Kids & YA Newsletter: October 2018



 Every November, the young people in Wolf Ridge are overwhelmed with a hunger for violence—and last fall Wyatt Green’s mother was brutally murdered, convincing Wyatt that this yearning isn’t morbid legend but a palpable force infecting her classmates as potently as the flu. This year, Wyatt fears the call of violence has spread to her best friend Cash—who also happens to be the guy she can’t stop wanting no matter how much he hurts her. At the same time, she’s drawn to Cash’s nemesis Porter, now that they’re partners on an ambitious project for lit class that has them both inspired to throw—and film—a Gatsby-esque bash for the whole school. As the truth about her mother’s death begins to emerge from the shadows, Wyatt is faced with a series of hard realities about the people she trusts the most, rethinking everything she believes about what makes people decide to hurt each other. Invoking heartbreakingly timely issues of agency, consent, and how we live in the world, THE NOVEMBER SICKNESS by Sara Walters is a searing, gorgeous, provocative debut for fans of Courtney Summers and Nina LaCour. (Please note: this project is represented by Sharon Pelletier.)

 Leo Everett is made of lies. By day, he’s a track star, conservative senator’s son, and the ideal boyfriend to a pretty girl. But under the Saturday night glow of Phoenix’s neon lights, he has a secret: he dances. In drag. Until this year, his whole life had been a delicately-balanced façade, one that he worked hard to keep intact for his own sake and his father’s career—that is, until, out of nowhere, a new guy on the track team threatens to shatter everything Leo’s built. When Leo looks at Cal, suddenly Leo can’t remember his own name. And when Cal introduces Leo not only to Phoenix’s Pride Parade but to Rafe Flores, manager of the drag club George and Georgia’s, Leo finds a sense of belonging and home he’s been missing all his life. But as much as Leo wants to let go of his old life, his former best friend and his ex-girlfriend aren’t ready to let him make a break—and if it means exposing Leo and his new drag identity, Dolly Divine, so be it. With STARRING LEO EVERETT AS DOLLY DIVINEJay Berguis makes a remarkable YA debut. Like Andrew Smith’s Winger crossed with Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle & DanteSTARRING LEO EVERETT AS DOLLY DIVINE explores masculinity, sexuality, and gender in ways our society is too often afraid to address wrapped in a love story for the ages. (Please note: this project is represented by John Rudolph.)

 For seventeen-year-old Kai, who practically grew up in the water, wreck dives are run of the mill. Take the tourists out. Explore the reef. Finish up the tour package with the discovery of any secrets or surprising sights locked in the sunken craft. But when a dive goes terribly wrong, Kai is thrust into an entirely new reality. Attacked by a bioluminescent beast, Kai’s boat goes down and she washes up on a deserted island with no sign of rescue in sight. The water is off-limits and so is the jungle that borders the beach. As she reunites with a handful of survivors (including her seven-year-old brother) she realizes that the island isn’t what it seems either. A horrible déjà vu clings to everything. Haunted by her own mistakes and an inescapable dread, Kai’s best hope for finding answers—and a way out—may rest in the center of the island, at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole that only she has the skills to navigate. But if the creature lurking in the depths doesn’t swallow her and the others, the secrets of a fractured reality within might. Told through a series of journal entries addressed to Kai’s incarcerated father, THE WRECK by Leslie Lutz is both a story of survival and forgiveness, that explores the things that bind and sever our relationships, and the different shapes that strength can take. (Please note: this project is represented by Amy Elizabeth Bishop.)

 When a high school locker in a tiny cemetery town in California starts producing letters that accurately tell students’ futures, four girls on the school newspaper set out to expose whoever—or whatever—is behind the hoax. Corresponding with Locker 49, however, turns out to be more of a transformative experience than any of them could have bargained for. As they try to report out the truth behind the predictions, their lives are unraveling at the same time. Laken’s plan to bring justice to her bipolar sister’s bullies is exposed—as well as her burning new interest in this guy in her welding class. Mitul’s loving family won’t take her dream of being a mortician seriously while Tara finds her efforts to get into an elite military school threaten the perfect image she’s worked so hard to maintain. And amidst it all, Janelle is hiding a dangerous family secret that could put everyone she knows at risk. As the girls get closer to unveiling the mystery of Locker 49, they realize their stories are irreversibly tangled, and the answers to their problems are just as knotted. LOCKER 49 by Marjorie Brimer is a contemporary YA debut that brings the power of One of Us Is Lying’s multi-POV tension to a moving exploration of loving and being loved for fans of Jen Mathieu and Jennifer Niven. (Please note: this project is represented by Sharon Pelletier.)

