced and shaded in black crayon, are an immediate attention-getter, the thick, horizontal brushwork contributing to a strong sense of movement. A lively story about family loyalty and love of the game, pulled from the sidelines of baseball history.

We are so pleased at the early reception this book is getting for both Audrey and for illustrator Steven Salerno—what a great match of text and art! Congratulations, Audrey!

—Erin

All the World
Liz Garton Scanlon

It seems EMLA picture books are having a heck of a start to 2012--for here's another one to announce to the world! From Publishers Lunch:

Author of Caldecott Honor book ALL THE WORLD Liz Garton Scanlon's THANK YOU, GARDEN, a lyrical tribute to gardens and gardening, to Allyn Johnston at Beach Lane Books, by Erin Murphy of Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

When Liz first sent me this story, she said she was tinkering with the idea of how tending a garden is tending a small piece of the earth, and oh, is this a lovely celebration of that process, and to what the earth gives to us in return.

Liz's editor, Allyn, shared that she was sitting at the very same spot at her dining table when she first read THANK YOU, GARDEN as she was the first time she read ALL THE WORLD. It was, randomly, a Tuesday night. "I had been behind on things and bummed about it," Allyn told me, "and suddenly in that moment and in that spot with no prompting from anyone, I just decided, 'Oh, what the hell. It's time.' I don't think enough people realize how scary it is for an editor to read a new manuscript by an author she loves and whose work she loves." It was meant to be!

Congratulations, Liz!

—Erin

We've Got a Job
Cynthia Levinson

We are so thrilled for this wonderful news! Booklist chimes in with a third star for Cynthia Levinson's WE'VE GOT A JOB, due out this month from Peachtree:

Even with the many fine books out there about the role of young people in the Civil Rights era, this highly
readable photo-essay will hold YA readers with its focus on four young people who participated in the
Birmingham Children’s March, set against the big picture of the fight against segregation and the roles of
adults. At nine, Audrey Hendricks was the youngest of nearly 4000 black children who marched,
protested, and sang their way to jail, and she had the support of her church, teachers, and middle-class
parents. Washington Booker lived in poverty in the projects; for him the police were the ultimate terror.
Smart, academic James Stewart chose not to do sit-ins, but marching felt right. Arnetta Streeter went to
young activists’ training. Important adult leaders on all sides are included in the story, from Martin Luther
King, Jr. and the Reverend Shuttlesworth to Bull Connor, and Levinson points out not just the individuals
with extreme viewpoints, but also the “moderates” who kept quiet about the insulting “separate but equal”
policies. The format will hook readers with spacious type, boxed quotes, and large black-and-white photos
on almost every double-page spread, from the horrifying view of the Klan marching with children to the
young protestors waiting to be arrested. A fascinating look at a rarely covered event for both curriculum
and personal interest. Chapter notes, a timeline, and a bibliography conclude.

—Erin

Is the unusually balmy weather in the East soothing you into thinking spring is on the way? Has the record snowfall and ice in the West reminded you that it's still winter? Whatever the season, check out our new books for February!

We've Got a Job by Cynthia Levinson tells the true story of the Birmingham Children's March in May 1963, where children, voluntarily arrested and put in jail, brought desegregation to an entire city, published by Peachtree.

The Jade Notebook by Laura Resau wraps up her Notebook series (The Indigo Notebook, The Ruby Notebook), continuing the story of Zeeta searching for her father and learning a lot about herself along the way, published by Delacorte/Random House.

Clorinda Plays Baseball! by Robert Kinerk (Steven Kellogg, illus.) continues the story of the amazing cow, Clorinda, and how she fares playing bovine baseball, published by Paula Wiseman Books/S&S.

So You Want To Be a Rock Star by Audrey Vernick (Kirstie Edmunds, illus.) is the essential primer on everything rock ’n’ roll, published by Walker/Bloomsbury.

We wish these book into readers' hearts!

—Erin



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