 Twelve-year-old Milo Moss is about to achieve his family’s lifelong goal: breaking a record worthy of The Guinness Book of World Records. It’s why he and his parents are 800 miles from home, why he’s missing school again, and why he is standing in the middle of Mile High Stadium dressed as a human-sized roach along with 2,000 people all hoping to break the record for Most People Dressed in Bug Costumes Together. But after food poisoning affects most of the participants, Milo and his family miss out yet again. And worse, due to his absence from school, Milo is assigned as the default partner of Brandon, his nemesis since 1st grade. When Milo needs support from his best friend Jesse (who also happens to be his nephew even though they’re in the same grade—yes, it’s complicated), Jesse just makes everything worse by threatening to out Milo’s Great Shame of Failure. With the specter of even more embarrassment looming from his parents’ continued attempts at record breaking, Milo decides to stop his family from more record setting at all costs, and to Milo’s surprise, Brandon turns out to be a great tutor for all things nefarious. With Brandon’s scheming, will Milo break a record after all? Author Lauren Allbright’s YA debut Exit Strategyreceived great reviews in KirkusPW, and SLJ. Now she turns her talents to middle grade in MILO MOSS IS OFFICIALLY UN-AMAZING, the heartfelt, hilarious story of a boy desperately trying to get a “win”—and discovering what “winning” really means along the way. (Please note: this project is represented byJohn Rudolph.)

 Stephanie McCoy is a country music superstar, and no one is a bigger fan than twelve-year-old Margarita Scott. Playing banjo and singing backup for her stepsister’s band is exactly where Margarita wants to be, in the background, letting Stephanie shine in the limelight. But then the New York Times runs an article about the whiteness of the country music scene and their record label’s decision to downplay Margarita’s Mexican-American heritage by billing her as Daisy McCoy. When the label decides the best PR move is a complete reversal, they push Margarita into the spotlight to embrace a heritage she doesn’t actually know much about. Raised solely by her white mother and stepfather alongside her white stepsiblings, she’s eager for the chance to explore her Mexican roots. When public humiliation on national television is followed by a huge blowout fight with her sister, she has to reassess not just her own identity, but also her place in the band. Maria Frazer’s upbeat and heartfelt middle grade debut GRINGA WITH A GUITAR tenderly explores the bonds of family, race, heritage, and community, all with a down-home country twang. (Please note: this project is represented by Lauren Abramo.)

 Working at the Ironstone Farm Horse Rescue is by far the most fun that nine-year-old Olive has. The rescue takes in horses in need—abused and neglected horses who have been left behind, sometimes because of intentional cruelty, often because owners are no longer able to care for them. Olive is really excited when Madge, owner of the stable, says that a new horse, Casper is coming to Ironstone that day! She and her friend, Hen, gather round to see him brought in, and what a sight he is—just not a good one! Even by the standards of the rescue, he’s in rough shape. And when Madge suggests Olive be the main volunteer to care for Casper, she discovers things are even worse than imagined: though he’s very sweet, he’s got the world’s slowest trot, and to add insult to injury, he’s the most flatulent horse ever. Olive is going to face some big questions: will she embrace the mission of Ironstone and care for all the horses, even the farting ones, and if so, how will she get Casper in shape for the big show? Emma Carlson Berne’s THE AWKWARD GIRL’S GUIDE TO HORSES: CASPER is the first book in a proposed chapter book series about the horses and girls that live and work at the Ironstone Farm Horse Rescue. Full of humor but tackling real issues, this is sure to appeal to all the kids who love horses. (Please note: this project is represented by Michael Bourret.)

 Feral Cheryl loves pizza. So does Alley Allie. They want some every day, and they get some every day. Until suddenly they don’t. Are they really going to have to settle for the kibble on the porch around the corner? Not if they can help it. Maybe Stray Kayla will know what to do. She’s very smart, but she lives all the way on the other side of the neighborhood. It’s going to be a long and perilous journey, but Feral Cheryl and Alley Allie are determined to find out what happened to all the pizza. So off they go. While dealing with a number of hackle-raising obstacles along the way, they discover that the pony-sized dog chasing them might not be so mean after all, and that the surly owl blocking their path might only be trying to protect its babies, and that an eight-year-old girl named Catrina—the only human they’ve ever run across who actually speaks their language—might ultimately hold the answer to their problem. In his debut children’s chapter book, author M.Y. Bampa presents the humorous and gently-suspenseful GIRLCATS: THE QUEST FOR PIZZA. With lean prose, a concise plot, and a vivid and colorful cast of characters, it’s sure to spark the imaginations of eager (and reluctant) young readers everywhere. (Please note: this project is represented by John Rudolph.)

 Baking cookies, hanging stockings, choosing a Christmas tree and decorating it are activities children look forward to as autumn falls away and December floats into town. Join a family on an adventure as they deck their house, choose their conifer and decorate their tree in this charming picture book by Kate Narita. The children light up as they seek-and-find each ornament that represents a real-life object they saw earlier in the day. As evening arrives, friends join the family for a holiday celebration. Readers can find out more about Christmas trees by consulting the Christmas tree history timeline and reading the scientific back matter about the five different evergreens mentioned in the book. ALL DECKED OUT FOR CHRISTMAS by Kate Narita, author of 100 Bugs! A Counting Bookwhich Kirkus gave a starred review and called “a great addition to any STEM shelf”, celebrates holiday moments shared with family and friends like Mary Lyn Ray’s Christmas Farm and Aliki’s Christmas Tree Memories, and it’s a guide that will help families find a perfect tree for their home and entertain young readers along the way. (Please note, this project is represented by Stacey Glick.)


 In the 1940’s, Hedy Lamarr was known as “the most beautiful woman in the world.” Her performances ignited box offices and dazzled fans. But in her own time, in her own home, tucked away in her study, she was a determined science genius, devising technology and innovations that changed the world and still touch our lives to this day. After escaping Austria on the eve of World War II—an especially dangerous feat for a Jewish woman married to one of Hitler’s favorite arms dealers—Hedy made her way to America, breaking into Hollywood and carving out a new life for herself. However, no one would look past her dazzling beauty to take her scientific achievements seriously, even though her inventions would one day pave the way for technology like cell phones, GPS, and even streaming music. Written by best-selling author Lynn Brunelle, a former teacher and four-time Emmy Award-winning writer for the television series Bill Nye the Science GuyFACE VALUE: THE DOUBLE LIFE OF HEDY LAMARRfollows Hedy along a perilous journey from starlet to stardom and the underlying passions and brilliances she pursued despite being a woman in a man’s world. (Please note: this project is represented by Michael Bourret.)

 Movie characters can inspire us to be stronger, kinder and more fearless, empowering viewers to make real-world change. This is particularly true of onscreen women like Princess Leia, Hermione Granger, and Wonder Woman herself—inspiring female creations who continue to impact audiences today. In I WANT TO BE LIKE HER: 12 FEMINIST FILM ICONS WHO HAVE RESHAPED THE WORLD, entertainment journalist and LA Times contributor Emily Zemlerwrites for young people about how these seminal characters were initially realized and how they ushered in cultural change, both in the film industry and in the eyes of these movies’ young viewers throughout the last few decades. Using interviews with actors, directors, screenwriters and fans, Zemler examines how each character has impacted the way Hollywood represents women and looks at pivotal moments of evolution in the industry, from Sarah Connor in The Terminator, to box office powerhouse The Hunger Games, to the recent release of Black Panther, which featured several memorable and diverse female characters. The book will also explore the cultural impact of these characters, including how they have shown up in the recent women’s marches and the March for Our Lives. In a time when Hollywood is questioning how it should represent humanity in a more accurate, diverse, fair way, I WANT TO BE LIKE HER points to those characters who have helped guide us this far, reminding young readers that when we see complex, uniquely interesting women on the big screen, we believe that whatever they can do, we can do too. (Please note: this project is represented by Michael Bourret.)